In its home country of Germany, the upcoming electric Mercedes-Benz EQS sedan comes standard with a 4.5-degree range rear-wheel steering system and an optional 10-degree upgrade. According to German car publication Auto Motor und Sport and brought to our attention via Autoblog, that full 10 degrees of rear steer will be sold as a subscription-style service for the European equivalent of about $576 per year, at least in that country.
Notably, every EQS will reportedly have the physical components and capability to offer the full 10-degrees of rear steering, meaning there's no mechanical reason each and every EQS can't have the feature. Mercedes is merely locking it behind an electronic paywall because, well, it can. On the slight upside, German EQS buyers will have the option to pay for three years of rear-wheel steering for an upfront fee of about $1,733 (1,169 euros) instead, equating to an approximate 20 percent discount versus paying year-to-year.
Thankfully, 10-degree RWS will be standard equipment on the U.S.-spec EQS 580 4MATIC and EQS 450+ when they land later this year, as confirmed to The Drive by a company spokesperson.
Of course, this isn't the first time a luxury automaker has ruffled feathers by locking features behind Netflix-style payment plans. BMW infamously announced intentions to charge $80 a year for Apple CarPlay but then walked it back after much backlash... only to lay out plans to lock stuff like heated seats and steering wheels behind a subscription last year. Cadillac, meanwhile, will charge drivers $25 per month for its admittedly great Super Cruise hands-free driving system after the three-year free trial expires.
At this rate, an automaker that has the ability to entirely disable the cars of owners who have perhaps missed a few payments may seem dystopian as heck. But, it's likely entirely possible from a technical standpoint and not something I'd be surprised to see become a reality within the next decade. Happy Monday.
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