Some Mercedes-Benz owners say the expiration date of services including remotely turning on the air conditioning is approaching and they need to pay for a subscription to continue using them.
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Mercedes-Benz appears to have more features that require subscriptions to use, after a similar move for its rear-wheel steering feature sparked discussions in late June.
Some Mercedes-Benz owners say their remote connect service is nearing its expiration date and will require a paid subscription to continue using features including remotely turning on the air conditioning, viewing the vehicle's location, checking the status of the windows, and remotely closing the windows, according to screenshots of text messages circulating on social media.
The price for a three-year subscription is RMB 1,298 ($192), but owners can get an RMB 400 discount if they subscribe by September 30.
Continuing a one-year subscription costs RMB 498, and owners who subscribe now can get a discount of RMB 100, according to the text message.
The move by Mercedes-Benz has sparked widespread discussion on Weibo, with some claiming that the fees are nothing for Mercedes-Benz owners.
Others, however, have questioned such actions, saying that if a local Chinese new carmaker had done so, it would have faced plenty of criticism.
A report in the official China Economic Weekly quoted other Internet users as mocking that it was good enough that Mercedes didn't charge for braking.
Mercedes' customer service said the remote connect service is not free for life and needs to be renewed for use after three years, the report said.
A Mercedes-Benz dealership store salesperson said the vehicles are delivered with the hardware associated with these services and owners only need to activate the software, according to the report.
This is not the first time Mercedes-Benz has been at the center of discussion for its subscription services.
At the end of June, Mercedes offered Chinese EQS owners an upgrade to the rear-wheel active steering system, which requires an annual fee for those who choose to upgrade.
The service was available for the entry-level Mercedes-Benz EQS electric sedan and allows users to upgrade their rear-wheel active steering angle from 4.5° to 10° for RMB 4,998 per year.
Interested owners can try it out first, and Mercedes-Benz is offering a free 3-month trial period.