Mercedes-Benz EQS Rear-Wheel Steer Requires Subscription

Chris Teague | Jul 26, 2021

Mercedes-Benz will soon open its order banks for buyers hoping to be among the first to own the 2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS electric luxury sedan. The all-electric car is expected to carry a starting price over $100,000 and offer impressive driving range numbers. At least for customers in the car’s home country of Germany, one feature won’t be available unless buyers sign up for a monthly subscription service.

2022 Mercedes-Benz EQS Black over Silver Front Quarter View in Motion

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The EQS, like its gas-powered S-Class counterpart, offers a rear-wheel steering option for up to ten degrees of steering angle. The car comes standard with 4.5 degrees of rear-steer, and U.S. buyers can upgrade to the 10-degree system with a one-time option. However, according to a report from the German media site Auto Motor und Sport (first reported in the States by Autoblog), buyers in other countries can only activate the feature by paying a monthly fee.

It’s unclear at this point if the subscription service will continue indefinitely, but it’s certainly a way for Mercedes to extend the revenue earned from new EQS models. The AMS report states that while 10-degree steering can be purchased after the initial sale and activated through an over-the-air (OTA) update, the annual charge for using it comes out to €489 (about $571). Buyers can choose to activate the service for up to three years upfront for around €1,169 ($1,376).

To be clear, this isn’t a non-vital media subscription service like SiriusXM satellite radio. It is a pay-as-you-go functionality subscription that affects how the car feels and drives. Every EQS will leave the factory with the correct hardware for the full 10-degree rear-steer system, but it will be inactive at purchase.

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Before we get too far down the rabbit hole with Mercedes, it’s important to remember that it is far from the first automaker to lock features behind a subscription paywall. At one point in 2019, BMW announced plans to charge owners $80 per year to access Apple CarPlay in its vehicles but backed away from that plan after harsh backlash. Tesla allows its owners to pay a $199 monthly fee to access “full self-driving capability” in properly equipped cars, but at least, in this case, it’s in place of paying the entire $10,000 price for the service upfront. Finally, Cadillac charges owners $25 per month to access Super Cruise semi-autonomous hands-free driving system, but only after the initial three-year trial period expires.

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It’s hard to imagine who, other than maybe Mercedes, will benefit from a subscription-based hardware function in a new car. Though a buyer shelling out $100,000 or more for the EQS might not bat an eye at an extra $1,400 for a three-year subscription, the second owner might not feel so generous. It’s also worth noting that, since all the hardware is already in place from the factory, there are no production cost savings for Mercedes if a buyer chooses to ignore the pricier steering option.

Of course, this sort of thing isn’t out of the realm of normal for the German automaker. Case in point, upgrading from one color of Nappa leather to another in the 2021 S-Class sedan can cost as much as $3,110 in the United States. However, we’re still talking about a car with a $132,500 base price. It’s an interesting thought exercise, even though we won’t have to worry about it here in the U.S. Mercedes tuned the EQS for comfort instead of athleticism, so buyers may never even miss the extra rear steering angle.

Auto Motor und Sport and Autoblog are the sources of information in this article. It was accurate on July 26, 2021, but it may have changed since that date.

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