Ford CEO Says Subscriptions For Heated Seats 'Isn't Our Approach'

Barely six months after BMW backed down from plans to make Apple CarPlay a subscription service, the company raised the hackles of consumers and the media alike when word got out that it was planning to make convenience items like heated seats a recurring cost. Now, Ford’s CEO, Jim Farley, has gone on record as saying that approach doesn’t make sense for the Blue Oval.

Speaking at a roundtable event with Bloomberg’s Emily Chang and Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff during the media launch of the Ford E-Transit in Sonoma, California, Farley said he’d “be surprised if we charged for heated seats,” adding “I don’t think that’s our approach.” That doesn’t mean subscriptions won’t come to Ford products, though, with Farley making past comments suggesting that connected services could be a $20 billion market by 2030.

“There will be kind of customized software that you can pick and choose off a menu that would make sense for our commercial customers and retail customers,” Farley said. “Maybe dynamic routing or coaching for the driver. I think there’ll be a subscription like we’re used to in content, but it will be customized based on the usefulness of the data.”

Farley’s comments came as the automaker rolled out Ford Pro Intelligence with an announcement of a partnership with the Sonoma County Winegrowers. Three pilot programs will see Ford E-Transits and F-150 Lightnings, and the Blue Oval’s cloud-connected charging stations, take up residence at local vineyards.

Operators there will work with the Ford Pro team to integrate the web-based telematics system, which works with gas-powered connected vehicles as well as products from other automakers, and the new EVs into day-to-day operations. The goal is to increase productivity and sustainability and reduce the operating cost of vehicle fleets by 10 to 20 percent.

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