Most Car Buyers Say NO to Paying for Add-On Features — Are Any Worth the Money?

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This may not be the best time to try and upsell car buyers on added features — not with the prices of both vehicles and gas at historic highs. A new survey from Cox Automotive found that three-quarters of consumers aren’t willing to pay annual or monthly subscription fees for most items on their next vehicle. In fact, consumers expect most features and services to be included in the upfront sales price.

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More than nine in 10 respondents (92%) said safety and comfort features should be part of the purchase price. A similar percentage said remote starters should be included.

So which features are car buyers willing to spend a little extra money on? Among the survey respondents who said they would pay a premium for certain items, here are the three main categories they consider worth the extra money:

  • Safety. Although most consumers want these features included in the purchase price, others figure it’s worth it to pay extra for add-ons like lane-assist systems and automatic emergency braking. Those who chose this category said they would pay an extra $30 to $35 per month.
  • Vehicle performance. Performance features consumers are willing to pay extra for include upgraded horsepower and torque, over-the-air software updates, and the capability to track a vehicle’s operational performance and service. Respondents say they’d be willing to dish out an extra $20 to $25 a month for these features.
  • Creature comforts. Consumers are willing to pay an extra $15 to $31 a month for features like heated/cooling seats and instrument clusters they can personalize themselves.
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Auto companies might have a hard time convincing consumers to pay extra, however. Only half of survey respondents even knew they could pay extra money on a subscription basis for added features. Just one in five said they had tried subscribing to services, while the vast majority expect features and services to be included in the purchase price.

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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