Heated seats and steering wheels have moved out of the premium space and into the realm of expectation for Canadians.
Automakers are coping with this in myriad ways and several interesting case studies are emerging as product planners work to push these features far and wide across their brands' offerings.
The Scion iM launched last year true to the former Toyota sub-brand's mono-spec tradition. However, that spec didn't include heated seats; they were available only as a dealer-installed accessory. Sales since launch have been lackluster compared to competitors.
This year, as the product is rebranded as the Toyota Corolla iM, a hatchback sibling to the Corolla sedan, it receives heated seats as standard. Even with a $1,375 bump in price, Toyota is hopeful that the rebranding and the addition of heated seats will bring a boost in sales.
"Our customers have told us they love the added comfort of heated front seats to combat cold Canadian mornings," said Cyril Dimitris, vice-president, Toyota Canada Inc. "We're also proud to offer the available heated steering wheel on the 2017 Corolla sedan, exclusive to Canadian buyers."
This latter point – an ability to offer winter-oriented features not available in the United States – demonstrates autonomy to a degree that Canadian product planners haven't always had.
At Nissan Canada, this has extended all the way to having custom seats created for the upcoming 2017 Rogue, the brand's highest-volume vehicle in the country, to push availability into lower price points.