By on June 11, 2021

Volkswagen recently announced that it plans on making massive amounts of money by introducing more vehicles with over-the-air updates (OTAs), many of which will be able to store and transfer personal profiles so that users can effectively just rent their vehicles for eternity. Additionally, VW has suggested future models will have ability to lock features (that have already been physically installed) behind a paywall that users can unlock via subscription services — things like heated seats, satellite navigation, or even the vehicles top speed.

“In the future, our customers will buy, lease, share or rent cars just for a weekend, and we can use software to provide them with whatever they need over the air,” VW brand’s sales chief Klaus Zellmer said during an online presentation held on Tuesday. “The ID family has been designed for further development, with OTA updates to improve the software’s performance and tailor it to our customers’ needs.”

Other German automakers have pitched (or introduced) similar concepts over the last few years and it smacks of the terror that is the World Economic Forum’s “Great Reset” — a plan which envisions a near future were the general populace owns nothing and giant multinational corporations (and their heirs) effectively hold all the cards. It’s the kind of thing one might call you an unhinged conspiracy theorist for believing, until you head over to the WEC’s website to read a dozen or so articles explaining exactly how it’s to be implemented or notice that most Western governments seem to be pushing some variant of the “Build Back Better” campaign. The plot is often the same and hinges upon prioritizing stringent social controls, increased government spending, collaborating with large businesses/banks, and enhanced surveillance in exchange for some vague promises about public safety and environmental reform.

Political implications aside, charging your customers fees for hardware that already exists inside of a vehicle you’ve intentionally deactivated seems truly scummy. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect from a company that might benefit from slave labor, something Volkswagen was accused of doing in Xinjiang, China (ditto for BMW and GM). But the business has denied the allegations, stating that it would never want to repeat the human rights abuses enacted after its 1937 founding by the then-ruling Nazi Party.

That does not preclude VW from committing lesser evils, however.

Automotive News pulled several quotes from the automaker’s digitalization/mobility strategy, which it called an “Innovation Talk,” and managed to snag some truly unsettling lines. This included referencing an article from Germany’s Die Welt where Zellmer suggested VW could charge customers by the hour once autonomous features become more useful.

From AN:

“We assume a price of around seven euros per hour. So if you do not want to drive yourself for three hours you can pay 21 euros to get it done,” Zellmer told the paper.

VW has said the first over-the-air will be available to ID customers before the end of the summer.

Zellmer said he sees the potential for “triple-digit-millions” in sales through over-the-air upgrades.

At least it’s going to make Volkswagen a richer company. It would be awful to think customers would be getting gouged by having every desirable feature locked behind a paywall for nothing. Of course, it won’t just be VW enacting these policies. BMW and Mercedes signaled their interest in launching nearly identical business strategies, as have a few North American brands. German firms just happen to be leading the charge among Western automotive brands.

It’s a shame because over-the-air technology and automotive connectivity provide some genuine benefits to consumers. The industry just seems preoccupied with using them to dilute the customer’s sense of ownership and swipe people’s private data. While the right-to-repair movement has taken up these new practices with legislators, it’s been an uphill battle and they’ve been forced to combat several of the wealthiest industries (and their respective trade organizations) simultaneously.

Based on how automakers already package automobiles, nothing leads me to believe the industry will suddenly price vehicles thousands of dollars lower and then give customers the opportunity to activate features for a reasonable sum. They’re going to screw us and do everything in their power to have total control of the market by just leasing/renting products until the secondhand market evaporates and dealerships serve no practical purpose. It sounds a little kooky but we’re already seeing that take place with direct-to-consumer sales, subscription services, and online car configuration. Volkswagen leadership even made comparisons to other consumer products on Tuesday, suggesting that automobiles should be more like mobile phones.

It sounds just terrible and we haven’t even touched on the creepy inclusion of driving monitoring cameras or just how much information modern cars transmit back to the manufacturer without your knowledge.

Our only real hope of avoiding this fast-approaching nightmare is telling automakers that we’re not interested and making the ones that are pushing it the strongest help themselves to an extra piece of humble pie. If they’re not making any money on these products, they’ll give up the ghost. But today’s shoppers either seem oblivious to the associated perils of the direction were heading or appear genuinely eager to see just how far the industry can implement its technological agenda. Maybe they’ll change their opinion after spending fifty bucks a month so the vehicle they thought they owned can have its top speed upgraded so they can safely merge onto the highway.

[Image: Volkswagen]

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69 Comments on “Driving Dystopia: German Automakers Keep Reimagining Vehicle ‘Ownership’...”


  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Are those Marcel Marceau’s hands? Will he be driving?

  • avatar
    Undead Zed

    I for one look forward to a future where I can pay $15k for a base model, jailbreak the car, and turn on an extra $15k worth of features for free.

  • avatar
    dwford

    A political note: how Biden managed to appropriate “Build Back Better” as his campaign slogan and faced zero pushback or even comment from the Trump campaign just shows you how bad the Trump campaign actually was last year.

    Anyway, the idea that people are going to rent the features in their cars is a bit funny. Of all the millions of cars with satellite radio, what percentage has an active subscription? What about OnStar? Or any of the other automakers’ connected plans?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “how Biden managed to appropriate “Build Back Better” as his campaign slogan and faced zero pushback”

      I don’t follow.

      “Of all the millions of cars with satellite radio, what percentage has an active subscription?”

      Good point. I have one that’s never had it in eleven years of my ownership.

      • 0 avatar
        dwford

        For those who chose to skip the article and go right to the comments:

        1. VW is proposing a new model of vehicle “ownership” where you will rent hardwired features of the car like heated seats and navigation
        2. The World Economic Forum’s post COVID slogan is “Build Back Better”
        3. The WEF also includes the statement “you will own nothing and be happy” in one of it’s videos
        4. The 2020 presidential campaign of Joe Biden used “Build Back Better” as it’s national campaign slogan

        Ergo: We have a President who is advocating for a new economic model where giant multi-national corporations will own everything and rent consumer goods to us. Essentially a return to serfdom.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          So…Biden’s plan for success is to turn everyone into a serf who owns nothing.

          I’m sure voters will be absolutely enthralled with that idea and vote for him in perpetuity.

          • 0 avatar
            Ol Shel

            So, you just made sh!t up, and want people to believe it’s a fact.

            You sound like the jacka$$ at the salvage yard who told me that Biden’s gonna outlaw all business and put chips in us.

            Basically, if you FEEL it, it must be true.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            Biden’s plan for success, doesn’t extend beyond finding his slippers and figuring out how to navigate those complimecated stair thingies….

            The serf thing was the, and the only, plan behind the creation of every single central bank, and fiat currency, since the Big Bang.

            Biden nor Trump has exactly nothing to do with it. Aside from serving as harebrained foils aimed at keeping well indoctrinated dunces pitted against each other in childish playbattles. All while the leeches on Fed welfare enserfs them all.

          • 0 avatar
            JD-Shifty

            looks like all the fox news grampas are parroting their talking points

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @stuki
            “Aside from serving as harebrained foils aimed at keeping well indoctrinated dunces pitted against each other in childish playbattles. All while the leeches on Fed welfare enserfs them all.”

            No doubt this explains the booming demand for housing – which, last I checked, is something people own – all enabled by the Fed keeping interest rates low. Same for equities, which people also own as property and buy and sell. If the Big Bad Evil Jackboot Fed is all about taking everyrone’s property away, it’s sure doing a sh*tty job of it.

            The “government wants to make everyone serfs who own nothing” argument is bulls**t. Why? Governments make money on property ownership. They make money on people buying and selling property. That’s why economic policy is actually aimed at *encouraging* property ownership. The problem is that there’s a shrinking number of people who can actually afford property, and that’s due to income disparity. Valid discussion, but it’s a whole different set or causes.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            “No doubt this explains the booming demand for housing – which, last I checked, is something people own – all enabled by the Fed keeping interest rates low”

            Out of curiosity… Do you understand what it is that The Fed actually does, in order to “keep interest rates low”? For real? Do you?

            Also, have you ever stopped to wonder what “demand” for perpetual motion machines are? (hint: it’s pretty high, infinite energy forever and such…) And why that matters exactly not one iota whatsoever. Since it is supply of things which constitutes wealth…..

            Anyway:

            The Fed prints money. Increasing its supply. Hence lowering it’s price (prices are set by supply and demand). The price of money is measured in “interest rates.” (in a free market, interest rates actually serve a real, useful, even necessary role. But that’s just another casualty of illiterates on the make arbitrarily “lowering” them for entirely, 100%, idiots only, reasons….)

            Printing money is ALL the Fed does. It’s all they can do. They don’t produce anything. Hence, since they don’t produce anything: No matter how much they print, there is no added systemic wealth being created by them. Meaning, total wealth remains the same, no matter how much dead guys heads they print on paper pieces.

            Hence, since total wealth is not increased: For every penny someone is made better off by what The Fed does, someone else has to (it’s called basic arithmetic), by definition, be made worse off. IOW, since The Fed produces no real wealth at all: All they do, all they possibly can do, is redistribute wealth which is already there.

            And who do they redistribute to? That’d be the ones who benefit most directly from their printing. IOW, the ones who live off of the increasing “asset” price which the Fed’s printing engenders (Asset price changes resulting from Fed actions, being the mechanism by which the redistribution; from the productive and useful, to the idle and useless, takes place.)

            Every penny someone “makes” from Fed effected asset price increases, (that pesky arithmetic again…) as a necessity has to be redistributed FROM those who do not live off those increases, but who are doing something productive instead. Since all real wealth is, by definition, created by actual productive work. Not by sitting on one’s rear while a central bank prints heads on paper.

            “Doing something productive” being such quaint acts as successfully competing with communists at producing stuff, producing houses etc. All of which are made more and more costly, as a result of funds being redistributed FROM those who do such things, TO rank idiots who know nothing, do nothing, understand nothing and, most importantly, produce exactly nothing either.

            This is what central banks do. It’s all they do. It’s all they can do: Destroy productive enterprise, for the (and even that ultimately only temporary) benefit of useless idiots dumb enough to believe houses sitting there decaying in the weather, somehow magically create some sort of value, while their stupid selves sit on the couch and understand exactly nothing whatsoever.

        • 0 avatar
          wolfwagen

          7 stages of an empire:
          Defensiveness, pessimism, materialism, frivolity, an influx of foreigners, the Welfare State, and a weakening of religion

          Well?…. We’re waiting

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Thanks for the info. Obvious disturbing references to dystopia from a major campaign aside, you know media is owned when no one criticizes the fact its just a stupid slogan which doesn’t mean anything no matter its true origin. Hillary IIRC was criticized for her equally stupid slogan, but it did make sense when you thought about it. Nobody “builds back” anything, it sounds like something a kindergartener -or dementia patient- would come up with.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I had a satellite radio subscription for a year in my G8, which was my first car that had it. Eventually I determined that the music was too repetitive and the sound quality was much worse than plugging my iPod into the aux jack. Never again since.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Satellite radio makes a good case for itself anywhere that cellular coverage is spotty or nonexistent. Otherwise, it’s a waste of money.

        • 0 avatar
          bunkie

          I hated the way that that satellite signal was blocked by trees, hillsides and tall buildings. It made listening to radio comedies an exercise in frustration.

          While I really liked the idea of the Deep Tracks channel, they played too many less-than-stellar live versions of songs.

          But the Killer was the absolutely *awful* sound quality.

          In my current car, we son’t have it activated which means that each time you scroll through the music sources, you are assaulted with the promo on the three channels. If I could I’d rip out the receiver.

        • 0 avatar

          Also, cell carriers prioritize traffic and streaming music and photos are at the bottom of the list… I’ve found cell calls go first….but music can be spotty, not just when you are handed from one cell to another….but when the cells are full. I’ve been to a ski area, where the music streams perfectly on a weekday, but weekends when the place fills (mobs) up ? Photos won’t upload, texts will go slowly, streaming music impossible. Calls still work though.

    • 0 avatar

      “Build Back Better”

      What? Are you okay dwford? I would rather built forward.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      “Of all the millions of cars with satellite radio, what percentage has an active subscription?”

      Noone expects people to do this voluntarily. But, then again, noone expects people to bust their ass to bail out utterly useless FIRE trash voluntary, either. Hence totalitarian government.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        How you know you’ve lost the plot: when you respond to a statement about satellite radio with a rant about totalitarian government.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          Or, even more so: When you think a post questioning what it would take for people to start paying to “activate” all manners of features of their cars which is already sitting there preinstalled, is a post about “satellite radios….”

    • 0 avatar
      Mackie

      Yep. Satellite’s crap sound quality was a major deal breaker. I let my free trial lapse and ignored all the subsequent junkmail badgering me to resubscribe.

  • avatar
    ajla

    This all sounds like a terrible idea that everyone is going hate.
    Even the manufactures are going to hate it when they realize that all these new revenue streams also come with a heaping offset of aftercare support needs.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I dunno, it depends on the service they’re trying to sell me. What it amounts to is customizing your car after you buy it. If some automaker came to me and said, “hey, Mike, we’ll add this neat new display to your instrument panel for $50,” maybe I’d buy it, maybe I wouldn’t…same as Pep Boys saying, “hey, Mike, we’ll sell you this gizmo that pumps your favorite cologne into your car’s interior for $50,” or whatever.

      What Matt seems to be concerned about is manufacturers basically kneecapping cars over-the-air after customers buy them. I don’t know how they’d do that legally unless people acquiesce to it, and I can’t see that happening. The politicians and trial lawyers would have a field day with it.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        It seems to be working OK for Tesla.

        But they do have to be wise about how this is applied, so that it doesn’t wreck the customer experience (I find being nickel-and-dimed to be an anti-luxury experience).

        It’s one thing to buy-after-the-fact self-driving software to run on your car, quite another to subscribe to power windows or heated that are already in the car.

        This comes down to all the same things marketing companies in a capitalist society are good at: charging what the traffic will bear. Some companies can (and will) upset me off enough to make me keep my money.

        The more things change, the more they say the same.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          Nothing wrong with Tesla asking you to pay to use fancy software they developed. Nothing particularly wrong with VW wanting you to pay to use software they wrote to control a window motor either.

          Where the wrong enters the picture, is where kangaroo courts of totalitarian countries being party to enforce EULA style mickey-mouse “contracts” barring people from simply running a wire to the window motor themselves. Or downloading a free patch doing effectively the same. From China, a local teen, or some hack shop in Russia.

          That’s how “wrong” things always enter the picture: Totalitarian governments. As long as they stay out of it, everything else can easily be routed around.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      It seems to be working OK for Tesla.

      But they do have to be wise about how this is applied, so that it doesn’t wreck the customer experience (I find being nickel-and-dimed to be an anti-luxury experience).

      It’s one thing to buy-after-the-fact self-driving software to run on your car, quite another to subscribe to power windows or heated that are already in the car.

      This comes down to all the same things marketing companies in a capitalist society are good at: charging what the traffic will bear. Some companies can (and will) piss me off enough to make me walk away from the sale.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    @matt:
    “Maybe they’ll change their opinion after spending fifty bucks a month so the vehicle they thought they owned can have its top speed upgraded so they can safely merge onto the highway.”

    1) Any consumer who bought a car not knowing whether it’s fast enough to safely merge onto a highway has nothing to complain about. Sorry, that’s on the buyer.
    2) Here’s what happens when a company that decides willy-nilly to 500,000 cars to consumers with a 0-60 time of, say, eight seconds, and then goes back to those consumers and says “we’re downgrading your performance by 50% until all you pay us $50”: a) it’s going to get its a** sued off, b) it will get trashed in the media. Why would they want to even try?

    I don’t see what’s dystopian about people being able to basically rent a car for as long as they want or need it from manufacturers.

    I don’t see what’s dystopian about giving buyers different choices about auto ownership, or even offering them the choice to rent a car versus own it.

    I don’t see what’s dystopian about manufacturers saying “hey, consumer, if you’d like this feature, we’ll sell it to you for $50 and install it over the air.”

    I don’t see how this leads us to a world where people own nothing.

    I think you’re a bit too lathered up about this.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “I don’t see what’s dystopian about manufacturers saying “hey, consumer, if you’d like this feature, we’ll sell it to you for $50 and install it over the air.’ ”

      “behind a paywall that users can unlock via subscription services — things like heated seats, satellite navigation, or even the vehicles top speed.”

      We can quibble over the term “dystopian” but this sounds like a terrible thing. They want to move features *already installed on a consumer product* to a subscription model. This isn’t like paying for Netflix this is like paying Samsung $20 a month so your TV can go above channel 45 or so you can use the delicate cycle on your washing machine. I don’t think the automakers deserve anything but scorn here.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I don’t think your analogies quite fit here. Let’s use your heated seat example. That’s physical equipment that the manufacturer has to pay to put in your car. Why would spend the money to install it if they didn’t know if the buyer wanted it? Ditto for enabling any physical equipment on the car that they had to pay to install in the first place. That sounds like a good way to lose money to me.

        This is going to be limited to electronic features that are basically software-enabled. Think apps, electronic features, etc. Those don’t cost anything to install per se – it’s just a download. It’s up to the customer from there.

        Or think, “hey, ajla, your Stinger has 365 hp, but if you want an over-the-air tune that gives you another 30 hp, we can do it for $200.” I don’t see anything wrong with that, as long as they’re not kneecapping you down to 300 hp (which I’m pretty sure they can’t legally do)…do you?

        (By the way, ditto for your Samsung example – if Samsung wants to try to sell a washing machine that you have to fork over more money to enable the delicate cycle on after you buy it, they’re going to have a tough time selling it, don’t you think? I’d file that under “stupid marketing decision,” not “path to dystopia.”)

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “This is going to be limited to electronic features that are basically software-enabled”

          I’m not so sure about that.

          businessinsider.com/bmw-subscription-model-for-features-2020-7

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            Well, then, I guess BMW figured out how to make money on that. Good on them, I guess?

            But, anyway, I don’t see how that really changes anything. They’re not charging you for heated seats up front and then telling you that you need to pay them $10 bucks a month to keep them turned on – they’re just offering the feature on an ala carte basis. If you want the feature, then you pay; if not, then you don’t. Apparently BNW is also including an option to turn the feature off and stop paying for it if you don’t like it.

            Seems to me this isn’t all that different than the way options are included now. The only difference is that you can turn the option on after you buy the car.

            I don’t see how that’s unfair to the customer, or dystopian.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “If you want the feature, then you pay”

            Will I be paying more than I was before?

            “The only difference is that you can turn the option on after you buy the car.”

            That’s a pretty big difference. So is potentially paying forever to keep an option activated.

            Anyway, we are obviously far apart on the implications here. I think this is a bad way to do business and will probably blow up in their faces. I’m certainly not interested in participating in any subscription model for vehicle options. Once I write the check I don’t want to still be on the hook for anything.

          • 0 avatar
            Lynchenstein

            If the seat heating hardware is installed, it’s not going to be that difficult to hook up the heating elements to another 12v source within the car. There will be aftermarket hacks for this stuff before the cars are officially available for sale.
            However, in my 2016 Miata, Android Auto wasn’t available. For a couple hundred bucks I can pay to have the head unit upgraded with the required bits and pieces. That I don’t mind paying for.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            “If the seat heating hardware is installed, it’s not going to be that difficult to hook up the heating elements to another 12v source within the car. There will be aftermarket hacks for this stuff before the cars are officially available for sale.”

            And that’s the crux: Keep taxpayer funded kangaroo courts and enforcement apparatuses away from harassing those doing so, those selling and installing kits facilitate doing so etc.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Followup:
    “It would be awful to think customers would be getting gouged by having every desirable feature locked behind a paywall for nothing.”

    Oh, spare me…gouged? If the customer KNOWS what’s behind the paywall, then it’s up to him or her to pay for it or not.

    Car company 1:
    “Well, Mr. Customer, here’s a list of features that we activate in your car. XYZ feature is $40, ABC feature is $100, and 123 feature is $50. Which ones would you like.

    Mr. Customer:
    “I’ll take ABC feature for $100 and pass on the rest. Can I come back and add the other two later?”

    Car Company 1:
    “No problem, just let us know.”

    How is this dystopian?

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The problem is if before you were getting all the features listed permanently. Now you are paying for them during your entire ownership period.

      My Stinger came with a sport mode, launch control and heated seats. Those will always be functional for me to use. If Kia made it so those features each cost $10/month (or $.25 per minute for sport mode) then there is no gain to the consumer unless you think vehicle prices will drop accordingly which I have extreme doubts about because those things are still going to need installation.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        What you’re talking about, though, is basically holding you hostage for equipment you already bought. I’m no attorney, but I’d say that you bought the car based on a representation made to you by Kia that your car was equipped with those items. I am pretty sure that they can’t go back and say, “hey, ajla, sorry, unless you pay us $100, we’re going to shut off your launch control system.”

        If they wanted to charge you monthly, they’d have to do that up front.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          I don’t think they could legally pull it off my current car, but they could switch to a subscription model on future vehicles. Which again, what’s the advantage to the consumer to have a standard feature become a subscription option?

          • 0 avatar
            Luke42

            I see the subscription model making sense for features which require sustained software development effort (self-driving).

            That works in both the interest of the consumer (constant safety improvements in a changing world), and the company (software engineers draw a constant salary, and so subscription revenue makes it easier to employ them).

            For heated seats, though, the subscription model is ridiculous and I’ll just wire in my own switch to bypass that insult to my wallet.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I truly hope NHSTA or some oversight agency does not allow the no-documentation-just-code Agile model to be applied to automated driving. Seriously.

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    Buy $1000 worth of tools then buy used cars for a damned sight cheaper than the utter dreck currently on offer. USD$26,000 puts you in a mint C6 convertible, for instance. Fix it with a hammer.

  • avatar
    mcs

    VW voice interface: We have noticed that you have pulled next to a fuel pump at a fuel provider that is not an approved partner. We cannot allow the fuel door to be opened in order to assure only the best fuel is used for your vehicle. The fuel door will be opened when you are next to a pump at an approved provider facility.”

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      When my car beams in a Pizza Hut ad is when I leave society.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “VW voice interface: We have noticed that you have pulled next to a fuel pump at a fuel provider that is not an approved partner.”

      You forgot the preface: “Open the fuel door, Hal.”

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        You’re going to find it rather difficult to fuel up without your helmet, Dave.

        But I’ll change the context: what if VW partnered with a preferred fuel company, did some kind of loyalty deal for using their gas, and pushed locations for their gas stations onto your navigation system? I don’t think I’d do it, but it’s not dystopian, either.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          @Freedmike: partnering could work. Maybe free drink coupons or something. Even better, loyalty points that could take money off lease payments. Visit certain places with your vehicle and earn points.

  • avatar
    mcs

    I wonder if ICE vehicle makers are experimenting with range limiting? All they have to do is program the gauge to read empty at half a tank. and have the fuel pump stop pumping at half a tank. Then if the customer pays up, the gauge recalibrates and the fuel pump will allow the rest of the tank to be used. It could also be used as a “rescue” mechanism. If you run out at the half-tank mark, you could pay to get a one-time use of the rest of the fuel in the tank.

  • avatar

    I am not their customer so I do not care how VW is going to screw its customers in future. But I will tell you what – I never subscribed to Sirius radio and did not listen it even when it was a free trial. just did not like sound quality and there are plenty of HD radio channels and talk shows in Bay Area.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      My GMC Sierra Hybrid came with XM Radio.

      It was as archaic as Cable TV. I ain’t paying for that!

      I disabled the XM receiver module when I installed my Android Auto headunit. I actually get value out of subscribing to mobile phone service, so I just use that instead.

    • 0 avatar
      tankinbeans

      I briefly paid for a subscription to Sirius 10 years ago, but have the same problem with Sirius as I do with terrestrial radio: limited setlists, blathering DJs who think they’re funny, it’s impossible to find what I might actually want to listen to at any given moment.

      Also, at the current price of $18 + tax I’m not interested in the least. My cell provider requires that I have an unlimited data plan so I use it. There have been limited occasions where I’ve been out of range.

      Pandora does everything I want so much better. I keep my stations shuffling so I get a bit of variety. It can go from Queen to Metallica, Josh Groban to Volbeat, random 80s somethings or other to 50s DooWop, and any combination in between. People who ride in my car get really confused

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    Maybe I should just go ahead and buy that Hellcat Challenger now.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Here’s a question, though – what Dodge offered a special launch control for that Hellcat that lowers its’ 0-60 time by half a second, and you could just give them your credit card and download it like an app on your phone?

      That doesn’t sound too awful to me.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    Does A/C rental get more expensive the hotter it gets outside?

  • avatar
    CammerLens

    Coming soon to your neighborhood: sealed, tamper-proof iToilet® with Wi-Fi enabled flush mechanism. Pay as you “go,” or opt for the “Number Two” unlimited use subscription (flush volume may be throttled during heavy sewage system usage).

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    The traditional business model used to be that you bought a vehicle outright. The manufacturer/seller didn’t get another crack at your wallet until you needed or wanted to replace it. Decades ago, this worked reasonably well for the manufacturers because vehicles didn’t last that long. If they didn’t wear out mechanically, rust would get them.

    That model no longer works because vehicles last much longer now. Our eight year old Focus is fine mechanically at 100k miles and shows no signs of rust despite being driven through midwestern winters. Now that we live in a dry climate (Arizona), it should easily last another 100k and that is likely to take more than a decade. It will be that long before some manufacturer gets another crack at us.

    The subscription model is a way for manufacturers to change this highly irregular and unpredictable income stream into something steady. Unless something else piques my interest, I will probably keep my 2008 Infiniti G37S coupe until I’m too old to drive. Infiniti would rather have leased the car to me. At the end of the lease, I would have leased a new vehicle from them or a competitor and the monthly lease payments would have continued. They don’t want you to get off the treadmill.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I was looking at Oscilloscopes recently, and some manufacturers have gone to the pay to unlock built in features plan. These lower priced scopes all look very similar and I’ve seen some videos where it appears that some are the same scopes, just rebranded, with different features enabled out of the box.

    I haven’t pulled the trigger yet on one, but the ones where I have to pay upwards of $100 to get a couple of functions I need are totally off the possible list. There are a couple of brands that don’t seem to play this game and that’s who will get my money when it’s time, probably next month.

    Same goes for cars. They can keep them. Any car where this is done is off my shopping list.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @nrd515:

      Well, there is open source:

      https://www.mouser.com/ProductDetail/Crowd-Supply/CS-SCOPEFUN-02?qs=%252B6g0mu59x7IFnL9yTN62bQ%3D%3D

      https://www.crowdsupply.com/scopefun/open-source-instrumentation

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Normally id be a hard no on this but in the case of VW their could be advantages to not actually owning the electronic features.

    “Hey VW…your heated seats are broken”

    Given my VW ownership experience it would have probably saved me money if I could have just subscribed to the power windows rather than owning that wretched but expensive bunch of components.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Years ago I recall VW trying to stick videogame-type achievements into their cars, now they’re basically going to throw in on-disc dlc and microtransactions.

    I can only guess they figure that if people are accepting these practices in their entertainment, they can get away with it in their cars.

    Normally I don’t mind newer cars styling aside, but I refuse to own anything with OTA updates. Let me “update” the car myself, preferably with a wrench.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I was not happy when the 1 year free remote start period ended for my Lexus IS300. I had to download the Lexus app to use it. And because it took so long for the app to load, once I actually remembered I wanted to remote start, I was usually already outside before the car actually started. Due to the poor performance of the app and the $100/yr additional cost beyond what I was already paying for my lease, I opted not to have access to it anymore. I was not happy. The Regal GS I had before it had it in the fob and I really liked it.
    I am not in favor of this method of paid-apping cars. A car is not, and should not be, a call phone.

    If manufacturers want to sell bare bones cars at correspondingly low prices and allow 3rd parties to provide competing apps that serve the same function, then we can talk.

  • avatar
    manu06

    For those looking for a free music app, try radio garden in the
    Apple App Store or Google app. Thousands of radio stations from around the world and a cool interface.
    http://radio.garden/

  • avatar
    thornmark

    NOT owning a VW is a feature, VW is just admitting it

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    48+ hours now since this was a new story. Too busy gazing at your navels trying to figure out what fits the new editorial direction?

    The next item for a TTAC Deathwatch: TTAC.

  • avatar

    Subscribing to a feature in anything you own is ridiculous. The only thing worse is how this site has gone political, and there’s no moderation for it…..I got Twitter for the Two Minutes Hate…..

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