By on December 15, 2021

A little over a decade ago, it seemed like everyone I knew was abandoning cable packages for online streaming services. They were cheaper, on-demand, and offered more choices with fewer advertisements. But as the years progressed, companies stopped selling their media to a handful of online video platforms and started building their own. Programming became more transient and isolated, forcing consumers to buy into additional subscription services. We’ve since hit a point where the overall consumer experience has diminished and grown more expensive, despite the steady influx of competition.

While automakers have been dabbling with subscription services of their own, their earliest attempts turned out to be such overwhelmingly bad deals that the public refused to play along. But they’re not giving up that easily. Industry players have been trying to figure out ways to charge customers indefinitely for years and are starting to settle upon subscription packages that can unlock hardware that’s already been installed into the vehicle or add software that can be downloaded via over-the-air (OTA) updates. Love or hate it, vehicular connectivity has opened up the door for new sources of revenue and businesses everywhere are eager to take advantage — with most companies projecting exceptionally healthy profits for the years ahead. 

Some of that will stem from direct monetary transactions with the customer. Perhaps you want to update the look of your car’s instrument cluster to include Hello Kitty or upgrade its navigational system to be voiced by Patrick Stewart. Automakers will have you covered, for a fee. But several companies are also pitching business concepts where customers will be able to add features or boost the physical performance of a vehicle using the same methodology. And it sounds pretty futuristic until you realize that it’s pretty hard to add heated seats or additional horsepower over the airwaves. Though it’s incredibly easy to disable those items remotely using vehicular connectivity and then charge customers a monthly fee to unlock them.

But it’s also fairly simple for manufacturers to swipe private driving data from vehicles that can then be used for market research, leveraged on behalf of insurance agencies, or simply sold off to advertisers. So easy, in fact, that data harvesting is already commonplace on modern vehicles. You don’t even need to be the car’s owner. If you’ve ever synced your phone with an automobile, there’s an extremely good chance the car pulled as much data from it as possible before beaming it back to a data center.

Stellantis gave us a preview of just such a business model last week when it announced its plan to cultivate €20 billion ($23 billion USD) per year by 2030 via “software-enabled product offerings and subscriptions.” While the company isn’t what we would call a leader in the field, it’s committing itself to increase the number of connected vehicles it has sold from 12 million (today) to 34 million in under a decade.

General Motors, which has had its eye on monetizing connectivity a little longer, is targeting up to $25 billion in annual revenue by 2030 from software and subscriptions. To help the cause, it’s been updating OnStar and partnering with all sorts of companies to develop in-car applications. Similar projections (and plans) have been made by Volkswagen Group, Daimler AG, BMW, Ford, and a cavalcade of other manufacturers. Though it could be argued that Tesla is the company that’s currently leading the pack in terms of practical applications. It’s been making use of OTA updates to make changes to its vehicles for years and has rolled its misleadingly named “Full Self-Driving” suite into a subscription service.

There have also been a few scandals regarding how the company views personal ownership and secondhand vehicle sales — which we’ve covered. But this article is more about exploring whether or not the industry can actually bank on selling connectivity in the long term, rather than chronicling every perilous act that’s associated with the trend. Exactly how does the industry see all of this data-driven revenue shaping up?

“We intend to deepen the emotional bond between our customers and the brands they love,” Mamatha Chamarthi, head of Stellantis’ software business, said in a presentation to investors. “If the past was about increasing margins by moving customers north in hardware and trim levels, our future is about offering customers software-based services.”

It’s the old business model being conducted in new ways. But don’t let automakers fool you into thinking things are exactly the same. In order to make this all work, companies will probably need to standardize vehicles in a way that makes them cheaper to build while also possessing the relevant technologies that can be digitally unlocked via subscription fees. The data harvesting is also new(ish) and currently doesn’t provide the consumers with any real benefits beyond the prospect of receiving more relevant advertisements.

That could cause serious problems for automakers if customers find this new business model unappealing and start opting out — something more than a few people have told me that’s exactly what they’re planning. We’ve also found ourselves running into a period where the lower and middle classes are swiftly losing their purchasing power. The market may not be willing to entertain the automotive sector charging people an extra dollar per month to restore the intermittent setting on windshield wipers when drivers are finding themselves frustrated as to how they’ll afford gasoline and food.

But you don’t have to take my word for it. While CEOs have been discussing the need to reduce overhead by streamlining production, reducing headcounts, and focusing more on the wider margins possible via software purchases, those paid to watch the market are starting to express doubt. Automotive News recently explored the issue with Gartner automotive and smart mobility analyst Mike Ramsey, who suggested that consumers won’t have nearly the patience for these trends that manufacturers are assuming.

“I’m skeptical that any of these car companies will get anything close to the multiples they’re talking about from services,” he said.

From AN:

Automakers might be able to get customers to subscribe to features that go beyond what they have today, such as driver-assist technology, he said. But the companies will likely have trouble if they try the airline model of charging for amenities people are accustomed to having included.

“If they try to shake people down for heated seats, like BMW is considering, that’s probably not going to go over very well,” Ramsey said.

In Germany and Norway, Audi offers upgraded Matrix LED headlights on the E-tron and E-tron Sportback EVs for a monthly fee after buyers exhaust a free trial. And owners of the Polestar 2 EV in Europe can now buy a $1,100 performance upgrade that provides 67 hp more and faster acceleration.

Granted, companies are offering all sorts of new services that go beyond charging you for individual features and unlocking performance your car technically already had lurking beneath the hood. But some concepts are pretty invasive. Like other manufacturers, Ford is currently offering an updated version of its fleet management services. It’s been leveraging aspects of that for its retail business and plans to make connectivity a permanent fixture of its products to help maximize the prospective profitability.

“‘Always on’ means we are regularly interacting with our customers on things large and small,” Ford CEO Jim Farley said in July, “and we’re building new capabilities like connected services to enrich the customer experience and drive recurring revenue streams.”

This brings me back to the original cable-television analogy. When internet streaming hit the scene, it wasn’t long until it some people started seeing it as the better value. But that’s becoming less evident as the business model has matured and the market has become heavily saturated. Prices have only gone up and content has been divided between a growing number of platforms. This may feel counterintuitive, considering most technologies actually decrease in price over time. However, numerous industries are now pursuing the technology sector’s general obsession with monetizing users, rather than delivering true innovation or hardware people might want to own.

Automakers, game developers, media platforms, and other technology-focused industries currently seem to care more about customer retention and squeezing its existing clientele dry than drumming up new business. While that sounds like it could be a recipe for financial success in an over-saturated market, we’ve seen problems begin to manifest. Despite the pandemic giving the video game industry a huge boost, gamers are becoming disenfranchised with the industry’s heavy reliance on microtransactions and are spending less. As a result, literally every avenue of the business that isn’t tied to mobile gaming (e.g. tablets and phones) is expected to lose money this year.

Something similar appears to be happening with streaming services. According to the 15th annual Deloitte media trends report, the average user went from having 5 subscriptions in 2020 to just 4 in 2021. While the overall dropout rate was relatively low, hovering around 20 percent during the start of the pandemic, the rate climbed to nearly 40 percent between October 2020 and February of 2021. As belts tightened and more people got back to doing things in the real world, the elevated dropout rate has remained steady.

This doesn’t ensure the automotive sector will follow an identical trajectory as the entertainment biz. But it does provide food for thought if automakers are intent upon mimicking some of their tactics right when it seems like they’re not working as well as they used to. It’s unclear to this author how carmakers plan to tackle all these new subscription services when they’re also trying to mainstream electric vehicles, transaction prices continue skyrocketing, and the typical consumer has less money to spend. Maybe someone more optimistic can explain it in the comments.

[Image: General Motors]

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62 Comments on “Can Automakers Really Cash In on Connectivity and Subscription Schemes?...”


  • avatar
    Fred

    As an aside Visio makes more money off the data from their smart TVs then they do selling the TVs themselves https://www.theverge.com/2021/11/10/22773073/vizio-acr-advertising-inscape-data-privacy-q3-2021

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      A fact which keeps me from connecting any smart TV to my home network. Maybe if they gave the TV’s away for free, I’d consider it but I’m not paying $400 – $4000 for a TV just so Vizio/Samsung/LG/Hisense/TCL/Sony can make more money off of me.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Perhaps that revenue is from advertisers who pay Vizio. My smart TV (Sony) doesn’t suck money from my bank account, and I don’t see any ads from Sony.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Ditto. I have a Samsung, and they may send me the occasional spam e-mail, but I’m not paying them anything.

        • 0 avatar
          Fred

          It’s just like Facebook or Google, they don’t charge you anything for their service but they sell what data they gather to advertisers and probably anyone else who would pay for it.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            So, because of data gathered on me Toyota is sure I’m going to buy a Tundra from this guy over here? —————->>>>>

            I’ve seen that ad at least a 100 times, but I’m still not biting

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      I like streaming tv so much that I can’t imagine not hooking it up. I guess I could vpn but it’s easier to just cover the microphone and turn off smart assistant. I don’t care if Samsung knows I watch way too many cooking shows.

    • 0 avatar
      renewingmind

      My LG showed me an ad in the interface once. It lost its network privileges immediately and an AppleTV is the source of all content now. Zero chance I want my car involved in advertising in any way, and don’t even get me started on a subscription for features.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    “It’s unclear to this author how carmakers plan to tackle all these new subscription services when they’re also trying to mainstream electric vehicles, transaction prices continue selling, and the typical consumer has less money to spend. ”

    I’m no Steve Jobs, but I think it’s pretty basic –
    1) The subscription services are like downloading Candy Crush to your phone. It ain’t rocket science to create the apps.
    2) Many automakers have stopped targeting the people who don’t have money to spend on new cars.

    If we don’t want this in our cars, then I think we need a simpler way to “opt out.” Better consumer protection laws might be a big help with this.

    By the way, I’d pay to put a Star Trek voice in my car, but I’d want it to be the voice of the Enterprise computer (Majel Barrett, aka Mrs. Gene Roddenberry).

    youtube.com/watch?v=6CDhEwhOm44

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “We intend to deepen the emotional bond between our customers and the brands they love”

    Car brand loyalty is remarkably low; mfrs ought to figure out why, but it certainly is related to the dealer experience.

    When I bought out my lease last month, I (separately) started paying $99/yr for Hyundai BlueLink, which had been free for the 3-year lease. The car portion is static, but the phone app updates once in a while. There won’t be any unlocking of features with it, because it can’t do that.

    “…and the typical consumer has less money to spend”

    Is this really true? Some people have more – much more lately – but I don’t know what the ‘typical consumer’ is. But I do think cars and their prices are going upscale, leaving entry-level buyers behind. Hey, wasn’t the $17/hr starting wage at McDonald’s supposed to solve that?

  • avatar
    MKizzy

    Many enthusiasts and older consumers will scream bloody murder but the masses, who are already used to paying piecemeal subscriptions for everyday conveniences, will likely accept and even desire unlockable features on their cars if marketed correctly.

    Modern autos already have a gold mine of features open to subscription: adaptive head lights, intermittent wipers, tire pressure monitoring, heated seats and steering wheels, extra usb ports, duel/tri zone climate control–the list goes on. All it takes is for automakers to find the right combination of desirable features to offer on models/trim levels that otherwise wouldn’t have them and they’ll rake in the dough.

    The rest of us can drive old beaters and pound sand.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      I guess I’ll be one of those pounding sand. We have three vehicles with model years ranging from 2008 to 2014. None of them are connected. They aren’t even synced to our phones despite offers from the dealers to do this for us at no charge.

      Whether a subscription is worth its price depends on how much value the customer sees in it. Tire pressure monitoring is nice but I drove for decades before it became available so I wouldn’t pay a monthly fee for it. Neither do I care enough to pay for satellite radio. Having to pay monthly for intermittent windshield wipers would piss me off. Clearly superior headlight would be worth a substantial price to me.

      One subscription that is to the customer’s advantage is Tesla’s full self driving. Buy it for a month to use on a long trip and cancel as soon as you return home. It’s a much better deal than $10k up front that you’ll never get back.

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      also going to lead to hacks and workarounds if possible on forums. people already hit junkyards for “upgrades” found on a better model

  • avatar
    notapreppie

    Man, I really hope CFAAS (“Car Features As A Service”) doesn’t take off like SAAS (“Software As A Service”).

    SAAS isn’t so bad because you typically don’t pay >$20k for your computer and there’s usually some kind of alternative or at least competition for your money.

    There’s no way for a 3rd party to offer the same functionality on your closed-ecosystem automotive system.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      OK, let’s ponder SAAS. Adobe, for many reasons, switched to a strictly subscription service for its Creative Suite of applications. Now, these are professional bits that businesses use to make money–as opposed to a consumer good–so there’s a little difference here, but stay with me.

      Adobe announced that as of now, they have a schedule such that beginning in March they will remove–REMOVE–the Pantone libraries from their products. That’s unthinkable, but there you have it. The simple fact is, the two 800 pound gorillas of the industry–Adobe and Pantone–are fighting, just like cable companies and local broadcasters. Each side wants more from the other side.

      Who gets screwed? The end user. Nothing good comes from something you don’t own.

      Oh, wait–the automakers physically can’t design and/or manufacture a car that isn’t outpaced by cellular connection technology within the first 4 years. So we’re already going through this “sucks to be you, that feature is long gone” stuff. And have been in this respect, for 20 years. I’ll never forget Cadillac selling analog Onstar-equipped cars up and and past the date that Verizon shut off analog cell service.

      Anyway, CFAAS should scare everyone. Fortunately, the competition is always looking for an edge.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I don’t like subscription services on cars but…

    Back when the nickels still had pictures of bumblebees on them nearly *everything* on a vehicle was optional. Then competition made it so many of those optional features became standard.

    So if Ford starts charging subscription fees for tow/haul mode or heated seats while another brand offers them “for free” I could see that being a competitive disadvantage for Ford.

    To pull this off you need to have strong brand equity or a unique feature. And doing this on safety features is probably a bad PR move.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Jeez.
    Matt writes LONG articles.
    Any trimming possible? Verbosity is not a virtue.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    Heated seats, remote start, engine tuning, etc. can all be added via the aftermarket.

    Will this appeal to everyone? No, of course not. But I expect it will serve as a check on the manufacturers being too greedy.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      They will likely fail in this attempt at chicanery.

    • 0 avatar
      Land Ark

      The fact that my Lexus had the capability to remote start – since they gave me the ability to do it for 1 year when I got it – and they had the audacity to try to suck another $100 from me to be able to use it a year later made me form a negative opinion of the brand which I previously held in the highest regard.
      It didn’t prevent me from leasing the car, obviously, but I chose to go without rather than encourage them and agree to pay for something that should have come for free since it had already been installed.

  • avatar
    MitchConner

    Once again the MBA spreadsheet jockeys waste all kinds of time making business projections and PowerPoints with pie charts, Gantt charts, along with all kinds of other hocus pocus to, tah-dah, concoct a business plan that will supposedly make billions of dollars, euros, pesos, bitcoin, etc. — only for it to be about as successful as Quibi. Why? Because this is really going to infuriate consumers.

    With sticker prices orbiting somewhere near the Van Allen Belt and payments extending out 7 years or more — the last thing a consumer wants is yet another bill from the manufacturer to get a lot of features in their car to work.

    That said, there might be a possibility the mobile app model would work. You buy your car and its features then pay a few bucks for outside add ons like a GraceDigital app that allows you to stream any radio in the US by typing in its call signal, get a performance upgrade, a better nav map, a way to limit performance when a teen is driving, etc.

    Open the operating system up so competing developers can get their products approved and battling for customers in the marketplace — as opposed to bending your customers over a rock.

    The marketplace approach will create better products while keeping prices down — just like the various mobile app stores do.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “Once again the MBA spreadsheet jockeys waste all kinds of time making business projections and PowerPoints with pie charts, Gantt charts, along with all kinds of other hocus pocus to, tah-dah, concoct a business plan that will supposedly make billions of dollars, euros, pesos, bitcoin, etc. — only for it to be about as successful as Quibi.”

      You mean the same guys who told Toyota that Scion’s products would draw a certain younger demographic into the showroom, only for the universe to laugh as old ladies like my mom swarmed to the xB because it was perfect for them?

      • 0 avatar
        SoCalMikester

        scion did what it intended. youths were and still are attracted to the tc, which was an affordable celica. xb was relatively popular too. i attended “hot import nights” once and it was yougish guys with tricked out scions. guess what most of those people probably purchased as a replacement? another scion, toyota or lexus

        • 0 avatar
          jalop1991

          hardly.

          https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/07/scion-gives-in-starts-marketing-to-oldies/

          What Marko said:

          “I remember seeing the very first 2004 xB’s on the road and seeing their drivers. They weren’t exactly the “youth” that Scion was supposed to appeal to…”

          And geozinger:

          “There was a time (before my beard went gray) that only graybeards were driving Scion Xboxes and PT Cruisers. You can’t deny the value proposition, but it was 180 degrees from the marketing message.”

          Even Toyota acknowledged it.

    • 0 avatar

      “the last thing a consumer wants is yet another bill ”

      It is similar to how healthcare works in USA. When you are on your deathbed “the last thing a consumer wants is yet another bill”.

  • avatar
    Turbo Is Black Magic

    There is only one car subscription I would ever even consider paying for… true no B.S. autonomous driving. Whoever actually comes up with that can take buckets of my money. Try charging me for anything else.., piss off.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      “There is only one car subscription I would ever even consider paying for… true no B.S. autonomous driving. Whoever actually comes up with that can take buckets of my money. Try charging me for anything else.., piss off.”

      Available today: just take an Uber.

  • avatar
    dwford

    I would be very curious as to the take rate for the different brands connected services. Or the take rate for SiriusXM, is is pretty much ubiquitous in all cars built for the last 10+ years. Do these automakers really think they can charge a subscription for occasional use features like remote start or heated seats? Or that enough people will shell out for different wallpaper on their infotainment screens? Or even headlights that do a little extra if you pay? It just makes no sense to me.

  • avatar
    watersketch

    Some things I would be willing to pay for when I need it but not as a subscription.

    Those Onstar ads where the Onstar operator immobilizes the stolen car? Awesome – I would definitely pay for this if my car was stolen. But no way am I spending $20/mo for that capability.

    Same for something like remote diagnostics. I would gladly pay $20 for this to not have to bring the car into the shop.

    Airbag deployment and you call the ambulance for me? Charge me $100!

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Until they install upgradeable telematic modules, cars will go obsolete faster than ever. Ask anybody with an ’03 Escalade how well their OnStar works… it doesn’t, because it uses obsolete 2G telematics.

    That’s fine, manufacturers don’t care about 19-year-old trucks, and I doubt GM lost much money on OnStar subscriptions when the 2G network went obsolete.

    But if my 4-year-old BMW loses features when the 4G network goes obsolete, I’m gonna be bent.

    • 0 avatar
      jalop1991

      My 2017 GTI, which turns 4 years old on Friday, will as of January no longer have whatever connected services it was sold with–the ones that VW tried desperately to sell 5 years worth to me the moment I hit the button to turn on the 6 month trial to see what it was all about. (Hint: it was worthless as a FREE product.)

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Imagine if the heated seats stop working, because they dropped 2G?

      Cars will become disposable.

      • 0 avatar
        jalop1991

        “Imagine if the heated seats stop working, because they dropped 2G?”

        Yeah, imagine that one. “We can’t contact your car, so therefore nothing optional can be verified. All features will be disabled by default.”

        That’s a superb question to ask the vendor. “What’s your failsafe mode of operation? Is it to turn all features ON, or OFF?” Imagine taking a trip to the middle of nowhere and the system doesn’t have a signal and can’t phone home on its schedule to verify your subscription. “Sorry, all features disabled. Please see your dealer for a subscription.”

        Maybe the dealers will be the ones to fix this for us. Imagine every car on the lot is a base model with respect to how it operates, and after the sale you go directly to the manufacturer to unlock Hellcat mode and suspension behavior. That’s money straight out of the dealer’s pocket; it’s how the manufacturers can do direct sales and bypass the dealer while still following the laws from the 1950s that created and supported the dealer food chain.

        Of course, the dealers will simply insist on being the sole source for the subscription–sort of like insurance agents. They won’t have to sell so many cars; they’ll just sit back and take the recurring revenue as people re-up their Hellcat horsepower or canyon carving suspension setup, as well as the ability to run those 20 inch wheels instead of the stock 18s.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    Makes me feel pretty good about the $263 I spent having some maintenance done on my 20 year old Accord today.

    My 26 year old Sable goes in next week for an oil change and brakes. Feelin’ pretty good about that too.

    I think Teslas are super cool, and I had a Ford Fusion Hybrid as a rental last month and liked it just fine, but I’m not going to buy something like that and put up with the networking crap until I have to.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Proof we did in fact leave planet Earth:

    https://classiccars.com/listings/view/1551023/1995-toyota-4runner-for-sale-in-san-jose-california-95129

  • avatar
    6250Claimer

    I think infotainment systems peaked about 5 years ago. They did everything anyone could possibly want. All that was left was to refine the UI’s and various controls, and continue to move up to better hardware that wasn’t laggy and slow. More recently, the “advances” are all about the mf’r, not the car owners. Case in point: BMW is now up to iDrive 7. It is capable of over-the-air software updates. AFAIK there is no way to opt out of them, or know what is being changed/updated and allowed to make a decision as to whether or not you want it. They’ve already released buggy software, causing problems that weren’t there in the first place, frustrating customers. iDrive 6, the previous version, doesn’t have this capability, but is able to do stuff like over-the-air map updates. That’s cool – just don’t give me new software I may not want.

    I think this subscription thing is going to be widely rejected and fail. Look at BMW a few years ago – they were late to the party providing Apple CarPlay compatibility, then when they finally did, wanted something like $300 to enable it, or worse, an annual subscription option. They were widely panned and customers were outraged. They listened and made it a free feature within a couple of years, and enabled it for any past customers who wanted it. I see the same thing happening for “features” they want to charge extra for, especially anything that requires an annual subscription. Funkdat.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “BMW is now up to iDrive 7. It is capable of over-the-air software updates. AFAIK there is no way to opt out of them, or know what is being changed/updated and allowed to make a decision as to whether or not you want it.”

      Musk’s fault.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Well, we’re way past Philco AM radios and pull-knob Astro Ventilation. Why doesn’t a phone maker pair up with a car company? Some obvious ones: Nokia/Volvo; Sony/Toyota. Have the phone or middle of the dash device separate from the modem. Need more or better software? Just download. The car makers would be better off just taking payments from the phone makers.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    I fully appreciate electronic engine management but all this connectivity makes me yearn for the days of points and Webers.

  • avatar
    stuki

    “This may feel counterintuitive, considering most technologies actually decrease in price over time.”

    As long as people are free; prices come down and quality go up, over time.

    Overpriced mediocrity, is simply routed around. But only as long as people are free to do so. Which is why people increasingly are not. But are instead forced, by the totalitarian state, to fork over to mediocrities too incompetent to deliver value; by one patent-troll, “licensing,” “import-ban” scheme and restriction or another. None of which serve any purpose whatsoever, other than enriching mediocrities who are too incompetent to hack it in free competition with their betters.

  • avatar
    NigelShiftright

    I can pretty much watch anything I want, from any streaming service, as long as I am willing to wait a couple of days for it to show up on U*e**t or B*tt*r**t.

    Not sure that similar paths will open up for software-locked car features, but I can hope.

  • avatar
    Daniel J

    Before subscription models, in general, many software companies were losing money if not going under.

    The problem is that simply charging large sums of money for a software suite wasn’t enough to allow products to move forward for new technology or just simple updates. Subscription service allows the consumer get updates and allows the customer in some cases, pay less for a product if they only need to use it for a short period of time.

    In regards to automobiles, I really don’t see an issue for a subscription service for software that gets updated as long as the consumer isn’t saddled with some awful beta version to begin with.

    Where I draw the line is for physical features in the car, such as heated and cooled seats, remote proximity start (looking at Toyota), or even the ability to open a sunroof, because it’s next right?

    Some safety features I could see as a subscription or one time type of fee as long as that once the owner quites the subscription, that the feature is reverted to the functionality as exactly as it was at time of purchase. For example, if Mazda wanted a subscription service for it’s lane monitoring (which isn’t great, btw) and they make software updates to it to make it better, if I stop the subscription the feature should revert to it’s date of purchase reversion.

  • avatar
    watersketch

    Where this could work is in the rental market.

    Hertz and Avis could buy top-end vehicles and then turn on or off options depending on whether they are doing the $80/day business/leisure rental or the $25/day insurance deal.

    Not paying a high rate? – no Bluetooth for you cheapo!

    Even better they can stilll rent out the Challenger for $30/day but it tops out at 75mph.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    At first I was afraid, I was petrified
    Kept thinkin’ I could never live without you by my side
    But then I spent so many nights thinkin’ how you did me wrong
    And I grew strong, and I learned how to get along

    https://youtu.be/eEof53s5lmo

  • avatar
    Steve Lynch

    Like Tesla has already proven, this will create utter chaos in the used car market. Unless you trade your car in at a same make dealership, the carmaker may not know you no longer own it. The day they find out out they will cancel the new owner’s car’s subscription features as they are blissfully driving down the road.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Personally, I wish they would drop the idea of the vehicle being a ‘rolling hotspot’ for the passengers; I am constantly annoyed by the OEM of my pickup truck begging me to subscribe to data services over and above the push-button emergency calls and voice-navigation functions, of which the navigation has NEVER been used in the course of more than three years of ownership and the other was used only once to complain about an OTA update that totally screwed up the infotainment system WHILE I was driving.

    Meanwhile, I find out that a smartphone/smartwatch company is setting up to have those devices automatically notify emergency services if they detect a crash, making such OEM subscription services redundant and likely unnecessary, as depending on the severity of the crash, the vehicle may not be capable of doing so. I already use both the watch and the smartphone mentioned and they’re even more useful than the old, “I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up” pendant devices so touted by TV advertisers (and also don’t require you to be conscious to use them if you do fall. In fact, they require you to be conscious to PREVENT them from calling if they detect a potential incident. Honestly, I wish my mother had had this in her last weeks; she might still be alive if she had.)

    My point is that outside of the original purpose of those push-button-help systems in vehicles, the other services are a waste of time and money, ESPECIALLY now that smartphones are so much more capable. Better to let the vehicle rely on the personal phone than to have multiple, redundant, data services that rely on the exact same infrastructure.

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  • Lou_BC: @ajla – well reasoned comment. The new Hummer is a good example of your comment. Massive weight in...
  • JMII: 3,900lbs? yep, batteries are heavy. Why does it have a tunnel in the back? Are the batteries there instead of...
  • Lou_BC: @285exp – where did I defend his comments? My deliberate misspelling “freedumb” would...
  • FreedMike: “And how much lithium is there on the planet?” Turns out there’s a crap ton of it right...

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