Not to be outdone by the likes of BMW and Volkswagen Group, Tesla has decided to begin linking its connected services to a subscription-based payment plan. German automakers may be careening headlong into an era where you have to pay a monthly fee just to activate already installed hardware like heated seats. Though Tesla remains the master at conning customers into overpaying for nebulous features and we need only look at the Full-Self Driving suite, that has yet to manifest into genuine vehicular autonomy and just keeps getting more expensive, for an example.
While the standard connectivity package has always been free for the vehicle's lifespan, Big T is now saying that's only going to be true for the first eight years of ownership. The rationale here is that automotive companies have to continue supporting connectivity services and that there needs to be something to help offset that ongoing financial investment.
There’s a gaggle of Mazda owners in Seattle, Washington, that have reportedly been stuck listening to National Public Radio (NPR) over the last few weeks. The manufacturer has addressed the problem, saying the local affiliate had broadcast images files with no extension causing an issue on some 2014-2017 Mazda vehicles with older HD radio software. This effectively bricked the infotainment system on some vehicles, locking them into listening to NPR and out of literally everything else.
When people started burning down 5G towers in fear, the practice seemed a little misguided. But if you happen to be the owner of a connected automobile, there’s a chance you’ll be wishing enough of them had been taken down to delay those low-latency spires from becoming the default broadcasting network.
While you were probably aware that 3G cellular networks will be shut down in the U.S. next year so the telecom industry can focus in on 5G, you may not have been hip to the fact that this could totally nullify the connected features inside of your car. Unfortunately, loads of automobiles manufactured the early days of phone pairing and internet integration won’t be able to make the journey into 5G like the new phone or tablet you purchased. Worse yet, there are even some modern vehicles that are about to become a lot less feature rich with companies that have no intention of offering updates.
Like most people, you’re probably thinking of sliding into a brand spankin’ new two-door SUV convertible in the new year. Who isn’t? But the Range Rover Evoque Cabriolet is just too nouveau riche for your discerning tastes; you’re thinking of something less snooty, something more relatable to the common man.
Hey, doesn’t Nissan sell a Murano CrossCabriolet? That sounds more up your street. Grabbing your cup of Swiss Water decaf, you head over to the interwebs to take a gander at the CrossCabriolet. Hopefully there’s still one available in light teal. Well, what do you know? Here’s the webpage, just as you hoped.
Hold on a minute — all of this juicy CrossCabriolet info is written in past tense!
“I’ll tell you something,” the grizzled used car veteran said to me menacingly from across his massive, oaken desk. “The internet has ruined this business.”
Tell me something I don’t know, old man.
It’s a variation of the same thing I’ve heard for five years. The car business used to be a place where men of little to no education or intelligence could make veritable fortunes, simply by preying upon the ignorance of their customers. Pre-internet, it was completely realistic to make $4,000 of front-end gross profit on the sale of a used car — and sometimes even more! Pull up a chair across from the more tenured sales guy at any Cadillac store, and he’ll gladly spin you a yarn about that one time he made $10,000 in gross on a little old lady who was on a fixed income, and he’ll laugh as he’s telling it.
Of course, he’ll have plenty of time to tell you this tale because he’s the guy who doesn’t take ups and instead lives on his book of referrals — and those are dying faster than the baby boomers who made them an integral part of the car business in the first place.
But now? Why, that rotten internet and all of its information has made it impossible for dealers to screw customers. Or has it?
TTAC commenter Piston Slap Yo Mamma has given us a great gift.
While perusing used cars on his local Craigslist site, he noticed a trend occurring in the vehicle images. Fingers. Lots of them. Obscuring license plates. Possibly, revealing more about the driver than the plate itself.
So numerous were these crooked appendages, often topped with purple or naturally yellow nails, that he felt the need to share them. So, this Tumblr page was born.
Scion — the youth focused, geriatric-coveted Toyota Junior Team brand — is looking to push sales in a different direction as it tries to shed its “retiree in an xB” image in favor of #millenials Snapchatting their road trips in Scion iMs.
According to The Detroit Bureau, Scion wants to offer their wares online in more markets in an effort to appeal to younger consumers who don’t want to take test drives, I guess.
Every so often, the same tired rumor will pop up again, like a particularly resilient pimple that habitually reappears in the same conspicuous spot. Thanks to the incessant hunger for clicks among auto websites, these rumors refuse to die, no matter how asinine they are. How many times have you seen a “BREAKING” or “EXCLUSIVE” story on the next Toyota Supra or some absurd BS fabrication regarding a diesel Mazda MX-5?
Google’s autonomous car program tends to get the lion’s share of attention when discussing the tech giant’s auto initiatives. But lurking in the background is a more immediate project that has the potential to finally “disrupt” (as Silicon Valley types are so fond of saying) online automotive sales.
Car companies the world over get in line to spend $185,000 (for starters) to register their brands as what is called a “Top Level Domain” or TLD. Instead of, say “Chevrolet.com,” in the future, you will be able to type only “Chevrolet” to get to the site. Google allows you to do the same right now, but also gives you a long list of other choices.
The rise of the internet has had myriad effects on everyday life, not the least of which has been its profound impact on consumer behavior. With ever more data being made available online, and with the rise of independent alternative media outlets like TTAC, car buyers in particular are fundamentally changing their relationship to the car buying process. Dealers have been noting for some time that the internet has created better-informed buyers who, armed with more information, are demanding the car they want at the best possible price, wreaking havoc on traditional car dealer tactics like upselling and opaque pricing policies.
But as the eternal dance between supply and demand shifts in favor of consumers, some dealers and OEMs are having a tough time adjusting to the new reality. At the same time, the need to make money off of online consumer education has created some tension for the new breed of consumer-oriented websites. This conflict has now broken out into the open, as the auto transaction data firm TrueCar has found itself locked in a battle with American Honda over the downward pricing pressure created by more widely accessible transaction data. And the outcome of this conflict could have profound impacts on the ever-changing face of the new car market.