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Transportation Technology

You Might Rent Features & Options On Cars In the Future 437

Posted by Soulskill
from the transportation-as-a-service dept.
cartechboy writes "These days, you go to a car dealership and you buy a car. If you want seat heaters, you might need to option for the cold weather package from the factory. Want the high-end stereo? You'll be likely be opting for some technology package which bundles in navigation. While some options are a la carte, most are bundled, and even when they are a la carte, they aren't cheap. What if in the future you could buy a car and unlock options later? Say the car came from the factory with heated seats, but you didn't pay for them. But later on, say in the middle of the freezing winter, you suddenly want them. What if you could simply pay a monthly fee during the winter months to have those heated seats work? Whether this model would benefit the consumer, the automakers, or both is yet to be seen. But automakers such as MINI are already talking about this type of a future. Is this the right road to be headed down, or are consumers going to just get screwed in the long run?"
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You Might Rent Features & Options On Cars In the Future

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  • by memnock (466995) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @06:48PM (#46030811)

    Customer, one month after purchase , "Hi, yeah, for some reason, my door won't unlock. Can you guys do a remote open for me? I'm late for work."

    Dealer: "Sorry, Mr. Smith, your door unlock feature was only available for an introductory month. Would you care to renew for the $99.99 / qtr lease at this point?"

  • by Scowler (667000) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @07:05PM (#46031025)
    All those people leasing cars, renting cars when traveling, zip car, whatever... They don't own their cars. That market is already big enough for manufacturers to consider this idea.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @07:06PM (#46031041)

    I'm guessing you're happy to drive without insurance then?

  • Re:And (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @07:14PM (#46031109) Homepage Journal

    Seat heaters weigh very little, and the wiring is already present in some models which feature them as an option. Some cars actually have harness changes for major trim levels, but they were in the minority, last I checked. Normally they just swap engine harnesses for different engines, and leave plugs hanging for any missing features.

    In the cars of yesteryear, infotainment options were big bulky modules, but today they're more likely to be a software change. It costs a couple hundred bucks best-case to put some computer module into a car whose handheld equivalent would only cost one hundred, because of the temperature and vibration requirements. But you could get down towards the best case in more situations if you included the module in more vehicles in your range, and thus produced more of them. If having it lurking there induced more people to pay for a vehicle option, you might even come out ahead. Meanwhile, you get to claim that more of your vehicles are shipped with the feature, even when it's not used.

    Anything that actually adds weight to the car will be simple enough to hack into action. You'll need some kind of alternate controller, which will probably be a few bucks on eBay. You'll disconnect it from the car and the car will throw a fault code which you will ignore, and you'll plug it into something else which will let you use it... for free.

    The only exception to this is going to be engine features. You're going to lug around more engine than you use, which we already do in the USA in most cases. You'll be able to pay more to use more of the engine or for example turn up the boost, which will also reduce your service intervals... and your warranty duration, most likely. The higher-tune versions of some cars already have short warranties, so that's no stretch. This way, automakers can cut themselves down to only making a small handful of identical engines, and cut their design costs dramatically.

    The positive side of this for the customer is that as tuning changes are made for later models they can be backported to earlier ones, and delivered to customers who have already paid for a higher performance level. They'll receive the updates during their normal vehicle warranty service.

  • by EdIII (1114411) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @07:29PM (#46031239)

    This is the stupidest and most pointless idea I've ever heard here. Who writes up stuff like that? I'd like to get paid grant money doing that. I can bullshit about things I've no clue about plenty. I even have a penis, which is like +5 skill modifier for bullshit.

    It cycles. The end result is if you did a whole bunch of effort to monetize the part, and made pretty much what you would have got to sell it outright.

    Car manufacturers would be screwed. Nothing says you can't take a component out of your car and replace it with after market. People would just sell them to exporters who send them to China to be "refurbished" into brand spanking new, superior, Chinese after market parts. I seem to remember there being a BUNCH of controversy over auto manufacturers voiding warranties and prohibiting customers from full ownership, so that has really good precedent.

    If you never actually compromise the IP cop software on device itself, but choose to remove it, no violations of DMCA were performed. That allows that "black" market. Only way around that is to link everyone one of those devices together somehow and argue that the removal of any single part compromises the IP security of all parts. Beyond freaking ridiculous of course, but it's not like old men and old business models play fair.

    Enforced how too? The OnStar is not optional? I have to be tracked? I'm warned and then sued if my car doesn't check in?

    Which guy would EVER purchase a car like that? Not many.

    It stands to reason that many people would opt not to purchase the feature, but still have the hardware in the car. Who pays for that? The consumer does, and probably at a discount price with service contract.

    Either:

    A) They need to find enough suckers to NOT figure out that the TCO has to factor in monthly service charges. So that heated seat will cost the base part price of $238.83, plus the service charge fee, credit processing fee, applicable taxes, monthly feature costs, discounts, arbitration support fee, lube fee (even though they don't use it and sell it again), general stupidity fee and end up being a $2,345.32 heated seat. This *must* seem reasonable to them.

    B) Magically survive when their not-paid-for parts are being stripped and re-purposed as scrap.

    Some people's kids man...

  • by lgw (121541) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @08:15PM (#46031639) Journal

    Well, this is Mini we're talking about, the world's most overpriced go-kart. If you'll buy coffee daily from Starbucks instead of making your own, why wouldn't you rent your car radio?

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