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Transportation Technology

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

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 rhook ( 943951 ) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @07:43PM (#46030739)


  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @07:46PM (#46030777)

    If this happens I will be hacking the shit out of my car.

  • by jo7hs2 ( 884069 ) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @07:46PM (#46030779) Homepage
    I'm sorry. Not interested. I don't want to waste fuel carrying around equipment I don't need, much of it will be reporting back on my driving habits, listening habits, and shopping habits. I deliberately picked my car to have as little cruft in it as possible with only the features I wanted. Even that was a huge pain nowadays.
  • by flaming error ( 1041742 ) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @07:48PM (#46030823) Journal

    Or a way for the automakers to get nothing. I'd just buy older cars whose features I didn't need to rent.

  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo@wo[ ] ['rld' in gap]> on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @07:52PM (#46030855) Homepage Journal

    No, this is great! Lots of companies have tried this and someone always figures out a way to enable the extra options for free. I have a DSLR camera, an oscilloscope, a TV, a phone, sat nav and several other devices that have been hacked to enable extra features that the manufacturer wants to charge for.

    Now I'll be able to buy the base model and get the high spec version with a simple software hack!

  • by AaronW ( 33736 ) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @07:52PM (#46030863) Homepage

    With the Tesla model S the supercharger feature is optional with the 60KWh battery and can be enabled at any time by an over-the-air update but is a $2,000 feature, presumably to help offset the cost of electricity and building out the Supercharger network. The hardware is installed in every car.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @07:58PM (#46030927)

    By buying or crafting their own legislation?

  • Re:And (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nwf ( 25607 ) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @07:59PM (#46030947)

    The problem with some features, is that they add weight to the car. I don't want to pay for gas to truck around 20 lbs of crap I can't use. I can't imagine cruise control takes much to make it work with computerized cars (software having little mass), but something like a seat heater would. I'm already hesitant to buy a new car with all the crappy "infotainment" systems that pretty much all suck and generally aren't updated.

  • by sandbagger ( 654585 ) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @08:02PM (#46030971)

    Absolutely not. Why? For the same reason I'll never upgrade to Adobe Creative Cloud from CS 6. I don't want to be held ransom.

  • by nickittynickname ( 2753061 ) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @08:02PM (#46030987)
    The car will now require an always on connection to work.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @08:10PM (#46031071)

    That actually makes sense though - you're paying for the ability to use the network, not the hardware in the car.

    This would be enabling features that exist in the car and have no external dependencies, which is patent nonsense.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @08:25PM (#46031213)

    They'll keep the whole "You're not allowed to drive without insurance", and add in "Your insurance is cancelled if you modifiy your car".

    Why SELL us things once when they can charge us a quarter as much every month for years?

  • by rhook ( 943951 ) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @08:30PM (#46031249)

    Sure, until your car reports you for violating your licensing agreement and the DMCA.

  • by The Grim Reefer ( 1162755 ) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @08:51PM (#46031421)

    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?"

    And eventually there will be a recall as that conversation will start ending something like this:

    "No thanks Mr. car dealership guy. I'll use my hammer to unlock it Oh, and by the way, I leave work at 5:00. Please expect me to stop by shortly thereafter to pry your skull open with the other side of said hammer. If you wish to discontinue this new service I'm offering, you may lease the rest of your life for the low introductory price of $199.99 per quarter. Have a wonderful day."

  • by CrazyDuke ( 529195 ) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @09:03PM (#46031517)

    ...a used car that is governed to 25 MPH and can only make left turns because basic functionality has to be enabled via $50,000 DLC that was only included with the initial purchase.

  • by hermitdev ( 2792385 ) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @09:11PM (#46031589)
    Funny, my Kindle is wifi only, and 99% of the time the wifi is turned off (there's an easy and convenient menu option to do so).
  • by R3d M3rcury ( 871886 ) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @09:22PM (#46031709) Journal

    They'll keep the whole "You're not allowed to drive without insurance", and add in "Your insurance is cancelled if you modifiy your car".

    Uh, I'm not sure where you're from, but the insurer of my car and the dealer I bought it from have nothing to do with each other.

    Why would the insurer care? About the only reason would be that they might want more money because the car is more valuable.

  • by hermitdev ( 2792385 ) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @09:28PM (#46031769)

    Yeah, this idea is just asinine. This isn't like software where you're not shipping some bits, or even if you ship them and selectively enable or disable. These are physically manufactured components. The parts have to be physically manufactured and installed.

    One could argue that by eliminating the variance on the manufacturing line, they could increase efficiency at assembly. If that was the case, just include the features as standard features. Otherwise, they're actually going to increase complexity by introducing some sort of DRM-like system that would probably necessitate some sort of wireless connection to phone home (and who's going to pay for that? hint: not the manufacturer). Not to mention the costs to develop and implement such a system. And will any breakdowns be covered under warranty? And, for how long? If I "subscribe" to heated seats, are they going to assume the replacement/repair cost if they break? Do they transfer to a new owner if I sell my car?

    I find this offensive, and that Mini is even considering this has eliminated them permanently from future consideration (not that I'm they're target demographic anyway).

    It seems as though that consumers that choose not to subscribe to a particular feature would be subsidizing those that do. (After all, the feature physically exists in my car). It would seem to counteract this, you'd have to up-charge those that do subscribe to offset the manufacturing cost. Either way, it seems to be a lose-lose situation for the consumer.

  • by Zynder ( 2773551 ) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @10:40PM (#46032145)
    There is no way whatsoever that they would tie safety systems to a pay per use feature. You're just jerking your knee cause when it comes to automated technology, that is the "fashionable" thing to do these days.
  • Re:Qui Bono? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Miamicanes ( 730264 ) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @11:05PM (#46032289)

    In this particular context, it doesn't really *matter* what the MMWA literally says. For the past ~35 years, the federal agency tasked with ENFORCING the MMWA has, without fail, put the entire burden of proof on the manufacturer.

    In the real world, it's very dangerous for a manufacturer to risk denying warranty coverage over customer modifications unless they're BLATANTLY responsible for the failure. Even when large corporations COULD objectively deny warranty coverage, they rarely DO, because it would cost them more to document their reasons for denying coverage to the FTC's satisfaction than to just swap it out for a remanufactured replacement item and harvest the high-value parts from the broken one to use for repairing other phones.

    What a company like GM or Ford COULD do, however, is require that consumers allow them to update their firmware to the latest version prior to doing anything else... and in the process, slam the door on the vulnerability that allowed you to hack it in the first place to enable the feature. You could end up in the same unhappy position as someone with a jailbroken iPad running 7.0.4 a few months from now, then has it develop a bad solder connection in the lightning port. If you send it to Apple, they'll fix it... but they'll also reflash it to 7.0.5 (or beyond), which probably won't have a working jailbreak for god knows how long. You'll have to choose between a phone with working USB, and a phone that's crippled by Apple to make sure you can't have a 5-row keyboard.

  • by mellon ( 7048 ) on Tuesday January 21, 2014 @11:42PM (#46032483) Homepage

    Yup. The funny thing about this plan is that it reveals a truth that isn't really in the best interest of the car companies: their car is actually worth quite a bit less than they are charging you for it. They are giving you a car with all the features, but charging you the price of none of them, instead holding them hostage in hopes of future payments. Any fool can see that this means that the price they were charged for the car was much more than they should have had to pay. I predict this strategy will backfire big time.

  • by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @05:07AM (#46033769)

    It's for fleet buyers and leasing companies.

    No, it's for people who want to see society become completely rent-based. You can't buy anything, thus you don't own anything, and so can't accumulate wealth and rise through the ranks. Stay in your place, peon!

  • by gtall ( 79522 ) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @08:15AM (#46034337)

    This is closely connected to the annuity based economy. Every company and its brother's dog wants a straw into your wallet that sips a bit every month. It started with "registering" your appliance. Then it progressed to yearly maintenance agreements so you could pay them for stuff that should have worked correctly out of the box but mysteriously doesn't, think of it as paying for them laying off their quality control department. It's not gotten so bad that I purchased a dimmer switch from one of the home remodeling centers, you may know them as what we saber-toothed called "hardware stores" back in the day, and the home center wanted to sell me a maintenance agreement for $10...on a $20 item.

    Up next, with the rise of "consumers" shopping brick and mortar stores for a price and then going on line to get it, we'll soon be charged for merely walking into the stores to finger the merchandise (say that last in Bugs Bunny's Bronx-Brooklyn accent), and we will have acquiesced to another iniquity, albeit one which we helped to promote.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.