VW plans on selling autonomous driving by the hour
Speccing your car could become history soon
Buying a car has its moments. One of those involves speccing your car to your desired wants. The options are endless with a luxury vehicle, but on a daily driver, those options are usually restricted to technology. If the below-mentioned plans are true, we may have to bid farewell to tick tech-centric boxes in spec sheets forever.
In an interview by TopGear, Klaus Zellmer, VW’s sales and marketing head, claims the future may see all cars coming brimmed with the hardware for all technological features, right from the factory. It is understood that not all customers would want all features installed. Hence, making those features accessible is expected to get done remotely by the carmaker via over-the-air updates.
He explains, “If you happen to buy a car and weren’t convinced you needed an autonomous drive mode at the time, but then you decide you’d love to have it, we can switch it on, but we can then switch it off if the next owner of the car decides they don’t need it.”
From a carmaker’s standpoint, this practice will help them save significant money in the production process. The current scenario sees mass-market carmakers build vehicles as per the customer’s feature-ticked spec sheet, which differs with each vehicle. But when Zellmer’s idea comes through, all cars can have the same production process, which sees them being equipped with all available features.
Interestingly, Zellmer points out autonomous technology as one of the primary features to be equipped with remote operation. While he agrees that installing such a feature would significantly raise the cost of the vehicle, a subscription method for the same can be adopted to allow users to take advantage of it without spending a bomb.
Zellmer says, “If you take the example of Level 4 autonomous driving modes, the cost of installing that into a car is huge: a five-digit Euro figure. Who’s going to pay that? It’s not for the mass market. Now take the case that we install that and switch it on and off remotely. Our cost modelling says if we charge €7 an hour for Level 4 autonomous drive mode, this is a profitable business case.”
Additionally, this practice is said to aid the second-hand market as well. While the current process sees specifications of the car dictate the price, the future might make us buy just the car with features such as navigation or autonomous driving being remotely turned on at an extra cost. “That’s also interesting for the used market, because we can respond to changes in residual value by switching on functions to raise the used value”, as substantiated by Zellmer.