VW plans on selling autonomous driving by the hour

S​peccing your car could become history soon

5w ago

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.

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Comments (7)

  • I don't like the idea of the vehicle manufacturer being able to change my car on the fly. Or charge me for a button I accidentally hit. No thanks. I still like my low tech knobs and dial indicators with no autonomous driving. I drive. Have been for three decades. Thanks you VERY much.

      1 month ago
  • I hate how the manufacturer thinks on this one. Tesla does this already raising the average price of all their cars by equipping them with high end hardware that is disabled by software. It just adds weight to all of the cars and makes them more expensive to fix if you are in an accident. It's like spending $10,000 extra on a house with a locked room. Your neighbor spends $20,000 to get the same house, but they have a key to open the room. How about my house doesn't have the locked room and it costs $10,000 less, and the rich neighbor pays $30,000 and gets the extra room? It's a waste of resources. No, just no. He should sell everyone a stretch limo with a variable number of seats. The retired couple get two seats, the young couple with a child gets four seats, and the Duggars get 30 seats.

      1 month ago
    • That's actually a good point, Mike!

      Because what happens when you have an accident and the kit you're not using gets damaged. Asking the customer to pay for it would certainly be wrong

        1 month ago
  • I want non of the tech fitted just a heater and radio would do me.

      1 month ago
  • I'm a sort of kid

    I would want my daily to be a sort of race car

    an old race car

    so no screens no autonomous driving, I rarely turn on the radio so not aving one wouldn't be a problem for me...

      1 month ago
  • Where is the car world going? Pretty soon, we probably won’t even be washing our cars! I am sad that this era of autonomy is coming. I’m sticking with my oldies.

      1 month ago