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You Might Rent Features & Options On Cars In the Future

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the transportation-as-a-service dept.

Transportation 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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FIRST POST (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030731)

FIRST POST. more useless posting by me, mr. AC

All I Have To Say Is (5, Insightful)

rhook (943951) | about 6 months ago | (#46030739)

FUCK, THAT, SHIT!

Re:All I Have To Say Is (5, Interesting)

memnock (466995) | about 6 months ago | (#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?"

Re: All I Have To Say Is (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030899)

Lets see, we can't get the younger crowd behind the wheel, so lets put the screws to the customers we already have. What could go wrong?

Re:All I Have To Say Is (5, Insightful)

nickittynickname (2753061) | about 6 months ago | (#46030987)

The car will now require an always on connection to work.

Re:All I Have To Say Is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030813)

Are you in the imperative voice here, and calling me fecal matter? And what's the direct object here? Your comment raises significant moral and medical implications, as the activities in question could have significant unintended consequences.
I adjure you to walk back the intensity and be more clear in your directions, to maximize the feng shui of the results.

Re:All I Have To Say Is (1)

richlv (778496) | about 6 months ago | (#46030819)

wow. heh. i had a similar reaction. something like "fucking cretins".
wanted to add also something about retarded idiots, but i guess they are just very greedy. i hope this plan blows in their faces.

Re:All I Have To Say Is (1)

game kid (805301) | about 6 months ago | (#46030893)

Also, it would have been a harsh and undue insult to retarded idiots.

Re:All I Have To Say Is (5, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 6 months ago | (#46030855)

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!

Re:All I Have To Say Is (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46031041)

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

Re:All I Have To Say Is (5, Informative)

icebike (68054) | about 6 months ago | (#46030931)

Yes, stupid Idea. Since I own the car, I own everything in the car, including anything I have to hack to make it work.

I doubt there is legal precedent for this in the consumer market that would survive in court these days, unless they hung
it on DMCA lockouts of some kind.

There is legal precedent in the computer industry:

My university owned a Control Data 3200 computer back in the day.
They wanted to upgrade it to the next model up, which was a lot faster. They paid a huge price.
The technician from CDC walked in, yanked 8 cards out of the back and restarted it. It was instantly faster.

The card were delay lines. Physical devices that slowed down data movement at key places.
The Data Center director exploded on the spot! The University threatened legal action.
CDC pointed to contract terms, and the University decided not to peruse it. Computer
was replaces with IBM gear shortly there after.

Re:All I Have To Say Is (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#46031059)

your little example is not precedent.

Re: All I Have To Say Is (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 6 months ago | (#46031081)

If cars really do last longer and longer, then the natural reaction for manufacturers will be to sweeten the pot for leases. Then they can do this stuff all day without repercussion, as there's no question about who owns what.

Re:All I Have To Say Is (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 6 months ago | (#46031095)

Yeah, Verizon tried to "rent" me GPS capabilities on my phone for 8 years, got exactly $0 for that and a pile of other "optional features" that I never used - finally dumped V for T-Mobile last week (unlimited data for less than V charges for limited data? hell yeah!)

Re:All I Have To Say Is (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 6 months ago | (#46031143)

"Welcome to Shifty Ackthpt's House o' Cheap Bargain Rate Options, where you can buy to own seats, transmissions, engines, in-vehicle entertainment systems and even Smart Phone connectivity enhancements!

All constructed of Erector Set or Lego at customer's choice.

They're already testing this with televisions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030745)

Want to use your over-the-air antenna? Enter special code from the internet. Why wouldn't they do it with cars too?

Re:They're already testing this with televisions (2)

icebike (68054) | about 6 months ago | (#46030979)

Want to use your over-the-air antenna? Enter special code from the internet. Why wouldn't they do it with cars too?

Well they do it with cars, when the feature is a service. Think Sirius Radio and GPS Maps and traffic updates.
But physical parts of the car are a different thing. You take title to the car. You own it.

I don't think you can sell seat warmers as a service, unless it can't exist without an outside source.

Only for original purchaser? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030753)

It could be a way for the automakers to get something from the millions of people who, like me, will never buy a new car.

Re:Only for original purchaser? (1)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about 6 months ago | (#46030765)

More likely I expect to see more and more people driving older cars.

Re:Only for original purchaser? (1)

icebike (68054) | about 6 months ago | (#46031037)

And entire web sites devoted to hacking car "feature codes".

And the only way the manufacturers could LEGALLY control it would be via some sort of DCMA lockouts.
Still, this would be hacked within days.

Your dealer isn't going to turn you in either, because he knows where is bread is buttered.

Re:Only for original purchaser? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46031113)

Easy fix by automakers: If any of the codes are bogus, then the car throws a code and won't start until it is towed to the dealership and a ludicrous "anti-hacking" fee charged to unlock the ECM, as well as voiding the vehicle's warranty.

This is done already. Disconnect any BMW's battery made in the past couple years, and the vehicle will not start until towed to a dealer and reflashed with battery life parameters.

Re:Only for original purchaser? (3, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | about 6 months ago | (#46030823)

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

Re:Only for original purchaser? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030915)

Oh, won't the used car market be fun?
Prospective buyer: Does it come with heated seats?
Seller: Oh, yeah, this baby's loaded! for the next 20 days....sucker.

Re: Only for original purchaser? (3, Interesting)

Scowler (667000) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re:Only for original purchaser? (1)

brainboyz (114458) | about 6 months ago | (#46031051)

More likely a way for smart buyers to get a fully loaded car without paying for it. Buy the base model, then pay $200 for the unlock mod chip, and instantly you have the luxury version that costs $12k more.

Are Consumers Going to Get Screwed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030759)

Yes.

Qui Bono? (2)

drdanny_orig (585847) | about 6 months ago | (#46030767)

The big winners will be the people who sell crack codes on the black market for just under MSRP. Because automakers' coders are no smarter than any other industries' engineers.

Re:Qui Bono? (1)

toejam13 (958243) | about 6 months ago | (#46030961)

Looking at the smartphone market as a historical indicator, people may just publish cracks for free.

The first question is, does a consumer modified ECM violate the whole warranty for the car? If a side mirror falls off, does the manufacturer have to replace it? What if you modify the tuning of the engine and it throws a rod? There are a number of laws out there regarding aftermarket products for automobiles, but they tend to vary by locale.

Next question is, if you unlock a feature and bring the vehicle into a dealership for service, can the manufacturer sue you under a statute like the DMCA? Can they cancel your warranty? Can they do anything?

Last question is, how will they know? I might unlock a feature, reset it when I take it to the dealer, then unlock it again when I get home. Will cars start calling home via cellular networks? If so, will disabling or jamming the cellular modem be grounds for revoking your warranty?

I really dislike the trend of buying products but being restricted in how we can modify them. When warranties are involved, the manufacturer should have some say to prevent you from wrecking your car. But when they start throwing DMCA suits against you, that's when you know when it has gone too far.

Weather report indicates rainy conditions today (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030769)

Please type in your PIN to activate anti-lock brakes.

This nonsense only works in corporations (2)

alen (225700) | about 6 months ago | (#46030773)

Consumers will buy another brand without these annoyances

Re:This nonsense only works in corporations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030867)

Unless, as usual, the sheeple think this is a great idea and it turns into a massive revenue stream and all the brands start doing this.

Re:This nonsense only works in corporations (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 6 months ago | (#46030885)

Consumers will buy another brand without these annoyances

Right, just like how consumers can switch to a different ISP when they don't like the terms from their current ISP. There's really only a handful of car manufacturers, and if one finds a way to earn more revenue, they'll all follow.

Re:This nonsense only works in corporations (2)

dosius (230542) | about 6 months ago | (#46030969)

And when every brand does it, then what?

Competition is for companies trying to screw each other over, collusion is for companies who consider the consumer a common enemy.

Re: This nonsense only works in corporations (1)

Scowler (667000) | about 6 months ago | (#46031115)

What happens if a DRM-encrusted, services-oriented, car becomes $1000 cheaper than the vanilla model? You really trust consumers to always pick the latter option?

Re:This nonsense only works in corporations (1)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about 6 months ago | (#46031145)

Well maybe not.

The reason this sort of model works with, say, cellphones is because instead of having to fork out the cost of a new phone, you get it at a substantially reduced price.

If automakers do this and they don't actually lower the price of the cars, it won't take off.

But what if instead of paying $20k for a car, you only pay $5k and you "lease" only the features you use?

Some people (like with phones) will prefer to buy the cars out right. But some people (like with phones) will enjoy the lower monthly payments.

There are lots of other examples out there. Flights for instance -- pay for cheap seats but pay double the cost of your ticket for bags. And consumers reward this paradigm because ultimately, if you are not using all the bells and whistles, you may prefer to pay for what you just use. Alternatively, you may just not want a lower bill and be willing to accept it.

OK, let's make a deal. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030775)

If you want me to haul around your dead weight, I'm going to charge you freight for that. This is one of the worst ideas I've heard in a while. Seems like everybody wants to be Apple. A car with crippled features on it deserves to be driven right into the wall around your garden.

Or to put it more succinctly, fuck whoever came up with this idea. There really is no better way to put it.

Let me be the first to say (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030777)

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

Re:Let me be the first to say (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46031033)

And when you have an accident, expect the insurer to deny your claim and leave you bankrupt, for 'unauthorized modifications' against their terms and conditions, which void the insurance contract.

Re:Let me be the first to say (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46031127)

Unless you're hacking the safety systems of the car or some such, it's not likely they would really care.

People have been modding their cars for decades without any insurance problems. This isn't new ground.

And pay to carry around that crap, too? (3, Insightful)

jo7hs2 (884069) | about 6 months ago | (#46030779)

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.

Re:And pay to carry around that crap, too? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 6 months ago | (#46031117)

Buy used, if it has a carburetor you're almost certainly safe from electronic snooping.

How would they stop us? (1)

oic0 (1864384) | about 6 months ago | (#46030789)

If you buy the car, you OWN the car and everything in it right? if you own those heated seats, its not exactly piracy if you enable them. How would they stop that?

Re:How would they stop us? (1)

jon787 (512497) | about 6 months ago | (#46030841)

By finally securing the CANbus so that you can't just patch in anywhere and control the car with it.

Re:How would they stop us? (2)

achbed (97139) | about 6 months ago | (#46030905)

If you buy the car, you OWN the car and everything in it right? if you own those heated seats, its not exactly piracy if you enable them. How would they stop that?

They make it only available on leased models, and refuse to "sell" the vehicle. Similar to how they did that with software.

Unless you buy your car from the Apple Store... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030921)

Then you don't own it at all. Everything in it? Depends....

Re: How would they stop us? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030927)

By buying or crafting their own legislation?

Re:How would they stop us? (0)

Hatta (162192) | about 6 months ago | (#46031107)

I like how the four comments above mine all have a different, yet very plausible answer to your incredulous question.

Your idea is bad (1)

russotto (537200) | about 6 months ago | (#46030791)

And you should feel bad.

Of course this is just a way of screwing people over.

Subscriptions... (1)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | about 6 months ago | (#46030799)

...always prove to be more expensive than an outright purchase. In addition, why include something you don't use and then have to pay the gas to lug it around? No thanks.

feature bottleneck (2)

globaljustin (574257) | about 6 months ago | (#46030801)

ugh...I hate this

everywhere you look today, people want to make you pay a monthly fee for something that used to be free...or make you pay separately for something that used to be included in the main price but not lower the main price & call it 'al la carte'

it's marketing idiots who spend their work days trying to make products with **LESS** features

Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030805)

Well, duh. The manufactures aren't going to screw themselves.

Customers Screwed (1)

mossy the mole (1325127) | about 6 months ago | (#46030809)

> or are consumers going to just get screwed in the long run?" Yes is my first thought on that one.

You'll already be paying for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030815)

In that scenario. Its retarded to include them with no guarantee of payback on them. You'll just wind up paying for those options int he base price of the car instead of as an option, and then paying for them a second time to "unlock" them. Not to mention how could they possibly stop someone from hacking and unlocking them themselves? In this day an age putting in locked extras is ridiculous as more and more of the population becomes tech-savvy enough to follow directions from a website. (phone ROMs anyone?)

This is a patently stupid idea from every angle except the fucking customers out of yet more money angle.

Sheesh, hey, do you wanna buy this lovely stretch of swampland I have, its ideally located in the middle of the Sahara Desert, so with all that water you're bound to have a lot of traffic coming your way. I'll sell it to you real cheap cause you look like a trustworthy bloke...

Penny voice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030821)

"Yeah...no...that's not it..."

maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030829)

This could potentially make sense since an automaker could then make every single car exactly the same from a mechanical perspective. They could gain some manufacturing and supply chain efficiency there. I think the question is whether or not that gain in efficiency can justify the additional component costs that will have to ship with every car.

Re:maybe (1)

sjames (1099) | about 6 months ago | (#46030963)

In a healthy market (read, when pink unicorns are present) sales price is driven to the marginal cost of production. The upshot is that this scheme can only work if the market is unhealthy. Otherwise they would be forced to enable the features permanently or leave the hardware for them out to cut costs.

And (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 6 months ago | (#46030835)

As long as the hardware isn't too expensive it's often already in the car. Cruise control and steering wheel controls are in the car -- they just need to pop the plate or put on a deluxe stalk. These "heater elements put into all seats" would simply be another cost savings measure vs. manufacturing efficiency.

I can't imagine renting, so to speak, butt heaters only during winter could possibly be cheaper. It soulds more like a mathematical cover story for a quasi-loan where they simply charge poorer people a lot more over the long run because they can't afford the option up front.

Re:And (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 6 months ago | (#46030917)

As long as the hardware isn't too expensive it's often already in the car. Cruise control and steering wheel controls are in the car -- they just need to pop the plate or put on a deluxe stalk. These "heater elements put into all seats" would simply be another cost savings measure vs. manufacturing efficiency.

I can't imagine renting, so to speak, butt heaters only during winter could possibly be cheaper. It soulds more like a mathematical cover story for a quasi-loan where they simply charge poorer people a lot more over the long run because they can't afford the option up front.

Renting a seat heater only when you really need it won't be cheaper than having it there all the time. Few in Florida are going to rent seat heaters, so those people in Michigan that really want them are going to pay more since their rental fee is also paying for the unused heaters installed in cars in Florida.

Re:And (1)

TheGavster (774657) | about 6 months ago | (#46031063)

I think you've hit on the correct phrasing of the question raised in TFS: Are people who use the extra features are going to get screwed? Depending on how you look at it, either yes, they are, or no, people who only want a bare-bones car are finally off the hook subsidizing stuff they don't use. There's two problems, one a universal economic one and one practical:

Economically, the seller is partitioning their market which allows them to capture more of the surplus by filling the area under the demand curve with a stair-step market price line rather than a level one. The bare-bones people will pay less, but not save as much as the feature-users pay out in increased prices. The teller will be if people can be hoodwinked as easily with monthly car charges as they are with cell phones and cable (being a rational economic actor can save you a ton of money!).

Practically, cars are not like software. Carrying extra pieces of car around costs a lot more than having extra code sitting on disk. With fuel economy a feature of ever-increasing importance, the seller who gains 2 mpg by not including disabled hardware has a decent shot at the sale.

Re:And (3, Insightful)

nwf (25607) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re:And (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#46031089)

That's pretty pathetic. 20 pounds? wow, that might save you 2 dollars of the lifetime of the car..maybe.
Hell, not waxing your car regularly will cost you more money over the lifetime of your car.

Re:And (4, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#46031109)

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.

Economics (2)

Z34107 (925136) | about 6 months ago | (#46030837)

This could, in theory, work out if producing a single model with all the features saves money over manufacturing every permutation of radio/seats/trim/etc. The high-end would cost less, while still allowing more spartan options for those who want to save money.

In practice, I suspect it's a way to jack up the cost of new vehicles and turn every "sale" into a rental. Not sure if this will help or hurt dealerships--if all the options are already in the car, how will the middlemen get their cut of the value-adds?

Re:Economics (1)

sjames (1099) | about 6 months ago | (#46030911)

On the other hand, if they can afford to build those features into every car PLUS the cost of making them remote activated and still make a profit on the car, only a failure of the free market would allow them to not enable all of those features all the time for free.

Re:Economics (1)

Z34107 (925136) | about 6 months ago | (#46030935)

...MINUS the cost of having n-many manufacturing lines and trim options. Which, like I said, would have to be significant to make the "in theory" option believable.

Re:Economics (1)

sjames (1099) | about 6 months ago | (#46031043)

Even then, a healthy market would require turning all of the features on permanently. Otherwise, another manufacturer that did just that would kill them on value for price.

Of course, many (perhaps most) markets are unhealthy these days.

Shit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030845)

You'd have to bake AuthN/AuthZ into the microcontrollers for the individual features. Otherwise, anyone could wire their own console button to heat their fucking seats.
 
Why would we want to encourage the spending of human capital and other resources necessary to implement this?

insane (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030849)

What if I could "unlock" my heated seats? Seriously?

I assume it won't affect my gas milage or increase the base price of my car?

what a misplaced idea

how about just make the car work.

Re:insane (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030939)

I theory, it's supposed to reduce the base price of the car since all cars would be manufactured identically, just like HDDs with extra platters that new firmware can unlock to double the size of the disk (the company makes hobbled "economy" versions with fewer features). And it might change your mileage since some of the features might affect vehicle performance. Want a 6 cylinder instead of 4? Pay up and we can unlock two extra cylinders now!

Re:insane (1)

TheGavster (774657) | about 6 months ago | (#46031097)

Heated seats (or steering wheels for that matter) are a pretty terrible example, too. Locking out features of software works because you're trying to get the software to do something you couldn't figure out on your own. Turning on a heated seat just involves shorting around the box locking you out.

Already done to some extent (4, Insightful)

AaronW (33736) | about 6 months ago | (#46030863)

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.

Re:Already done to some extent (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#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.

I look forward . . . (1)

hduff (570443) | about 6 months ago | (#46030865)

. . . to the YouTube videos showing how to hack these features.

What I want to know is why there are no heated steering wheels? My hands get damn cold.

Re:I look forward . . . (1)

Algae_94 (2017070) | about 6 months ago | (#46030959)

There are heated steering wheels. Generally only on high end cars, but they do exist.

Re:I look forward . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46031031)

What I want to know is why there are no heated steering wheels? My hands get damn cold.

I'll assume you haven't looked at any new cars in the last few years.

This model works better for software (3)

steveha (103154) | about 6 months ago | (#46030869)

For software, the marginal cost of distributing the extra features disabled is pretty close to zero. It's all just bits being copied.

For a car, the car maker is still paying for the seat heaters, still paying factory workers to install those heaters, but not always being paid back by the end-user. Makes no sense.

And as a consumer, I want a simple and reliable car. I don't want my seat heaters to have a "DRM AUTHORIZATION FAILURE" error message and refuse to work when I need them.

Re:This model works better for software (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about 6 months ago | (#46030937)

For a car, the car maker is still paying for the seat heaters, still paying factory workers to install those heaters, but not always being paid back by the end-user. Makes no sense.

There are a lot of costs involved in having more build options for any product. This could offset the cost of building everything to the highest spec for many options.

Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030871)

I'd actually like that. This means that I can probably use an Arduino to enable all the features that I have been locked out of - FOR FREE !

If I install open source ECU software.... (1)

atari2600a (1892574) | about 6 months ago | (#46030873)

...will I be charged with circumventing security & have my car towed away?

Re:If I install open source ECU software.... (1)

game kid (805301) | about 6 months ago | (#46030997)

Since the cars will also be connected to the internet and each other, the **AAs that'll lead that charge will file a trumped-up charge that you tried to spread malware and cause a highway pileup. Your car will be towed and you'll be in solitary for Conspiracy To Commit Mass Vehicular Manslaughter, Threatening National Security, Copying Floppies, and Disorderly Conduct.

...pry my soldering gun from my cold, dead hands. (1)

TrebleMaker (628707) | about 6 months ago | (#46030875)

If it's hardware, it's mine to do with as I please, up to and including enabling any functions that are disabled by the computer. The seat heaters are a good example. There are wires and connectors _somewhere_. I can't see that business model working for anything mechanical.
Software, such as the navigation system, is a different story. Need navigation? There's an app for that!

Jailbreak! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030879)

woo, now we will have to jailbreak our cars now too......

stupid idea (1)

Xicor (2738029) | about 6 months ago | (#46030923)

anyone with any mind at all would be able to turn the features on. there is no reason for a manufacturer to pay for the parts and put them in if people are not going to pay for them.

hardware or just software (1)

Algae_94 (2017070) | about 6 months ago | (#46030929)

I can understand the concept of having unlockable/upgradable software. whether that is engine mapping programs or entertainment features. How can they possibly justify the additional cost of actual hardware for a car that may never activate it? Presumably with this business model, every car would have every single hardware feature on it which would add considerable cost to the base vehicle.

Prior art (1)

real gumby (11516) | about 6 months ago | (#46030949)

IBM used to do this: you could pay different prices for different clock speeds; if you paid for an upgrade the technician would arrive and remove the "slow down" jumper.

Oddly enough people felt ripped off by this. Who'da thunk it?

Firmware Lockdown by Law (1)

ScottCooperDotNet (929575) | about 6 months ago | (#46030951)

If something like this happens, there will be workarounds, but due to 'safety concerns' promoted by the automakers, cars using such firmware will be illegal.

No I will fucking not. (3, Insightful)

sandbagger (654585) | about 6 months ago | (#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.

Re:No I will fucking not. (0)

geekoid (135745) | about 6 months ago | (#46031121)

Interesting. since you pay more to get faster speed form you're ISP, or not, I guess you don't mind being held for ransom.

Bollocks to that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030981)

If I buy a car, I buy a car, I dont "licence" it at a certain level of functionality, and then pay extra for features it already possesses.

shades of IBM "screwdriver upgrades" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46030993)

Reminds me of stories about mainframes that were shipped with RAM or processors in excess of the contract, and when the inevitable upgrade was needed the techie set a set a few jumpers to enable the "new" hardware. Same thing - options, esp. electronic, have cost selling price. E.g., memory options in fondleslabs.

Benefit the consumer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46031001)

How is this going to benefit the consumer? will I go to jail if I thinker with my own car for which I payed a pretty penny?

Life As A Service (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46031009)

Welcome to Life as a Service - where you dont actually own anything, but pay licensing fees indefinitely to rent-seekers.

This is common in the test equipment market (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46031023)

I work for a company that designs oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers, and other electronic test equipment. This is really common in our market segment- we put all the hardware in the box and calibrate it at the factory, but only enable the "options" a purchaser has selected. Then if they want a field upgrade, we sell them a key. It makes sense for us because the sales volumes are fairly low and most of the cost of the equipment is in the design and software, not the physical hardware. It's cheaper for us because we have fewer options on the assembly line- it's all the same so we don't have hundreds of extra part numbers to stock. It's pretty nice to be able to sell an instant upgrade that doesn't require a factory rebuild.

MINI is not thinking of this (2)

Algae_94 (2017070) | about 6 months ago | (#46031027)

The link about MINI is suggesting they might make available DIY trim upgrades. Not trim level of the car, but the physical trim in the cabin. Think cell phones with replacable colored backplates. Absolutely nothing like TFS suggests.

In the Future... (1)

TorxHead (3476317) | about 6 months ago | (#46031047)

Suckers will still be born everyday and fools will still be parted with their money. The more things change the more they will stay the same.

It will never catch on (1)

Dega704 (1454673) | about 6 months ago | (#46031057)

I think most people will find the idea of owning a car that has features they can't use without paying monthly for completely asinine; to say nothing of the big brother implications. Ideas like this are thought up by people with big dollar signs in their eyes, rather than the consumer in mind; despite what they may claim.

How will they enforce this? (1)

mishehu (712452) | about 6 months ago | (#46031067)

That is my main concern. As far as I'm concerned, if I have purchased a product, I am free to modify it as I see fit. Will they try to push for legislation to make it illegal for me to modify my car to enable those seat warmers they gave me but didn't collect from me? Will we no longer own our cars but only be licensed to use our cars?

uhh, the math is a failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46031085)

guaranteed: adding more wiring, more chips, more screens, more whatever. but bigger features, front differentials and a transmission with more moving parts, etc. is MORE EXPENSIVE. sorry to break it to you. even though one could argue they would lower their bulk price of the features they pay, thats true. but adding them to all versions of everything sold is by definition more money than one built with no features. in part the lowering bulk price contributed to making things like power windows become still more money than hand cranks, but less of a difference such that its in most new vehicles. groups buying fleets of thousands can shave off a significant amount of money by removing them. but things like automatic 4wd or air conditioning, etc certainly are more money. it will not benefit the consumer because the automaker will never use mathematical projections that dont include for an upfront cost increase. imagine a shareholder saying "yes, a reasonable use of my money is installing AC, 4wd, full ceiling moon roofs, heated seats, etc in every single chevy cruise if it works out making my profit a steep negative if not enough people buy it". nope. its clear that though some options could fall into a category like this (a 2 dollar antenna and a cheap touch screen perhaps for nav) but really massive things like power transmission are certainly out. and here's the rub. i only use my heated seats in the winter already. they know this, when they cover these items for warranty, etc they already model the projected length of life of these seasonal or casual features. i dont use my air conditioning in the winter either, and it needs less servicing as a result. they know this and so does anyone without extra chromosomes. =)

Of course the consumer will get screwed (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 6 months ago | (#46031129)

Of course the consumer will get screwed. Car companies aren't in it to lose money.

Already available (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46031135)

This "business model" is already here... it's called after-market. Wanted heated seats? Take out a small loan(monthly payment) and have them installed.

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