The rise of ‘X as a service’ has led to this point — automaker VW is considering implementing a charge for its upcoming autonomous driving tech, and it’s possibly not going to be a one-off. Instead, VW’s board are kicking around ideas pertaining to future vehicle features, including an hourly charge for autonomous driving.
The price point? Around $8.50 (€7) an hour, which doesn’t sound too unreasonable… if you’re an American or European. Here at home, though, that’s R120 or so an hour, which makes taking an Uber everywhere the (likely) cheaper way to avoid doing any of the driving yourself.
Double your VW
But wait, there’s more! According to board member Thomas Ulbrich, speaking to German publication Die Welt, the company is considering charging subscription fees for all sort of interesting things. In addition to charging more for autonomous navigation (which, to be fair, is a bugger to develop and get working right), the company is also investigating hourly and daily packages for “range or performance” increases for its upcoming electric vehicles. Which sounds a whole lot like ‘we’ll intentionally limit your car unless you give us more money, more often’ to us.
It’s important to note that the specifics of this haven’t been ironed out yet, but the first of them will be seen in the vehicles launched in Q2 2022 built on VW’s MEB platform — which revolves around the ID.3 and ID.4 vehicles. We’ll be seeing those in SA in 2022, so we’re possibly in for a gouging.
But it’s not all horrible news. VW plans to offer video games for owners of its EVs, so you’ve got something to do while they are topped up. There’s no mention of how many coins you need to drop into the dash to make ’em work, though. Okay, okay… we’ll stop.
BMW is another car company (and you best believe all of them are considering this) looking hard into subscription services, hoping to charge buyers more on top of the price of the car itself. A cloud-driven function, we can kind of understand, but selling access to seat warmers already installed in a vehicle might just be a bridge too far.