Autonomous Vehicles to Join the Subscription Economy

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By Maite Bezerra | 2Q 2021 | IN-6177


The Software-Defined Vehicle Paradigm


The new software-defined vehicle paradigm that allows for the expansion of vehicles' functionalities overnight through over-the-air (OTA) updates, led mainly by Tesla, requires cars to be shipped with hardware before the software availability. Consequentially, carmakers have to make investments in powerful chipsets with capacity far in excess of the functionalities offered at the Point of Sale (POS), at the risk of not taking advantage of the extra headroom due to lack of regulatory framework or because customers opt for not buying functional OTA updates.

Today, autonomous functionalities are charged a one-off fee, but the high price tags discourage adoption. It is speculated that around 27% of Tesla owners buy the Autopilot/ Full Self Driving (FSD) package, meaning over half of Tesla vehicles on the road today have unused computing. With L2+ autonomous systems costing up to US$10,000, and L4 up to US$125,000 per vehicle, carmakers are yet to develop profitable business models. Many are now considering, or have already launched, pay-as-you-go or subscription plans.  

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