Is Volkswagen looking to double dip by withholding use of equipment and features it’s already sold you?

Hey, want to buy an all-new, all-electric Volkswagen and then pay extra for stuff like lane assist, adaptive cruise control or even more range? Even though the car is already paid for and equipped with everything I mentioned earlier? Well, then - ze Germans are here for you.

According to an article on Autocar, the Volkswagen car brand wants to test out a subscription service pilot in six German cities this year. Among the potential services that will be tested are GPS navigation and - hold onto your seats - extra range for battery-powered vehicles.

And I don’t know about you, but I think you can’t really “download more range” via an over-the-air update. That would mean that your car’s battery is already big enough to store more energy, and that VW has been just a little bit too greedy, modifying the range through software and then charging you extra if you want to use it at its full capacity. Even though you already paid for the car.

Volkswagen Wants to Charge You For Equipment That's Already On Your Car
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Company officials say that you can already get infotainment functions on demand, as well as features that can be activated later, such as adaptive cruise control and automatically dipping headlights. And history tells us that this kind of business model isn’t new. In the past, car makers charged a monthly or yearly fee for stuff like new maps or live traffic. But those things could be explained by saying that for live traffic you need a data connection that costs money, and for new maps - well, they’re new. You get something for your money. Something that you own, not rent.

Volkswagen Wants to Charge You For Equipment That's Already On Your Car
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Now, though, the car you would buy would already be fitted with automatic cruise control, auto dipping headlights and a battery that has a certain capacity. So why would you pay extra for the stuff that’s already there?

Sure, automotive officials will say that maybe you don’t need to have heated seats all the time, and that you can just pay to use them during winter time, when it’s cold outside. Or that you don’t need auto dipping headlights if you just drive during the day. But again, the tech, the components - they’re already fitted!

Volkswagen Wants to Charge You For Equipment That's Already On Your Car
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In my view, it’s just a matter of money. Pure and simple. VW doesn’t even try to hide the fact that this kind of business model could generate revenues in the tree million euros range in less than five years. We’ll see how Volkswagen’s little experiment goes, but BMW and other manufacturers already went through a similar experience with expected results. Only Tesla is charging a pretty penny for its so-called Full Self-Driving Capability and seems to get away with it.

But what do you think about this trend that doesn’t seem to go away? Would you be willing to pay extra for stuff that’s already on your car, with the possibility that it could make the purchase price lower?

Let me know in the comments below.

Iulian Dnistran
Loves cars since he was a toddler. Learned how to drive when he was 6. Born and raised in a small Romanian mountain town, he had a radio show with two buddies when he was 14, and continued his love affair with radio until the end of high school. Got a Master's degree in journalism in 2013 and started to write about cars the same year, when he got a job at the largest motoring website in Romania. Since 2016, he's a videographer and photographer and sometimes he still gets the chance to drive cool cars and write about them.  Read full bio
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