Do you have to pay a recurring fee to unlock horsepower?
The long lifespan of electric cars threatens to cut into the car industry’s profits. Several companies deal with this problem by charging a recurring subscription fee for features of a vehicle you already own. I expect it’s only a matter of time before a manufacturer tries to charge you a monthly fee to unlock your vehicle’s full horsepower.
Upgrading your electric Dodge Daytona’s horsepower will cost you
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We finally got a glimpse of Dodge’s all-electric replacement for the V8-powered Charger. It’s called the Dodge Charger Daytona. The SRT variant will have an 800-volt powertrain and be branded as the Banshee. Standard trim comes with either a 340 kW or 440 kW powertrain.
Dodge also revealed that each Charger Daytona only comes with a fraction of the horsepower it’s capable of. To unlock the Charger Daytona’s full potential, you’ll need to return to the dealership and purchase a “Crystal” key that you can insert into the dash. For example, a stock 340 kW Charger Daytona will offer 455 horsepower. But buying an upgrade key can unlock 495 or even 535 horsepower — depending on how much you pay.
I’m not thrilled that Dodge is charging buyers extra to unlock the car’s full potential. But it could be much worse. Dodge has said you get to keep this key, and the speed software it unlocks, for the life of the vehicle.
Some other automakers may jump on this trend and charge a horsepower subscription fee as well. And with the way the industry is moving, I expect it will only be a matter of time before someone does this.
Traditional car manufacturers are afraid of the future
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Detroit’s Big Three and other traditional automakers are wary of electrification. Researching and developing an electric car, then converting factories to mass produce it, presents many challenges. But none of these are unaffordable. The real danger for Detroit lies in how we must finance electric cars.
Electric vehicles require much less maintenance than traditional combustion vehicles. Simply put, they have thousands of fewer moving parts. The moving parts, like the electric motors/generators that power their wheels, last longer than their combustion counterparts and don’t need routine maintenance like oil changes. Regenerative braking even promises to save wear on standard brakes.
Future electric cars could potentially last hundreds of thousands of kilometers longer than even the most robust internal combustion cars. This is because the only major service they need is the occasional battery change. This will not be a small task, but will probably be cheaper than continuously rebuilding internal combustion engines and gearboxes.
The durability and low maintenance characteristics of electric cars make car manufacturers and dealers nervous. This is one of the reasons why shareholders are jumping on the bandwagon and driving the value of EV startups like Tesla through the roof. According to MOPAR Insiders, Dodge requires you to purchase Charger Daytona upgrades from your dealer to alleviate dealers’ concerns about the low maintenance of EVs.
Some car manufacturers are looking at subscription fees as a solution
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General Motors just rolled out a “Utilify” software ecosystem for its future vehicles. Tellingly, it didn’t brag about the system to customers first, but presented it to its shareholders instead. GM announced that future cars would be a “technology platform” that leverages the time drivers have to spend behind the wheel to sell them subscription-based apps, many developed by third parties.
Mercedes-Benz went a step further with its new EQS electric sedan. The Mercedes EQS comes with the equipment to turn the rear wheels, dramatically reducing the turning radius at low speeds. In some countries you have to pay a subscription fee to activate the steering rear wheels. In other markets they will only turn 4.5 degrees, but not the full 10 degrees before you pay. That’s right, Mercedes locks the entire turning radius – no doubt a safety feature – behind a paywall.
Will Dodge ever charge a subscription fee to unlock the full horsepower of an eMuscle car? Honestly, this is the direction the industry is moving. Only time will tell which automaker will be desperate enough to lock performance behind a paywall first. When this happens, drivers’ only recourse against such a blatantly capitalist choice will be to boycott said car manufacturer until it changes its tune.
Then read the potential downsides of self-driving cars or watch the Charger Daytona EV reveal itself in the video below:
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