Imagine going into your mechanic and telling them that you would love an engine overhaul. You are tired of the old one, and want something that is faster. But, you know, you only want it for a couple of weeks for your upcoming roadtrip, and after you are done you want it switched back. Chances are you might have to leave that mechanic in a hurry.
That is the way it has always been with automotive. There is almost no way to upgrade your car with temporary measures, and there is no way to switch it back without incurring huge expenses. This means that, for many people, the car they buy is the same one they will always have. That is changing though. Tesla, with a new software upgrade trial, demonstrated that software updates can be temporary, and reversible. In doing so, they have created a new flexibility in the market, which smart OEMs can use to create aftermarket opportunities.
The Tesla Trial Experiment
Tesla features an autopilot in its Model X or S, but for people who bought last year, that did not come standard. All the X and S models had the hardware necessary to have an over-the-air (OTA) upgrade sent that would enable the autopilot feature, though, and this optional upgrade, which essentially changed the car entirely, costs approximately $3,000.
It is an option, but for many drivers, it is a hard one to take. After all, they might be uncomfortable with the technology – people still are, though attitudes may be changing – and are certainly uncomfortable with spending $3,000 on technology that they may not like or use.
But Tesla was able to offer a free 30-day trial of the technology to people whose cars had the requisite hardware. If, after that time, they did not want to continue, the feature would be revoked over-the-air and the car put back to its original state. Owners had nothing to do except make decisions and drive – or, rather, not drive – and decide how they felt about it.
Software Updates and the New Automotive Flexibility
The revolutionary aspect of the Tesla free trial is that it gives consumers choices and expands options. As an example, imagine someone who lives in Illinois. He has to drive his daughter to school in California and will have to haul a trailer full of her stuff to her new dorm. Their car is fine for where they live where it is flat and they rarely tow anything, but now he has to tow a trailer and drive through the mountains.
He could rent a car/truck, a pretty expensive proposition, or, if his car has the right firmware, he could just update the software to give him more horsepower. After returning back to the level Midwest, it is just a matter of removing the update and having the car back to normal.
These temporary upgrades essentially allow a car owner to rent a “new car” or at least new features and functionality when it is needed, for a small fee, creating new revenue streams for OEMs. It also allows for people to “try out” an upgrade, after which they might be persuaded to purchase the upgrade on a permanent basis.
Through OTA technology, drivers are offered a choice. Features can be modified and changed back as easily as they were changed in the first place, provided that the OEM has a strong partner in secure OTA transmissions. This choice will lead to more sales because people who were on the fence will feel comfortable trying out new technologies.
A car is not just an impassive hunk of steel and gears: it is a dynamic machine, ready to change, and extremely adaptable. It will create a new connection between driver and OEM, in the same way that smartphone users are extremely brand-oriented. Buying a car is not the end of a relationship with the manufacturer; it is the beginning.
In order to earn driver trust and fully participate in the automotive aftermarket, OEMs will need a secure and reliable OTA platform. At Movimento, we have leveraged our roots in automotive and technological expertise to create an OTA system that provides software updates through the lifecycle of a vehicle. We are your partners in earning drivers’ trust. Connect with us today to learn more about a partnership with Movimento.