Image: Volkswagen

Volkswagen fans who are planning to purchase one of the German automaker’s future electric vehicles for their autonomous driving features should prepare themselves for the possibility of some unexpected premiums. Thomas Ulbrich, a Volkswagen board member, recently told local newspaper Die Welt that the company was considering charging an hourly fee of $8.50 for the privilege of a hands-free and AI-assisted driving experience. Additional subscription features that would unlock extended range and/or greater performance for an hourly or daily charge have also been discussed. Similar to select Tesla models, some of Volkswagen’s upcoming electric vehicles will include infotainment systems for playing video games.

Image: Volkswagen

“In autonomous driving, we can imagine that we switch it on by the hour. We assume a price of around seven euros per hour. So if you don’t want to drive yourself for three hours, you can do it for 21 euros,” said Klaus Zellmer, chief sales officer of the Volkswagen brand. In a swipe at Tesla, he said that by charging hourly fees, VW would make autonomous driving more accessible than “a car with a five-digit surcharge.”

Sources: Die Welt, Ars Technica

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9 Comments

  1. I have two minds for this

    First – I don’t want autonomous driving myself, so whatever they want to charge for others that do: whatever. It’s a lot cheaper than Uber driving you around (ok I know on Uber your also paying fuel / car / O&M and this is just the driver… but it still sounds like it comes out ahead)

    Second – I’m assuming at some point autonomous driving will just be a thing I’ll have to deal with anyway. I already consider "other drivers" the biggest menace on the road. Whatever they need to do to ensure that when AI takes the wheel that it remains safe, having a sub service means that service would also presumably carry a level of liability coverage. If some smuck’s AI car runs into me, I expect his insurance to pay out, and if their insurance tries to cop out saying VW was at the wheel – since it’s a sub and therefore would have all the latest updates to machine learning and algorithms and whatnot, VW should pay out. They can’t really fall behind the "Well, your only driving a 2021 model, and that model has older self-driving". I sound like I’m afraid of AI drivers – not really – I’m sure it’s already better than your average teenage driver, but probably no where near as good as the average guy who’s been doing the same commute run for 15 years straight. So just on the assumption that it will receive at least software updates is a bonus.

    As far as "better performance or range" – yeah. No. Your buying the hardware, you shoud get full use of the hardware. For self driving, at least your paying for some software evolution and improvements. And there are long drives where forking over $8.50 an hour just so I can catch a snooze without just crashing at a rest stop (see: Something About Mary) is a steal and, in the middle of a long drive late at night, even with my apprehension of AI driving, I admit I would consider. And that would be a heck of a lot better than, say, paying $5000 one time to unlock a feature I’d probably only ever even consider using a handful of times. WITH THE CAVEAT that all the required sensors and stuff are still unlocked and are capable of providing otherwise typical safety features without a subscription (collision avoidance, etc)

  2. Let me know when Class C RV’s have autonomous driving. That’d be perfect. Go to sleep and wake up in another state. Play video games, watch a movie, make a drink. Or just run down for groceries in style. That, maybe I’d pay 8.50 for.
  3. hmm.. I might pay 5 bucks a day for an automatous "back seat driver" .. if I can pick the voice. That’d help me stay awake on those long over night’r drives having some nagging voice yelling at me to "Slow down!" .."Watch out for that deer!" .. "What!..are you drunk or something!!"
  4. hmm.. I might pay 5 bucks a day for an automatous "back seat driver" .. if I can pick the voice. That’d help me stay awake on those long over night’r drives having some nagging voice yelling at me to "Slow down!" .."Watch out for that deer!" .. "What!..are you drunk or something!!"

    Even at 8.50 an hour its cheaper than getting married.

  5. You very own car, now as a service!… * Ownership defined as the length of time for licensing. Licensing may be revoked any time withour prior notice.
  6. You very own car, now as a service!… * Ownership defined as the length of time for licensing. Licensing may be revoked any time withour prior notice.

    I have seen car as a service and car sharing kicked around – and I admit there are use cases where it makes sense. In bigger cities they already have it. If you only need a weekend driver in occasion it would make some sense. For someone out in the sticks – not so much.

  7. Considering the track record for VW, anyone wanna place bets on how long before it’s hacked?

    I hope they thought about securing these buggers better than they have in the past.

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