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The Subscription-Fueled Future of Car “Ownership”

Last year, Mercedes launched a feature in their electric cars that would allow drivers to pay $60 per month for an “Acceleration Increase” that would boost their car’s acceleration speed by 1 second when going from zero to sixty. BMW announced (and quickly abandoned) their wildly unpopular idea of charging car owners $18 per month to use the heated seats in their cars. The car is becoming a modern-day battleground to define the future of ownership. What do (or should) you really be entitled to get when you buy a car? 

A recent report from the Mozilla Foundation describes cars as a “data privacy nightmare” with every major car brand failing the Mozilla Foundation’s recent test, prompting them to declare cars as “the official worst category of products for privacy.” According to the report, cars collect way too much data and frequently fail to install even basic protection for this data. Even worse, 84% of car brands routinely sell user data without informing drivers and don’t offer any way to opt out of this data collection. 

When you combine this track record of terrible data security with aggressive efforts to monetize car features that used to come standard, there are plenty of signs we are headed toward a future where even the idea of car “ownership” may feel like a myth. All of which is making my 2009 Toyota Sienna look better and better. 

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Rohit is the author of 9 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.


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