Think about how many monthly subscriptions you currently have, whether it's grocery delivery, streaming entertainment or cloud storage. Do you have room for a few more? Stellantis thinks you do, and a new video from Jeep gives us a good idea of what that could look like.
During the Stellantis Software Day media conference, the automaking conglomerate formerly known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles outlined a forthcoming push into software and subscription services in the name of offering the customer a deeper connection to its vehicles. The first of these offerings to get a proper preview is from Jeep, which released its Path Connected video to show how that might work.
Hit the dirt and the Subscribe button
Jeep's mantra is all about straying off the beaten path, so it makes sense that its subscription offerings would follow along those lines. It's worth noting that the video comes with a litany of fine print noting how the features are merely concepts at the moment, but nothing in here doesn't seem far-fetched; instead, it's just a Jeep-flavored extension of the sort of connectivity we've seen make its way into all manner of automobiles.
There's a lot of interesting stuff in here, too. A subscription service may offer pre-loaded trail maps beamed directly to the infotainment system, ditching the need for maps in your hands or on your phone. And since many trails take you way beyond the stretches of cellular coverage, it also makes use of vehicle-to-vehicle connectivity so you can make sure everybody's following closely along the same route.
It also makes mention of technologies we've seen elsewhere in the industry, too. Over-the-air updates are popular with nearly every automaker now, offering people the chance to pick up new features or smash some bugs without having to waste time drinking dealership coffee. Even augmented reality is no longer vehicular science fiction; Mercedes-Benz currently offers one seriously impressive AR HUD on its EQS and S-Class vehicles.
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Software that aligns with each automaker
During the Software Day conference, Stellantis discussed how other automakers could use software (in general, not limited to subscriptions) to get people more in tune with their vehicles -- literally, in some cases.
One example comes from Dodge, and it was actually announced prior to the Software Day event. The automaker is reviving its Direct Connection performance parts brand, which will comprise hardware and software upgrades for its vehicles. Kits will be arranged in stages, and Dodge promises that an example Stage 2 kit will add nearly 100 horsepower without violating emissions compliance or messing with the factory warranty, so long as upgrades are handled through the OEM's new Dodge Power Brokers program. More information on Direct Connection will be available when the Power Brokers program begins its launch on Dec. 15.
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Alfa Romeo has a similar eye on performance, albeit with a focus on handling instead of power, and it looks like it may offer similar software, although the available details are vague. "Software will also enable Alfa Romeo to enhance the sportiness and bring the driver-centric experience to the next level," said Mamatha Chamarthi, Senior Vice President of Software Business and Product at Stellantis, as part of the Software Day event. "And with the all-new Tonale, the infotainment cluster will become part of the brand-new human-machine interface." We're not quite sure what to expect from that one, and a spokesperson for Alfa Romeo declined to comment further than what was said in the presentation.
Finally, there's Ram. "For our Ram pickup owners, customers can increase the capability of their truck to handle greater loads," Chamarthi said. This one may leave far more questions than answers, as software alone isn't usually capable of boosting a truck's ability to handle physical loads. Perhaps it's an upgrade solution similar to Dodge's Direct Connection. A Ram spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment, so we'll likely have to sit tight here until Ram is ready to offer more details.
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Other ways to blend cars, subscriptions and software
Stellantis believes that its increased focus on software will produce some pretty big benefits for the company. During the presentation, Chamarthi stated that these efforts are hoping to generate about 4 billion euro in additional annual revenue by 2026, growing to roughly 20 billion euro by 2030.
But the programs mentioned above are but a few of the different ways that software and subscriptions can squeeze more revenue for automakers. Stellantis and other automakers are also investigating after-the-fact upgrades that will, for example, upgrade the cabin's entertainment options on the fly. Some OEMs even offer the ability to add embedded navigation after leaving the dealership.
Then there are the subscriptions you may have already experienced in new cars. Many automakers now offer connected services through an onboard cellular connection, which allows owners to use an app and check on the vehicle's lock status, fuel level and more. Some of these programs also enable features that can't be turned on otherwise, like remote start.
Of course, if the idea of subscribing to things in-car isn't enough, you could always subscribe to an entire car, instead. Leases and loans are no longer the only ways to get into a car. Many subscription programs like Care by Volvo or Porsche Drive offer a single monthly price that not only covers the car itself, but also insurance and maintenance. Third parties are also beginning to pilot similar schemes, like Borrow's EV-only subscription service in the Los Angeles area, or Hertz's My Car. As luck would have it, we have a big ol' breakdown of these subscription services available for your reading pleasure.