Auto Tech

Volkswagen will soon be able to send you product trials over the air

The automaker is testing OTA tech to try and sell more optional upgrades.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Volkswagen is bringing over-the-air updates to its cars in the hopes that more drivers will try out its optional features.

Over-the-air (OTA) updates are a great way to minimize the time your car spends in service. But Volkswagen thinks this tech can be used to promote optional equipment and perhaps entice more buyers into dropping extra coin.

Volkswagen will use OTA technology for what it calls "functional demand," offering product trials to consumers on a subscription or trial basis, Automotive News reports. Instead of forcing you to check out a range of options at the dealer ahead of a purchase, you could now enjoy a trial at home to see if the updates are worth the additional money.

"Your trial for autonomous emergency braking has now ended. Please resume paying attention."

Volkswagen

This will obviously only apply to software-based upgrades, like navigation or additional connectivity features. It wouldn't work for items like LED headlights or adaptive cruise control, which, at least on Volkswagen vehicles, require different hardware. Although if all cars came equipped with deactivated safety systems, buyers could activate them for a trial period, and it sounds like that could eventually become a reality.

As AN notes, Tesla is one of the largest adopters of OTA technology thus far. It recently activated certain Autopilot settings in cars equipped with second-gen safety hardware, without requiring a single driver input. It regularly pushes out software updates in the same manner. Other automakers are looking into this, too, including Nissan, which recently partnered with Microsoft to trial OTA updates, among other things.

OTA will not only save owners from extraneous trips to the service department, it could save automakers from additional complexity in manufacturing, thus saving companies money. Research from IHS Markit claims that OTA tech should save automakers $35 billion in 2022, as the technology becomes ubiquitous.

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