The “subscription model” has gotten a lot of traction with the auto industry in recent years. The “subscription services” have ranged from useful, like GM’s “On Star” from the days before everyone but I had a cell phone, to exploitative, like BMW charging a monthly fee to enable the seat heaters in your car.
Apparently, the “infrastructure and jobs act” has a provision mandating cars have a driver monitoring system to detect and prevent impaired or distracted drivers, after 2025. (anyone else smell insurance industry “protected free speech” at work?) I remember proposals like this being talked about in the 70s, usually a device on the instrument panel that would display a sequence of numbers, which the driver would then need to input on a keypad, to be able to start the engine. That proposal failed. But we are in a brave new world of charging subscription fees and data mining now. How many different ways could automakers monetize monitoring their customers?
Seat warmers are not often optional anymore. My VW is the base trim, and it has warmers. For that matter, the “monster mats” and first aid kit are listed on the sticker as options, but you can’t buy the car without them. Thank Max Hoffman, who introduced the concept of “mandatory options”.
That is probably a good argument. If the mandate requires the system, but does not specifically prohibit monetizing it, the automakers could insist that the system requires periodic updates, and monitoring, for which they “need to be compensated”.
Tesla has it already as part of FSD. Sensors to detect the driver’s hand on the wheel and a camera. There might be more to it but I haven’t followed up on it. People have already tried to game the system by attaching weights to the wheel. Maybe they want to win a Darwin Award.
Not just for FSD (the thing that costs $12,000 extra) but also for the standard “autopilot” (included with every car sold). The car has software that monitors the driver in various ways, including hands on the wheel periodically (Tesla drivers call them “nags”), and eyes on the road. It uses an interior camera that can see the driver’s face and eyes. Those videos that you’ve seen of a Tesla driving itself with the only person in the car being a passenger are either fake or can only be done if they modify this safety system or find ways to trick the safety system.
Yep, it’s a very stupid thing to do. But Tesla, in recent versions of software, has added ways to detect weights and similar and will still nag or disengage (and even temporarily disable) all the relevant features (FSD, autopilot, etc).
My car is ten years old, and designed about 10 years before mine was built. That is long before the automakers latched on the “subscription model” to generate revenue streams from their products, on top of parts and service, regardless whether the car is paid off, regardless of the car’s age.
Whether it is rural crazies in a pickup truck being unable to run or crazy racing drivers on the highways or in cities stopping people with a switch would save a lot of lives. It would also lower our insurance rates.
We all pay for people who cause accidents. We all pay for people who cause deaths.
Imagine a drunk in a rural area trying to get away.
Imagine an extremely heavily armed guy in the backwood trying to get away.
Last thing those folks should have an operable car.