VW wants EV buyers to pay for self-driving mode only when they use it unlike Tesla's expensive Autopilot extra
The CEO of Volkswagen's EV software arm Cariad - Dirk Hilgenberg - wants the carmaker's future customers to pay for its self-driving mode only when they use it. That's in contrast to Tesla's pricey Autopilot add-on that, after a few increases, now costs new electric car buyers up to US$12,000. VW's Cariad division is developing the company's autonomous driving software and its chief recently sat down for an interview where he explained the novel idea for monetization of the self-driving mode:
There’s a new business model already out there — a subscription model, or function-on-demand — where the AI will tell you, you can drive autonomously if you want, for the next 50 miles. We would support that. We could give you autonomous driving for the next 50 miles, so you can relax or sleep or do whatever.
According to Dirk Hilgenberg, Volkswagen is not at the Level 4 autonomous driving stage just yet, but its car software aspirations are for the AI to be able to take over to an extent that is enough for drivers to "work, relax, watch a movie or communicate with the other people inside the vehicle." You could be preparing for your next meeting instead of driving, he adds, or be entertained by the software's integration with popular services tied to your Google or Apple accounts.
According to the CEO, the biggest obstacle before Cariad is changing production mentality as the traditional legacy car-making process is modular and compartmentalized. VW's new EV software needs to be a continuous platform that builds on previous achievements and can be scaled to serve from the lowly electric Golf to the luxury Bentley that is part of the same brand.
Mum was the word on Tesla's Autopilot prices, but Elon Musk's company recently stripped the Full Self-Driving Beta mode components from its autonomous driving software, and started to sell only the Autopilot module for US$6,000, indicating that there is a market for cheaper, or, if Volkswagen gets its way, even pay-as-you-go driving automation solutions.