Subscription services have been all over the automotive news feeds lately, detailing services that start out free then incur a monthly fee. Truth be told, these subscription services are profit centers for automakers that can add on the dollar signs with small services — like remote start.
In fact, our publisher, Tim Esterdahl, has been hot under the collar over Toyota making remote start a subscription service in the new 2022 Tundra he just bought.
Stellantis, the mothership behind stalwart brands such as Jeep and Ram, has its own subscription service on its vehicles. The service, which is similar to General Motors’ long partnership with OnStar, is called Uconnect Service. And, yep, it includes remote start as a for-fee service.
The UConnect Service is much more than just remote start. Similar to GM’s OnStar, the subscription services cover areas from roadside assistance, theft alert and finding a vehicle (in a crowded parking garage).
“As we increase vehicle connectivity, these services are just the beginning, allowing customers to seamlessly transition to their vehicle and stay in touch with their digital lives,” said Nick Cappa, a spokesperson for Stellantis.
Uconnect Services cost $14.99 per month, and the services include the following:
“As we expand our Connected Services to more vehicles and regions, we can offer our customers the services they want, when they want them and how they want them,” Cappa said. “Services like off-road navigation, a customer may not need it all the time, but when they want it, we will have the ability to offer that customer the flexibility to use that service on-demand.”
Who doesn’t have numerous streaming services for their home? Netflix, Hulu, Apple TV — the list is almost endless. That same premise is making its way to today’s connected automobiles.
According to a story in The Drive, Stellantis is expecting to make an additional $22.5 billion by 2030 off in-vehicle purchases, upgrades and subscription services.
“Within three years, 100 percent of Stellantis vehicles will be over-the-air (OTA) updatable,” said Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares at the company’s Software Day event. “Software is one of the key pillars of our sustainable future at Stellantis.”
These OTA updates will reach far beyond advanced GPS maps on navigation systems (handy for off roading in a Jeep). Imagine using OTA updates to add payload to your Ram or bump up the torque on your Ram TRX. In theory this is all part of the vision of where Stellantis is going with its subscription services.
People can get mad, shake their fist and damn technology, but this is much more than a trend. It’s the future. Recently, Stellantis hosted an online event called Software Day where it highlighted the future ideas and implementations of software in its vehicles.
Here are a few additional examples from Software Day:
We can push back, complain and gripe about whether we “need” these type of things. But the fact is, in today’s culture we “want” these things. Maybe we all don’t want them, but once they’re integrated into the every-day use and acceptance, it will be much easier for automakers like Stellantis to up-charge for these niceties.
So, suck it up, Buttercup. Or, rather should we start handing out “Okay, Boomer” signs?