Tesla’s Monthly Fees a Harbinger of the Auto Industry’s Paywalled Future

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Tesla’s Monthly Fees a Harbinger of the Auto Industry’s Paywalled Future

Tesla’s recent announcement that ‘premium’ data will require a subscription indicates the direction mobile data fees may be taking in the near future. As a spoonful of sugar, Tesla is offering Model S and X buyers a one-year trial at no cost to them; a marketing gesture that forestalls the coming discomfort of an additional monthly bill. And they are offering the one-year trial for their entry level car, the model 3, as long as you opt for the Premium trim. Otherwise you get 30 days.

But the writing on this wall is this: the company’s baseline entertainment and connectivity offering will soon be called ‘Standard’, and it will include GPS navigation and Bluetooth streaming. Otherwise, unless Tesla owners are grandfathered in by a purchase date prior to the first of July of this past year, they will have to pay for premium entertainment and connectivity.

The ‘Premium’ service includes the upsell navigation that provides the on-the-spot traffic info that commuters in busy cities find so eminently useful for avoiding traffic bottlenecks, roadwork and accidents, and expediting their trip successfully. It also includes entertainment services like Apple.

Tesla’s announcement suggests a more broad, industry-wide shift that reduces car ownership to a series of monthly charges. Then again, the automobile as you know it may soon no longer be the conveyance you get into and drive, but rather an autonomous living room on wheels where you catch up on your favorite Netflix series.