In 15 years, no one will have an electric car.

Do you think you own your own electric car? Sorry, we have bad news for you.

With the current and future electric surge, many technological innovations are emerging that are changing our relationship with the automobile. Among them, the most prominent is certainly autonomous driving, but it is not the only one. Route planners, apps for finding charging stations and connecting to them are also flourishing. Not to mention the devices that allow you to connect to your car remotely, control its parameters, monitor it and act on certain commands.

But we speak less of a change which, however, is more profound, which is taking place silently and which is in the process of completely shuffling the cards. This change consists of being less and less “owners” of our car. It is a gradual evolution and advances in small steps, but it concerns all aspects related to the fact of “owning” a car.

Changes once again made possible by technology, sometimes imposed by financial considerations, but in which politics, ecology, notions of security and even “morality” also play their part.

Situation of a silent revolution.

Updates despite us

It has now become commonplace, or at least in the process of becoming, you can update your electric car like your smartphone or your Thermomix recipe list. Tesla has been kicking things off, not without a certain talent for several years now, and “improves” its cars (sorry, your customers’ ones, telltale slip) remotely, regularly pushing updates that bring new services, new features, and even, at sometimes a surplus of energy. Other manufacturers are doing this with more or less success, as this operation seems complex to operate on cars that have not been fully designed around this possibility. But it’s the trend and we’re not going back.

Problem, with IT and connected objects, we do what we want. Which means we can also to remove stuff. While updates most often bring additional features, they can also be synonymous with rolling back, even removing or degrading a feature. This is particularly the case with Tesla, which once amused itself by reducing the range of certain versions of its Model S to preserve battery longevity. Without informing your customers, of course. In 2021, it was the radars integrated in Teslas that cost a new update by disabling them, which made them inoperative in the Autopilot functionality for autonomous driving, since according to the manufacturer the cameras alone could guarantee the latter more efficiently . Before a rollback that seems like a regression to some, to the point of slightly worrying owners of the models in question and who plan to avoid the update.

Fixed term option leasing

Another trend accelerating the “expropriation” of our cars, the possibility of installing and activating additional options after purchase. It’s smart and likely suitable for certain uses (eg renting an air conditioning option only during the summer months). But on the one hand it is not given, on the other it also contributes to this feeling that we are in a car that does not belong to us, and that we ultimately depend on the goodwill of the manufacturer. This is particularly the case for On-demand function or FoD available on the Porsche Taycan, which allows, for example, 10.72 to 19.50 euros per month depending on the option to add Porsche Intelligent Range Manager or InnoDrive (a kind of autopilot) to your car. If you stop paying, the option will be removed. So far there is no problem as it is a deliberate choice, but what happens in case of a dispute over a role or payment? It will likely happen that subscribers to such options will realize that they do not own the entire car.

It is true that, for the moment, this possibility is not yet widespread, but one can imagine that it progressively concerns more and more functionalities, until it makes it possible to mold a tailor-made car, and especially evolutionary or “de-evolutionary” over of time according to your needs, your state of mind… and your means.

Mandatory repairs at an approved service provider

If a Tesla owner is unfortunate enough to make some dented sheet metal, that could be the beginning of trouble. In addition to a possible shortage of parts that sometimes leads to long waiting times, you will also have to submit to the constraint of having your car repaired by a Tesla-approved bodybuilder. As a result, you cannot really choose your repairer, but above all block a repair from a non-approved service provider. How is this possible ? Simply because modern cars are equipped with various sensors that only authorized repairers have access to in order to be able to deactivate them if necessary. Thus, a banal change or smoothing of the rear bumper runs the risk of being very expensive and only possible in a bodywork dubbed by the brand, as it must pay to access Tesla’s various advanced diagnostic systems. Another sign that gives the unpleasant impression that you don’t “own” your car, but that the brand imposes its choices.

Autonomous or shared cars

The evolution of technologies, particularly in the field of autonomous driving, already makes it possible to free oneself from a driver in certain situations, but also from an owner. The services of ride will multiply, and new consumers who do not need a car will travel in cars with or without a driver, occasionally rented according to their needs, as at Citiz, for example. On the self-driving car side, it was still Tesla that was supposed to lead the way, allowing owners of the Model 3 equipped with the most advanced version of its autopilot to make it available for rent in autonomous driving mode. According to Elon Musk, this incredible possibility was to arrive at the end of 2020. We are still waiting, and only the naive and those who don’t know the notion of “Elon time” believed, of course.

But if that happens one day, it will be another cut in the notion of car ownership. And let’s not forget that this is made possible by electric propulsion.

battery rental

Although Renault’s experience with the Zoé did not last, some manufacturers still offer – or impose – battery rental associated with the sale of their models. This is the case, among others, of the Vietnamese Vinfast, which relies on this pricing to present lower sales prices, in return for the battery rental, guarantee of tranquility according to the same, and longevity, in exchange for a charge of an amount between 120 and 150 euros per month. It’s another way to not totally own your car.

long term rental

Finally, more classically in the financial chapter, it will not have escaped you that manufacturers are increasingly trying to “hide” the selling price of their productions in favor of increasingly flashy – and tempting – long-term rental offers. . One way to take the pill is to launch attractive monthly fees, as the LLD’s price structure may even seem interesting at first glance, and provide access to models whose purchase through other means of financing would hardly be feasible. That said, there is still one small hurdle that forces manufacturers to display prices with their electric ranges, it’s the eco bonus, as to know if a model is eligible, you need to know its selling price. It is difficult, in this context, to do without this display in a marketing campaign, as it is a key element of negotiation. However, the LLD has the wind in its sails, which unequivocally guarantees that you will never own your car.

Only the builders dominate on board?

As we can see, the car – a fortiori electric – is less and less a finished product, and the fact that you have one in your garage no longer means that we are totally and entirely its owner. A new paradigm that is not just about the car. If we take a look at certain digital and connected products such as smartphones, and in particular those of a certain brand with an apple, we have long understood that it was the manufacturer that dictated its law on what you can and cannot do with your phone anyway. when this possibility is not linked to a technical limitation.

One question then comes to mind, among others. What would happen if a government authoritatively decided to impose a power squeeze or speed limitation on manufacturers by force-installing an update? It’s technically possible in many cars, and this scenario doesn’t seem so far-fetched when we see how governments have reduced individual and collective freedoms without any difficulty during the Covid crisis. With the energy crisis helping, and under pressure from some green lobbies, it wouldn’t be any more surprising for this idea to germinate in the brain of some elect in need of publicity, too happy to interpret the little music in the end in its own way, abundance. For our own good, of course, and temporarily, of course.

A view that is probably dystopian and still difficult to apply given the disparity of the current car fleet, but which would make us realize quite brutally that we are not the owners of our car. And that we are less and less likely to be.

Do not show this article to your PM, it may give you ideas. If not today, maybe fifteen years from now.

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