In his glove compartment he found the contract; since signing it he had found it necessary to refer to the document many times. Sure enough; payment to his car for taxiing him about while he listened to his morning HN podcast constituted a mandatory fee. Not a tip.
“You discover I’m right,” the car said. It sounded smug.
Dave pressed the cancel button with furious determination. The VW Bug sped off from his modest suburban house. It's high G wheels speeding up and zooming past Burb beaters and Bimbo wagons.
Unbeknownst to him a catastrophic situation was looming...
I don't see this company lasting long after the first crash where someone thought they were protected but were not due to payment error/ddos/whatever.
Also amusing is the normalization: "Free!" He stared at her. "That's not economically feasible. How can it operate on that basis? For more than a month?"
I don't really mind driving the 10 minutes to the store.
I mind driving 90 minutes between San Diego and LA. I mind driving 90 minutes between San Jose and San Francisco. I mind driving 7 hours between LA and SF. I mind driving driving 24 hours (two 12 hour shifts) between San Diego and Austin.
And for those of you suggesting car rentals, have you seen the price of car rentals even before Covid? It was getting to the point that car rental was often more expensive than airfare.
I continue to expect something of this nature to be necessary before we get self-driving tech anywhere close to where we want it to be. Cameras simply don't work in all conditions, and even with LIDAR mistakes can be made. There needs to be an external reference point.
Also see Comma's Openpilot for adding automatic lane centering to a recent 3-4 year old car from Honda, Hyundai, Toyota and others.
Cars in cities today are incredibly stupid compared to public transit. Full autonomy could change that.
Though also, at the same time the liability questions would quickly become... Complicated.... With that model
'I'm sorry! Hit a lag spike, blame Telus.'
It’s a fun idea that we can create a whole generation of Bangladeshi click farmers that drive people instead… but it’s a nonstarter for a bunch of reasons.
Not sure what you mean with Bangladeshi click farmers
There would be licenses, regulations, threat of lawsuit, qualifications and all sorts of other mandatory requirements. If someone wants to be cynical then, yes, a lot of these safeguards would not be put in place until after a certain number of deaths had been exceeded. eg seat belts, air bags, traffic lights, speed limits, road rules in general.
The idea is still viable.
These already exist in Taxis, and have you ever been in a Taxi? Their drivers aren't exactly the pinnacle of driving excellence.
Human intelligence could be useful for navigating construction work.
Really, what we need is to overhaul road construction (and maybe roads in general) signage and protocols to make them machine-readable, not just human readable.
At some price point, it will always be a lot cheaper to add humans than it is to make the cars "self driving". And the last % I'm almost certain will never be cheap enough for autonomy.
In other words - the value of proposition of autonomous driving would be completely fine if the car gives up on unarguably difficult situations and alerts the driver to take over. As of now, however, the car will boldly do something stupid and dangerous.
Since my last service, it seems they've updated it and it's far more sensitive than it used to and seems to break in many situations where it previously did not. What sucks about that is the vehicles behind me are caught off-guard with no obvious signs of the need to break and then the jackass in the GMC SUV slams on his breaks.
I also see people very quickly stop using their autopilot, as you will think ca. twice a day: "so do I really want to spend 8.50 right now?"
Makes me wonder what those humans are now doing for a living.
Playing a game with input lag is terrible because you always need need to do all your inputs ahead of time in anticipation what a frame 100ms in the future will tell you. That might make precise control very difficult, not just in unanticipated situations such as e.g. emergency braking.
Unexpected road accidents typically involve someone who may not even be thinking about driving, who then have to notice the random screech, focus their eyes and process what's happening, then determine they need to immediately break, then break.
The problem with input lag isn't that human input is under 100ms, it's that too much of a gulf between input and on-screen response breaks the feedback loop - your brain struggles to connect your input alterations to an alteration actually happening. If you're throwing a ball, when you twist your wrist the ball is twisted immediately when the wrist holding it is twisted (because it's physically pinned to the hand that's physically attached to the wrist, and literally cannot be out of sync with the fingers gripping it).
It's like how VR users need under 30ms of latency or they throw up, except less drastic.
The issue is not the idea of remote control per se, though connection drops etc. would be a risk, but the notion yoga can outsource it to somewhere with far cheaper labour.
A train isn’t affected by people randomly braking or weaving around different lanes because they lack driving skill. A train also isn’t as affected by inclement weather.
There is the classic set of pictures showing how much space is needed to transport 60 people by bus, by bike, and by car.
On my (pre-covid) morning commute to the office, most of the cars crawling along the highway had one person in them. The slowness is the result of people trying to merge into the highway, not "bad drivers".
Another way to illustrate how much space cars take up is to look at suburban office parks. There will be a small building (usually 1 or 2 stories) surrounded and dwarfed by a parking lot.
I stand by my point on "bad drivers". It's a well-studied phenomenon and it's not a matter of opinion.
According to a 2005 report for the Federal Highway Administration, the leading cause of congestion is bottlenecked infrastructure.
I used to drive 405 North into Bellevue, WA. In the space of 3 miles, 3 highways merged into 405 North. There was always a traffic jam, every morning. It started at roughly the same spot every morning. It cleared up at roughly the same spot every morning. That was slow traffic caused by the infrastructure.
If the drivers staying in the far right lane didn't do that mindlessly (their exit is not next or soon, why are they there?) or if they actually kept space open ahead of them for the cars they can see are about to merge, these problems would largely evaporate.
I'm paraphrasing poorly but, "do things slowly so that they go smoothly. Things done smoothly go fast."
Sleepers have had a little resurgence over the last year or two, but motorail demand is low and costs are high. Demand at market price is even lower. With a good motorway network and reliable cars people just aren’t willing to spend 5 times the price to go on a train.
Even they were, it’s not sustainable. Far better to fly or train to a remote city and hire a car on arrival.
They don't have to be, although he alternatives are expensive. I rented a BMW 438i convertible for a couple of weeks about six years ago. Brilliant car and even though it was a lot more expensive than the usual boring vehicles I rent it was worth it.
Reading the article: Oh this is charging me to use a feature in a car I already own, okay great, I will continue never owning a Volkswagen.
Volkswagen and Tesla are at the forefront of a 'Great Reset' in cars: turning car owners into car renters. Sure the base car is owned, but all the extra services needed to get the most out of your car become rented, it might as well be rented.
My car doesn't play those games, it's a simple car, no infotainment system, no self driving or autopilot features, no subscription features. Everything works exactly as expected, something breaks and it's easy to fix. Even thought its super basic and doesn't have any modern features, its my favorite car I've ever owned.
If it was just cost and utility (i.e. "yeah it sucks, but I can do x,y,z.. with it") I suppose that makes sense, and I'm glad it turns out you enjoy it. It just seems like 4Runners specifically have quite an enthusiastic following, I'm quite interested to know why someone would seek out an old one who specifically was not stoked about it.
I've always hated SUVs, but with some lifestyle changes it was clear that my current car then would not suffice and I would need an SUV. So going into this I had the expectation that the car would suit my needs but I wouldn't love the car like some of the previous sports cars I owned.
I wasn't much into offroading before I got this 4Runner and I mainly bought it because it was so popular. Much like if you walk into a new restaurant where half the folks in there order one thing off the menu, you get that because if others are raving about it, there must be something there.
As a Toyota enthusiast, even I couldn't stomach the prices being asked, and I actually wanted one. But I wasn't going far enough from civilization to justify that premium for reliability.
I'd say a used 4Runner is by far the least cost effective choices to deal with inclimate weather, so it seems strange how someone paid top dollar for a vehicle they didn't want. It's like buying a Gucci shirt you don't want.
Dense stop-and-go traffic is probably where I want autonomous driving the most. It's one of the most frustrating driving experiences for me. But it will be hard for me to switch on autonomous driving: Not only am I going to waste my time in traffic and my gas from idling, now I'm going to waste money per minute to let the car inch forward.
I suppose there are situations where I would enable autonomous driving, like in an unfamiliar city or if I had been drinking at all (assuming it's safe and legal). This would probably add up to something like 10 hours per year, which seems like a huge waste of a big technological advancement.
This is completely disingenuous at best, and malicious at worst. This is a perfect example of the boots theory of socioeconomic unfairness . This is just taking advantage of the poor-middle class' inability to pay a larger upfront cost, to extort them for more over a larger period of time.
The average person in the northeast spends 31 minutes commuting per day , for simplicity that's 0.5 hours,* 2 commutes a day, * 5 days a week, * 50 weeks a year (assuming 2 weeks vacation), is 250 hours commuting a week. At ~9 dollars including tax per hour, that means in just 4.4 years it's already more expensive to rent this feature if the surcharge is initially 10k as VW claims. This is true even if the car is used ONLY for commuting, which is likely a non-major portion of use time.
This is 100% a way to extract more money from consumers, especially non financially stable consumers, while lying to all of our faces.
At least, with VW system, you pay when you use it. Doesn't work in your area, you don't pay. And if you realize that you can't pay, you can simply drive, your car won't turn into a brick.
And of course it is to extract more money from consumers, that's the goal of every company. But personally I find VW approach more honest than Tesla's. The best would be to offer working self driving out of the box, with no promises and no recurring fees, but the reality is that we don't have the tech yet.
Note that I don't have anything against the $10k package from Tesla except for the way it is advertised. If they just sold you an advanced supercruise, there would be no problem. But they also sell you the idea that your car will fully drive itself in the future and that you are making an investment. Kind of like a Kickstarter, except it is a trillion dollar company, not a bunch of people in a basement.
I have a 2020 Hyundai, and there has been no major refresh in the 2021 or 2022 models of the same car. But the software features have each gotten slightly better. The cruise control will only slow down and stop you on my model, but on the newer model, it will stop and then start going again. My model will sometimes correct the steering at the last minute if I start veering outside the lane, the newer model will more gradually keep you centered in the lane so you don’t even start to veer out. Pretty minor stuff like that.
There’s no way the hardware on my car is the limiting factor, but I will never get any of these improvements. Tesla is still the only car maker to decide that car software can be treated like almost any other software people use, and actually updated independently of the hardware.
Even if the 10k self driving charge is a little too ambitious, in my opinion Tesla are still miles ahead of all the other major brands in user-friendly practices.
It’s always interesting that people get so used to the status quo even if it’s actually inefficient or wasteful or arbitrarily worse than it easily could be. But if a company does something ambitious and new, but it has some downsides like a higher cost in the beginning, those downsides get judged so much more harshly than the downsides of the status quo.
I'm not sure why you'd make that assumption. The newer models that can do more may very well have more/better sensors, faster processor(s), more RAM, etc. Just because the interior and exterior look the same doesn't mean that everything else is the same too.
The idea of a car you bought being updated new features from the manufacturer down the road didn't even exist until Tesla. The legacy car manufacturers can't just turn on a dime and start doing the same thing for many reasons, ranging from accounting and contractual issues to actual technological ones.
None of it is as simple as it may seem.
On my 2017 VW, this enhancement was merely a feature flag waiting for the customer to enable using VCDS/OBDeleven. It's an amazing difference!
Another good one I found and enabled is lane change assist, which makes it so that when you're on cruise control but slower than your set point (due to tailing a slow lead car) putting your turn signal on will immediate begin the acceleration that otherwise would only occur once you have completed the lane change and are no longer impeded by a slow lead car, so you're better matched with the flow of the new lane as you start entering it.
VCDS and OBDeleven are essentially emulators of the factory scan tools that only VW dealerships normally have. Way, way beyond OBDII code reading.
You also won't have any features removed, like Tesla has also pioneered.
OTAs are great when they add features. They suck when they remove/alter ones you previously liked.
I think this is a very optimistic take. We are already seeing the industry push out subscriptions for features like Ford's Blues Cruise. The costs are low now, but obviously they can go up.
I'd be really surprised if VW doesn't start pushing something similar well before they have anything approaching L5 autonomy.
It isn't too crazy either, as these advanced features are already useful.
No it isn't. We don't have companies so that they can extract money from consumers. We have companies to help efficiently distribute wealth through the community to maximise the probability of social needs being filled.
If the goal was to extract money from consumers and give it to those with spare capital, there are vastly more efficient ways to do that. Why would they even bother producing valuable goods?
90% of the time, people start companies to make money, not to "efficiently distribute wealth through the community."
> We have companies to help efficiently distribute wealth through the community to maximise the probability of social needs being filled.
We here presumably means society in general. We set rules and give privileges to people to run companies in order to better society. In a capitalist system this is done through the medium of 'enlightened self interest' so yes, one starts a company to make money but that is not the reason we have companies.
You are arguing against a point he didn't make.
I don't understand this at all. The reason people create companies is the reason that companies exist. They're by definition the same thing - companies don't exist without people creating them. So if people start companies to make money, the reason companies exist is to make the people who start them money.
That's not true, though - the non-legal definition of a company is "a commercial business."
You can absolutely have a commercial business without a legal framework for it. People engaged in work and trade well before anyone wrote up a legal framework for companies.
Not really, because “company” is a generic term for any organization of people with a common business purpose independent of whether it has a distinct recognized legal recognition, existence, or treatment separate from the constituent individuals.
A corporation, LLC, or other legally recognized business entity requires a legal framework.
This isn't really true. A company doesn't include the employees of the company, not the way I used it and not the way the parent used it. So it doesn't refer to a generic term for any organisation of people with a common business purpose. It really only refers to those which have some category of legal framework.
Like opium by the East India company or drugs by mexican cartels?
Getting people to buy something is a lot easier than chasing them with a gun, just look at how bad we are at colecting taxes.
"We have companies to help efficiently distribute wealth"
There is no economic theory, from marxist to neoliberal, that claims conpanies are there to distribute wealth. They organise capital and labour, and maybe they fullfill needs, unless they are doing HFT or something similarly murky.
Have you had a look at the healthcare industry in the US vs healthcare in the rest of the world?
"AWS has billed us tens of thousands of dollars because we forgot to turn something off/confusing billing" hasn't taught anyone anything?
There's nothing honest about VW's approach. They won't have self-driving either, it will be at best the same as Tesla's. And yet, they want to charge you, and charge you significantly more than 10k upfront (because they expect to extract this payment every time, all the time, for the entire lifetime of the car).
Pay-per-minute autonomous driving is far more like old pay-per-minute phone plans than it is mystery-AWS-data-charges. You know when it's driving and when it's not. There's no unforeseeable per-lambda charges about it.
It's not a huge logical leap to think that a subscription based service like this could lead to things such as:
You want to travel between point A and B several miles apart in rural Kansas on a straight road with a road density of 2 vehicles per mile? "Sure, that's 8.50 an hour."
Oh, you want to travel between Newark and Manhattan in the middle of a snowstorm? "That will be 15 an hour because we have to cover the costs for the real-time feed of data from our weather and control center"
Oh, you have a camper, too? "That's an additional 2 bucks an hour for our towing package"
Oh, you're traveling across state lines and the state over imposes an additional tax on autonomous driving. "we need to charge you 8.75 to cover the tax and our costs but only in that state."
Ah yes. There's no evidence. Except the countless instances of dark patterns everywhere on the web tricking into you paying money. Countless instances where you can't cancel a subscription, and have to go through multiple hoops to do it. Countless instances when there's a runaway billing in a SaaS that leaves people with huge bills.
But sure. These are all just "hypotheticals", and not the reality how the absolute vast majority of subscription business works.
> You know when it's driving and when it's not. There's no unforeseeable per-lambda charges about it.
Ah yes. Because of course it will be as simple as "when it's on, it will be charged", and not "when an obscure setting is on, you will be charged, regardless of whether it will be self-driving or not".
Maybe I'm not bothered about self driving for 90% of my journeys, but on occasion I'm going somewhere unusual or want to travel overnight or after drinking or whatever I'll just pay for a few hours.
Imagine a world where there was just a set fee of $x per hour and $x per mile to travel. Would allow a far easier choice between different modes of transport, as the marginal cost becomes the actual cost.
(Of course self driving is years away so this is all just spin)
It's enough to have "on/off" somewhere in settings, and have it "enabled" even if you don't use it.
Good grief, there are countless articles even here on HN about dark patterns where people are tricked into subscribing to something, or being unable to unsusbcribe except when going through the hoops. But sure, a car manufacturer charging maney for a subscription will never ever do that as long as you "don't use a feature".
They do not! Are you comparing computer driving in "easy" situations with human driving in all situations?
If we can get rid of, or vastly reduce, the problems of inattention, exhaustion, rage, chemical impairments and the like, we have a huge improvement. I think that improvement is vastly more, cost measured in human life, than the problems we see with computer control in odd situations.
So yes. They do drive better than humans. The fact that their failings are wack-doodle to us (you drove _right_ into that truck??) is swallowed in the fact that their failings are profoundly fewer than ours.
Better start showing off some statistics along with that claim.
This type of change isn’t instant, but it can happen faster than a human lifespan. Think about someone born in the 70s and what they’ve experienced with cigarettes. They were born into a world where close to half the US population smoked, and they’re now retiring in a world where smoking is de facto banned in most non-residential buildings. That is a drastic change, and remember that tobacco is addictive, which hampers change much more effectively than habits like driving.
That rules out de facto driving ban. That leaves driving ban by fiat. Also never gonna happen in this century, unless it carves out an exception for "classic cars."
As far as hazard ratios go, cigarette smoking is orders of magnitude more dangerous than driving. Not a good comparison.
I’m not, you didn’t read what I wrote. I specifically predicated my theory on if it was possible, and indicated my reservations there.
But the big benefit that I see of self-driving is that a lot of manual driving becomes safer. Autonomous vehicles won't overlook motorcycles and Miatas.
Autonomous cars will go a long way to making small, fun vehicles safe again.
The used car market is a $150bn industry. A quick spot check found that a 2010 Honda Civic still costs between $5k and $10k depending on mileage, etc.
By the time that self driving is required by the NHSA or whatever body requires backup cameras and the like in new cars self driving will be standard.
A $20k Subaru will come with it out of the box, no add ons, just like a backup camera today.
The National Driver's Association will arise with bumper stickers: "You can pry the steering wheel from my cold, dead hands"
As self driving becomes common, people won't bother with getting a driving license. States that do can actually put in decent levels of restrictions and competency to get one rather than letting an 16 year old with 5 minutes driving round a car park out on the road.
As fewer people get new licesnse, the demand for self-driving goes down as people who can drive the legacy way die off.
Humans drive correctly 99.99999% of the time. We can't can't even keep a computer up and running that well, never mind driving perfectly.
See this thread with the math: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12012166
The future you are expecting is never going to happen.
This comparison doesn't make any sense. You're comparing _continuous_ operation with the aggregate of the average human's bouts of driving. Even robotaxis aren't going to run constantly. A sensible analogue would be something like aircraft software, which I'd guess does have near the reliability of human drivers (and can last much longer continuously than humans do).
I don't understand what you mean. I'm comparing actual time behind the wheel - hours of correct driving vs hours (well minutes) of incorrect driving.
Do the math yourself, take total hours behind the wheel and divide by the accident rate, like I did. You'll get the same results. Depending on your assumptions anywhere from 99.999 to 99.99999% correct driving by humans.
> Even robotaxis aren't going to run constantly.
Again, I'm not comparing constantly, I'm comparing actual hours behind the wheel.
That number also means no situations where the computer gives up and hands control back to the driver.
If autonomous cars can never hand back (at most stopping legally, safely and out of traffic) and cause 1 death per 10 million hours, that would seem about right.
> We can't can't even keep a computer up and running that well
That's the comparison that I quoted in my comment and that I was responding to. You're comparing continuous uptime to humans' disconnected (and brief) bouts of driving.
Does automobile software development have the level of oversight that aircraft development has in terms of regulation and approval for use? I know the NHTSA approves safety with crash tests (and are currently working on AV standards) but I'm not sure it's an equivalent to what the FAA currently does.
Not to say they won't be equivalent in the future, but I don't know how well the analogue holds up if they don't have equivalent levels of quality oversight currently.
Nothing in my comment implied this, and I don't disagree that it doesn't. The question is immaterial to the specific topic of discussion: the comparison of server uptime to human-driver reliability as an indicator of the feasibility of functional AV software.
I am legitimately asking how much parity there is regarding oversight regulation between flight and autonomous software, which would help make your point clearer since it has a direct relationship to reliability.
However, I do think it’s relevant to the point. If you are making an analogy about reliability but one is legally forced to demonstrate reliability while the other is not, does that comparison really make sense with that additional context? While I've worked in the aerospace software domain, I don't know to what standard AV is held which is why I was asking.
Not quite attacking, but disagreeing with an implied assumption that I didn't make (ie, that I was arguing that AVs were ready for primetime instead of narrowly disputing the flawed reliability comparison in the parent comment).
> I am legitimately asking how much parity there is regarding oversight regulation between flight and autonomous software, which would help make your point clearer since it has a direct relationship to reliability
The reason I figured it was rhetorical is that I thought it was fairly universally known that there's no comparable regulatory apparatus for AVs (yet?). But you're mistaken that this is relevant to my point: the parent comment was discussing the feasibility of AVs by saying "we can't build computers with the uptime of human drivers", and I was pointing out that he had this backwards.
> If you are making an analogy about reliability but one is legally forced to demonstrate reliability while the other is not, does that comparison really make sense with that additional context?
I didn't say AVs were as reliable as aircraft software, nor that they would definitely get to that pt (perhaps they don't need to, as safe stops are much easier on the ground). I was disputing the claim that computer system uptime can't be made as reliable as humans in the current day, using aircraft systems as an in-production example.
My point was that AV-aircraft comparison is only valid iff they are held to the same quality standard. It sounds like we agree they are not.
I think it’s important to include that caveat, that’s all. If you assume everybody already knows that, I can understand why you didn’t include it in your original point.
I don't own a car currently (nor any Tesla stock) so I'm happy to wait and see if I'm wrong or right.
But we'll see.
Mobileye's camera based point cloud approach appears to be much more robust.
Good point though. I'd like Tesla to add more cameras.
Isn't this hyperbolic? I split time between at least two cities. Being able to pay as I go represents a real saving in cost, time and attention.
Sometimes buying is better than renting. But sometimes there are economies of centralization. AWS isn't a scam on companies too poor to buy servers.
And people buy this?
I am beyond incredulous and want to pinch myself. Offering Apple/Android play as subscription was bad enough and an automatic deal-breaker, but this is just ludicrous.
Like, it makes sense to a lot of people. BMW loves this, corporate fleets love this. But as it slowly becomes standard we all lose.
Also, Tesla sold exactly this for a while(don't know if they still do) to hit their $35k promise of a Model 3 - the car had heated seats installed, but you had to pay a one time $1000 fee to Tesla to unlock them.
I'm working for a company and I buy the heated seats upgrade.
Eight months later I'm looking at moving to another company and I'll lose that value. Maybe that affects my decision.
So I'm paying for my own employer-lock-in loyalty perks? Am I a moron? No, so I negotiate away part of my salary, or my healthcare, to have the nicer car.
You get heated seats on certain luxury car brands as long as you have an American Express platinum. Just like airport lounge access.
I'd bet on Future 2.
They're both dystopian.
But I can also totally see situations where if the choice is between say....a Ford Mondeo or a BMW 3-series, the company can go "you can get the BMW, but we're not paying anything for options - if you want them, that's on you".
>>Eight months later I'm looking at moving to another company and I'll lose that value. Maybe that affects my decision.
If it's a subscription, then that value is lost anyway. You can probably get a partial refund for the unused months before you return the car.
Another poster said it's a $300 one-time payment. So you're losing that when you leave. Figure on a bunch of options and it's a lot of money.
I'd want it tied to me, not the vehicle. I paid for heated seats on my last BMW. You're charging me again? For DLC?
If I could pay for heated seats forever I could see it. It's just software, you're putting the same seats in every car, now we have a value.
So of course that will never happen.
Heated seats are a pretty standard upgrade that people will pay for, so I'm not sure that it makes much difference whether it's a physical upgrade or a software unlock, and there are valid reasons Tesla might choose a software unlock.
But charging a subscription fee on heated seats on a non-rental car is outrageous.
Does the 1000 USD upgrade buy the feature or merely enable it for the time that the owner owns the car?
However, I still see selling features as a software upgrade strictly as an alternative means* of selling upgrades. So the upgrade should be tied to the car, not the owner. The added bonus here would be that a second owner could unlock features that the initial owner didn't want.
*i.e. Tesla might decide it's better just to put the heated seats in all cars rather than manufacturing cars with and without.
On the current Model 3 SR+, the rear seats are not heated, but you can pay to have the software unlock them. Its a few hundred dollars, I think.
For both the Model 3 LR and the Y LR, there is an available one time $2k USD upgrade to provide enhanced acceleration.
And obviously, the "FSD" package is a software fee that generally requires no hardware changes. It does get you access to some new hardware, though if needed.
But I think people see this differently if it is a one time fee vs a subscription fee.
No one in a fleet vehicle pays for their own 'upgrades', man.
DLC on cars and people are here defending it, I lost my shit over games doing it. We went from pay once for the game, maybe another expansion thay doubled your vanilla game. Now every company nickles and dimes us to death. Does no one remember banks being shit on for that in the 80s-90s?
>>My 2009 328i has heated seats I've never once had to pay to activate.
Yes, what's your point?
>>No one in a fleet vehicle pays for their own 'upgrades', man.
In modern 2021+ and higher BMW models in the US, they do, man. That is literally BMW's payment model on NEW cars. Don't know why you'd assume I'm talking about a 2009 model.
>>DLC on cars and people are here defending it
So far I had like 40 replies to my comment with maybe one or two people defending the practice. Is it really worth getting upset over it(the people commenting, not the practice)?
…or maybe that was your point?
It annoys me to no end because it means you are paying(in the cost of the car) to have all of this advanced tech in the car, but you can't use it without subscription. What if I get a modder to enable it anyway? Am I now a criminal? What about the environmental impact of lugging around hardware that you don't want or need, just in case you or the next owner wants it?
Then I bought a BeaterMW because I needed a car, didn't want a loan, and had access to garage space.
It was a wonderful and labor-intensive two years of driving pleasure followed by a lump of metal out front I still haven't gotten rid of.
It took a very particular set of requirements to make that a win.
I would never recommend a BMW to anybody.
> Be kind. Don't be snarky. Have curious conversation; don't cross-examine. Please don't fulminate. Please don't sneer, including at the rest of the community.
So what exactly is the problem here?
Isn't having the choice between several options a good thing from consumer point of view?
Isn't extracting more money a whole point of company to exist?
I suppose I have an ideological problem with cars being sold this way. I see them as something that you own entirely once you paid for them. The idea that the car physically has heated seats installed but you can't switch them on without paying a fee to BMW is literally offensive to me on some higher level.
I don't know how to explain this better, I just don't want to live in a world where we buy things but never actualy own them. Yes, I am aware that computers and their software has operated like this for a long time now - doesn't mean that I accept this in cars.
>>Isn't having the choice between several options a good thing from consumer point of view?
To use another example - imagine if property developers built only 6-bed houses to streamline their construction process, but 4 out of these bedrooms were walled up and inaccessible by default. But hey, don't worry, you can pay an annual fee to the developer to unlock these bedrooms! Surely that's great for customers, because you only pay for what you need. Kid moved out to college and you no longer need their bedroom? Stop paying the extra fee, some guys will come over and brick up the door again. Isn't consumer choice great?
My point is - consumer choice isn't always the best outcome for everyone, including consumers. And I believe this is a false choice anyway, because BMW isn't aiming to offer this as a $500 one-time unlock OR $100 annual fee - it's just the annual subscription. Just like you can't just buy a standalone copy of Photoshop anymore, it's been replaced with a subscription model entirely.
>>Isn't extracting more money a whole point of company to exist?
I mean, it can be, but in a capitalist competitive market hopefully there will be competition that doesn't do that - and if it actively turns people away from buying BMW products then this whole idea fails at its intended purpose - can't extract more money from your customers if people don't become your customers in the first place.
Even a rental car doesn’t quite match, since you are in a particular car.
It could improve availability of those features because a rental company could order a fleet with those features on all cars in their fleet and then customers who want it would be able to pay the surcharge, instead of being constrained by the portion of the fleet with those features installed.
Of course it would likely just be used as a way to increase rental car prices.
A company will aim to charge the most it can to its customers.
If they can increase the rental prices without extra features, then they can charge even more for extra features.
Ultimately it comes down to the business's own calculus of costs, prices, and demand.
Sell something without the extra costs and will people pay more? In the housing sector in the UK that's certainly not the case -- people didn't value freehold over leasehold until lots of media coverage, despite the information being right there for all to see.
In a situation where there's a monopoly/cartel, the consumer that actually looks at the total costs and benefits can lose out because there aren't enough knowlegable customers to make an old fashioned business viable, but in industries with low barriers to entry and low network effects it's not a problem.
In the above comment you seemed to suggest that companies would already be charging more for rental cars if they could.
So I pointed out that consumers might be willing to pay more for a rental in return for a higher perceived value in the form of extra features being enabled.
It's as if you bought your house, but had one room walled off with the developer saying "for only $100 a month, we will open that room up for you! isn't that great? you only pay for it if you need the extra space!"
Except that obviously the room is there whether you pay the subscription or not, you paid for it in the cost of the house.
You are assuming demand is equal for all of those. It might be in some places, but not others.
For someone who only occasionally needs heated seats, this is value adding.
I agree that forcing everyone into a subscription is coercive. But there are a lot of people for whom the flexibility of a subscription creates more value than it costs. Rejecting it ex ante because of its financing model is overly simplistic.
With heated seats the hardware to provide the functionality was either fitted or not, once it leaves the factory it's static and so it seems pretty unreasonable to me to charge an ongoing fee for the privilege.
A world where my car gets micro-transactions to turn on the AC or heaters etc scares me.
Why wouldn’t this apply to an autonomous driving service?
If your self-driving system requires some centralised service to operate properly, it can hardly be fully autonomous under all conditions. How can it react immediately to an emergency situation if it's not running locally?
And if you're not talking about that but just ongoing development work and making updates available after the sale, there's nothing that means that has to be a mandatory service. Either the original version works properly or it doesn't (and in this case, if it doesn't, it shouldn't be allowed on the roads and the regulators should eat the vendors alive). Any subsequent updates that somehow improve the "quality" of the system could be made available at an extra charge, just like new products or new versions of software in a million other contexts, without any need for compulsory ongoing payments where the system stops working if the customer stops paying.
There’s a cost to VW to keep that system running. They have to staff SWEs that can write security patches, have to maintain outdated methods to update the software, etc.
And this isn’t really optional for VW to do it as if there’s a problem on a 2000 pound vehicle moving at 60 miles per hour things can get deadly quickly. For example what if there was a way to get into the car’s computer via the map software that was last updated 4 years ago? Maybe a hacker could then turn off power steering? Yes that is a hypothetical but there’s always problems with software and they need to get fixed when the consequences of not fixing them are high.
Like, going back to my maps example - if I never pay VW for a map upgrade, my 10 year old satnav system will absolutely mislead me and try to direct me in places which could be potentially dangerous. And like....so what? The system that was installed from the factory still works, that's the point.
These current systems that we have are all just glorified cruise control systems - and whatever you have in your latest Merc/BMW/Audi/Volvo/whatever will continue to work until the car itself falls apart. As far as I can see VW isn't proposing anything different - other than the payment scheme for it.
Also, as for hacking risk - this is a massive risk on nearly all new vehicles on the road today and very little is being done to address it. VW charging for autonomous driving capability has little to do with that.
And to add another example - there's a famous case where a woman's car has caused $180M worth of damage, as it has caught fire while being transported inside a cargo ship. Turns out there was an outstanding recall on that vehicle due to....fire risk. So initially insurers wanted to put all blame on her, since she didn't have the vehicle fixed despite the recall. But they all got nowhere, because there isn't currently any law that says you have to get your vehicle fixed when a recall is issued. Similarily, the manufacturer isn't obliged by law to make sure any recall is followed, so they were off the hook as well.
What I mean to say is that these hypothetical situations are interesting to talk about, but with the current state of tech and law none of it is an actual concern.
Also, they'll probably need a liability insurance for cases when their autonomous car inevitably gets in a situation where it has to choose between killing it's passengers or killing someone outside the car.
Of course, they could offer a pricing model where all that is paid up front, but I doubt it would be very attractive.
Unlike with say housing, which sits on land which appreciates in value at a rate and has a high cost of moving (monetary and personal), a typical car for the majority of people is a means to an end which just sits their and deprecates. The cost of changing to a new car is a few minutes reprogramming the radio and seats.
Ultimately what most people want is transportation which costs a reliable x¢ per mile at a given level of convienience, reliability and comfort.
Cars are hardly a winner takes all business or one with little competition - there's at least a dozen major manufacturers.
I don’t understand this argument. Would it feel different if you had to install the FooBar component to get it to work? That the act of having to do something physically can then justify the additional cost?
I’m all for a rental market like this. It no longer means that in the used car market there’s 100 different cars of model XYZ to look at as there’s 2^n different combinations of options to consider. All of that model are the same and then you unlock features.
It's the HN community that have created this. If I have an EC2 VM, I have to pay Amazon a micro-transaction for every dns request they serve and every time I as much as ping my box
If a car company would charge me per day for heated seats, that would work for me, I don't use them that often. If they make me pay per year and they're installed in the car already... They've given me a nice electronics challenge, which adds value?
If VW spends 700 million on making self driving they want to get more then that back. They can do so by charging everyone 10k more for the car, but it would make the car expensive and decrease sales volume requiring an even higher price. Or they can come up with some other model where users with less budget pay less while those that can afford it pay more. In that case you need to make it so that those that pay more get more benefits, and their idea for that is charging by hours of usage.
I'm not sure I'm happy with that as a customer, but the model isn't crazy.
Therein lies the rub.
No, for someone who only has a 3 year lease on a BMW, this may be value adding (or value subtracting).
The money you save by not paying for heated seats when you buy the BMW does not go into your pocket when you sell the BMW without heated seats, as whoever buys the BMW from you will pay less for a BMW in which heated seats are free than one in which heated seats cost $100/year.
For a car with a 20 year life, you'd profit if 1 year of heated seat rental costs less than 1/20 the price of heated seats if bought up front. This is true whether you own the car for 1 year or 3 years or 20 years. It does not matter how long you personally plan on owning the car.
It does not matter who sells the car. What matters is whether:
(the price of used car with heated seats that must be paid for) - (the money already made from renting out heated seats) > (price of a used car with heated seats that are free)
The identity of the seller does not alter this equation at all, nor can it flip a loss to a gain.
No, not really; a manufacturer can't simply lump the price of all the unused stuff onto the base price. It would hand the low end to their competitors.
Assuming that the manufacturers are not operating as a cartel (which is a different discussion), a manufacturer simply adding the total cost of all non-activated equipment and services onto the base price would be competitive suicide in the low(er)-end market. So no sane manufacturer would ever do that - they don't need to.
Instead, as long as the manufacturer's cost reductions through simplified design, production, inventory etc., plus the upselling revenue are greater than the additional hardware and licensing costs. Then they can, at least in theory, include heated seats, air conditioning, self-driving and whatever extra crap they like for no, or very little, additional initial outlay to the base model purchaser.
Of course, purchasers (and the planet) will pay for it in degraded acceleration, braking and fuel economy if extra weight is involved. Perhaps I'm pessimistic, but given the number of pointless SUVs and Trucks on the roads, it's hard to imagine that'd be a concern to the average purchaser.
While binning goes on with desktop and commodity server processors, by and large manufacturers can't play too many games with building in unused capacity.
However, at the high-end, especially mainframes, you absolutely have features like capacity on demand and pricing by workload and there was even more of this sort of thing in the past.
Please don't bring up minority use cases when discussing the average or modal use case.
There are a lot of minority use cases with cars. I suspect there are more, in aggregate, minority uses than there are cases in the mode. In any event, there is a massive non-extortive beachhead for this model, as deminstrared by Uber and Zipcar et al.
I’ve never found Uber worse than cabs and maybe 1 in a 100 Ubers is dirty or smelly, reminding me of how awful cabs used to be about half the time. Many drivers seem about as happy as random workers in other industries but some seem quite a bit happier with their arrangement with Uber than most service workers seem to be.
Uber relies on the drivers underselling themselves though, which isn't good for society, but is great for the individual rider.
The complaint I have is that Uber pickup is sometimes unreliable. They may cancel after being connected, or they didn't wait at pickup points and left without contacting me.
> In a swipe at Tesla, he said that by charging hourly fees, VW would make autonomous driving more accessible than “a car with a five-digit surcharge.”
Especially if VW isn't actually "taking a swipe at" Tesla but instead going after a different market.
It is like saying calling a bagel a counterfeit bowl of cereal.
Do the math and see how using AWS just doesn't make sense at the scale most companies operate.
Speaking from someone who moved a SaaS operation from co-lo to AWS. Everyone (especially the C-suite) was much happier.
Everything from buying the HDD, to his hours to the parking ticket at the data-center. He convinced me and the point was clear: a single failing HDD would costs us more than renting similar computing power for over 6 years. We had two such failing HDDs in three years prior.
This "1 server" is equivalent to at least two part-time admins to ensure smooth operations. No biggie if said server just hosts a static website, big deal if runs mission critical processes.
That's the part too many "self-hosting" advocates conveniently leave out. A correct TCO calculation must include this cost (and proper risk assessment) and only then can a comparison be made.
As a business you need to ask yourself: and who pays for the time it takes to educate at least two employees on this "basic and elementary matter"? If it really were so "basic and elementary", how come even critical infrastructure regularly falls victim to the most primitive of ransomware attacks?
Misconfigured email and network access settings, vulnerable, out of date software stacks, non-existing contingency plans, lack of monitoring, no escalation strategy, etc. etc. Billions are lost each year due to this.
It's very easy to underestimate the actual complexity of the task in its fullest whilst overestimating one's own abilities because "it's not hard to setup NGinx and service stack XY on a random x64 box".
Anecdote from personal experience: tasked an applicant for a DevOps position with comparing two systems we could choose from for a backend service. The systems came in the form of installation packages and docker-images respectively.
Having had no experience with Docker at the time, I thought it'd safe my team a great deal of time to have the "new guy", who knew Docker inside out, deal with it.
A week later we had two results: 1) a usable comparison of the two systems and 2) an e-mail from the cloud service who informed us that the machines we rented were performing DDoS attacks on a foreign company...
New guy had forgotten to properly secure the test machines he had set up and it took hackers all of 72 hours to find and hijack them. Luckily it only took a few clicks to wipe the offending boxes, but it served as a warning for what happens if you take the whole "big scary nothings" too lightly.
I accept your points, but far too many inexperienced devOps are given keys that should not have them. From your Docker story, it sounds like poor decision making on your behalf. Just because a developer knows Docker does not mean they know how to expose that securely to the public - far too many devs believe that's not their job.
While that's certainly true, I think you missed the part where the guy specifically applied for a DevOps position.
The "Ops"-part wasn't optional and exposing a test system to the public in the first place is a big fail in and of itself obviously.
But that's besides the point: the point was that operating even a single server is more complex than many people tend to admit and you just confirmed this statement.
I also don't understand how you jump from "it's not hard" and "big scary nothing" to "funded startups" and getting a "different team" preferably consisting of knowledgeable "grey beards". Which is it? Is it simple enough to learn on a rainy weekend or do you actually need dedicated trained and/or experienced professionals, because far too many devs are unsuitable for this?
I have trouble following your train of thought tbh.
It also doesn't account for all of the out-of-hours stuff we need to do. Even with a hosted solution and a lot of paid-for services like Cloudflare, we still have to check out every unusual error email, everything that seems out of the ordinary.
If you are 200+ people, great, you probably already have a team to manage this. If you are small like 90% of companies then you won't and I want to spend my time on the things I am expert in.
Really? There is a giant population of senior experienced engineers looking to do basic a lot of basic sys admin stuff? And they're willing to work for peanuts, right?
By the way, I totally agree with your basic point. The developer probably downloaded some images from a random public repo. As you say, far too many devs think security is someone else's problem and then get upset when the security person blocks their app going into production.
If it were so basic, the DevOps person they hired should've been able to do it after taking a 6-7 hour docker course.
No need to ensure the software is up-to-date, no worries about hardware outages, no need to monitor the system, etc. etc.
The person working with a rented service infrastructure can focus on what makes them money: the process.
With self-owned hardware you need contingency plans, setup, maintenance, redundant ISPs, UPS, extra electrical setup (many offices automatically turn off power to all outlets after office hours to safe electricity and reduce the risk of fires), and much more depending on the required tasks and their importance.
If you want to know what happens if you cheap out on that because "it just works" anyway once it's been set up and operated by an underqualified and overworked person, look no further than the recent ransomware incidents.
Some of them could've been easily avoided had the IT infrastructure been up to snuff. Way too many businesses and public entities still treat IT as a necessary evil that can be handled casually, not realising their dependence on it.
The specifics differ on a case-to-case basis, but in general it's a terrible idea for a small non-IT business to operate their own IT infrastructure. The solution doesn't have to be "cloud" or SaaS either. Hiring a competent 3rd party to deal with the specific implementation and operation for you is just as good even said party is "Bob's Business IT Services" and not AWS or Microsoft Azure.
> No need to ensure the software is up-to-date, no worries about hardware outages, no need to monitor the system, etc. etc.
> The person working with a rented service infrastructure can focus on what makes them money: the process.
No, that's just not even remotely true. VMs, managed services all require updates that are pushed to the end user of the service. Downtimes happen, and dealing with those are pushed to the end user of the service by cloud providers far too often. I have countless support tickets at all levels of the cloud stack of back-and-forth on issues, many as simple as "how about serving 200s, not 500s?"
I wish managed services were a rainbows and unicorns world of "I give you cash, you give me magic computer thing that scales and never goes down" … but that just isn't the case today for many cloud services. (I think about the one service I'd be willing to pin such a medal on is S3. It comes remarkably close, but even there, I've had an incident where we had an outage due to S3 that took much back & forth with support to finally get an engineer on their side to look at it.)
When I say "No need to ensure the software is up-to-date, no worries about hardware outages, no need to monitor the system, etc. etc." I don't mean these things don't need to happen at some point. The idea is that it's not you, as in the customer, who's responsible for this.
If I book a Redis-DB of a given size, I don't have to care about its software version, proxies, what OS it's running on, how big the VM is, what the specs are, and so forth. That's what I'm getting at.
It's far higher level than individual VMs and it doesn't mean downtimes don't happen either. It simply means it's not you, the customer, who has to troubleshoot and fix them.
And what I'm getting at is that you do. While there might exist managed services that don't require this, many managed services nonetheless do. E.g., AWS RDS regularly has updated versions, and it is somewhat up to the customer to schedule them & apply them, and downtime happens during that. RDS is relatively pain-free, and is higher on my list of "would use again" for that reason. But take something like Azure AKS: it's a "managed" service, but upgrades are very much not pain free. I have to manually schedule them, and manually apply them, and deal with fallout (which is often, IME).
> It simply means it's not you, the customer, who has to troubleshoot and fix them.
Again, I disagree. When S3 had its outage, I had to debug why certain requests weren't happening, I had to capture sufficient request IDs to prove to AWS that S3 was in an outage for us, and only then did we get the proper support, and eventually, attention from engineering. My company had to pay an engineer to do that. Sure, I'm not literally debugging S3 actual, but that doesn't mean an engineer isn't needed on the consuming side. Same story with an example with ACR where we were receiving 500s: it took not only capturing 5xx requests & their time of occurrence, it took multiple back and forths to convince Azure that the 5xxs were on their side. (Both of these incidents also demonstrated a real fundamental lack of alerting on the side of the companies managing these services. Our monitors on their services very clearly indicated outage. S3's excuse was that it was "just" our bucket. But the point is that they have no insight into the actual service the end user is perceiving even after the customer raises the support ticket.)
Just recently I was SSHed onto an AKS VM to try to help Azure understand why packets weren't making it from their Virtual network into AKS. Data, from one Azure service to another! (And we didn't figure it out, either; we ended up changing what we were doing anyways, and so the investigation became moot.) And this demonstrates another issue I've hit, a bunch, is that interactions between managed services are also impossible to debug: you end up with two separate services both claiming it isn't them that is out of spec, but nonetheless the end result doesn't work, and nobody on either side has the competence to actually debug the problem.
If you want the downtime to end, it becomes you, the customer that has to debug & troubleshoot these things. And that is a cost that must be accounted for when weighing managed services vs. unmanaged ones.
However as all developers are AWS experts (at least according to their resume), you have to pay that price regardless
It is always the 1% of difficult stuff that hits you, but it is very rarely the correct call to optimize for that 1% instead of for the 99% of uses.
But the number sounds a bit off… I have fuzzy memories of some fun around that many concurrent requests with Apache 1.3 — that is, one process per user. Doesn't the fun begin quite a bit higher with just any more modern software?
You tell me, I'm not a sysadmin:) I can only attest to the fact that without any kind of RAID or suitable hardware setup (RAM for caching, fast networking etc.), even a dozen people accessing the same file can be very problematic (provided the file is large enough).
As for the use case: digital content creation comes to mind. Sharing assets globally especially in times like these when more people are working remotely is such use case.
Now it isn't cheap, but the five year ownership cost difference compared to iron doesn't cover a month of my salary, so.
It often is, for small and medium business (traditional ones) it's often cheaper to rent DC-Space and buy some servers yourself...but hey if you pay and don't do the math, that's your problem.
I ran a cloud platform production system for 6 years with multiple replicas of all systems and it cost around £400/month, a tiny amount compared to even a single person to manage your own servers.
My current SaaS gig runs in Azure (App Services and containers - no VMs nor “serverless”) and being completely free of the need to do sysadmin work is just so nice. When I was colocating my own rack about a decade ago there was always something that needed my attention, be it security updates, some new unexpected error in the syslogs, RAID drive failing, etc - that I’d need to commute to the DC an hour away or pay the DC’s helping-hands fees. Back when I was younger it was fun and valuable to gain those experiences, but right now I’m a west-coast SWE and no employer wants me to spend my time doing sysadmin/SRE work when my time is literally worth ten times more doing product work and letting MS’ Azure staff keeping things humming along.
For high-availability, AWS/Azure/GCP all the way! There’s no way a micro-ISV SaaS vendor can compete if they have to burn cycles doing unprofitable infrastructure work.
Physical colocation is nearly always cheaper than AWS for most use cases.
Exceptions are when your usage is so tiny that it doesn't need even a single full-time server, and, when your usage is so erratic that provisioning for the spikes doesn't make sense.
For everyone else, you're paying a very large premium for AWS over what it'd cost to buy and operate some servers.
The benefit of AWS-style comes in at
1) Flexibile workflows (I need the grunt on mondays, but not the rest of the week)
2) Tiny workflows (I just want a couple of $5/month VMs in different cities and some DNS to host a couple of toys)
Now if you have the $8/hour self drive, that's great if you use it once a year on a 10 hour trip to a holiday destination. It's awful if you use it for 2 hours a day.
I do save the few staff hours needed on physical maintenance of racking, cabling and replacing hardware. But at typical startup scale that's not much work. In the past I've done it myself on the side. As the company gets larger it takes dedicated staff, but at that point the comparable AWS bill is so large I could pay their full year salary on a single month of AWS bills.
AWS have managed services for a lot of different things, which save a lot of time on maintenance. Object storage? Message queue? Any type of database? ML? etc. etc. etc.
And of course, there's the scalability. With on-prem it's a careful balancing act of buying enough capacity to have space to expand but not too much to waste it, and you have to regularly keep an eye out lest you hit a limit with multi-week lead times ( e.g. you're out of storage, and buying a new shelf can take weeks to be usable).
That is assuming businesses are content with only getting the same revenue in the new pricing model and before you factor in issues like “people can’t count money” and “pretty much anything can get gradually normalized, and an undercutter’s market pretty much everything will”. For example, I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I wanted to buy a TV right now... Probably buy a normal underpriced surveillance node and spend the time to isolate it from public networks, but still, that’s depressing.
Your example doesn't apply. You don't rent a server from AWS, you pay for their services. If the AWS cost was just getting you a VPS, then you would have a point.
I'm not saying AWS is (always) a good deal, but the cost is quantifiable, compared to buying a server or renting a VPS where all the extra ops work isn't (easily).
Yes, which can be bought elsewhere, which was the entire point.
> and humans behind to intervene in case of necessity ( à la Waymo).
I have no idea, does it?
The reason this service can potentially exist is only because Tesla is charging such a high upfront cost, and because it may be more accessible (or indeed cheaper) for some people to rent on a pay-as-you-go basis.
"This is 100% a way to extract more money from consumers" is true of literally everything that every corporation does. That's the point of its existence.
Are they spinning it to sound good? Of course, that's part of the job. Do you have to take the service if it provides no additional benefit to you? No, you can still buy a Tesla (or not).
There are plenty of other use cases that fit really nicely, replacing a taxi for a night out, occasional long journeys, times when you’re feeling too tired to drive.
But having said that, I don’t see why we wouldn’t just expect to go autonomous all the time. Free or included in the price autonomous driving would be an obvious opportunity for any competitors.
Tesla is WAY further away from fully autonomous driving than they're letting on to their customers, probably because a lot of people would demand refunds on their FSD charges if they knew there was a good chance it wouldn't arrive before the car's end of life in the best case.
Volkswagen's plan here is just as ridiculous. Autonomous driving is economically impossible to make work on a pay-as-you-go model. Who's going to front the cost for all the tech required in the car to allow for automated driving? Volkswagen? the customer?
What if the customer doesn't want automated driving - they're not going to just give you an extra few tens of thousands of dollars for a feature they don't want and would still need to pay extra for anyway.
If VW eats the cost then they'll go out of business making crazy expensive cars that people won't pay to reimburse. (Are you going to pay $8 for every small run in the car anytime you need to go to the shop for something?)
Just copy Waymo and Uber in terms of model (i.e. robotaxi) if you're going to do automated driving. At least that way the cars are consistently in use and generating revenue to cover their eye-watering BOM cost.
If VW had:
1) a fleet of fully autonomous vehicles.
(2) running for years gathering training data.
(3) all over the world.
They would still have a really long way to go to catch up with Tesla - who are still (according to their recent statements to regulators) not even close.
But if it can be turned off and I can just drive as today as with a normal car, and I'm not paying any extra for the idle feature set, where's the problem?
With the current state of autonomous driving, I'd never use it anyway. No feature I've read about is good enough to just sleep in the backseat. Expecting the driver to be 90%+ idle then, when the "autopilot" fails and I must get instantly up to speed on the full context and state of the car, is both a recipe for disaster and would make me a very nervous driver/passenger (especially when I know that it would fail to recognize things like a semi-truck parked sideways across the road or a lane-splitting concrete barrier dead-ahead).
When and if a true and trustworthy autopilot is available, I'd likely prefer a per hour charge. I'd use it only when I really needed it, such as when I really need the time to keep working on this commute, or I'm really tired and think it's safer to be driven home.
As long as there is variety available in the market, this seems like a find option to have. At some point, when I find myself using it a lot, then it's time to go out and buy a car like a Tesla where it's just included as a package. Of course, if VW are smart, they'll also offer a single-price or monthly fee 'Full-Time Self-Drive' package, so I don't need to go to a competitor to get it.
OTOH, if the industry starts to look like internet security cameras or thermostats, where the there is nothing but a subscription, or televisions where there is almost no way to just get a non-'connected' monitor, I'm totally with you -- this would be a horrible example of exploitative, extractive, rent-seeking corporate behavior.
How on earth is charging more money for a lower upfront cost "extortion"? If you remove the option, you're not magically granting people the upfront cost, you're just cutting them off from access at all. Are you not aware of the time value of money?
However if your able to derive utility from the product by renting why should you buy ? It is inefficient way to produce and consume goods.
As a society we already waste too much by buying and hardly using things.
Libraries are great way to reduce the number of actual books printed. Most people don't read most books , having a large unread personal collection is common vanity spend people usually do, which is really a waste of resources.
Many people rent camera/lens when they need them instead of buying expensive gear which is rarely used , these are efficiencies that are good to have.
Not all renting is bad
Yes, but there are things like car or house that are used daily
Private ownership of land doesn't work because land value goes up even with no input of the land owner.
You are free to own the house and car.
but this happens to other rare objects as well (value goes up without input from the owners), why is land so targeted?
My take is that _everything_ should be ownable, and owned. For example, if someone owned the air you breath, then you would have to pay to breath it. But it would also give incentive for this owner to stop pollution of the air - after all, you would not pay to breath polluted air! So the problem of air pollution is solvable this way.
There are real world examples of this. Internet, tap water, etc.
Your philosophy doesn't seem very well thought out.
I used to be quite negative about of going further down this path, but the way I see it now, what choice do we have in the future? The world population is growing, resources are limited. Is it it feasible that we can all own houses, multiple cars, gadgets etc?
I don't know anymore what the 'right' approach is here. Do we allow people to own and consume as much as they want forever or will the future be radically different in this sense where no one owns anything (car, property or gadgets)? The model that works now may not work forever.
Curious to hear from someone more well versed in this kind of topic on their thoughts?
The tech industry, with zero marginal cost, took to the subscription model with great success. Hugely profitable. Now every business looks to work in subscriptions.
I think what we will end up having is that initial players to offer autonomous driving will be able to charge, because it’s scarce and to recoup investment. Eventually the tech will get commoditized as computers grow ever more powerful, and someone will offer a car with free autonomous driving in order to sell more cars.
Subscriptions make the most sense for stuff you buy regularly, and stuff that can’t be monetized other ways (like Netflix). Car manufacturers are neither. Plus they have to compete with likes of Waymo and Uber - are they going to want to charge $8.50 an hr, plus the cost of gas, car, insurance etc, when I could take a self driving Uber for $20/hr?
Space is the scarce resource. In a city that's full of 90% of the time parked cars it doesn't really make sense for everyone to have their own car. Autonomous driving just combines the best of Uber and car sharing.
For moving heavy things: come on, how big of an impact on city traffic is this really?
Self-driving is going to be a service. It'll never be "done". Let's be very clear about this.
So what's actually is happening is Tesla charges you for something it can't give you yet, and something that will require ongoing maintenance i.e. you'd be paying a subscription in the long run again (just wait and see).
VW just starts with the right model from the get go and doesn't set you back $10K on empty promises.
Who is "completely disingenuous" here?
Of course with the pandemic commuting is not a big time sink anymore but I wonder how permanent this will be.
Does this average perhaps count people who aren't working as having zero commute?
First, the subscription model means that VW has an incentive to maintain the feature. Ofc, Tesla has been very generous with updates so far (even to older models!) but the key word is 'generous.' Once you've paid 10k (or more in the future) they have your money and you are at their mercy.
You're correct that, if you wanna self-drive everywhere, the subscription will eventually be a bad deal. But I think Tesla's approach actually keeps a lot more people from taking advantage than VW - because $10k is a lot of money! $8.50/hr is pretty reasonable for, say, a couple that wants to make out on their way to dinner or a parent who needs to keep their kids from fighting. These people don't self drive everywhere, but the option to pay for a bit of self driving is nice.
Or, to put it another way, whether or not Tesla's 10k charge is taking advantage of consumers "less" is based on usage and follow-through. You need a little over 1,000 hours of self-driving to get that 10k charge down to below VW's price of $8.50/hr and Tesla has said the $10k is gonna go up. So if you buy it and you ever stop using it within the first ~4.5 years, you are spending more compared to VW.
Just because it isn't economical for the "average" consumer doesn't mean there isn't a large and profitable niche.
Keep in mind this is a German taking to a German magazine, US business model might be different (But probably not)
Whether they actually have the deep technical expertise to implement a FSD worth paying 8/hour for remains to be seen. They seem to also be copying Musk’s aggressive timelines.
In the medium run, like GPS technology, competition will drive the cost of autonomy down to practically nothing and it will be enjoyed by working class people for free.
I say, the more competition for banks, the better.
It's clear that the autonomous driving has to execute locally on the car, so there is no physical basis to any "cost saving" other than sales mechanism optimization. Boo.
At least you still have a choice. In the software world, this freedom of choice is coming to an end, with Microsoft, Adobe, Autodesk and many others discontinuing "pay once own forever" products.
Philips is already planning to offer "Light as a service" to consumers. Citing circularity concerns, after all the incentive is now on them to make lightbulbs last as long as possible rather than as short as possible.
But really it means they've been cheating us with planned obsolescence for years.
I really don't want to be dependent on monthly contracts for every little thing. Never. I spend 20 euros per year on lightbulbs and I have a lot of smart ones. I'm sure any subscription plan won't be that cheap. Because the whole point of subscription models is for the company to make lots of money while doing nothing.
If the passenger should be doing the updates to the AI, then they should own the car outright and have the right to repair it.
If it is VW, then VW should align incentives well towards software maintenance by charging either an hourly or a monthly rate.
1) The driver's time. If I can read on my way to work, that's a win. Price effectively reduced.
2) Time saved not getting an oil change, new tires, other maintenance, etc. Price drops a bit more.
3) I don't have to buy a "family sized" car that's only fully utilized a small percentage of the time. That over-pay / under-realized has a cost associated with it. Instead, I simply hail what I need when I need it.
4) Along the same lines as #1, family QT increases when I use a family vehicle.
5) When I'm able to rightly size my vehicle, there are eco savings as well.
6) Or perhaps I'm too old to drive and owning a car doesn't make sense either. If someone else has to shuttle me around, their time is a cost.
Again. I agree. Companies profit from some products and markets more than others. That said, these vehicles and biz models are not the past and can - and will? - change the future.
If you're buying a VW...alreaady a heft sum, tacking on some added fee and saying that it's disadvantageous the disadvantaged feel like a stretch.
We ought wait until they manufacture them then ban import and hope they go bankrupt.
Or if the car costs 20k, plus 10k surcharge it is more like 13 years until the rent reaches the price. Also what about insurance and maintainence?
Every company will try to extract money from their customers and market normally decides who is correct.
I see cost optimalisation for some people and none for most.
And most importantly, the hassel to deal with the above.
Over the course of last 7 years living in NY I paid for rentals + uber + taxis way more than if I just bought a car in the beginning.
Yet I'm going to buy a car anyway, it's simply too much hassle.
Is it unreasonable, though? I can sell you access to my blog articles as they come out, or I can sell you access to all future articles, in one lump sum, now? Both of those have pros and cons.
I'm sure someone will come up with a different payment model (indeed Tesla already has?) and if it makes a difference to people, they can vote with their wallets? It would be worrying if there were only one option.
You're right about why the firms do it, of course. They want to extract as much money as they can. But there's also some value in being able to get anything at all, isn't there? Eg I can rent a seat on a plane, but most people can't buy a plane.
It's expensive to be poor, as they say. The biggest example is of course rent vs buy a house. But also things like being able to buy bulk toilet roll has a net effect on the cost.
Not to get into hourly wages, but it doesn't sit right when X% of your day is spent simply paying off your ride to work.
No road tax
>The English word Germany derives from the Latin Germania, which came into use after Julius Caesar adopted it for the peoples east of the Rhine
You already said it's 31 minutes of commuting per day, so why are you doubling it in your subsequent calculation?