Utilities need to prepare for the electric car future by seizing opportunities to provide the customer experience drivers will expect.
There was a time when people were expected to be able to open the hood of a car and at least attempt to fix it. Not anymore.
A modern car has more computers in it than a small office and your trusted IT guru friend will not be able to help.
Electric cars that are built from scratch to use new technologies take it to the next level. Tesla promotes its Model S sedan as “an app on four wheels.”
And it’s not just a marketing metaphor – software is what makes Teslas unique and keeps them running. The car is connected to Internet and can self-diagnose problems and download software fixes or updates.
So, if an electric car is part software and part physical device, how do you sell this shiny and beautiful Thing of Internet?
I’ve got an app for that: Automotive evolves
Many features common in selling digital products are used in IoT commerce. If a new feature can be downloaded, the car service becomes a subscription, and it’s not a surprise that the service plans page on Tesla’s website looks very similar to a subscription plan page for any SaaS company.
A big shift in the attitude to car ownership is rounding the turn. If you can hail a car to take you anywhere at will, why do you need to own one? What subscription services will mean to the future of automotive.
Tesla’s service plans have a familiar combination of recurring and per usage prices with a different set of entitlements.
Tesla gives this example of a new feature that can be downloaded:
By default, Model S does not slowly move forward when you release the brake pedal like cars equipped with automatic transmissions. In the automotive world this is called “creep.” With an electric motor there’s no need for this, but some early customers missed it. Using software updates, we upgraded every Model S with a “creep” option which customers can enable using the 17” touchscreen.
Some of these features can be premium in the future. How about selling “in-app” updates?
The next obvious development for Tesla’s commerce system will be an app store that would give an option for third-party software and hardware developers to enhance the car with innovative additions.
Software is eating the world, and, as result, commerce functionality used exclusively to sell digital products becomes a must-have feature in any commerce solution.