Should Car Makers Give Free Updates?

Discussion in 'Fred's House of Pancakes' started by ggood, Nov 14, 2010.

?
  1. Yes

    18 vote(s)
    72.0%
  2. No

    7 vote(s)
    28.0%
  1. ggood

    ggood Senior Member

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    I've made the point before that with all the electronics in cars now, the car makers (that includes you, Toyota) should be constantly updating them free of charge, to keep them up to date, fix problems, give them new features and new life, and build brand loyalty. Here's an article pointing out how well that works in the cell phone industry, and how it should be applied to cars:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/business/14every.html?_r=1&ref=technology

    "WITH computer chips now found in nearly everything that’s inedible, a free software upgrade could extend product life and engender brand loyalty in a host of categories. While other automakers talk about performance, styling or tradition in their commercials, Ford Motor, from its luxury Lincoln MKX down through the Ford Edge, advertises the electronics in the dashboard — navigation systems that find the lowest gasoline prices, customized music playlists, a family photo album and “10,000 commands at your fingertips.†There is no reason that Ford couldn’t update the electronics every year to add a few hundred new commands, thus preventing customers from feeling that a new BMW or Toyota had better features.

    Anything with a microchip could be refreshed and enhanced. A rice cooker could get applications that let it bake beans. A camera could receive upgrades that give the photographer more shooting modes or arty special effects."
     
  2. JimboPalmer

    JimboPalmer Tsar of all the Rushers

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    Any change in the software is going to require an entire new EPA certification program. This is a non trivial cost.

    Nor will Toyota be able to claim it gives you better mileage, they are limited by law to the EPA published numbers.

    If the EPA announced a program to ease those issues, I suspect Toyota has updates they would be pleased to release. In the current regulatory domain, I do not think Toyota could release updates for any Prius until after it had 150,000 miles on it.
     
  3. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    Yes, car makers should give free updates. And banks should give free money. And everybody in the world should give me a penny.
     
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  4. ggood

    ggood Senior Member

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    We already know from the brake fiasco that Toyota is constantly improving and making changes to the software/firmware. Why shouldn't those same changes be applied to every car of the same model already sold, without waiting for some recall or other fiasco?

    Not every change that could be made is affected by gov't regs. Even if some are, the answer is to work for change, just as they worked for change in revising the regs affecting hybrids.

    I knew someone would raise the no free lunch argument, but the point of the article is that it helps the manufacturer, by engendering brand loyalty. I know I'm far more likely to buy Apple products because of their policies in this regard.
     
  5. TonyPSchaefer

    TonyPSchaefer Your Friendly Moderator
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    Recalls and bug fixes, yes.
    Upgrades to improve performance and other such things, no.

    I take the computer approach. I get free big fixes and security enhancements but if I want to upgrade (WinXP to Win7) I pay for it.
     
  6. ggood

    ggood Senior Member

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    I agree with you, except I would modify it to be more of an iphone/GPS approach - nothing free that would require new hardware or too much unique special programming, but anything else gets passed along to everyone that can easily make use of it. Firmware improvements to the nav would be fair to give away. New nav data that actually costs them money to license, should be fair to charge a reasonable fee for (like the $50 annual updates for Garmin).
     
  7. dogfriend

    dogfriend Human - Animal Hybrid

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    Hi Daniel

    I need your email address, your mother's maiden name, your social security number and your full residence address and I can send you one penny in return. :madgrin:
     
  8. amm0bob

    amm0bob Permanently Junior...

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    And if you respond to this deal in the next 30 minutes... we'll double that offer...
     
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  9. amm0bob

    amm0bob Permanently Junior...

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    I disagree... when you stop money from moving in the capitalist society that runs the economy, you stop growth. There would be no incentive to make improvements if you had to give em away every time.
     
  10. ggood

    ggood Senior Member

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    As has already been mentioned above and in the article, it can be beneficial to the long-run profitability of a company to build goodwill and brand loyalty giving at least some after-sale updates/benefits to its customers. There's a balance that can be struck. The car makers already do this to a limited extent with minor service advisories and major recalls. I'm just talking about moving the line a little bit more in the customer's direction, for the benefit of both the customer and the company. The example of firmware upgrades to the specs they've already changed to in manufacturing is an obvious choice for this. Heck, I might even be willing to pay a bit more on my 30K maintenance service. As it stands now, they don't even give me the option of paying for something like this. Another obvious choice is expansion of settings and data they allow to be changed by the customer.
     
  11. bisco

    bisco cookie crumbler

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    apparently, whoever wrote the article has never run a company, or they would point to the evidence of their success.:)
     
  12. Tideland Prius

    Tideland Prius Moderator of the North
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    Not a bad idea in concept. Then again, it seems like the modern economy is "buy buy buy" and they rather make a product of lower quality and have you buy another one at a lower price than to make a high quality product and chances are, you'll never buy another item from them cause the first one never broke.

    Perhaps limit it and say there are free updates for the life of the basic warranty (3/36000 or 4/50000). This makes the owner feel like he/she is part of a community and a lifestyle that he/she has bought into.


    Of course it probably won't be free. It'll probably be built into the price of the car.
     
  13. pjb_spammable

    pjb_spammable New Member

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    It was this kind of idiot thinking combined with real ignorance of the realities of greed and its influence on people that allowed Wall Street criminals to inflict their credit default swaps on an unsuspecting populace and break the economy before 2008.

    Thanks for playing... get a clue.
     
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  14. Psych_Prof

    Psych_Prof New Member

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    I agree. Adding to this, it could be argued that in this day & age of planned obsolescence, giving away some free updates will become the dominant business model for at least some types of products that utilize computerized software. The Times article hints toward this point without explicitly stating it. While it's true that some people upgrade every device they have just about every cycle, most people arguably cannot afford to do this, nor do we all wish to make this a budget priority.

    Automobile upgrades are much pricier than phones. Under the old system, one bought a car in which the gauges on the dash would "date" only minimally, if at all, over the lifespan of the car. This just isn't the case today, and we need a new model to accommodate technology that changes much more rapidly.

    Don't be naive enough to believe that "free" upgrades haven't been factored into the price we pay for products (e.g., by companies like Apple, where a phone costs several hundred dollars). I'd be willing to pay more money upfront for a product for which the manufacturer makes available a few upgrades during the life of the product.

    Another point is environmental: Wouldn't it be preferable to provide upgrades to consumers, as opposed to contributing to electronics landfills by requiring people to upgrade to new hardware constantly?
     
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  15. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    I disagree, Tony. They should give everything away for free. It's the patriotic thing to do.

    As for Windows 7 or any other Windows, THEY should pay YOU for running it!

    Okay:

    My real name is Swami Sri Govananda Badgercatcher.
    My email address is Swami.Sri.Govananda.Badgercatcher at Hotmail.com
    My mother's maiden name is Silah Silayalah
    My social security number is 483624348506837253
    My full residence address is 17 Abdullah Road, Singh Village, Utar Pradesh, postal code AMP67SWE.

    Now send me my penny!
     
  16. amm0bob

    amm0bob Permanently Junior...

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    Some of y'all are funny... and think goodwill drives the buyer...

    Business doesn't stay in business giving away a lot of stuff... never has, never will.

    Clueless consumers wishing for even more don't understand what drives business, yet they believe they are correct with their folly of freebees...

    Updating is what drives innovation... giving away something of real improvement over a product you have already sold is not the way business stays in business...

    Fixing a products problems in design is a totally different concept and one I fully support... such as a recall that happens in automobile manufacturing... design flaws should be corrected... and they shouldn't be something you are charged for to get corrected either...

    However, updating something to get more out of a product you have already happily purchased isn't something that should be just given away by the manufacturer... unless they have agreed to giving you something they don't have now when they think they are going to get one later... which I don't think is a good sales tool...
     
  17. skilbovia

    skilbovia Member

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    I agree to a point. You paid less than $1K. for your PC. Your vehicle cost in excess of 22K. The only way that this will happen is that one car manufacturer will see free upgrades as a competitive advantage and start taking market share then others will fall in line. Until then, get used to the rotten USB search functions etc, till you buy your next Prius.
     
  18. ggood

    ggood Senior Member

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    I must be a real lousy question writer. :D A lot of people had an unexpected reaction to this, as if I was attacking capitalism or suggesting gov't regulation or something. Would the naysayers answer differently if I had more carefully said something like:

    "Would you be more likely to buy a car from a maker who had in the past been very proactive about updating firmware and other software in the electronics of their vehicles (whether for free or for a reasonable fee), and/or letting owners have greater ability to customize the settings and update the data in those electronics?"
     
  19. priuscritter

    priuscritter I am the Stig.

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    manufacturer defect - free fix.
    everything else - pay for.

    i don't think toyota needs to build product loyalty - they already have it.
     
  20. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    At the moment, I can't think of any hardware I have sent to the landfill that could have been saved by just a software or firmware update. The underlying hardware was broken or not capable of handling the new demands or the new generation of bloatware.
     
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