Your Car’s Future Is Loaded With Subscriptions


It used to be that when you bought a car, you just picked out the model and color you wanted and selected the optional extras. When the dealer rang up the total, that’s all you had to pay. Now, it’s becoming more common to pay a base price for a car and then subscribe to those extras. Big stuff like driver assistance features or fast-charging capability and even smaller stuff like heated seats and dash cams can be unlocked in a new car by paying the automaker a yearly or monthly fee. has been quickly adopted by the auto industry for new cars, and it’s now making its way into used cars too.

This week, we welcome WIRED staff writer Aarian Marshall back to the show. We talk about the overall trend of pay-to-unlock features in cars, and how automakers are adapting it for the second-hand vehicle market.

Show Notes

Read Aarian’s story about subscription-based services in used cars. Also read her other auto industry stories, including reports about how cars can monitor your behavior behind the wheel, and how online sales have changed the process of buying a car. Read all of WIRED’s automotive coverage.


Aarian recommends recipes from Bon Appétit, Especially if you’re hosting Passover seder. Lauren recommends the documentary about photographer Nan Goldin, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed. Mike recommends the new WIRED podcast, Have a Nice Futurewhich Lauren cohosts.

Aarian Marshall can be found on Twitter @Aarian Marshall. Lauren Goode is @Lauren Goode. Michael Calore is @snack fight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. The show is produced by Boone Ashworth (@boone ashworth). Our theme music is by Solar Keys.

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