DETROIT — Starting this week, some Dodge owners who want more horsepower can just download it. Ram owners will one day be able to buy extra payload capacity.
The kinds of instant upgrades consumers are used to getting on their cellphones are now on the way to their cars and trucks as automakers salivate over the prospect of wirelessly squeezing more profit from vehicles long after they've left the dealership.
General Motors projects up to $25 billion in annual revenue by 2030 from software and subscription services. Stellantis last week began a push to bring in $23 billion a year from such offerings by 2030, more than 50 times what it gets from the meager options available today.
"We intend to deepen the emotional bond between our customers and the brands they love," Mamatha Chamarthi, head of Stellantis' software business, said in a presentation to investors. "If the past was about increasing margins by moving customers north in hardware and trim levels, our future is about offering customers software-based services."
But whether automakers can persuade customers to keep their wallets open long after taking ownership of a vehicle isn't clear. Soaring transaction prices mean many buyers are stretching the limits of their budgets to afford their monthly payments, even as loans increasingly spread out the cost over seven years or more.