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Pay to Play

cabanza

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I had never heard the term until I read the following article from RoadRUNNER magazine when I was at the dealership yesterday.

What is Pay to Play? Zero Motorcycles sells you a bike and you get to unlock its full potential by paying for features that are already part of the bike but that are locked in the software. The price varies from a couple of hundreds of dollars to over a couple of grands. Ouch. If that's the future of motorcycling (or cars), I don't want it.

Here's a pic of the article:

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Yinzer Moto

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I think BMW is doing something similar in their cars. You can upgrade to heated seats through an app purchase, among other features.
 

ZoomerP

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It's been around in electronics for years, so I expected it with EVs. Tether-free airbag vests are doing the same thing, such as the add-on for "ADV mode" from In&motion.

I don't have a problem with the concept. It may save consumers money by allowing companies to simplify their design & manufacturing, and as the article said, it can lower initial costs and allow a buyer to pay for additional features they value the most.

How a manufacturer utilizes it will make the difference between customers feeling like it's a screw job or a reasonable up-charge for a feature.
 

psykown

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Woohoo I get to buy a bike and then spend a whole bunch more money to use the bike, and forget about working on it yourself, all the major parts are serialized on the zeros which means only the dealers can do anything more than a tire change.
 

cabanza

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It's been around in electronics for years, so I expected it with EVs. Tether-free airbag vests are doing the same thing, such as the add-on for "ADV mode" from In&motion.

I don't have a problem with the concept. It may save consumers money by allowing companies to simplify their design & manufacturing, and as the article said, it can lower initial costs and allow a buyer to pay for additional features they value the most.

How a manufacturer utilizes it will make the difference between customers feeling like it's a screw job or a reasonable up-charge for a feature.
When you talk about cost, the bike would already have all the features built in already. You have to pay to unlock them. Does it become a subscription? What happens when you sell it? The article says that improvements are permanent and stay with the bike when you sell it but for how long?
 

ZoomerP

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When you talk about cost, the bike would already have all the features built in already. You have to pay to unlock them. Does it become a subscription? What happens when you sell it? The article says that improvements are permanent and stay with the bike when you sell it but for how long?
I'm familiar with this concept.

When I mentioned cost, I'm referring to a manufacturer's ability to develop/produce/stock/train for one part versus many, and one set of software instead of many. Not having to develop different parts/code may also increase reliability, since different designs present different opportunities for failure.

All of your questions are part of how a manufacturer chooses to manage the pricing & marketing of their product. What I've seen (and what's stated in the article you posted) is that a one-time fee pays for the upgrade, and the upgrade remains with the product for its life. They could also offer a subscription service that applies to whatever the subscriber is using, which for some uses might be desirable, such as vehicle rental/sharing.

Woohoo I get to buy a bike and then spend a whole bunch more money to use the bike, and forget about working on it yourself, all the major parts are serialized on the zeros which means only the dealers can do anything more than a tire change.
Maybe so. Then again, people have been salvaging Tesla drivetrain components for years and creating their own hotrods, and HD has a long history of pushing Screaming Eagle performance parts to make a bike what it could've been from the factory. In some ways, pay-to-play is just business as usual.
 

psykown

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Those screaming eagle parts and tesla drive trains you can instal and modify yourself though, my understanding is with zero its serialized to their ECU so if the numbers dont match it will not work.
 

ZoomerP

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Those screaming eagle parts and tesla drive trains you can instal and modify yourself though, my understanding is with zero its serialized to their ECU so if the numbers dont match it will not work.
That may be so. If they survive to become a significant player in the market (and I mean the overall motorcycle market), Zero may change that process. Two examples from electronics come to mind.

Panasonic pissed off a lot of people when they issued a camera firmware update that required the use of official Panasonic batteries. They claimed it was to prevent owners from using substandard batteries, which may have been true. Otoh, good aftermarket batteries were selling for $10 each, while Panasonic was selling theirs for $50 or more. The backlash drove them to eliminate the restriction.

For decades, Apple computers were notorious for being a closed system. In their case, it made some sense initially, since the industry was in its infancy and Apple didn't want the compatibility headaches seen with the DOS/Windows Wild West openness. As the industry developed, it was harder for Apple to make the case for pure Appleness in every box, and I believe they're less locked down today than they were in the '80s.

As e-bikes gain wider adoption, it's my hope that there's be enough standardization that some components are less proprietary, and manufacturers realize that the benefits of a more open architecture can drive sales. This isn't directly related to pay-to-play, but it's an important side issue that manufacturers will face.
 
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