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2021 Porsche Taycan Has Subscription-Based Safety Features, But It’s Not All Bad

Round two of Porsche Taycan versus the world is about to begin, and for the 2021 round of this bout, the Porsche will return to the ring with extra weights hidden in its gloves. For the upcoming model year, Porsche will add conveniences like GPS-based automatic nose lift, streamlined fast-charging with automated payment and new safety technologies to ease everyday drives. Owners are offered three months free with these handy assists, but after that, they’ll have to choose: pay to permanently unlock the services, enter a month-by-month subscription plan or drop the features altogether.

Touted as a way for customers to buy features as over-the-air downloadable updates, Porsche’s “Function On Demand” service does indeed offer convenient access to three such features via a monthly subscription. They include Porsche’s range-maximizing nav system—Porsche Intelligent Range Manager (already available on 2020 models)—plus two new options for Taycans spec’d with Adaptive Cruise Control: Active Lane Keep Assist and Porsche InnoDrive. The former does as its name implies, and the latter functions as an advanced adaptive cruise control, one that accounts for speed limits, intersections, and traffic.

Most people hear the words “subscription” or “paywall” and break out the pitchforks, but there’s no need here. Porsche is taking a different approach to the practices that have poisoned every industry from digital entertainment to agricultural equipment. If not purchased outright from the beginning, each feature comes with a three-month free trial and at the end, customers are asked if they’d like to continue using them, and if so how they’d like to pay. Not by credit card or Venmo, but by the month, or just once to permanently unlock the function. This will apply to the three features described here, and while a fourth, as-of-yet unspecified technology will be sold through FOD, it will be unlocked exclusively via a one-time up-front payment.

Porsche hasn’t declared what pricing for these tech treats will look like, so we can’t yet be certain the one-time unlocks won’t be prohibitively priced—even for well-financed Taycan buyers. All should become clear when orders for the 2021 Porsche Taycan open in the fourth quarter of this year and, fail that, when deliveries commence early next year.

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