Your Next Car May Anticipate Your Needs
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Your Next Car May Anticipate Your Needs

Automakers are developing intelligent vehicles that spot motorists’ wants and let them subscribe to options after the sale.

By WILLIAM BOSTON
Thu, Jul 8, 2021 12:10pmGrey Clock 3 min

The next time you buy a car and fret about whether or not to splurge on that snazzy new feature, fear not: Chances are you’ll be able to download it later.

In the past, the ordeal of deciding which features you could afford and which you could live without may have been painful and time-consuming, mainly because you would be stuck with whatever suite of options you chose until the time came to buy another car.

Those days are quickly fading as cars morph from vehicles to get around town to artificial intelligence-enabled, smartphone-like connected devices packed with software for work and play. In the near future, cars won’t only be able to constantly update and adapt to situations months and years after the time of purchase, they will be able to use AI to anticipate the needs of drivers and passengers and tailor their offerings accordingly. This also has the potential to create a new business model for automakers, with car owners paying on-demand fees or monthly subscriptions to get access to new features.

Automakers like General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Volkswagen AG , BMW AG and Mercedes-Benz are shifting from banging metal to software-centred design with which they hope to make money even after they have sold you the car.

Tesla Inc. has been doing this for years. Early on, it took control of the software development process, from chip design to AI systems. The company is already collecting huge amounts of data from customer vehicles that it uses to improve the car’s systems through over-the-air updates, which automatically and remotely update the car’s software, just like with a smartphone. Tesla offers subscriptions for what it calls “Premium Connectivity,” which covers things like video streaming and live traffic visualization. Chief Executive Elon Musk has raised the possibility that Tesla could offer its advanced driver-assistance package as a subscription but has not launched that yet.

Older automakers are following Tesla’s lead. Many have created in-house software operations to catch up. A Volkswagen division is developing core software for the company’s vehicles and aims to have a system in place with advanced autonomous functionality by 2025.

 “The question is whether people are willing to pay,” says Axel Schmidt, head of global automotive at the consulting firm Accenture. “Are you willing to pay $2 so the car finds you a parking spot instead of circling around for half an hour to find it yourself?”

If the smartphone experience holds lessons, analysts say, it is that people do take advantage of the opportunity to allow technology to help them personalize their experiences. Inside the car, digital assistants and sensors that observe passengers allow the car to learn about them and adapt to their routines.

Automakers are also taking a page from Apple Inc.’s playbook, using the car’s software to establish a profile of the user that, just like the Apple ID, would allow that person to carry his or her profile to other vehicles, even when car-sharing. Automakers have already paired customer IDs with their digital offerings, but in the future the ID will be a key that unlocks a person’s preferences from seat position and driving style to music playlists and navigation histories, accessible in any car. This will become a big driver of shared mobility, analysts say.

“In shared mobility you will be able to port your mobile world,” says Mark Wakefield, global co-leader of consulting firm AlixPartners’ automotive practice. “Even things like sound isolation where you can be in a [vehicle] with other people and you can’t hear them, you only hear your own music.”

Subscription features aren’t limited to personal preferences. Data generated in traffic in real time could also be turned into a business, making certain information available for paying customers.

A host of safety and advanced navigation features could come standard or available with a premium subscription as cars become more connected and exchange real-time information directly, instead of routing the data through a cloud, says Giovanni Lanfranchi, chief technology officer of Here Technologies, a digital mapping company owned by a group of big auto makers.

Here is working on a pilot project that uses car-to-car communication to predict traffic situations just five minutes ahead, using AI and machine learning to achieve up to 95% accuracy.

“This is something that only a machine can understand,” he says. “I’m learning about you to offer a better experience.”

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: July 7, 2021



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Luxury watch collectors showed ongoing strong demand for Patek Philippe, growing interest in modern watches and a preference for larger case sizes and leather straps at the June watch sales in New York, according to an analysis of the major auctions.

Independent and neo-vintage categories, meanwhile, experienced declines in total sales and average prices, said the report from  EveryWatch, a global online platform for watch information. Overall, the New York auctions achieved total sales of US$52.27 million, a 9.87% increase from the previous year, on the sale of 470 lots, reflecting a 37% increase in volume. Unsold rates ticked down a few points to 5.31%, according to the platform’s analysis.

EveryWatch gathered data from official auction results for sales held in New York from June 5 to 10 at Christie’s, Phillips, and Sotheby’s. Limited to watch sales exclusively, each auction’s data was reviewed and compiled for several categories, including total lots, sales and sold rates, highest prices achieved, performance against estimates, sales trends in case materials and sizes as well as dial colors, and more. The resulting analysis provides a detailed overview of market trends and performance.

The Charles Frodsham Pocket watch sold at Phillips for $433,400.

“We still see a strong thirst for rare, interesting, and exceptional watches, modern and vintage alike, despite a little slow down in the market overall,” says Paul Altieri, founder and CEO of the California-based pre-owned online watch dealer BobsWatches.com, in an email. “The results show that there is still a lot of money floating around out there in the economy looking for quality assets.”

Patek Philippe came out on top with more than US$17.68 million on the sale of 122 lots. It also claimed the top lot: Sylvester Stallone’s Patek Philippe GrandMaster Chime 6300G-010, still in the sealed factory packaging, which sold at Sotheby’s for US$5.4 million, much to the dismay of the brand’s president, Thierry Stern . The London-based industry news website WatchPro estimates the flip made the actor as much as US$2 million in just a few years.

At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire
Richard Mille

“As we have seen before and again in the recent Sotheby’s sale, provenance can really drive prices higher than market value with regards to the Sylvester Stallone Panerai watches and his standard Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1a offered,” Altieri says.

Patek Philippe claimed half of the top 10 lots, while Rolex and Richard Mille claimed two each, and Philippe Dufour claimed the No. 3 slot with a 1999 Duality, which sold at Phillips for about US$2.1 million.

“In-line with EveryWatch’s observation of the market’s strong preference for strap watches, the top lot of our auction was a Philippe Dufour Duality,” says Paul Boutros, Phillips’ deputy chairman and head of watches, Americas, in an email. “The only known example with two dials and hand sets, and presented on a leather strap, it achieved a result of over US$2 million—well above its high estimate of US$1.6 million.”

In all, four watches surpassed the US$1 million mark, down from seven in 2023. At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire, the most expensive watch sold at Christie’s in New York. That sale also saw a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM52-01 CA-FQ Tourbillon Skull Model go for US$1.26 million to an online buyer.

Rolex expert Altieri was surprised one of the brand’s timepieces did not crack the US$1 million threshold but notes that a rare Rolex Daytona 6239 in yellow gold with a “Paul Newman John Player Special” dial came close at US$952,500 in the Phillips sale.

The Crown did rank second in terms of brand clout, achieving sales of US$8.95 million with 110 lots. However, both Patek Philippe and Rolex experienced a sales decline by 8.55% and 2.46%, respectively. The independent brand Richard Mille, with US$6.71 million in sales, marked a 912% increase from the previous year with 15 lots, up from 5 lots in 2023.

The results underscored recent reports of prices falling on the secondary market for specific coveted models from Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet. The summary points out that five top models produced high sales but with a fall in average prices.

The Rolex Daytona topped the list with 42 appearances, averaging US$132,053, a 41% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Nautilus, with two of the top five watches, made 26 appearances with an average price of US$111,198, a 26% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Perpetual Calendar followed with 23 appearances and a US$231,877 average price, signifying a fall of 43%, and Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak had 22 appearances and an average price of US$105,673, a 10% decrease. The Rolex Day Date is the only watch in the top five that tracks an increase in average price, which at US$72,459 clocked a 92% increase over last year.

In terms of categories, modern watches (2005 and newer) led the market with US$30 million in total sales from 226 lots, representing a 53.54% increase in sales and a 3.78% increase in average sales price over 2023. Vintage watches (pre-1985) logged a modest 6.22% increase in total sales and an 89.89% increase in total lots to 169.

However, the average price was down across vintage, independent, and neo-vintage (1990-2005) watches. Independent brands saw sales fall 24.10% to US$8.47 million and average prices falling 42.17%, while neo-vintage watches experienced the largest decline in sales and lots, with total sales falling 44.7% to US$8.25 million, and average sales price falling 35.73% to US$111,000.

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11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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