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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Today's cars typically lose value as soon as they leave the dealership. But with regular software updates, it's possible your next car might keep more of its value over time.

The big picture: A new generation of digital-age car buyers wants to update their vehicles as seamlessly as their smartphones, adding features and services that weren't available at the time of purchase.

Why it matters: Automakers see huge revenue gains from connected-car services that improve the in-car experience while building customer loyalty and driving up resale values.

  • "It's all about keeping that experience lively and exciting," said Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis (parent of Jeep, Ram, Peugeot and other brands).
  • "If the customer journey is more enjoyable, you’re going to use it more intensively."

Tesla has already proven this works, building devotion among Tesla owners with over-the-air updates that extend their cars' battery life, boost performance or introduce new Autopilot features.

  • "Tesla customers love their Tesla vehicles and community," notes consulting firm BCG.
  • And Tesla vehicles generally have higher resale values than other models, for many reasons.

That's just the beginning of the software-defined dream car, however. It's also about personalization.

  • Unlike their boomer parents or grandparents, who customized their ride with souped-up engines and aftermarket accessories, younger buyers seek to personalize their cars with individual apps and conveniences.

Some premium car owners can already pre-set their music and climate preferences before they enter the vehicle — or change the mood on demand.

  • And families can sync their Amazon Prime account with their 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer so they can pause streaming content in their home and resume watching in the car.
  • Ford Bronco and Jeep Wrangler owners will be able to share trail maps and video footage of their adventures with other off-road enthusiasts.

What's next: With artificial intelligence and augmented reality technology, cars will automatically tailor the experience to suit passengers' preferences.

Stellantis provided a tantalizing view of the future for its French luxury brand, DS, during a video presentation to investors and journalists this week.

  • In this scenario, the windows turn into screens along the journey, highlighting points of interest, restaurants and hotels.
  • In the back seat, a child plays video games on the rear passenger window, while directional speakers ensure the noise doesn't disturb the parents' playlist up front.
  • At night, passengers gaze up to see the constellations labeled on the car's glass roof.

What we're watching: It all seems cool, but will people pay for such experiences?

  • High-tech features have already driven up vehicles prices, yet many people don't even use them.

Go deeper

Hope King, author of Closer
Jan 14, 2022 - Economy & Business

Charted: Tesla dips into doge

Data: CoinMarketCap; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Tesla followed through on its December promise to accept dogecoin.

The big picture: The company added the meme-inspired cryptocurrency as a payment option for some merchandise on Friday — sending the price up about 20% to some $0.20, per Reuters

1 hour ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

S&P 500 on track for worst-ever start to year

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Stocks suffered their steepest drop of the year early Monday, putting the S&P 500 on course for its worst-ever start to a year.

Driving the news: The benchmark S&P 500 dropped for its fifth straight day, with losses nearing 3% in early trading, momentarily putting it on track to fall into a "correction." Some of the steepest losses were recovered in early afternoon trading.