- Source: Porsche AG, Antoni Tudisco, Mercedes-Benz - Baugasm, Mercedes-Benz
NFTs and Automotive – from marketing trend to useful application case.
From digital collections la “Bored Ape Yacht Club” (which look like Panini sticker albums with individual items), to high fashion for internet avatars like luxury tailor Gucci, to digital fine art by artists like Damien Hirst, non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are mostly marketed by brands as digital collectibles. This is, after all, what NFTs were made for; as unique and non-divisible units of data, whose properties and ownership are securely stored on a blockchain to make their sale and trade transparent to all.
While the fashion and lifestyle industry, high-performance sports and entertainment are already experimenting with NFTs on a grand scale, the automotive industry has only started tackling the hot topic in the last few months. In the middle of last year, Porsche kicked things off in this sector and auctioned off a design sketch by exterior chief designer Peter Varga and achieved around 80,000 euros (30.25 Ethereum), which was donated to a non-profit organisation. In autumn 2021, the sports car manufacturer went astep further and, together with Berlin gallery owner Johann K nig, instigated the art campaign “Global Gallery”, for which large-format billboards all over the world (including in Times Square) were converted into digital exhibition spaces for up-and-coming artists.
Their works of art could later be purchased on an NFT art trade platform. The NF-G project by Mercedes-Benz, in collaboration with ART2PEOPLE is now following suit. Artists such as Roger Kilimanjaro, Charlotte Taylor and Anthony Authi , Antoni Tudisco, Klarens Malluta and Baugasm interpret G-Class in digital artworks that were “dropped” as NFTs in January 2022. Last year, the Bavarian competitors sent cult BMWs, edited by the artist Gabriel Wickbold in the style of an M3 Competition, into the Web 3.0 as (Pixel) “Art Cars”.
In spring 2022, BMW added an extra level to the digital sphere with its “Museum of Sound”: Real Life – the physical experience beyond digital networks and tools. Initiated by the BMW Group Middle East, the event saw 19 owners race their BMW M-series cars around a track in Dubai, while the roar of their engines was recorded by hi-fi microphones rigged near their exhausts. The recordings were later published as NFT art in file form. Even if this event was no more than a marketing campaign, it clearly demonstrates a trend: that companies are heavily incentivising their clientele by using NFTs beyond mere collecting passion.
US start-up INDIEV is applying similar leverage. The Los Angeles brand hopes to position its first model, INDI One, against the Tesla and similar opponents next year. The vehicle has numerous innovative infotainment features for its passengers – including an integrated computer that facilitates operation of everything from gaming gear to VR glasses. The onboard computer is also intended to fuel blockchain applications, and the company’s website promises that “our NFTs could make operation of the vehicle a source of income for owners”. The founders remain vague about how this would happen.
The Alfa Romeo is much more specific about the launch of its new hybrid SUV model, Tonale. A unique NFT will be assigned to each vehicle sold. The NFT certificate will allow the owner to register vehicle data such as the car‘s maintenance history. In this way, the NFT certification becomes a tamper- proof passport, which will carry significant importance on resale and will therefore carry a high utility value for Alfa customers. The Stellantis Group brand is thus writing a new chapter for the use of NFTs. It is assumed that the group will work with some of the other 14 brands which come under their umbrella to test similar approaches, and that we will see more schemes for the meaningful use of NFTs establish themselves on the market.