These automakers are driving into the NFT space.
Last year, a physical Elon Musk-signed Tesla Model X toy car was minted as a non-fungible token (NFT) and put up for auction on OpenSea. The auction didn’t turn out to be very successful (probably because it wasn’t an official release made by Tesla), but this caused some car fans to wonder: will NFTs get into the automotive market someday?
Well, it’s safe to say, NFTs have entered this market and garnered extensive media attention. But how exactly do automakers take advantage of the accelerating trend? Read on to find out.
Chevrolet is the one of the latest big names in the automobile industry to enter the NFT marketplace. Chevy (as the carmaker is informally known) announced that the company is auctioning off a Corvette NFT “Own The Color” on NFT auction site SuperRare in collaboration with artist Nick Sullo. The NFT features a Minted Green 2023 Corvette Z06 car accelerating in a cyberpunk backdrop.
The auction was initially planned to be held from June 20, 2022, to June 24, 2022, but Chevrolet later extended the auction period because some users expressed disappointment about missing the Corvette Z06 NFT artwork auction window. The real-life 2023 Corvette Z06 is expected to be mass-produced in mid-summer 2022 and will be formally put on sale in early 2023.
Although it’s unclear who’s getting the NFT, the winning bidder will not only receive the crypto artwork but also the physical, first and only Minted Green 2023 Corvette Z06. Chevrolet confirms that the Minted Green color won’t be applied to other Z06s in future production, making the auctioned car one-of-a-kind. All proceeds from the auction will be donated to the educational charity DonorsChoose.
Italian luxury automaker Lamborghini revealed its first NFT project in January this year. Entitled “Space Time Memory”, the NFT collection contains five pairs of linked digital and physical art created in collaboration with Switzerland-based artist Fabian Ofner, NFT Pro (a company that manages NFT projects for enterprises) and RM Sotheby’s. The space-themed digital artwork portrays a Lamborghini breaking down into its core components after traveling through the atmosphere and enter space like a rocket.
Unlike Chevrolet’s NFT, Lamborghini didn’t offer a physical luxury car for buyers to claim. Instead, winning bidders received a physical “Space Key” made of carbon fibers that Lamborghini sent to the International Space Station as a part of a research project back in 2019. Each Space Key is a gray rectangular block onto which a QR code linking to the digital artwork is engraved. To match the astronomical theme, Lamborghini planned to hold every auction for 75 hours and 50 minutes, which matches the exact time it took Apollo 11 to leave Earth and enter the moon’s orbit.
Premium sports car manufacturer Ferrari partnered with Swiss technology company Velas Network AG last year to put its first-ever NFT on the market. The company announced plans to make the NFTs available for purchase in March 2022, which was when a new F1 game season began. However, as March came and went, we didn’t hear anything further from the company about the project details or the exact date when the project will be officially launched.
While the project is still in progress, Ferrari’s official website was hacked several months after announcing its NFT plan. Ferrari’s subdomain “forms.ferrari.com” was reported to be compromised on May 5 to support an NFT scam. The scammers devised a malicious program named “Mint Your Ferrari” and used “a collection of 4,458 horsepower NFTs on the Ethereum network” as tactics to prompt people to purchase.
Despite the crisis, some believe it won’t affect people’s confidence in investing in Ferrari’s NFTs on its dedicated website because the brand has held a deliberate cybersecurity policy for a long time.
Unlike the above three brands, deluxe carmaker Alfa Romeo leverages NFTs differently. Since the transaction records of NFTs are verified and stored on a blockchain using cryptography, the data is neither replicable nor immutable. The distributed nature of blockchains made NFTs an ideal option for most automakers to provide their customers with proof of ownership upon purchase.
However, Alfa Romeo pioneers and uses NFTs distinctly as proof of the car’s maintenance status. Earlier this year, Alfa Romeo unveiled its latest electric-hybrid SUV, Tonale SUV. It became the first car in the industry that comes with a digital NFT certificate. According to the company, the NFTs will record vehicle data with the customer’s consent, which serves as evidence in recording the maintenance status of the car.
By storing and tracking vehicle data in blockchains, buyers in the used-car market can get to know if the car is well-maintained before they make their purchase decision. Since it’s nearly impossible for anyone to fabricate the data, car owners who take good care of vehicles are expected to sell their autos in used-car markets with higher resale value.
German automobile manufacturer Porsche also tried its hands at NFTs last year. In celebration of the brand’s 70th anniversary in Australia, Porsche Australia released three photo-based Taycan NFTs, namely Road Trip I, Road Trip II and Road Trip III. Created in collaboration with contemporary artist Nigel Sense, photographer Derek Swalwell and music composer Gene Shill, each car is accompanied by an original soundtrack put together by Gene Shill that matches the colors and vibrancy of the Taycan.
In case you need a refresher, Taycan is Porsche’s first all-electric sports car. The three NFTs were minted with the support of German NFT collectibles startup Fanzone and auctioned on SuperRare on December 7, 2021.
Besides providing digital assets to car fans, Porsche also demonstrates its care for society. Last year, Porsche announced its plans to auction off a freehand design sketch of a combination of Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo and 911 (a two-door high-performance rear-engined sports car) illustrated by the company’s Director of Exterior Design Peter Varga. Again, the minting and auction processes were backed up by Fanzone, and the sketch was auctioned on SuperRare. All proceeds went to Viva con Agua, a non-profit group dedicated to providing people worldwide access to clean drinking water and basic sanitation.
The creativity that lies within NFTs is inestimable. The rise of NFT opens a new door for automakers to interact with their customers by offering them products that are pricey yet one of a kind. Without question, NFTs can help companies to build profitable businesses. Still, if more automakers emulate Porsche’s initiative and incorporate corporate social responsibility into business projects, NFTs will become even more priceless.
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