Innovation

Alfa Romeo thinks attaching NFTs to cars can improve resale value

Is this just buzzword marketing or an actually beneficial use of blockchain?

When I think of NFTs, my mind inevitably goes to famed Italian car brands known for gorgeous designs and questionable reliability.

Actually, that’s not true at all, but Alfa Romeo just announced that every new Tonale SUV (pronounced tow-NAH-lei, if you were wondering) will come with its very own NFT.

What’s that mean? An NFT or non-fungible token is basically an unforgeable digital certificate with proof of ownership and contents stored on something called the blockchain. In other words, it doesn’t mean much of anything yet.

Alfa Romeo (part of the Stellantis group that includes Dodge, RAM, Chrysler, Peugeot, and others) says the Tonale will be the first car with an NFT included. The NFT will be capable of having information about the car added to it over the vehicle's lifetime.

“The car gathers information from the car's electronic system and records all data on the blockchain,” explained Francesco Calcara, Head of Alfa Romeo Marketing and Communication, in a briefing with reporters. “They will sustain the residual values of our models as we are the first in the market to adopt this next-generation technology.”

Among other things, the NFT will be able to store maintenance records and ownership information that can be used by future owners or dealers when dealing with a pre-owned Tonale, according to an Alfa Romeo press release. The company says this will increase residual value.

Aside from having an NFT, the Tonale has an available plug-in hybrid powertrain making 272 hp and 30 miles of all-electric range.Alfa Romeo
As always, Alfa Romeo has some of the most beautiful cars in the world. The stunning Alfa Romeo signature wheels are inspired by an analog telephone dial.Alfa Romeo

The NFT itself seems a bit gimmicky, but the potential of the blockchain to help store maintenance records on an automobile is a real one. Dealerships already record all manner of information when a vehicle is brought in for service. Still, that data isn’t always made available to buyers of used cars — especially when they’ve passed through multiple hands or gone through the auction process.

Connecting a car’s VIN with a publicly verifiable record of its maintenance and other details (like if it’s been in a crash or had its odometer reset) is something so blindingly obvious that I have to wonder why it hasn’t been done yet.

If that’s what this Alfa Romeo NFT/blockchain feature ends up achieving, this could be a genuinely beneficial add-on for Alfa buyers. Or it could just be a buzzword-friendly publicity stunt.

A digital animation commissioned by Rolls-Royce as the brand’s first NFT.Rolls-Royce / Mason London

Though the Alfa Romeo Tonale may be the first car to come with its own NFT, this isn’t the first car brand to wade into the non-fungible arena.

Last year, Rolls-Royce commissioned artist and illustrator Mason London to create a piece of digital artwork to celebrate the launch of the Rolls-Royce Black Badge Ghost.

London was chosen to illustrate the Black Badge spirit and to represent the younger, more rebellious Rolls-Royce clientele who opt for the Black Badge marque.

As for its NFT, Rolls has opted to remain cryptic on its plans, but considering the prices that some NFTs have fetched, it’s easy to imagine one of the brand’s well-heeled clients splashing out big bucks for an exclusive Rolls-Royce NFT.

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