Now automakers are starting to sell vehicles as constantly evolving products, able to be updated and upgraded like a mobile device or computer.
At least that's the approach that John Ellis, Ford's new global technologist for connected services, is taking when it comes to revolutionizing connectivity in the auto industry.
Ford Sync's platform already offers hands-free calling, entertainment and navigation services. Its AppLink service allows some apps, like Pandora and real-time traffic data, to be controlled via the dashboard.
Future iterations of Ford Snyc could – probably will – offer in-car video streaming through a provider like Hulu or Netflix, Ellis tells PC Magazine. They could be streamed to, say, iPads docked inside the car.
While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has suggested guidelines that could be the first brush with attempts to regulate how connectivity is used in cars, Ellis believes that is invariably where the industry is headed.
"I think it's inevitable," he tells the magazine. "The question is how, when, and in what form it will take."