Luxury automakers like Lamborghini and Audi have been stepping up to the plate and getting some skin in the NFT game. Italian marque Alfa Romeo is next on the list: the Tonale, an all-new hybrid slated for release in North American showrooms come Q1 next year, will have a non-fungible token attached to each vehicle.

No, not NFT art (say, a digital version of the Tonale) or any other newfangled use case of already-new technology. The Tonale’s NFT works exactly like the technology was designed to be used: as a unique identifier that never forgets, both the identity of owners past and present, and whether they’ve been keeping up with proper maintenance.

Alfa Romeo’s Tonale hybrid
Photo: Alfa Romeo

This, the brand hopes, will increase the resale value of the SUVs, given that future owners will know what they’re getting into – vis-a-vis owning a car that once belonged to luminaries, and that they bothered to get it checked up every once in a while.

Which begs the question – is this even necessary? While manufacturers already maintain a robust service history of vehicles, such records aren’t always shared, nor kept in pristine condition as vehicles change hands. 

Blockchain tech and its robust (and energy-guzzling) authentication systems present an additional layer of verification to assure potential buyers that they’re getting the real deal. 

(Related: An art expert’s take on NFT art and the nascent digital marketspace)

Alfa Romeo’s Tonale hybrid
Photo: Alfa Romeo

At least this is a use case for NFT technology that actually seems (gasp) practical, rather than for publicity. And it marks the first step for Alfa Romeo, a part of the Stellantis group that includes Chrysler and Peugeot, into the world of blockchain and NFTs. For now though, details are scant on which blockchain Alfa Romeo’s NFTs will be hosted on.

As for the Tonale itself – the SUV comes with two potential configurations: a purely gas-powered model with a 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and a plug-in hybrid version. Modern touches to the Tonale include Level 2 self-driving capabilities thanks to adaptive cruise control, lane centering and traffic jam assistance technologies; as well as a customisable, exclusive infotainment system anchored by dual screens.

For more on Alfa Romeo.

(Related: Culture Group president Michael Patent believes NFTs are here to stay)