automotive industry

Audi begins participating in our least favorite automotive trend

Audi feature subscriptions

Sigh. We don’t like this trend.


Audi

It’s becoming increasingly clear à la carte features and options are part of the automotive industry’s future. Tesla paved the way, and now, numerous luxury automakers are all aboard, from BMW and heated seats that may last for a period of time and Cadillac’s hands-free Super Cruise highway driving assistant. Now, Audi joins the subscription-based feature bandwagon.

This past Thursday, Audi revealed it began rolling out “functions on demand” as it named the service. The language may differ, but the idea is the same: pay for various features if and as you want them. For example, Audi said its two electric cars, the E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback support LED headlight upgrades owners can purchase at any time. Instead of standard LED headlights, owners can purchase a subscription to the company’s Matrix LED headlights with automatic high beams. There’s a free trial period of sorts and the owner will need to supply purchase information if they want to “book” the feature for a period of time. If you decide to keep the feature after the trial period, Audi performs a secure transaction via its myAudi portal and the function becomes available the next time you start the car.


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The purchases are as they’re described, though: subscriptions. Say you sell your E-Tron with the Matrix LED headlight subscription six months into a 12-month subscription. The new owner will have six months of the feature and then they’ll be responsible for subscribing to the feature. Mind you, this is only rolling out in Germany and Norway for now, but you can make a very safe bet it will come to US-spec Audis sooner rather than later.

In conjunction with the subscription model, Audi also rolled out what it calls “AudiPay.” If owners choose, they can link their credit cars to AudiPay to purchase services, and eventually, the company plans to include external services as well, such as PayPal. AudiPay is now available in 20 European countries. Meanwhile, subscription features extend to the A4, A5, A6, A7, Q5, Q7 and Q8, aside from the two electric SUVs.

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