BMW tried but got backlash. Volkswagen is still thinking about it. And now Audi is actually doing it. The company announced it would be charging to add features to vehicles over the air in what the company is calling Functions on Demand, Autoblog reports.
Audi has been teasing this for months now. A press release from October of 2020 went into detail about the service and a new one issued on Tuesday reaffirms it. In the original document, Audi tries to soften the blow of what it’s proposing by touting it as convenient and easy to access. Say you brought an A4 — it’s equipped with an in-dash screen and a button for nav, but you didn’t spring for the option package that included the nav. All you have to do is download the myAudi app on your phone, input your information and from from there you can purchase or subscribe to the navigation feature. Then, an over-the-air update will apply the feature to your vehicle the next time it starts. From Audi:
After the booking process has been completed, the Audi IT back end sends a signed data package to the car via the mobile network. The function is available the next time the vehicle is started.
Nice, right? Audi is attempting to sell this subscription service as some kind of futuristic vehicle customization. In reality, it seems more like it is trying to nickel and dime its customers for features. It gets better, though, as Audi announced on-demand navigation is being added to four models for the ’21 model year. Price? Try $85 a month or $849 for the entire year.
Who would pay for this when Apple CarPlay and Android Auto exist? Audi thinks there’s a market for both monthly and yearly subscribers. From Autoblog:
Audi predicts monthly customers will be those who need navigation and connectivity for a one-time occasion, like a road trip. Annual subscribers will be the ones who buy or lease a used car without either feature.
Audi is also expanding the functions-on-demand service to the e-tron, where a lighting package called Light Function Package will be available for $259.99. That’ll give your vehicle dynamic turning, cornering and maneuvering lights. It’s only be available in Norway and Germany for now. Just don’t be surprised if more automakers debut their own services like this in the next few years.