Audi’s new electronic architecture will allow owners to purchase some additional functions later, after delivery of the car. It’s thin ice, but Audi believes it will become the norm in the future.
In modern cars crammed with electronics, it is possible to install some new features into an already manufactured car, even if it was not originally unspecified with them. It is mostly a new use of, for example, cameras, radars and sensors on board the car, for example for adaptive cruise control or active lane guidance.
Audi offers “on demand” functions in the Q8 e-tron so far, but it plans to extend them to other model lines from next year. Things that could essentially be available for purchase through infotainment in this way currently include the Matrix function for high beams, light animations when locking and unlocking the car, or semi-autonomous parking.
“With the next generation of electronic architecture, we will bring a wider range of on-demand features. Year after year, you will see how we will offer more functions to cars,” outlined Audi technical director Oliver Hoffmann. Drivers do not need to go to a service center to activate such a service, they can purchase it through an application on their smartphone.
In the past, BMW has stopped offering car functions that require its own hardware, such as heated seats, in this way. However, according to Hoffmann, this way of using the car’s functions will happen “quite normal in the future”.
But there is a difference between having to pay for the use of a function that already has its own components installed in the car, such as seat heating, and making available a function that “just” combines technology used by other systems. This applies, for example, to adaptive cruise control – cars are already equipped with radars and cameras for parking assistance or autonomous emergency braking, which are usually standard, and adaptive cruise control is “just” a new function stemming from the combination of this technology.