Car-sharing services are becoming an increasingly-popular alternative to car ownership, but Audi is redefining the concept with a new program in Stockholm.
Called Audi unite, it lets up to four people literally “share” a car for up to two years, using an app to manage access.
The list of available cars includes virtually every Audi model, from the tiny A1 hatchback to the Q7 SUV, and even the R8 supercar.
Just like a rental, insurance and maintenance are bundled into the monthly fee each driver pays, which cane be divided among group members evenly or based on how much each person drives. A “personalized fuel card” allows drivers to add fuel costs to that monthly bill as well.
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Everything is coordinated through an app (iPhone only, for now) that works a lot like the apps used by Zipcar and other car-sharing services, allowing drivers to reserve the car and track its location.
Each driver also gets a beacon for his or her keychain that grants access to the vehicle and allows the system to track who has been using it, and for how long.
Audi unite was designed in collaboration with Swedish digital design studio Kram/Weisshar. Co-founder Clemens Weisshar told Co.Exist that it’s a natural fit for Stockholm because of Swedes’ reputation for sharing, tech-savviness, and love of design – including car design.
Audi reportedly plans to try out the scheme in other Swedish cities, but hasn’t discussed offering it outside the Scandinavian country.
Audi isn’t the first carmaker to break into the car-sharing game (BMW and Daimler operate services of their own) but the Audi unite model is obviously much closer to the existing relationship most people have with cars.
As cities look to lower traffic levels and consumers look to reduce the inconvenience of car ownership, it could help Audi keep pace with potential changes in driver habits.