Audi Launches Novel Car Sharing Programs for the Wealthy

Car sharing is far from a novelty, even in the premium sector. Daimler has its Car2Go one-way rental service and BMW its DriveNow EV sharing catering for those who find owning a car is too impractical or expensive.

Audi is following a different route with its two European pilot programs it has begun implementing, without much fanfare, in Stockholm and Berlin.

The one in Stockholm, Audi Unite, works like an automotive time share, in which three to four people use a smartphone app to schedule who gets the vehicle, when and for how long, and each is charged accordingly.

The Berlin program, Audi Select, operates on the opposite basis: instead of many people sharing the same vehicle, one person can use several models during a 12-month period.

According to an Autonews report, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said at last month’s LA Auto Show that the Audi Select program challenges not only traditional car ownership but leasing as well.

“Why should I drive the same car for three years in a row?”, he asked. “Could we maybe have three different sorts of cars, maybe an SUV in the winter, a cabriolet in the summer or a sporty car whenever I would need it? This is what we are looking for and aiming for.”

Audi of America Scott Keogh said that the premium brand is preparing to launch two pilot programs in the US. Each city’s service will be unique and the program will be different than those tested in Europe, though he declined to comment on the details.

“The technology is in place. The infrastructure is in place”, said Keogh. “The interesting dynamic, if you look at most of the research, it says that this is going to drive down sales.” It does make sense, doesn’t it? “That’s not what ends up happening. We don’t see a negative impact on sales. What we see is an opportunity to jump into some new segments of business.”

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