The setup is basically a small-scale car sharing service. Up to five people agree to share any of Audi's models for a year or two – even an R8 if they are so inclined. Each user has a special Bluetooth key fob that identifies them to the vehicle, and a smartphone app allows operators to schedule time with the car. Each person is then billed monthly according to his or her use. Audi thinks it might work best with friends, colleagues or neighbors, but the company can also play matchmaker for clients, if necessary.
"In the beginning, our biggest fear was what if two people want to go somewhere at the same time-what happens then?" said Clemens Weisshaar, one of the founders of design firm Kram/Weisshaar that helped develop the idea, to Fast Company. "Interestingly, it never happened." They chose Stockholm because the city was tech-savvy, and there is a tradition of sharing there.
Prices for Audi Unite seem fairly reasonable for each user. According to the service's website, if four people use an A3 Sportback for two years with a 20,000-kilometer (12,247-mile) driving limit, they would pay an average of 2,091 Swedish krona ($277) each per month. For an extra 365 krona (about $50) per person each month, they can add a package that includes vehicle pickup and delivery for monthly interior and exterior cleaning, winter tire exchanges and necessary servicing.
After Stockholm, Audi plans to try Unite in other Swedish cities before launching the program in additional countries, according to Fast Company. Scroll down to watch a video with more explanation about how the program works and read the automaker's press release about the initiative.
• Joint use of one exclusive Audi model by up to five people
• Audi includes all car-related services, customer shares monthly rate and fuel
• In-car technology makes sharing easy and seamless
• The micro-sharing program was created in collaboration with designers Clemens Weisshaar & Reed Kram
October 9, 2014. Audi has just unveiled Audi unite, an innovative mobility initiative for progressive customers. Audi unite refashions premium mobility as a personalized micro-sharing experience. The customer chooses up to four friends, colleagues or neighbours to divide the use of the desired Audi. An interactive app ensures seamless car reservations and gives unprecedented insight into the car, while the personalised Audi unite beacon helps the vehicle recognise the different drivers for seamless processes and easy cost-sharing.
"With Audi unite we are launching a new generation of mobility services tailored for a new generation of urban customer groups. We deliver them the most flexible access to cars with a true premium experience", says Luca de Meo, board member for sales and marketing at AUDI AG.
Audi unite offers access to Audi's entire product range from the A1 to the A8, as well as Q- and RS- models. The ultra-efficient A3 Sportback e-tron and g-tron, the latest in eco-sensitive automotive technology, are also part of the Audi unite lineup. The service allows customers to choose the car that best suits them and their co-drivers. A 12- or 24-month contract includes an advanced in-car system for driver and vehicle identification, automated billing, monthly cleaning, full comprehensive insurance, service, and seasonal tire changes.
The custom Audi unite app integrates driving into people's digital life. Clients can reserve the vehicle, see car location and fuel levels - right from their mobile phone. Additionally a dedicated unit of Audi agents has been trained to become go-to points for all things unite - including service, insurance and app support. Audi unite has also offers a matching service for customers to find compatible candidates to build their circle.
In 2013, an interdisciplinary team of Audi experts and designer duo Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram started to develop a prototype envisioning cutting-edge premium mobility services.
"Audi approached us with a concept to realize an entirely new model of micro-sharing. We set about together to reinvent the traditional perception of car-sharing and go one step beyond," says Kram.
Stockholm was chosen as the initial field of operations due to its position at the top of the EU innovation performance rankings. The cultural willingness and eagerness of people to share resources made Stockholm fertile ground for a new way of thinking mobility.
Over the course of one year, Audi and Kram/Weisshaar engaged in the simultaneous design, engineering and user-testing of increasingly refined micro-sharing prototype in Stockholm itself.
View the Audi unite microsite here: www.audiunite.com
The Audi Group delivered approximately 1,575,500 cars of the Audi brand to customers in 2013. In 2013, the company reported revenue of €49.9 billion and an operating profit of €5.03 billion. The company operates globally in more than 100 markets and has production facilities in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm (Germany), Győr (Hungary), Brussels (Belgium), Bratislava (Slovakia), Martorell (Spain), Kaluga (Russia), Aurangabad (India), Changchun (China) and Jakarta (Indonesia). Since the end of 2013, the brand with the Four Rings has also been producing cars in Foshan (China). In 2015, Audi will start production in São José dos Pinhais (Brazil), followed by San José Chiapa (Mexico) in 2016. Wholly owned subsidiaries of AUDI AG include quattro GmbH (Neckarsulm), Automobili Lamborghini S.p.A. (Sant'Agata Bolognese, Italy) and Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A. (Bologna, Italy), the sports motorcycle manufacturer. The company currently employs more than 73,500 people worldwide, of which more than 52,500 in Germany. Total investment of around €22 billion is planned from 2014 to 2018 – primarily in new products and sustainable technologies. Audi is committed to its corporate responsibility and has anchored the principle of sustainability for its products and processes in its strategy. The long-term goal is CO2-neutral mobility.
If you are a journalist and want more information, please contact: Irene Bernald, PR-manager Audi Sweden, 08-553 865 00 or 070-538 65 51.
ABOUT CLEMENS WEISSHAAR UND REED KRAM
Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram are the leading-edge of the design field. They have been referred to as "the vanguard of the next generation of digital designers" (FORM magazine) and "the poster boys of a new breed of designers" (International Herald Tribune). Their projects span from software development to process design, from product design to architecture. Weisshaar and Kram's work is committed to the intersection of the digital and the physical and remains steadfast in "redesigning design" (Arch+ magazine)
Their work has been exhibited worldwide and can be found in the permanent collections of the Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Museum of Modern Art, New York and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.