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Audi dreams up App Store for user-designed cars

'Create your own world in your car'

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Build a business case: developing custom apps

Audi’s A2 city car was a failure. Too pricey, maybe ahead of its time, the car was put on ice in 2005.

But it could be back on the roads soon – as an electric-powered vehicle with its very own apps store to “customise the car’s interior, features and driving style”.

This is how it would work. You buy the vanilla version and then download software to “activate features, such as heated seats, customized navigation or stiffer suspension”.

Some downloadable features will cost money. Maybe lots of money. “This could be a huge additional source of income for car manufacturers,” Peter Schwarzenbauer, Audi's head of marketing and sales, told the Financial Times.

It could also be a huge additional source of income for hackers, especially if the software merely unlocks features that are already incorporated, but lying fallow, in the car.

What else?

“You could redesign the car if you don't like it.”

Really?

Yes, says Schwarzenbauer. "You could adapt it exactly to your needs. Like you do in your home, you could create your own world in your car."

Which in my case means very messy indeed.

Audi’s rethink for the A2 extends to materials – the original was built in lightweight aluminium, the new version could be built using magnesium and carbon fibre. It is pitching the vehicle for mega cities with populations of five million-plus and it is running market research in Tokyo, Shanghai, New York and Frankfurt to gauge potential demand, the carmaker told the FT.

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