Audi dreams up App Store for user-designed cars
'Create your own world in your car'
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.
“You could redesign the car if you don't like it.”
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.
British Leyland business plans ride again!
An ex-Rover friend of mine once told me a story about the Austin Allegro which is symbolic of everything that went wrong with BL/Austin/Rover. Apparently the interior designers had done a great bit of work in making one bit of carpet cover the whole interior, perfectly cut to fit the whole thing including the boot ("trunk" for Americans). Great, nice job, saves loads of time on assembly workers having to trim it to fit.
Then some management genius says, "Hang on, we're giving our customers a carpetted boot for free? Why don't we make this an optional upgrade instead?"
So on the lower cost cars, they fitted the carpet as normal, and then they employed a bloke with a Stanley knife to go around at the end and cut the carpet off. Which of course made it cost more for the cheaper option. Bloody genius...
It sounds very much like this "downloadable upgrade" thing belongs in the same category. If the car can do it in the first place, why not let it do it? You're going to get more sales from having a better car than you'll get from buggering about with "downloadable upgrades".
How about an Audi App
That shows the owners how the f**king indicators work? That is all.