Always connected

Audi connect stands for a wealth of innovations, paving the way for even smarter mobility in the future.

Patrick Morda (copy) & AUDI AG, He & Me, Julian Baumann (photo)
Sven Schuwirth / Head of brand an sales development, AUDI AG
Sven Schuwirth / Head of brand an sales development, AUDI AG

Internet search engines have become such a normal part of our everyday lives that it’s hard to imagine a time without them. Google alone processes some 3.5 billion average search queries a day, that’s over 40,000 every second. Cell phones have become a portal into an increasingly digital world. And smart refrigerators even do the shopping. The trend is all the more impressive when you realize that no search engine even existed twenty years ago. The digital world that seems so normal to us today is, you might say, a child of the new millennium. And it looks as though there’s no end to the rapid advancements we’ve seen in the past two decades. Quite the contrary.

Twenty years—for Sven Schuwirth, head of brand and sales development at Audi, it’s almost an eternity. “Even the next ten years are virtually impossible to predict. Ultimately, all of us are already living in a digital world and benefiting from it. And, of course, we at Audi are constantly asking ourselves what role the car will play in this world today and tomorrow, so that we can offer our customers the best possible product.

So the question isn’t new. Yet it’s far from being conclusively answered. In principle, it’s all about the increasing convergence of living environments, with the automobile as the central interface. “This is exactly where Audi connect comes in. Around 95 percent of our customers worldwide use a smartphone. They expect to be able to seamlessly combine their personal living environment with their personal mobility."

"Why should they have to do without this convenience in their car?” says Sven Schuwirth. Mobile devices play a central role in customers’ lives: Everything that’s important to customers, their music, contacts, route planning, etc. is with them all the time—in their pocket, so to speak. “Audi connect creates a link between life outside and inside the car. After all, statistically speaking, an Audi customer spends ninety minutes a day in the car.”

Ahead of the jam: The “traffic information online” service receives reports of traffic disruptions almost in real time and rapidly calculates alternative routes if needed.

Discovering the world: Thanks to Audi connect, you can learn a lot about your destination even before you set off. Restaurants, filling stations and points of interest are displayed on the MMI navigation screen. At the touch of a button, you can make a call directly or launch the navigation system.

Timesaver: Audi connect supplies information on parking lots and garages at your destination or your current location, plus details of prices and the number of free spaces.

The precursors of Audi connect date back to the turn of the millennium. At the IAA Frankfurt Motor Show in 2001, Audi was one of the first carmakers to demonstrate how emerging connectivity could be integrated into mobility. In the Avantissimo concept car, an Avant for the luxury class, the MMI operating logic—including integrated Internet browser—made its debut appearance. “At that time, the technology was still extremely complex, expensive and not yet relevant for our customers. But everything changed in 2007 with the iPhone,” recalls Sven Schuwirth. Since then, the demands on cars have risen enormously: they have to be not just part of the digital evolution but enablers of the new digital system.

In the here and now, Audi connect is an enabler, a smart tool or, more accurately, a smart toolbox. Audi connect is focused on solutions that make life easier and more convenient. Take, for example, navigation maps: “In the past, you bought a DVD and then every two or three years there would be an update in the form of a new DVD. Today, with the corresponding Audi connect features, you’re practically always online in the car, updates occur regularly and all you need do is press a button to download it to the car,” explains Schuwirth. The Audi connect SIM card, pre-installed in the vehicle, makes this possible. A separate SIM card inserted into the vehicle by the customer is no longer necessary. Audi connect also provides the required data volume to allow map updates or access online traffic information. Another important dimension is safety. In the event of an accident, the automatic emergency call feature supplies information on the car’s location and other relevant data to the Audi emergency call center for rapid and targeted assistance. “In my view, this is an improvement to the automobile per se, comparable with the invention of the three-point belt or the airbag.”

Peace of mind: In an emergency situation, Audi connect automatically establishes a voice and data connection to the Audi emergency call center and supplies key data such as GPS coordinates, direction of travel and number of occupants.

High-speed surfing: Thanks to the LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, up to eight devices can be connected to the Internet. Among other things, the Audi connect SIM card pre-installed in the car allows automatic updates of the navigation software.

Peace of mind: In an emergency situation, Audi connect automatically establishes a voice and data connection to the Audi emergency call center and supplies key data such as GPS coordinates, direction of travel and number of occupants.

Many of the features of Audi connect are also useful outside the car, including the option of using the central online platform “myAudi” or the Audi MMI connect app for smartphones to control services and functions. For example, the app can be used to check whether the vehicle is locked. “Technically, a lot of things are possible, but Audi is not interested in gimmicks. You need a certain amount of focus in order to support and not overload the driver.

”Thanks to options such as Audi connect with embedded SIM card, Wi-Fi hotspot and LTE support, or the Audi smartphone interface for Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, the latest models in the Audi A3, Audi A4 and Audi Q7 series provide the basis for the digital ecosystem created by increasing automobile connectivity. Already today, they are bringing office, media center and favorite destinations into the car. And tomorrow? “Our thinking and action need to evolve even more toward networks. We need the capabilities available all over the world, from diverse disciplines. Ultimately, everything has to communicate with everything. Our Audi world has to be open to third-party services and ideas. As for the decisive things, however, we don’t have to do everything ourselves.” In the future, a platform like myAudi will become even more important and offer an even broader range of ways to connect with the brand—comparable with one of today’s app stores—providing services focused on personal mobility, irrespective of whether you own an Audi or not.

“I believe that the car has a much bigger future than many think, also thanks to Audi connect. People will always want personal mobility. And we will soon be meeting people’s desire for maximum assisted mobility in the shape of piloted driving. For that, too, we need increasing connectivity, the digital ecosystem. I’m convinced that very soon it will be the norm for every car to be connected, just as smartphones, TVs and many other everyday things are connected today. And I hope that one day the myAudi app will be installed on all our customers’ smartphones and mobile devices—as the door to an Audi world that embodies Vorsprung durch Technik in all its facets.”