You may need a sensible sedan or SUV during the week, but what if you could trade it for a sports car on the weekend, and then give that car back before the fuel bills and speeding tickets start piling up?
That’s what the new Audi On Demand service claims to offer. The German carmaker will introduce short-term rentals in San Francisco as part of a beta program, and hopes to launch the service nationwide if it proves successful.
Using an iPhone app, customers will be able to reserve an Audi by the day for up to 28 days, and have the car delivered to a spot of their choosing. The app locks and unlocks the doors, and enables driving.
Unlike other manufacturer-operated car-sharing services, such as Daimler’s Car2Go and BMW’s DriveNow, Audi brings the car to the customer rather than directing them to a parking spot. The service even comes with a “concierge” who will help individual drivers get settled in the cars.
Audi will deliver cars curbside, to driveways, or to private parking lots. Customers can choose between picking up the cars themselves, or having the service leave a car at a certain location so it’s waiting when they arrive.
The list of available cars appears to include virtually everything in Audi’s lineup, from the A4 sedan to the R8 supercar. All On Demand cars have the higher-level Premium Plus trim, along with SiriusXM satellite radio and the carmaker’s MMI Navigation Plus.
When a user chooses a car on the app, they’ll get the exact same one delivered – right down to the color. Audi will also offer accessories like child seats, ski racks, and bike racks.
Audi is already selecting users for the San Francisco beta program, and it’s even got another car-sharing scheme in the works.
The firm previously discussed adding cars as an amenity to high-end condos, and it now appears to be moving ahead with those plans with a service called Audi At Home.
Set to launch in certain “premium condominium complexes,” Audi At Home will give residents access to a fleet of Audi vehicles, which they can rent by the hour using their smartphones.
These services, along with the Audi Unite pilot program in Sweden, show Audi’s clear intent to get in on the car-sharing business.
With existing car-sharing services making car ownership unnecessary for many people, it’s not surprising that a manufacturer would want to get involved. Audi needs to maintain a business model no matter how people are using its cars.