Audi has announced a deal with a telecoms provider to provide its cars with permanent SIM cards with unlimited data.
The deal means that customers in Germany will be able to use online features of Audi’s Connect infotainment system without having to supply their own SIM card for data. There are plans to roll out the same system in the UK, and eventually worldwide.
The deal in Germany is with Irish firm Cubic Telecom, and will apply to cars that use Audi’s second-generation modular infotainment platform: the Audi A3, Audi A4, the new Audi A5, the Q2 and the Audi Q7. More vehicles will have the system in the future.
The Audi Connect system includes navigation with Google Earth and Street View, travel, traffic and parking information and access to Twitter and email, as well as smartphone calendars.
Customers will be able to use unlimited data for these features both in Germany and most European countries for a flat fee for up to three years, which would dramatically reduce high roaming fees on some networks. For an extra fee, additional data packages can be purchased for a WiFi hotspot that lets up to eight mobile devices surf the internet.
A spokesman for Audi UK said a similar arrangement would also be available in the UK in the future, but no date has been confirmed yet.
UK customers will be able to buy cars with a permanent SIM card from Cubic Telecom and use data for a flat fee. Details, including roaming options, have yet to be announced, but the spokesman suggested that customers would have the choice of using the permanent SIM or supplying their own SIM card from a data provider of their choice, as customers must do at the moment.
Currently, UK customers of Audi Connect-enabled vehicles can use the system’s features for free for a three-month trial, although this is being extended to the end of the year. Once Audi’s UK e-commerce platform is completed, customers can subscribe to different paid-for services, although the details and costs of these also have yet to be announced.