Audi begins participating in our least favorite automotive trend

Subscription-based features kind of suck, but now, Audi rolled out its first pay-to-play functions in Germany.

Sean Szymkowski
It all started with Gran Turismo. From those early PlayStation days, Sean was drawn to anything with four wheels. Prior to joining the Roadshow team, he was a freelance contributor for Motor Authority, The Car Connection and Green Car Reports. As for what's in the garage, Sean owns a 2016 Chevrolet SS, and yes, it has Holden badges.
Sean Szymkowski
2 min read
Audi feature subscriptions

Sigh. We don't like this trend.


It's becoming increasingly clear à la carte features and options are part of the automotive industry's future. Tesla paved the way, and now, numerous luxury automakers are all aboard, from BMW and heated seats that may last for a period of time and Cadillac's hands-free Super Cruise highway driving assistant. Now, joins the subscription-based feature bandwagon.

This past Thursday, Audi revealed it began rolling out "functions on demand" as it named the service. The language may differ, but the idea is the same: pay for various features if and as you want them. For example, Audi said its two electric cars , the E-Tron and E-Tron Sportback support LED headlight upgrades owners can purchase at any time. Instead of standard LED headlights, owners can purchase a subscription to the company's Matrix LED headlights with automatic high beams. There's a free trial period of sorts and the owner will need to supply purchase information if they want to "book" the feature for a period of time. If you decide to keep the feature after the trial period, Audi performs a secure transaction via its myAudi portal and the function becomes available the next time you start the car.

Watch this: Audi's E-Tron brings big, electric comfort to the road

The purchases are as they're described, though: subscriptions. Say you sell your E-Tron with the Matrix LED headlight subscription six months into a 12-month subscription. The new owner will have six months of the feature and then they'll be responsible for subscribing to the feature. Mind you, this is only rolling out in Germany and Norway for now, but you can make a very safe bet it will come to US-spec Audis sooner rather than later. in fact, Audi already hinted at this feature back in May. The 2020 and 2021 A4 and A5 sedans will allow owners to purchase embedded navigation if it wasn't factory installed. Audi also told Roadshow the packaging will be slightly different from how the brand's handling things in Germany.

In conjunction with the subscription model, Audi also rolled out what it calls "AudiPay." If owners choose, they can link their credit cars to AudiPay to purchase services, and eventually, the company plans to include external services as well, such as PayPal. AudiPay is now available in 20 European countries. Meanwhile, subscription features extend to the A4, A5, A6, A7, Q5, Q7 and Q8, aside from the two electric SUVs .

Audi E-Tron Sportback First Edition is one slick electric SUV

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