Audi Launches First in-Car Subscription Service That Actually Makes Sense

Technology in new cars has come a long way. Gone are the days of buying an expensive Garmin GPS unit and subscription then haphazardly slapping it onto the dash of a minivan for a road trip. New cars are just as smart as our phones now, for better or worse. Recently, Audi has hopped on this technology train, launching an in-car navigation subscription aimed at streamlining day-to-day navigation, as well as longer trips.

What is Audi Function on Demand?

An image of the Audi Q5's navigation screen at a press event.
2021 Audi Q5| Via Audi Newsroom

The German marque has dubbed their new subscription service “Function on Demand.” It allows owners to “open up the full Audi navigation experience” and access many features. These include features such as satellite view, speech recognition, and handwriting recognition. According to Audi, Function on Demand is targeted toward owners who do not need enhanced navigation services all the time.

For example, someone taking a long road trip may only need Function on Demand for a month needing only to purchase a single month of the service for $84.99. Those who need the features offered by Function on Demand on a more consistent basis also have the option of purchasing a yearly subscription, priced at $849.99.

There is a little bit of a deal to be had here, as the Ingolstadt-based brand is quick to point out. The yearly subscription is priced out at $70.83 monthly, so parting with the $849.99 upfront could make sense for consumers who use Function on Demand more frequently.

Only certain Audi models have Function on Demand

The exterior of Audi's office in Gdansk, showing their four rings logo on the corner of the building.
Audi’s office in Gdansk | Via Getty Images

Speaking of getting more for less, Audi will include other services along with Function on Demand. The purchase of the German automaker’s new subscription will also include three other services offered by Audi. Audi CARE, PLUS, and PRIME services will be included with your purchase of Function on Demand.

These plans come with a host of features, including Wi-Fi, Valet Alert, and many others. All of these features are great, but are they necessary? For now, Function on Demand only covers a few models. The Q5, A4, and A5 are the only Audi models eligible for Function on Demand at this time, but Audi plans to expand the service to more models over time.

Function on Demand vs. your phone

The 2021 Audi A4 in Nardo Grey at an auto show, with other models in the  background.
Audi A4 | Photo by Sjoerd van der Wal via Getty Images

As great as Audi’s new technology sounds, it has quite the hurdle to jump. Many people who drive older models use their phones to get around and manage day-to-day functions in their cars. So is Audi’s solution the better one?

From a safety standpoint, in-car infotainment technology is almost always the better option. It helps keep eyes on the road, and manufacturers work hard to integrate tech without making it distracting. Cell phone use in cars has been campaigned as dangerous by lawmakers for decades. These campaigns are exactly why brands like this one are working to bring technology off your phone and onto your dashboard.

There’s an argument to be made that none of this tech is really all that necessary. Who really needs Wi-Fi in their car? Is satellite mapping really better than trusty ol’ Waze? After all, is Audi’s system going to tell you where the speed trap 3 miles ahead is, or will it leave you to the wolves while you pay $80 bucks a month for it?

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