A Hotspot on Wheels
Audi's A3 premium compact is getting a 4G connection, turning the hatchback into a rolling WiFi hotspot. The next generation of AudiConnect will take full advantage of the faster connection for broad-spectrum internet connectivity, including streaming audio and navigation. Most Audi vehicles today offer an optional 3G connection through T-Mobile.
We recently tested out AudiConnect on a 2013 S7, and found it to be a cool feature, but none of its apps were nearly data intensive enough to justify paying for a separate 3G connection.
In addition to previewing data-hungry streaming audio apps, Audi has also announced that the pricing for AudiConnect will get a little more affordable. Now, there's the option of prepaying $450 for two years of service—plus six months of free service for new Audi owners. That works out to $15 per month, accounting for the six months of free service, though those who want to stay on a month-to-month plan after the two-year contract expires will have to pay $30 per month.
Offering in-car WiFi is an interesting strategy for a car company, considering that competitors such as Lexus, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz have opted for infotainment systems that tether to a smartphone's data plan. In the case of AudiConnect, backseat passengers can also log on to the in-car WiFi, which is as much a boon for businesspeople with laptops as kids with games on iPads.