Car sharing services are hot right now, despite all of the controversy in the United States and abroad about Uber and Lyft, which is overshadowing the advantages of Car2Go and ZipCar, among other services. Audi is now jumping into the hot segment by launching a new kind of a car sharing service that involves people purchasing cars together, and sharing their ownership.
The idea is appealing to people who are germaphobes and don’t like the idea of using a vehicle that has been slobbered, sneezed and touched by countless other people with questionable personal hygiene. Audi Unite, as the new program is called, also means that members don’t have to wonder what kind of a vehicle they will be driving or what kind of shape it will be in.
Before you run out to your local Audi dealer to get on board with Audi Unite, know that right now it’s only available in Stockholm, Sweden. The pilot program there is being run so a car can only be shared among five people. The shared ownership goes for up to two years and can include pretty much any of Audi’s models, including the R8.
To keep things straight, each vehicle owner has a key fob with Bluetooth that is keyed to the car. Everyone blocks out times to use the car using an app on their smartphone, hopefully avoiding conflicts. How much the car owners pay each month can be based on how much they drive the car, which seems like a fair way of doing things, or everyone can just pay an even portion to keep things predictable. While Audi Unite can set users up with random strangers, it really encourages that people who know each other get together for the shared ownership experience.
After trying out the Audi Unite program in other parts of Sweden, there are plans to take the program to other markets around the globe. Whether the United States is part of the earlier end of the rollout remains to be seen.