Dreaming of a long-weekend road trip with an Audi R8 Spyder, or to arrive at your high-school reunion in a loaded Audi S7?
Through a new service called Audi On Demand, it might be possible. You could have a $180k Spyder for $1,295 a day, the S7 for $385, or even a far-more-accessible Allroad for $165.
And it only takes some browsing through a slick iPhone app to order the car up, down to the exact color, trim, and equipment. You don’t need to be a current Audi owner.
But here’s the catch: For now, you need to be in San Francisco. And the app—and the service itself—are essentially in the ‘beta-testing’ stage.
Audi on Demand
Sure you can drive away from San Francisco, and loans can be up to 28 days, but if you’re planning on taking off for a cross-country road trip, be prepared to pay. Audi only requires that you stay in the continental U.S., but at over 200 miles a day, you’ll be paying 50 cents a mile for the Audi RS 5, Audi S7, Audi A8 and S8, or a dollar a mile for the Audi R8 Coupe or R8 Spyder.
Then again if it makes that dream trip, go for it—that’s likely cheaper over the long run than ownership itself.
Run directly by Audi, not through dealerships
Audi spokesman Brad Stertz told us that the service is in the “initial evaluation stage,” and it’s a project run by Audi (bypassing dealerships for now) because the automaker is providing a service rather than selling the car. That's an interesting decision, as dealerships have in the past provided vehicle rentals—although the conditions, vehicles, and rates haven't been consistent.
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“There are investigations into other markets, but no firm timing or decision on those yet,” said Stertz. “But the plan is to build the program into new cities over time.”
It’s strictly a daily-rental situation, and there’s no plan for hourly rates at present. But any costs of delivery or pick-up, as well as Bay Area FastTrak tolls, are included in the price.
They'll find you, Uber-style
Pickup is essentially wherever you are, provided you're back within SF City limits, with an iPhone and the app’s geolocation features turned on. While you can arrange for cars to be left for you in a particular place on subsequent uses, the first time you need face time with the representative to show your license and insurance (which you provide on the vehicle).
As for dropoff, you can either wait for curbside concierge services or return the vehicle in one of several private parking spaces.
If it’s sounding a bit like a cross between car-sharing, a luxury rental operation, and the chance for an extended test-drive, well, you’re right. Take a look at the Audi On Demand info site and download the app from the iTunes Store.
And if you’re an Audi fan and in (or visiting) San Francisco, try it out and let us know how it goes.