Luxury car maker Audi’s American division and network operator AT&T announced data plans for Audi’s 2015 A3 sedan, which debuts this month, and will enable what they claim is the first in-vehicle 4G LTE data connection in North America.
The data plans will be priced starting at $99 for a 6-month plan and $499 for a 30-month plan. Audi plans to roll out 4G LTE capability across its entire lineup as new or refreshed models come to market.
The six-month plan offers 5GB of data and the 30-month plan offers 30GB of data. All Audi A3 sedans equipped with Audi Connect will receive a free six-month trial period.
Audi previously announced it would become the first automaker to offer a Mobile Share data plan option to AT&T wireless customers who would like to add their vehicle to their existing Mobile Share plan.
The A3 family will feature the most advanced version of Audi connect, including picture navigation, read-aloud news headlines, Facebook and Twitter alerts, access to more than 7,000 Web radio stations, personalized RSS news feeds and more.
An accompanying mobile application will allow advanced functionality between the multimedia interface (MMI) system and smartphones, reducing the need for Audi motorists to handle their devices when accessing some smartphone-based features.
Previous experience with 3G+ Audi connect owners has shown they prefer either a six-month or a 30-month term, which are designed to accommodate the consumer’s typical usage.
Audi said the plans are based off typical usage in a vehicle, and customers can be sent e-mail alerts if they near the data plan limit.
"Having the choice of two data plans gives the consumer the opportunity to choose a contract that works best for their lifestyle and allows them to maintain connectivity in the vehicle for an extended period of time," Scott Keogh, president of Audi of America, said in a statement. "The new AT&T data plans with 4G LTE connectivity will allow Audi drivers to enjoy seamless navigation, streaming and high-speed access to the Internet."
IT research firm Gartner predicts that, by 2016, the majority of average car buyers for a standard brand vehicle in mature markets will expect at least basic Web-based information availability in their new automobiles.
This tipping point will be achieved in 2014 for premium brand vehicles. By year-end 2020, Gartner predicts that more than 80 percent of all new vehicles sold in mature automobile markets, such as the United States, will offer connected-vehicle functionality.
"I envision that the automobile will eventually become more innovative and cooler than smartphones and excite drivers and passengers in immersive experiences that will put an end to the question, 'are we there yet?' It’s not just the automakers that will make new connected vehicle-centric announcements," Thilo Koslowski, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, said in a December 2013 interview. "Expect small and large technology companies to step up their efforts and interests in one of the fastest growing connected device platforms."