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back to article Audi dreams up App Store for user-designed cars

Audi’s A2 city car was a failure. Too pricey, maybe ahead of its time, the car was put on ice in 2005. But it could be back on the roads soon – as an electric-powered vehicle with its very own apps store to “customise the car’s interior, features and driving style”. This is how it would work. You buy the vanilla version and …

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Silver badge
FAIL

Would you really want to drive...

In a car which can be reconfigured? Would you trust someone to enable the features you wanted? Could be an interesting lawsuit the first time someone bends one because the suspension's gone super-hard on one side but not the other...

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Anonymous Coward

What's the phrase?

Vorsprung durch stupid?

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Joke

Speeding

/me waits for the first speeding ticket to be attributed to badly written software.

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Stop

Introducing...

The Homer!

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Pay more for less crippling?

So, you buy a car with the electronic equivalent a load of contact-breaking stickers and zip-ties everywhere and a bung in the intake and exhaust -- and they'll only remove them if you pay more money?

I hope this bankrupts the arseholes.

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Hmmm

Audi ought to get it's current stuff in order before it starts developing more things. Their spares situation is grim as so many items are not available - it's not just silly stuff like trim etc, they have even discontinued supplying the cambelt for my car. My next plan is Vorsprung durch Mercedes, as I gather they can even supply stuff for their old cars.

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Anonymous Coward

@Hmmm

>they have even discontinued supplying the cambelt for my car

Sounds like your main agent is a muppet - Audi will supply you with a cambelt for any model going back to Auto Union days.

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@ AC

Nope, they can't. Main agent has a good guy too, who tried well. Discontinued. NLA. An ex-part. It's ceased to be. It's not pinin for the fjords or anything. And if you think that's bad at least they admit it, unlike the headlight they said they could supply, car was off the road for ages waiting for it & they never did deliver.

Er, surely the Auto Union's used cam chains anyway.

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FAIL

@@AC

> if you think that's bad at least they admit it

If by 'they' you mean Audi, they certainly don't, because it isn't true. Which I presume you know since you haven't named the mystery model.

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activateable features

Is the cost saving from standardization and logistics so huge that they can actually gain money by having all cars physically have all optionals, and control access to optionals via software?

Or does this means that you're going to buy an extremely overpriced car (to pay for the heatable seats), and then pay an extra to unlock the heatable seats?

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FAIL

Eww

No one is going to buy something that looks his bad anyway are they ?

http://www.google.com/images?q=Audi%E2%80%99s+A2&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=MiAFTK7aG96T4gb-9-zLDg&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&ved=0CDAQsAQwAA

Never mind the cripple-ware and obvious impending DRM fails.

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Pirate

I wonder...

If it could be jail broken?!

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The A2 was a nice little car

The A2 was overpriced and under-marketed, but it was actually a good little car. If you were resource conscious, it allowed you to have a neat little city car with all the big car acoutrements. But it did 50mpg.

My wife had one for a couple of years, only getting rid of it when child #3 came along. Very well screwed together, and a hoot to drive if you rang its neck.

If only people would drop the Chelsea Tractors and drive cars like the A2, cities would be a nicer place.

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Anonymous Coward

Hacking 'n' swapping

People will hack any DRM and swap the downloads (much like the navigation DVDs now).

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Gold badge
FAIL

Fail

The article says:

This is how it would work. You buy the vanilla version and then download software

to “activate features, such as heated seats, customized navigation or stiffer suspension”.

Some downloadable features will cost money. Maybe lots of money. “This could be a

huge additional source of income for car manufacturers,”

Yeah. Fitting electrically heated seats to all cars, and then selling the software to turn them on in 20 cars will make loads of money.

That probably explains why the Audi A3 I want to buy costs more than just about everything else (including the wife's favourite BMW Mini Cooper S!)

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WTF?

Crippled cars? Gah

I hate crap like this. I don't buy Canon DLSRs anymore as I am sick to death of having to CHDK them to re-enable features which were hobbled to create artificial differentiation, too.

I thought it was bad enough that Windows NT "Workstation" was crippled in specfic ways, but now it's spreading to real "stuff". Gah, must stab...

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Anonymous Coward

Glorified Skoda anyway

Not that there is anything wrong with Skodas, good cars. But it always amazes me how VW/Audi get mugs to pay so much more for basically the same car in it's "Audi" clothes.

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Silver badge

Indeed.

My first two cars were Skodas. (an '01 Fabia, then '02 Octavia). Lovely to drive, and one of the few models I tested which would let my size 14 feet use their pedals without getting cramp.

Unfortunately, the spares and servicing costs shot up in 2008, so I don't think it makes much difference which of the VW brands you go for: avoid.

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Thumb Up

Skoda Superb

I had a Superb on hire in Germany a year ago - best hire car I ever had. Bit of a tardis - bigger inside than it had any right to be.

Bargain of the moment is the VW phaeton, they can't shift them for sugar lumps. Taxi firms in Budapest etc. are stocking up for less than the price of a golf. One pointed out to me that the money saved would pay for the extra fuel for 4 years, plus enough trees to offset all the carbon!

The superb is a better car than the Phaeton, and even cheaper. Go buy, before they stop molishing them.

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Stopped for drink driving?

We've got an app for that

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Silver badge
Grenade

How about an Audi App

That shows the owners how the f**king indicators work? That is all.

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Go

Oh god, yes please

Or an app that forces them to keep a distance of at least one iPod from the vehicle in front ...

Only two people I know who drive Audis aren't complete twats. And both of them can be right berks at times.

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Anonymous Coward

It kind of makes sense...

But I suspect that the heated seats comment was a little bit of marketing man aimed at you lot ("normal drivers" who don't really care about how a car handles so buy an Audi in the first place) who don't care about differences in engines or suspension setup but do care about the eggs cracking on the way home from sainsburys or little tarquin throwing up in the back seat.

I suspect that these 'downloadable options' will be limited to software updates for things like the suspension, fuel controller, gearbox etc. i.e. you buy bogo standard eco stop start suck my green cock from audi and it has the same suspension as the S-Line ones but the S-Line suspension is a £1500 option, but can be "swapped out" by a techi with a laptop rather than a hungarian with a spanner which is cheaper for Audi as they then only need one suspension part but several maps...maps that can be put on by a dealer meaning that they also no longer have to spend the cash having a seperate Euro, US, UK part either.

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British Leyland business plans ride again!

An ex-Rover friend of mine once told me a story about the Austin Allegro which is symbolic of everything that went wrong with BL/Austin/Rover. Apparently the interior designers had done a great bit of work in making one bit of carpet cover the whole interior, perfectly cut to fit the whole thing including the boot ("trunk" for Americans). Great, nice job, saves loads of time on assembly workers having to trim it to fit.

Then some management genius says, "Hang on, we're giving our customers a carpetted boot for free? Why don't we make this an optional upgrade instead?"

So on the lower cost cars, they fitted the carpet as normal, and then they employed a bloke with a Stanley knife to go around at the end and cut the carpet off. Which of course made it cost more for the cheaper option. Bloody genius...

It sounds very much like this "downloadable upgrade" thing belongs in the same category. If the car can do it in the first place, why not let it do it? You're going to get more sales from having a better car than you'll get from buggering about with "downloadable upgrades".

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Bronze badge

I can just see it...

"It sounds very much like this "downloadable upgrade" thing belongs in the same category. If the car can do it in the first place, why not let it do it? You're going to get more sales from having a better car than you'll get from buggering about with "downloadable upgrades"."

You're just not thinking four-dimensionally... You'll get to try all of the high-end features for a month, then they will be disabled until you pay for an unlock code - same as just about every other bit of software currently being offered for sale.

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Go

I think it's an innovative idea

...if a little dodged-up in the execution.

I'll sate that it's a given: That the overall approach to driving, such that the auto manufacturers have consistently presented the driver with, throughout the history of the car, that it is a continuing paradigm, because it works, and works fairly well.

Even so, I don't believe it must necessarily represent the only viable paradigm, for driving, from the driver's perspective.

Granted, I sure as heck wouldn't want to drive a car with any kind game controller instead of a steering wheel. The novelty factor of such an approach would certainly disappear quickly, with the first run of accidents that would certainly occasioned with such an inadequately responsive device for controlling the direction of the car with.

However, if they can present, to the smartypants of the industrialised world, a viable means to so "refactor" the driver's experience, without impinging on the safety of the driver, the passengers, or any other motorists, then I say, *that* would sound like a "go", to me.

I don't know if Audi has really hit that mark, with their current system, as such, but it sounds to me like they may be, at least, opening the door to it. So, I say it sounds like a "go", to me, even for all the (ideally, non-life-threatening) troubles and travails that the next guy will hopefully be able to work out of the approach, to make it actually work, firstly for the consumer/driver and secondly for the manufacturer, without it impinging on the "experience" of either, inasmuch.

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