Big change coming to how you buy cars
Drivers will soon be able to pay for features on a month-to-month basis instead of buying equipment when purchasing new vehicles.
Pitched as a solution to buyer's remorse, ordering process and complex manufacturing requirements, the development could change the way people buy cars.
BMW says annual fees for services - which come as standard in many cheaper cars - allow people to adapt their car to personal circumstances. If you switch from an iPhone to an Android handset, you're not stuck with a support system for a phone you no longer own.
Mercedes software developer Markus Ehmann told Australian reporters at the launch of the new A-Class sedan in 2018 the manufacturer will allow drivers "to turn features on and off in their cars", something that will start with software but "can definitely expand in the future to be in hardware".
Audi will make smartphone apps, digital radio connectivity and high-resolution sat nav optional on a subscription basis for the new A4 sedan and wagon in Europe.
Speaking with reporters at the launch of the updated Audi A4 in Europe, technical project leader Roland Hudler said those features are "just the beginning" for pay-as-you-go motoring.
"We are planning more and more," he says.
"We have the expectation of the customer era to be more flexible for the future."
Audi A4 customers in Europe currently choose from eight different power levels for petrol and diesel engines, along with comfort, sports or adaptive suspension and other elements which cannot be changed after the car is delivered to customers.
But Audi is considering the possibility of variable power levels which could see customers pay to unlock extra performance either permanently, or as required.
If governments introduced tax breaks for cars with limited power or top speeds, a customer might choose to save money by having their car's performance artificially capped while knowing they could de-restrict it in the future.
Hudler says an extreme case surrounds Audi's quattro all-wheel-drive system. Customers could pay to unlock all-wheel-drive in cooler months before reverting to front-drive traction in summer.
He says Audi is unlikely to put that into practice any time soon, but that those are the sort of possibilities being considered by the brand.
"It's just the beginning, what we do now," he says.
"We have to reduce the complexity in the production lines."