Audi sparks urban mobility discussion through pilot program

Audi of America is debuting a driving program focusing on its new electric vehicles that allows engineers in Germany to get instant feedback and data on driving conditions where the cars are used in the U.S. market while launching a hashtag campaign to spark mobility discussions.

The pilot program is being brought to various U.S. cities that differ in driving conditions, amount of time people spend in the car and where there a good number of representatives of Audi staff. The automaker is getting customers involved in the discussion through a hashtag campaign where consumers can read and watch attendees from the TED Conference in California this week pose theories of the future of urban mobility.

“The program is heavily engineering-focused so that Audi representatives in Germany can get instant feedback on data and driving conditions,” said Brad Stertz, corporate communications manager for Audi of America, Herndon, VA.

“It is strictly an internal drivers for the pilot program so that they can get a steady flow of data and impressions that our engineers can go on,” he said.

Sparks fly
The Audi Pilot program will kick off in April in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington and Denver.

The Audi A3 e-tron program will allow the brand to identify challenges and opportunities with plug-in vehicles as progressive luxury car buyers become increasingly receptive to EV technology, per the brand.

Audi A3 e-tron

“There is a lot of mythology around electric vehicles, some good and some bad,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute, New York.

“However, I think that if you can get people to see the cars and they get the real facts, you can dispel these myths and you can make headway in selling electric vehicles,” he said.

The Audi A3 e-tron features a fully-electric powertrain engine with a 26kw lithium-ion battery and zero driving emissions, claims the automaker.

The A3 e-tron has a 199-lb-ft torque, a battery range of 90 miles and top speed of 90 miles per hour.

Furthermore, it maintains the full interior space of the regular A3, per the brand.

Electric feel
Rival automaker BMW also did something along these lines when it released a mobile application that consumers could put in their cars to see whether or not the mileage they put on their cars each day made them a good match for BMW’s new electric car (see story).

However, Audi’s program is set to provide data for engineers in Germany and are driven not by consumers, but by brand employees.

Audi announced the program during the 2012 TED Conference in Long Beach, CA, earlier this week. TED is a nonprofit organization that works to support companies and individuals with innovative ideas.

To get consumers involved, Audi launched a hashtag campaign while at the conference with its Audi Social Space.

The space presents perspectives on electric vehicles on touch-screen video installations and contains an area for attendees to pose new mobility scenarios for future urban spaces.

These ideas are all aggregated in real-time to Audi’s live Twitter feed through the #AudiTED hashtag.

Audi has attempted to spark conversation through hashtags in the past, such as in its Super Bowl ad this year (see story).

“It is different from some of the other marketing-based programs that we’ve done in the past, but hashtags have been effective in the past, especially to provide quick feedback,” Audi’s Mr. Stertz said.

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