The SIM card is implemented in hardware, not in the form of a virtual SIM card (eSIM), an Audi spokesperson explained. It actually is soldered into the mobile radio platform in the vehicle’s head unit. Through the built-in 3G/4G mobile radio module, the card enables the vehicle to access data services at download speeds up to 100 Mbps. These services include navigation via Google Earth and Google Street View as well as information regarding routing, road and traffic situation and parking. In addition, drivers get access to their Twitter accounts, e-mail, and smartphone calendar. The embedded SIM card includes unlimited data volume with regards to these data services. For use with the in-car WiFi hotspot, users have to book additional data volumes. While the vehicle-related data services are free for the first three years, the WiFi data are not.
In most European countries the system connects automatically to Audi’s service provider, avoiding roaming fees.
Alternatively to the embedded SIM card, the drivers can continue to use their personal SIM card; in this case however, they are connected to the radio network of their personal provider and do not benefit from Audi’s data flat rate.
For the time being the embedded SIM card is available for those models that are already using the Modular Infotainment Platform v2. These are A3, A4, A5, Q2 and Q7; others will follow, the company said.
At present, V2X functionality is not yet available for Audi drivers. However, the company is currently conducting trials along with competitors BMW and Toyota as well as telecommunications network provider Deutsche Telekom to assess the capabilities of LTE-V, the vehicle version of the 4G cellular radio technology LTE.