In this age of the connected car, mobile phone apps are on the cusp of not only replacing your keyfob, but letting you track your car’s every move. Already several car firms offer apps that let you open and close the car remotely via an app, and in case of Tesla the app even gets your car to park itself.
This week Volkswagen rolled out its latest system of owners’ apps to coincide with the introduction of its new flagship Arteon model.
The new functions of VW’s mobile app system offers owners an array of services from their mobile phones. These range from car location services to detailed usage figure along with diagnostics and maintenance services.
It also has a family function whereby you can set an alert system to your phone if your VW exceeds a pre-set speed limit or goes outside a boundary that can be set on the phone’s map. Based on a Google Maps architecture, the system can also record and track all journeys, and prompts you to enter the price per litre of fuel each time you fill up so that it can give precise fuel costs for every trip. It can also sync with your Google calendar to plan trips of upcoming appointments.
The new system is also married to the firm’s latest in-car access service available through the information button located just above the rearview mirror. At the touch of a button you are connected directly to customer service staff who can offer advice on any issues with the car. If needed the AA recovery service is deployed.
Similarly the cars are fitted with “SOS” buttons that can be used to alert staff to serious incidents. Staff use the in-car phone speakers to talk directly with occupants. In the worst case, when airbags are deployed, staff at the service provided by Aviva can pinpoint the location of the car, identify the number of occupants using seatbelt usage information and direct emergency services to the scene.
The system isn’t as advanced as Opel’s OnStar functionality as yet, lacking the wide range of concierge services available from that firm’s call centre staff. Nor does it let you open and close the car just yet, but we are told this feature is in the pipeline.
Amid general concerns about data privacy, VW staff are at pains to point out that the personal travel data is only available to the owner, while the information being shared with VW concerns the car’s diagnostic systems.
Clearly, while there is a potential for car firms to mine user data to get a better profile of its owners usage, they are all acutely aware of the privacy concerns and the risk that misusing such data will deter any future use by customers of such features.
The new information system is being rolled out on the new Arteon and upcoming new models. The system, including the one-touch connection with VW service staff, is free for the first three years. Prices after then have yet to be set.
A similar mobile app system with many of the same tracking and diagnostic functions is being rolled out for the owners of VW cars from 2008 onwards.
As for the flagship Arteon, it has arrived in the Republic with prices starting at €43,295. The spacious five-seater is not only a replacement for the coupe variant of the last Passat, the CC, but is also meant to signal a further upmarket shift by the German brand.
Built on the firm’s award-winning platform, it certainly has the look of a sleek grand tourer, combined with remarkable space both front and rear. The weakest link is arguably the interior trim, which is too similar to the current Passat to justify the premium hype.
The Arteon comes to Ireland with a choice of three power outputs of the 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine. The 2.0-litre TDI comes with either 150 hp, 190 hp or at the top of the range, 240 hp. The latter comes with 4MOTION all-wheel drive as standard. The 2.0-litre TDI 150 hp version is available with a choice of 6-speed manual or 7-speed DSG, while the 190 hp and 240 hp versions are only available with the 7-speed DSG.
Standard features on the entry-level Arteon include 18-inch alloy wheels, ErgoComfort seats, 8-inch ‘Discover Media’ Sat Nav system, predictive cruise control, park distance control, app connect, rain sensing wipers, Security & Service subscription and 3-zone Climatronic A/C with controls in the rear.
Pricing for the Arteon starts at €43,295 for the Arteon 2.0-litre 150 hp with a six-speed manual transmission and there is a €2,200 price walk to the automatic version. The 2.0-litre 150 hp Elegance model with a manual transmission starts at €45,995. The 2.0-litre 190hp Elegance model comes with the 7-speed DSG transmission only and costs €50,195.
The Arteon is available from €499 per month with 5.9 per cent APR, and the Elegance and R-Line models are available from €489 and €499 respectively with 3.9 per cent APR. Several technology upgrades are being offered as a launch promotion for the car, including an options pack for the new Arteon Elegance, that includes Discover Pro Sat Nav with Gesture Control, a Panoramic Sunroof and a Heated Steering Wheel that has a full price of €2,460 but on offer at launch for €999.