Audi keeps consumers in control of the connected car

Stephen Whiteside

Few industries understand the power of fusing man and machine like the automotive sector, where getting behind the wheel and hitting the open road has long been at the heart of customer appeals. The arrival of "connected cars", and the chance to offer drivers a range of digital services while they are on the move, seemingly tilts the balance in favour of the mechanical and away from the human.

But if the technological imperative is undoubtedly propelling the category forward, brand-building will retain a key role, Anupam Malhotra, manager/connected cars at Audi of America, told delegates at Internet Week 2014. And this fact holds particularly true for high-end marques, given that feelings of exclusivity and prestige have long been vital in attracting affluent customers.

"There are times when it's not just transport: it is how it makes you feel; it is what it represents about you," he said. "And that's where I think cars have really paved a lot of road. Clearly, the marketplace that we play in, the premium marketplace, a large part of [that is] the brand character, what people go for these cars for," he said.