Forty lucky workers at American Underground get to share three Audi A4 Sedans for the next two months.
The fully accessorized 2017 models will be available on demand.
All the workers have to do is order them up on an app and pay for the gas.
Audi of America selected American Underground, the technology incubator in Durham, as the pilot program for a corporate car-sharing program it plans to roll out next year.
The growth of companies such as Uber, Sidecar and Lyft – which are siphoning away younger consumers – have led Audi and other auto companies to respond with their own services. BMW and Ford are also introducing and testing ride-sharing programs that will contribute to the evolution of car ownership.
American Underground was selected as the test site for the Audi shared fleet, as the service is being called, because of its location in a vibrant community, surrounded by universities and tech companies.
“American Underground has a variety of different testing technologies,” said Mark Clothier, a spokesman for Audi. “It was also a great choice to have a lot of technologically savvy people to provide feedback on the fly.”
Audi of America is funding the pilot program.
“We’re really fortunate to be a part of this first pilot,” said Adam Klein, chief strategist for American Underground. “It’s a limited trial at this point, but interest has been through the roof.”
Klein sees car sharing as a great way to improve the commuter experience in the Triangle area, as it will allow corporations to give their employees a reliable substitute for public transit, biking and walking.
“I’m excited to see where this program can go over time,” Klein said. “It will be great to see how it affects having more people coming into the community.”
Participants in the test program can check the car out for a few hours, but Klein said that some participants have used the cars for evenings out and short road trips.
“This is giving people the chance to drive themselves,” Klein said. “They have more freedom and they have a nicer vehicle. Those things are appealing to many of our members.”
As much as Klein and his colleagues like the ride-sharing program, no decisions have been made about continuing with the Audi share fleet once the pilot is finished, he said.
As for Audi, the company plans to launch the service nationwide next year, but no date has been set. The company will evaluate any potential issues that arise during the testing, Clothier said.