Nearly every car manufacturer now offers a smartphone app that allows you to perform car-related functions.
This is a great value-add in certain situations, while in others it adds to your monthly car costs while not bringing many benefits.
We compare the prices and features of these services from a selection of South Africa’s major car brands, below.
The Audi Connect package is standard on all new Audi models, except for the Q2, TT, and R8.
This package is split into two feature sets: one for safety and service features, and the other for security and convenience features.
The first set is licensed for 10 years and includes incident assist for minor accidents, emergency calling with roadside assistance, and car service notifications.
The second comprises model-dependent remote functions such as a car finder, remote locking and unlocking, speed alerts, theft alarms, vehicle status reports, and geofencing.
Additionally, a host of extra features become available when the optional MMI Navigation Plus system is fitted. While the infotainment system is paid for, the additional features are free.
These include live satellite navigation with traffic information, trip planning, destination entries from a smartphone, weather updates, and detailed point of interest (POI) search.
The models with the full suite of Audi Connect Services installed as standard are the A6, A7, S8, Q7, and Q8, said Audi South Africa.
The pricing for Audi Connect in South Africa is:
- Audi Connect – Free
- MMI Navigation Plus – Model dependent (R21,000 on A4)
The BMW ConnectedDrive store offers three subscription-based service packages comprising a selection of online services, as well as the ability to buy digital services and products.
For the purposes of this comparison, we will only look at the three service packages and what they offer.
The entry-level Connected Package comprises BMW Online, online speech processing, intelligent personal assistant, and remote services.
BMW Online enables access to a detailed POI search, current news, weather information, country and parking information, office functions including email and Google services, and a travel guide with BMW Routes.
Remote services allow abilities such as activating the climate control, locking the car, and flashing the headlights from a smartphone.
The mid-range Connected Package Plus then adds USB map updates and real-time traffic information on top of the entry-level package.
USB map updates allow the owner to manually download maps for specific regions and upload these to their BMW via a USB drive.
The top-of-the-line Connected Package Professional then gets a concierge service in addition to the above-mentioned features.
The pricing for BMW ConnectedDrive in South Africa is:
- Connected Package – R1,000/year
- Connected Package Plus – R2,000/year
- Connected Package Professional – R3,500/year
The FordPass Connect system is available in selected Ranger, Everest, and EcoSport vehicles with SYNC infotainment systems.
This app’s features comprise remote vehicle start, cabin pre-cooling and pre-heating, fuel status checks, remote vehicle locking and unlocking, a car finder, and car health alerts.
According to Ford, the embedded modem that enables FordPass Connect is standard on 2021 model year Rangers (excluding base models), 2022 Everests, and the latest “2021.75” EcoSport (excluding Ambiente).
The pricing for FordPass Connect in South Africa is:
- FordPass Connect – Free
Mercedes Me Connect
In South Africa, the Mercedes Me Store has a range of on-demand and package services on offer.
The most comprehensive option is the Vehicle Setup package, which includes seven services.
These are remote door locking, remote window control, pre-programmed cabin heating and ventilation, vehicle status checks, remote window and sunroof control, theft and parking damage detection, and personalisation through driver profiles.
Another extensive package is the Vehicle Monitoring option, which brings a remote vehicle finder, parked vehicle locator, speed limiter, valet and curfew minder, restricted area alerts, and a vehicle tracker.
A wide range of additional packages that feature a selection of bundled services are also available.
The pricing for Mercedes Me in South Africa is:
- In-car Office – R279/year
- Remote Parking Assistant – from R279/3 months
- Vehicle Setup – from R579/year
- Vehicle Monitoring – from R579/year
- Remote and Navigation Services – R699/3 years
- Navigation Services – from R879/year
- Live Traffic Information – from R879/year
All new Toyota vehicles are fitted with Toyota Connect.
It is an opt-in service that is joined via the MyToyota app, and lets owners check their vehicle’s battery health and vehicle location, book services, request roadside assistance, and keep a digital logbook with a driver rating.
Additionally, opting in for the service makes your vehicle a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to 15 devices, with 15GB of free data provided upon registration.
After the complimentary data is finished, owners will need to buy Vodacom data packages from their MyToyota or banking app.
The pricing options for Toyota Connect in South Africa are:
- Toyota Connect – Free
- Vodacom data – Standard rates
VW We Connect Go
VW’s We Connect Go app connects the owner’s smartphone to the vehicle via Bluetooth, using a DataPlug. This DataPlug is essential to activating We Connect Go services.
With the plug connected, VW owners will have access to a logbook and fuel monitor, driving style analysis and statistics, service appointment scheduling, breakdown and roadside assistance, car locator, and “Challenges” to collect points and trophies.
According to VW, DataPlugs are offered as standard on VW models from the Polo Comfortline and above, as from July 2020, and will be available as optional items for older models dating back as far as 2008, excluding the previous-generation Polo Vivo.
The pricing for VW We Connect Go in South Africa is:
- VW We Connect Go – Free
- VW DataPlug – R1,150