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Audi E-Tron Integrated Toll Module Makes The EV More Than Ready For Fleet Duty

Audi E-Tron

As part of a recent promotional event for the Audi E-Tron in California and Nevada, the automaker used the all-electric SUV for more than just test drives. The assembled journalists were chauffeured in the new EVs between airports and hotels. While riding in the relaxing silence of the comfortable rear seats (they're not as nice as the front seats, which can be equipped with a massage function), it was instantly obvious that Audi could and should emphasize the benefits of the E-Tron to higher-end fleet owners. Offering rides in comfy EVs is an easy way to give clients a future-oriented, zero-emission ride - and probably sell more than a few E-Trons to this particular customer base.

With the E-tron, though, there's a somewhat hidden angle that could make the electric SUV popular for more than shuffling people around Aspen and Hollywood parties. The green factor will always have an appeal to some members of these crowds (remember when Hollywood stars arrived at the Oscars in Toyota Priuses back in 2003?), but there's new tech in the E-Tron that will be useful to both private owners and fleet managers.

Called the Integrated Toll Module (ITM), this new technology is meant to drastically simplify the way the E-Tron handles payment on toll roads. While ITM is due to be rolled out in a number of Audi models, it makes its debut in the flashy and high-tech E-Tron. This association is a coup for Gentex, the company that developed the device (PDF) for Audi.

Audi E-Tron

The way the ITM works is that the vehicle owner (private or a fleet operator) sets up one account that then interacts with and handles payments with toll booths across the U.S. and parts of Canada and Mexico. This obviously makes driving and billing easier for an E-Tron driver, but it's also just a hint of the plans Gentex has for tech like the ITM. The company says that the vehicle-to-infrastructure technology could be used in the future to pay for items and services at places like drive-through restaurants, gas stations, oil change and car wash locations, parking structures and so on. In short, your car could pay for things as easy as your phone does when equipped with something like Apple Pay.

The combination of easier accounting and smooth, electric comfort of the E-Tron makes this an SUV to consider for the next round of upscale chauffeured rides. If you're looking for every advantage in getting customers to call you when they want a ride, then a fleet of E-Trons makes a lot of sense. The E-Tron has more than enough oomph and range to handle normal service, and tech like ITM just might be enough to put it on the top of the heap.

Source By forbes.com
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