Roadway tolls are a bit of an inconvenient necessity. They may cause lots of traffic from slowdowns and bottlenecking. But they are one of the key ways governing bodies tax drivers for using roads while generating a revenue stream to pay for the maintenance of those roadways.
To try and mitigate slowdowns and congestion at toll plazas on major roadways, state highway authorities implemented electronic toll tags. For those who sign up, it eliminates the need for drivers to stop at a toll and physically hand over a small sum of cash to pass through without penalty. For those of us on the East Coast and major parts of the Midwest, there’s EZPass, while California has FasTrak, Texas has TxTag, and Florida has SunPass.
Now, Audi wants to take this technological concept even further by integrating electronic toll tag technology in its vehicles, beginning with the up and coming e-tron. Ingolstadt’s finest, in conjunction with Gentex Corporation, recently announced that the all-new Audi e-tron will feature new “integrated toll module technology” when it debuts next week in San Francisco. Officially coined “Integrated Toll Module” or “ITM” by Audi engineers, it’s the latest technology available in terms of vehicle-to-infrastructure connectivity.
Audi’s ITM essentially takes the concept of all the aforementioned electronic and wireless toll tags and integrates that tech into the e-tron itself. The system integrates a toll transponder into the car’s rear-view mirror. From there, drivers will be able to pair their vehicle with their wireless toll accounts, ending the need to mount and deal with physical electronic tag devices on the upper portion of the windshield, or on the front license plate.
Gentex, by the way, is also the company that supplies the brand with automatic-dimming mirrors for all Audi vehicles.
Audi hopes this new “Integrated Toll Module” will make paying for tolls easier for drivers, especially for individuals needing to manage multiple accounts if traveling through more than one state. Additionally, Audi says the system is already compatible with existing toll agencies around the nation and drivers will be able to register a current account without any difficulty.
Wireless connectivity and data communication technologies are some of the latest innovations to surface in the automotive industry. Initially, the technology was intended to get individual cars to “talk” to each other, allowing engineers to utilize vehicle data to provide real-time traffic updates for other drivers while improving road safety. Now, the technology is advancing further as automakers and roadway authorities look for ways to improve road infrastructure.
The all-new Audi e-tron itself is scheduled for a worldly debut in San Francisco next Monday, September 17. It’s anticipated to be an all-electric five-passenger midsize crossover SUV (essentially a Tesla Model X competitor) and is one of three battery-electric vehicles planned for production by 2020. It will be the first vehicle in the company’s portfolio to feature the Integrated Toll Module.