Pesky Arrest Issue Has Audi Thinking America for New Car Launch
Audi had hoped to unveil a new challenger to Tesla’s electric throne at a Brussels marketing event, but the ill-timed arrest of its former CEO forced the automaker to shelve those plans. Rupert Stadler remains in custody, casting a dark cloud over the brand and the vehicle its engineers spent years developing.
What to do? Apparently, the solution involves bundling the car into a plane and sending it to America.
Audi was expecting to debut its 2019 E-Tron crossover — a conventionally-styled electric vehicle designed to woo premium-minded, ecologically sensitive family types — on August 30th. As the vehicle’s assembly plant is in Brussels, it was only natural to hold the splashy reveal there, too.
According to Automotive News Europe, invitations had already been mailed out by the time German authorities slapped the cuffs on Stadler, who’s being held in Munich on suspicion of fraud and evidence tampering.
Now, Audi claims it will unveil the vehicle, the first of a line of E-Tron-branded electric vehicles, at a “summit” in the United States. The automaker cited “organizational reasons” for the kiboshed reveal, providing no date or location.
As it collects advance orders in several European markets, Audi says the vehicle’s market launch hasn’t been impacted by the deferred debut. “The e-tron will have its market launch at the end of the year,” an Audi spokesperson told Automotive News Europe. “Nothing has changed.”
The two-row E-Tron is said to travel up to 250 miles on the juice contained within its 95 kWh battery pack. A prototype debuted in Geneva earlier this year. Following the 2019 E-Tron’s introduction, Sportback and GT variants will appear over the next two years, giving the likes of Tesla and Mercedes-Benz a worthy competitor in the fledgling premium EV crossover field.
[Images: Audi AG]
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