Audi's Conventional-looking Electric Crossover Will Remain (Mainly) Hidden From Public View

audis conventional looking electric crossover will remain mainly hidden from public

Marketing materials aside, visitors to Audi dealers in the near future won’t see much of the new E-Tron crossover. They’ll have to ask about it first, and, if they’re in luck, there’ll be a demonstrator on hand.

Audi’s proceeding cautiously with its mass-market EV. For now, it’s only taking refundable reservations from customers, hoping that keeping the E-Tron out of the normal vehicle flow will help it turn a profit — a problem facing most EVs.

Speaking to Automotive News, Audi of America President Scott Keogh said the electric car isn’t ready for the traditional dealer sales model.

“I think it would be a beautiful world if you can go to a dealer — and we’d like to find that beautiful world — with zero floorplan [expense] and proper, full gross on the car,” said Keogh. “This would be a beautiful state; so let’s go see if we can find this dream state.”

Until the world arrives, Audi’s 303 U.S. dealers will continue taking $1,000 reservations on the vehicle, which lands on these shores in the middle of next year. Retailers can go about the business of selling A3s and Q5s without worrying about vehicle allocation and being stuck with the task of moving a potentially unpopular vehicle off the lot. With other EVs on the way, the experiment is a useful one.

That said, Keogh credits Audi’s dealer network for improving the E-Tron’s chances for success.

“The same network that got us to double our sales, and got us to 200,000 units [annually], is going to be the same network that’s going to lead this electric revolution for us,” he said. “And that’s a massive competitive advantage — an onboard and engaged network.”

Will dealers ever stock the E-Tron? Possibly, but it will only be if the dealer wants it. An Audi spokesperson said U.S. dealers can order E-Trons for their inventory and have demos for test drives. If a retailer feels that having an E-Tron on hand is advantageous, the automaker won’t say no.

The 2019 Audi E-Tron carries a U.S. MSRP of $74,800 before destination.

[Image: Audi]

Join the conversation
2 of 7 comments
  • Hreardon Hreardon on Sep 27, 2018

    Bingo. Dealers in Florida, California, Washington State, New York, Mass, Washington DC are going to want to stock these. Dealers in the "flyover states" will likely want to pass on it. It was wise of Audi to not force the franchises into taking the cars - plus, this will help them allocate vehicles more easily to where they're selling in the greatest volume. I think Audi will have good success with the e-tron.

  • Garrett Garrett on Sep 27, 2018

    I can’t imagine how expensive gas would need to be to pay back the electric premium + the lack of a discount + the extra depreciation factor.

  • MaintenanceCosts The sweet spot of this generation isn't made anymore: the SRT 392. The Scat Pack is more or less filling the same space but it lacks a lot of the goodies, including SRT suspension, brakes, and seats. The Hellcat is too much and isn't available with a manual anymore.
  • Arthur Dailey I am normally a fan of Exner's designs but by this time the front end on the Stutz like most of the rest of the vehicle is a laughable monstrosity of gauche. The interior finishes suit the rest of the vehicle. Corey please put this series out of its misery. This is one vehicle manufacturer best left on the scrap heap of history.
  • Art Vandelay I always thought what my Challenger really needed was a convertible top to make it heavier and make visability worse.
  • Dlc65688410 Please stop, we can't take anymore of this. Think about doing something on the Spanish Pegaso.
  • MaintenanceCosts A few bits of context largely missing from this article:(1) For complicated historical reasons, the feds already end up paying much of the cost of buying new transit buses of all types. It is easier legally and politically to put capital funds than operating funds into the federal budget, so the model that has developed in most US agencies is that operational costs are raised from a combination of local taxes and fares while the feds pick up much of the agencies' capital needs. So this is not really new spending but a new direction for spending that's been going on for a long time.(2) Current electric buses are range-challenged. Depending on type of service they can realistically do 100-150 miles on a charge. That's just fine for commuter service where the buses typically do one or two trips in the morning, park through the midday, and do one or two trips in the evening. It doesn't work well for all-day service. Instead of having one bus that can stay out from early in the morning until late at night (with a driver change or two) you need to bring the bus back to the garage once or twice during the day. That means you need quite a few more buses and also increases operating costs. Many agencies are saying for political reasons that they are going to go electric in this replacement cycle but the more realistic outcome is that half the buses can go electric while the other half need one more replacement cycle for battery density to improve. Once the buses can go 300 miles in all weather they will be fine for the vast majority of service.(3) With all that said, the transition to electric will be very good. Moving from straight diesel to hybrid already cut down substantially on emissions, but even reduced diesel emissions cause real public health damage in city settings. Transitioning both these buses and much of the urban truck fleet to electric will have measurable and meaningful impacts on public health.