By on February 9, 2019

Audi plans to make a green new deal with premium-minded buyers of limited means. With the brand’s Volkswagen Group parent going all-in on electric vehicles, Audi has access to whatever it needs from mama’s parts bin. This will come in handy.

It seems a cheaper, smaller EV is Audi’s next big reveal, with the Golf-sized I.D. Neo hatch serving as a starting point for a new entry-level electric.

Having already shown off the pricier E-Tron midsize SUV, its Sportback sibling, and a GT concept strongly hinting at a future four-door “coupe,” Audi is turning its mind to the low end of the premium market. Underpinning the smaller vehicle would be VW’s dedicated MEB electric architecture.

According to Automotive News Europe, Audi confirmed its plans to debut a “premium compact SUV concept” at next month’s Geneva Motor Show, one which borrows VW’s MEB bones. Thanks to economies of scale, VW Group believes it’s capable of offering a multitude of EV in various segments with only a modest markup over comparable internal combustion vehicles.

The concept bound for Geneva is reportedly a close match to a production model slated for a late-2020 launch. Deliveries should begin in early 2021, by which time the larger Audi EVs (and those of its rivals) will have had time to reach buyers and normalize the idea of a fully-electric German luxury vehicle from a mainstream brand. Production will occur alongside the I.D. Neo at VW’s Zwickau plant.

Earlier reports claim the unnamed Audi will arrive with a footprint similar to that of the Q3 crossover. Expect a rear-drive setup in single-motor guise, all-wheel drive with twin propulsion units.

As early specs for the I.D. Neo claim 181 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of instant torque, the cheapest Audi EV should mirror these figures. While driving range depends on battery size decisions Audi hasn’t yet revealed, industry sentiment states 200 miles should be the absolute minimum.

The first MEB-based vehicle enters service in Europe early next year, with numerous models to follow. Audi’s E-Tron SUV goes on sale later this year.

[Image: Audi AG]

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30 Comments on “Casting a Wider Net: Audi’s EV Push Won’t Ignore the Entry-level Crowd...”


  • avatar
    vehic1

    Guaranteed clickbait, with that “green new deal” phrase inserted within the first line. Almost as surefire as “they’s a-takin’ yore big truck away!”

    • 0 avatar
      Maxb49

      True. When it comes to electric vehicles, there is a story that the media is pushing on one hand, and the consumer reality on the other hand. Until electric cars have comparable range and a comparable recharge time to liquid fuel refueling time, consumers aren’t going to go for this.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    I thought the whole idea of Audi was to have the premium cars and VW have the entry level cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      VW’s brand is not a positive one here in the US.

      Most people are likely to remember the original Beetle and th diesel emissions cheating scandal. If they remember any of the cars in between those two historical markers, the word that is most likely to come to mind is some synonym of “unreliable”.

      Some people may also remember the quirky commercials from the 1990s, and the historical connection to H*tler. That last one is particularly hard to move past after the diesel emissions scandal.

      Given all of these negative associations, it probably makes more sense to move Audi downmarket than to try to repair the VW brand image, at least here in the US.

  • avatar
    conundrum

    It’ll have to be better than the Kona EV for about the same money to appeal to “premium-minded buyers of limited means” a phrase which is marketing code for “Everybody”.

    In my mind’s eye, I see droves of buyers lined up none deep for this thing. Because the word has surely got around that with Audi or any “premium” German make for that matter, the price advertised means add $10K for a livable set of options.

    I know all my acquaintances are champing at the bit to buy an EV of any make. Not. But all these first out-of-the-gate full-production (after Leaf and Tesla) EVs represent huge investments based on a wing and a prayer that the public is going to buy them in quantity. Like right now. Hmmm.

    There are zero rebates for EVs in my jurisdiction, but the Jag I-Pace has turned up anyway while the half-dozen Teslas registered are parked at wealthy people’s pads. The Jag looks great – but now after a $4 billion loss in the 4th qtr last year will JLR be around much longer? Brexit will sink them completely, I think. Like most Western auto companies, the bottom fell out of the Chinese market for them last year. Oh well.

    • 0 avatar
      vehic1

      conundrum: What’s the difference in buying a basic ICE Hyundai or basic Audi, Lexus, etc., and buying a basic Hyundai EV or an entry-level luxury-brand EV?
      If there has been an appetite for luxury-brand models in the past, why would buyers all decide to stick with Chevy, Ford, Nissan, etc., in the future? The desire for status, exclusivity, additional performance will suddenly vanish?

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      “It’ll have to be better than the Kona EV for about the same money to appeal to “premium-minded buyers of limited means” a phrase which is marketing code for “Everybody”.”

      How do you figure? If it has a nicer design and interior than the Kona why shouldn’t it cost more?

  • avatar
    jatz

    “premium compact SUV”

    Theess words, I theen’ they are fightin’ with each oather.

  • avatar
    carguy67

    Just in time:

    https://wolfstreet.com/2019/02/09/carmageddon-for-tesla-model-3-us-deliveries-plunge-55-to-60-from-q4-laid-off-delivery-employees-tell-reuters/

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      It’s because they’re focusing on Europe and Asia. They have limited production, so they’re letting US deliveries slide. If they wanted to increase US sales, all they have to do is offer leasing on the Model 3. As soon as they do that, the US deliveries will spike up for another year.

      • 0 avatar
        TimK

        How does any company lease a vehicle when they can’t calculate a residual value? A complete crapshoot with the model 3 so who’s going to take the crazy risk? Sure, Tesla could guarantee the residual, now who’s lining up to trust anything Tesla promises?

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          @TimK: There is leasing already on the Model S. There is no reason they can’t offer leasing on the Model 3 – other than the production limits. They absolutely can calculate a residual value:

          https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/cars/844807/Tesla-Model-3-depreciation-value-Mercedes-Audi

          • 0 avatar
            TimK

            A vanity “news” article written 18 months ago is your source for depreciation data on the model 3?

            A volume leasing market doesn’t exist for this brand because nobody trusts the numbers from Tesla.

      • 0 avatar
        jatz

        “It’s because they’re focusing on Europe and Asia.”

        Too tough a crowd here?

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    EVs are great Sunbelt cars. They don’t work for where I live but I get to be lectured about them by Sunbelters in the media. It’s currently -40C here.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Really?? They do work where you live. There may be other issues like charging infrastructure and driving distance issues, but an EV is useable at -40C:

      youtu.be/capOgUHPz9Q?t=824

      • 0 avatar
        stingray65

        MCS – you keep pushing that Norwegian EV video to demonstrate how well EVs work in the cold, but have you actually watched the video? He loses about 1/3 of his range by having the car sit out in -36 degree weather for about 7 hours unplugged, and then drives very slowly 80kph or less to a charging station, where he waits in -30 degree weather for almost 1 hour to recharge his battery (what fun), and then drives slowly for another couple of hours before having to recharge again for an hour (more fun), and then finally arrives back in Oslo. A 24 hour unplugged stop in that weather would likely drain the entire battery causing permanent and expensive damage to the battery and rendering the car undrivable. Needing 2 hours of recharging to travel about 200 miles in the cold is also not going to be popular with very many people not getting the huge EV subsidies that Norwegians receive.

        • 0 avatar

          ICE vehicle also consumes more gas at -40. So what?

          • 0 avatar
            Tele Vision

            @ Inside

            It’s hard to mess with EFI stoichometry.

            EVs use more energy in the cold, too. Tire slippage; warming the cabin; seat heaters; aerodynamic drag; reluctant steering racks… And cold batteries!

            Nice try, though.

          • 0 avatar
            multicam

            ICE vehicles consume more gas at -40C… okay, do they consume enough additional gas to reduce their range by 40%?

            No? Didn’t think so. Can you still refill them in 5 minutes vs. however many hours for the EV? Yes.

            No way in hell I’d drive an EV in a legitimately cold climate.

            Didn’t we just talk about this here on TTAC?

      • 0 avatar
        Tele Vision

        @mcs

        I want to tow my old, big, heavy boat ( with full gas tanks/bikes/tents/coolers ) with my family onboard in the Summer. I also need to punch though the odd snowdrift in Winter on my way to work, which is an 80 Km round-trip on country roads. I asked my employer if I could plug an EV in at work and got a ‘Don’t Ask – Don’t Tell’ sort of response. I would love an AWD truck with four motors and 100% torque at zero RPM but, with F-150s littering the Buy N’ Sell pages for pennies on the dollar, I’m not in a hurry to spend money on an EV that can’t do any of the above. I’d need a truck with the aforementioned four motors AND a range-extender aboard before I even think about it. A wee Diesel would be perfect.

  • avatar
    loopy55

    I just want someone to give Tesla a bloody nose as I am quite tired of the Tesla drivers with their holier-than-thou attitude and number-plates here in SoCal.


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