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Audi calls on government support for EVs

Charging on: German premium car-makers including Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW are keen to bring the government up to speed with EV infrastructure.

A3 e-tron and new EVs prompt Audi to corral Benz and BMW to petition government

10 Sep 2016

STRONGER than expected sales of its first plug-in hybrid model have prompted Audi Australia to take the fight for standardised infrastructure back to the federal government – and it has roped in some of its rivals to help.

Audi Australia managing director Andrew Doyle has told GoAuto that the better-than-expected sales of the A3 e-tron, which has sold around 100 examples in its first full year on sale, has also given the brand an insight into the prospective demands of its looming electric vehicle future.

“It’s allowed us to get our own infrastructure in place for our dealer network and in terms of our understanding of what that means in terms of a customer care process,” Mr Doyle said. “So in that respect it’s been a great thing for us to understand the process behind it and the education of our customers as they are in the buying process, be it home installation or work installation.

“It’s been a good learning for us.”

Mr Doyle said he was also looking forward to the arrival of Audi’s first fully electric vehicle – which is expected to be known as the Q6 when it launches in 2018 and be based on the e-tron quattro concept from last year’s Frankfurt motor show – while the arrival of more plug-in hybrids such as the Q7 e-tron also adds pressure to a charging network that is still in its infancy.

“The first fully electric EV from Audi will be an SUV, which is great for our marketplace,” he said. “That’ll be in 2018, and going forward from there, it will be a continuous rollout of models after that.

“In terms of relevance for Australia, the good news for us is that it’s going to be an SUV, it’s going to have an extraordinary range from what we read about, and I think it’ll be a very positive thing for the Australian marketplace.”

Mr Doyle confirmed that the Australian arm would be taking the new-era SUV EV.

“We’ve had great success with SUVs especially in this marketplace – absolutely, we’ll be saying yes to that (Q6),” he said.

Mr Doyle said government assistance was crucial to a wider acceptance of electric vehicle use, and that it was not down to just one company to approach state and federal governments with infrastructure plans.

“This has to be an industry-wide discussion about what we’re doing with recharging infrastructure across Australia,” he said, “so we’re certainly open to that, and so other brands that we’ve spoken to, to find the best solution for the Australian consumer.

“That involves ourselves, our fellow brands in Australia, as well as the Federal Chamber (of Automotive Industries) and the government. It’s early days in the discussion for sure, but I think it’s a smarter thing to do to start that discussion as an industry, rather than trying to run alone.”

Mr Doyle did not deny that Audi’s German rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz – who both have strong electrification plans in place – were part of the discussions.

“It’s not confirmed yet, but it’s the right discussion to have as an industry,” he said. “We are a large country, we need to have a smarter way of discussing it.”

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