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Audi e-tron to draw more attention than A3, Q7 hybrids

Green with envy: Although the A3 Sportback e-tron was introduced in Australia in 2015, it has only sold about 140 units.

Interest in Audi’s pure-electric e-tron expected to eclipse plug-in hybrid A3, Q7

Audi logo1 Oct 2018

AUDI’S all-electric e-tron SUV is expected to succeed in the local market where the plug-in A3 and Q7 variants failed to capture mass market attention, according to the brand’s Australian corporate communications manager Shaun Cleary.
 
Speaking to GoAuto, Mr Cleary said the emissions-free e-tron SUV is poised to take advantage of the high-rider buying preference of the Australian market, while its long driving range and the brand’s work on a charging network will also aid customer uptake.
 
“The fact that we’re launching it as an SUV, clearly it’s a popular segment .. and we’re now offering it as a really positive customer experience in terms of range, you know more than 400km, that’s really helpful,” he said.
 
“I don’t think there’s any reason to have anxiety about range or anything like that, but also we’re working on, and in a really good position on, a strategy with infrastructure providers for a high-performance charging network.
 
“So that’s definitely something we’re focused on, but not really able to talk about too much just yet.”
 
However, the e-tron will not be Audi Australia’s first foray into the electrified space as the A3 e-tron small hatchback launched locally in 2015 and has since been pulled from sale after around 140 sales.
 
Underpinning the A3 e-tron was a 110kW 1.4-litre turbo-petrol engine and a 75kW electric motor for a combined output of 150kW/350Nm, while its 8.8kWh battery offered up to 50km of emissions-free commuting and a combined fuel economy of 1.6 litres per 100km. 
 
The 275kW/700Nm Q7 e-tron large SUV – powered by a 190kW/600Nm 3.0-litre turbo-diesel engine and 94kW/350Nm electric motor – entered local showrooms last year, but is only offered as a limited-edition variant.
 
With a 17.3kWh lithium-ion battery pack in lieu of the third row seats, the Q7 e-tron offers up to 56km of pure electric driving range and drinks 1.9L/100km.
 
Both A3 and Q7 e-tron vehicles contribute very little to Audi Australia’s bottom line but instead serve as vanguards for the brand’s future electrified powertrains.
 
Mr Cleary hinted that the high cost of the early plug-in technology found in the A3 e-tron ($62,490 before on-roads) and Q7 e-tron ($139,900) stymied high-volume sales, but Audi is now committed to electrification.
 
“Electrification, particularly in Australia … there’s an enormous amount of opportunity because it is, on the one hand the hybrid drivetrain gives you the best of both worlds, but at the same time it is two drivetrain concepts in one car, so it’s not a cheap concept,” he said.
 
“We know that electrification is the cutting edge of powertrain technology, so it is expensive. It takes a lot of development. We’ve invested a lot of money in the last few years and will continue to, until we have – we’ve said quite recently that by 2025 we will have 12 electrified models in the Audi range which will be fully electric or plug-in hybrid.
 
“That obviously is a huge investment, and I guess there needs to be a point where that electrification, whether it be full EV or plug-in hybrid, we have to make sure the customer value concept is really strong, it has to make sense for the customer.”
 
The new e-tron boasts two electric motors, a 125kW unit for the front wheels and a 140kW unit for the rear axle, for a combined system output of 265kW/561Nm.
 
With a 95kWh battery in tow, the e-tron features a WLTP-verified driving range of 400km.
 
Although pricing is yet to be determined, the e-tron could come in around the $140,000 of its Q7 e-tron sibling, but Mr Cleary would not be drawn on whether he expects the emissions-free SUV to outsell its plug-in predecessors.
 
“I think, certainly in the early stages, demand for EVs is going to be driven by a certain type of customer that wants to be early adopters, so that’s absolutely going to be who the customer is,” he said.
 
“Pricing, specification and equipment levels is going to be crucial for that car, and so at this stage it’s not agreed and it’s not announced, but we’re looking to make sure that we really have a strong offering for the customer so that basically all bases are covered in terms of range, it has to drive and look like an Audi.
 
“We’re really confident it will be a great experience there.”
 
Another cutting-edge technology found on the e-tron is a camera and display system in lieu of side-view mirrors, which are not compliant with current Australian Design Rules (ADRs).
 
However, Mr Cleary said Audi is working on a rule change to allow the tech to be offered in local e-trons and expects the system will be available in mid-2019 when the e-tron launches Down Under.

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