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Dealers plug $500K into Audi e-tron upgrades

Audi you do: All Australian Audi dealerships will receive training on e-tron products but to begin with the network will be limited to 16 specialist outlets for sales and service.

Audi outlines A3 e-tron sales plan as 16 dealerships sign up for plug-in products

25 Aug 2014

A NETWORK of 16 Australian Audi dealerships are piling a combined $500,000 into preparing for the arrival of the A3 e-tron early next year, while headquarters builds marketing momentum around the product.

The half-million dollars being invested by the 16 e-tron sales and service centres will mainly cover showroom and service bay infrastructure such as charging points, sales and aftersales training for staff and high-voltage training for specialist technicians.

Audi Australia managing director Andrew Doyle said the e-tron network services the areas in which the company expects the most e-tron sales, including metropolitan locations and major regional centres.

Speaking with GoAuto at an e-tron preview event on Hamilton Island last week, Mr Doyle said the 16 dealers are “very keen to take on e-tron”.

“There is of course an investment on their side as well for charging points and so-on and that’s the network we’re going to start with, but e-tron will expand over time as well so we may decide in the future that we need more dealers on board and we’re being very open with our network about that as well.”

Mr Doyle said the rest of the 38-outlet strong Audi Australia network will also be provided with some level of e-tron training.

“We’ll train all of our service technicians and sales consultants so they are up to speed with it … everyone else (across the Audi network) is getting at least the basic information of the program.”

Audi Australia product planner for the A3 range Matthew Dale said there have already been around 100 expressions of interest in the e-tron, out of which he expected to gain a number of sales to “early adopters”.

“We are predicting 10-15 (sales) a month to begin with and then obviously when the vehicle is more established in the market it will probably increase,” he said.

So far this year Audi has sold on average around 350 A3 Sportbacks (and more recently sedans) per month, meaning Mr Dale’s prediction for the e-tron would account for just four per cent of A3 volume.

Mr Doyle said Audi does not have “lofty ambitions” for A3 e-tron sales, “but what we think it is is offering a fantastic best-of-both-worlds ability”.

“I think people are really appreciating its performance figures, its efficiency figures, the fact it is relatively normal to what they’re used to and how we make the experience so simple for them … let’s see before the end of the year how many orders we start to get in.”

Asked whether volumes would be deliberately limited as Audi has done with some niche models in the past, Mr Doyle said he did not believe the A3 e-tron will be severely limited in quantity.

“But it isn’t something that we want to push too hard. Of course I believe, in my personal opinion, it will be very successful – we should be able to, depending on world-wide success of the car, be able to get hold of additional volume if needed but we’ll see.”

From a marketing perspective, Audi started the ball rolling with its biggest event of the year, Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, where five left-hand-drive, German-registered pre-production A3 e-trons have been on display and used for media preview drives.

Around 1500 Race Week visitors experienced rides in the four e-trons offered as shuttle transport around Hamilton Island from an e-tron hub providing product information to prospective customers and providing smoothies dreamed up by Audi’s celebrity chef ambassadors Kylie Kwong, Matt Moran and Shannon Bennett.

Audi also held an e-tron barbecue with break-dancing show in front of the car display and ran a competition to win an A3 e-tron for a month plus return flights to Hamilton Island and a night’s stay in the resort’s top-shelf Qualia accommodation.

The next stage will be a pre-launch program including the opportunity to drive left-hand-drive, pre-production A3 e-trons on a special circuit at Port Melbourne in November.

“We will also offer in dealerships around the country some special pre-launch events where the customers can come and look at the car and understand the car,” said Mr Doyle.

“If you take away all those questions you have in your head (about switching to a plug-in hybrid) it’s really our job to make the proposition very simple.”

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