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Government support needed for EV take-up: Audi

Green machine: Audi Australia sold about 100 examples of the A3 e-tron Sportback in its first full year on sale.

Audi says e-tron sales to remain low until government takes action

Audi logo27 Feb 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON

AUDI Australia says it is committed to rolling out its suite of electrified e-tron models Down Under despite the federal government’s inaction on introducing buyer incentives to encourage consumers to purchase more environmentally friendly cars.

The German prestige car-maker has already launched the petrol-electric plug-in A3 e-tron Sportback in Australia, and a Q7 e-tron is expected sometime this year, with more plug-in and fully electrified models also expected.

Audi AG announced last year that it would push for 25 to 30 per cent of its total global sales to be made up of electric vehicles by 2025 as part of a new strategic plan that followed the Volkswagen Group diesel emissions scandal from 2015.

A number of all-electric models are set to join the four-ringed brand’s stable in the coming years, with the first set to be the Q6 SUV that will take on Tesla’s Model X.

Speaking with GoAuto at the Q2 crossover launch last week, Audi Australia general manager of corporate communications Anna Burgdorf highlighted Audi’s history with electrification that dates back to the 1980s, and discussed the challenges in introducing the new technology Down Under.

“It’s about people’s attitude and wanting to change and try new things and potentially having more sustainable modes of transport,” she said. “There is a lot of change still to come. Hybrid and e-tron play a really important role.

Because if we don’t stay ahead of the curve, we will find ourselves fossils. We need to stay relevant to where the market is today.”

While some European countries, including the Netherlands, as well as regions of the United States such as California, have introduced tax and other incentives to try and encourage buyers to look at alternative-energy vehicles, so far the Australian federal government has not made any moves to follow suit.

Ms Burgdorf said that peak industry body the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) was playing an “important role” in pushing the government to look at incentives, adding that the German car-maker would also like the government to look at abolishing the luxury car tax.

“Changes have to be made in order to encourage people to think differently about transport, and about cars,” she said. “Ideally the government would get behind certain incentives, but we would also like to see the government get behind a reduction in the luxury car tax because that will make it easier for people to buy more efficient cars, with more research behind them, like the premium brands do, we invest in research but that comes with a cost.”

Support from the government would give buyers a push in the direction of electric vehicles, according to Ms Burgdorf, who added that the volume for models such as the A3 e-tron would remain low unless the cars were made more affordable.

“I think there needs to be some change from the government perspective because for us the A3 e-tron will always be niche because it’s reasonably expensive, because the technology is expensive.

“There is that element of encouraging people to purchase and more easily make that leap to cleaner technology with a bit of government support behind it. We are always part of the ongoing discussions, we are always interested in what the FCAI is talking to the government about on that front and certainly at Audi AG it is something we consistently talk to the factory about.”

GoAuto reported in September last year that Audi had sold about 100 examples of the A3 e-tron in its first year on sale. It arrived in Australia in August 2015.

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