Audi has admitted that its much-vaunted e-tron SUV won’t actually touch down in Australia until late in 2020.
Launched in late 2018 and due here mid-way through 2019, the company says that the five-door, five-seat electric SUV will now arrive in the third quarter of 2020. Audi’s general manager of communications Shaun Cleary told WhichCar that while the e-tron is “hotly anticipated” here, market forces have forced another delay.
“It’s a combination of being such a new vehicle; global demand particularly in Europe has been really strong, and it’s already established in those markets, so you can understand why the volume has been directed to those markets,” said Cleary.
Audi Australia’s product pricing and planning director Shawn Ticehurst also confirmed the delay, but reckons there is a silver lining.
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“We wanted to make sure we can launch it with supply as well,” he said. “There’s nothing worse with launching a car like that with a big bang, and all of a sudden your supply flow is not strong.
“The other advantage for us is that we can launch the e-tron and the e-tron Sportback at the same time. It’ll be good to do that.”
“The Sportback concept has been strong for us going back to A5, which is now in its second generation of Sportback and growing nicely,” explained Ticehurst. “A7 Sportback is strong, Q3 Sportback and now e-tron Sportback in 2020… it’s a good concept that’s rolling out across different parts of the range. “
Ticehurst denied that there was any other reason that was holding the e-tron back.
“It’s just supply – no other reason,” he said.
The market has matured even in the 14 months since the e-tron was unveiled with huge fanfare in San Francisco. Arch-rival Mercedes-Benz, for example, has rolled out its EQC to much fanfare, even claiming Wheel’s coveted Car of the Year prize along the way.
However, Ticehurst believes that Audi is still in the frame with premium car buyers.
“Without a doubt there is an appetite for electric cars, and you hear people talk about at that premium end especially, about looking forward to one of their next cars being an electric car,” he said. “It’s the conversations you hear at barbeques and parties; the minute someone knows you’re a ‘car guy’, they’ll say ‘I’m really keen for my next car to be electric’. It’s in people’s mindsets now, where perhaps it wasn’t even two years ago. They are fascinated by it.”
Those conversations may have already put Australia in a position where hybrid cars may prove to be a dormant technology faster than initially predicted.
“Australia’s ready to go all electric,” said Ticehurst. “PHEVs are great, and they serve a good purpose, but I’m sensing that Australians are ready to say ‘if we are going to go electric, let’s just go electric straight away’. We don’t have the incentives that exist in other markets that encourage people to buy PHEVs, so people [here] are going all the way.”