And it will arrive on schedule.
Audi made a big splash at the 2018 LA Auto Show with the reveal of the e-tron GT Concept, which was announced by Ironman himself, Robert Downey Jr. Though the e-tron GT is very pretty, it is still a concept and will not reach production for quite some time. Instead, we wanted to focus on a model that is arriving soon so we sat down with Matt Moustafei, Product Manager for Audi's first EV model, the e-tron SUV.
The announcement of the e-tron was big news for Audi, one that is already showing tremendous promise. Audi decided to take $1,000 preorder deposits on the e-tron instead of simply stocking it at dealerships. In the latest reports, Audi says it has already taken over 10,000 preorders for its first electric SUV.
We asked why Audi made the decision to offer the e-tron as a preorder instead of a traditional model to be stocked at dealers. "Honestly, for us on the product side, it's awesome to see exactly what the customers are ordering," Moustafei explained. "
"Typically when we launch a car through the normal process, we'll pick what we think the customers will want. Having this experience where the customer can pick exactly what they want we're able to get a better picture of what they are ordering in terms of future model year revisions and future electric vehicles, in general, to meet exactly what the customer wants." This should help Audi stay on track (in terms of production) by building only what customers have ordered.
We've played around with the e-tron configurator and we managed to price it over $85,000. Since Audi is taking pre-orders from customers, we asked Moustafei how he expects most customers to option their e-trons.
At launch, the e-tron is available in two trim levels - the $74,800 Premium Plus model and the $81,800 Prestige. "We were expecting a pretty even split between Premium Plus and Prestige but people are really speccing the cars up," Moustafei said. "You get more than everything you would ever truly need for your day-to-day life in the Premium Plus - we are right in line with the competition in terms of pricing and what our offer is."
Audi has made it easier than ever with cars like the new A6, A7, A8, Q8, and e-tron all offering luxury features like ventilated seats as standard on Premium Plus trims. Moustafei said "the things you are really getting with the Prestige are massaging seats, head-up display, and the Valcona leather," and a few other options. After reviewing several cars with massaging seats, we can see why the majority of customers are quick to move up to the e-tron Prestige trim.
We were also a bit concerned when we got word of potential delays on the e-tron due to software issues and renegotiations with battery supplier LG Chem. While Audi didn't comment on their 3rd party suppliers, Moustafei assured us "from the US perspective, there is no delay. We are still sticking with our first half of next year commitment."
Finally, we wanted to wrap up with a fun subject regarding the e-tron's colors. Moustafei said, "I imagine we might have an Audi Exclusive program for the e-tron at some point but it won't be available at launch." We had a look at the e-tron configurator and it does offer an exclusive paint option for $3,900. For now, 10 colors are available including the exciting shade of Antigua Blue Metallic, which is exclusive to the e-tron. There are also "e-tron specific features you see like the brake calipers colored in e-tron orange. We'll keep that theme with our electric vehicles moving forward."
We're sure that as more e-tron models hit the road, we'll continue to see more exclusive paint colors and a further expansion of exterior options. We asked Moustafei if he could ever imagine the whole car painted in e-tron orange and he said: "if customers want it, let us know and we'll look into it." He even laughed as he told us how some customers asked if they could order the camouflage wrap that was on the e-tron prior to its reveal, so there's no telling what customers may order from the Audi Exclusive program.