In a bid to boost profitability.
Turns out, you won't be able to find Audi's first electric SUV, the e-tron, at the dealership. Instead of filling lots with expensive pre-configured e-trons, Audi dealers in the US will be taking refundable $1,000 reservations. In a way, it's nice for shoppers in the sense that they won't be beholden to dealership allocations or paying for floor plan expenses that normally accompany new car sales. However, it's unclear how the company plans to handle test drive requests.
According to Automotive News, the plan could help Audi and its 303 American dealerships accomplish what almost no one has been able to, which is to consistently sell electric vehicles at a profit. It's believed that the experiment will dictate how Audi decides to sell other fully-electric vehicles, which are planned to follow the e-tron over the next few years.
"I think it would be a beautiful world if you can go to a dealer — and we'd like to find that beautiful world — with zero floorplan [expense] and proper, full gross on the car," said Audi of America President Scott Keogh. "This would be a beautiful state; so let's go see if we can find this dream state."
The e-tron will be built in Brussels, Belgium, at a former Volkswagen facility that's been repurposed as an "electromobility hub." Both vehicles and batteries are produced at the facility which is expected to cut down on time needed to unite the car with the heart of its powertrain. However, Keogh says that US customers will still be made to wait as sales will totally be dependant on global demand.
Starting out, there will be an initial First Edition model which will carry a 999-unit production run and will be priced slightly higher at $87,695. The base model Premium Plus e-tron will retail for $75,795, while the top-shelf Prestige model clocks in at $82,795.