Audi Australia is ready to invest in infrastructure to support its upcoming plug-in electric e-tron and full-electric passenger cars as momentum behind the electric vehicle movement increases.
Audi announced last year that e-tron variants are likely to be introduced across almost all model lines in the range, making it a key drivetrain pillar to sit alongside diesel and petrol drivetrains.
The newly arrived Audi A3 e-tron marks the first appearance of an e-tron model in Australia, with the Q7 e-tron set to follow. An all-electric Q6 e-tron, reportedly based off the next Q5's MLB platform, is also in the works.
When asked about the viability of an all-electric SUV for the Australian market, Audi Australia general manager of corporate communications, Anna Burgdorf said "An all-electric SUV...as long as there is demand. Then we'll look at it. Particularly an SUV, that's where the appetite of the market is and we see our job as a growing national sales company to be there to meet the demands of customers."
"For us the important thing now is the launch of the e-tron. It's happening as we speak. Cars are starting to slowly arrive and certainly we have seen electric cars coming into Australia for a number of years now, so it's not as new and unusual as it once would have been.
The reason an all-electric SUV is so important for the brand is partly due to the US market. A number of US states are indicating plans to introduce a ruling that 15 per cent of all vehicles sold by 2025 must be fully electric.
Another reasons for the rush to an all-electric SUV is indirectly due to the success of the Tesla Model S. The Silicon Valley company is also readying its all-electric Model X SUV for launch and, given the upward trend of SUV sales globally, there is reason for manufacturers to be concerned.
Asked whether Audi Australia would be willing to invest locally to support e-tron models, Burgdorf said, "As a disruptor brand, they [Tesla] really are leading the way and doing an amazing job. I think the facilities and the infrastructure for electric vehicles will increase anyway, but it's happening fairly slowly."
"From our perspective we need to understand how many people really want to buy those sorts of cars before we make decisions to invest. We are not afraid to make investments in the market, which we have shown with all of our dealer networks.
"An all-electric vehicle for Australia may take some time to really get some big momentum."