Typically, when automakers start selling their first electric cars, they aren’t as profitable as one might hope. They go into it understanding this, though. EVs are expensive to make, slow to sell at first and often need to be offered at very low prices to attract buyers. So the profitability of new EVs is typically quite low. However, Audi seems to feel that its e-tron SUV, and subsequent e-tron models, will profit as well as any well-equipped diesel SUV in Audi’s lineup.
That’s a bold statement, especially considering that the Audi e-tron might be slow to get its sales wheels turning. At its launch even in Abu Dhabi, though, Audi’s chief of finance Alexander Seitz said that he’s not worried.
“I would not be able to sleep well at night if we did not have a path that takes us to a level of profitability on these cars that is comparable with those of a well-equipped diesel,” he told Automotive News Europe. “And you can assume that I am sleeping well,” Seitz said at a press even in Abu Dhabi t for Audi’s e-tron battery-powered SUV, which the automaker will start delivering to European customers in March.”
In America, the Audi e-tron starts life at $75,795 and €79,900 in Europe. So it’s not a cheap car. But what makes it profitable is Audi’s use of scalable Volkswagen Group architectures. The Audi e-tron is built on the brand’s MLB Evo architecture, the same one that underpins everything from the Audi Q7 to the Volkswagen Atlas to the Bentley Bentayga. So the chassis has basically already paid for itself. It’s of course heavily modified to accommodate the electric powertrain and batteries but it’s still a very affordable chassis for Audi to use.
Seitz also claims that customers will not only buy enough e-trons to keep it profitable but that they will own them for a long time. Software updates that keep the car modern and fresh will help with this.
Audi also has at least two new e-tron models in the mix. The upcoming Audi e-tron GT, as well as an unnamed electric model set to be revealed during a Super Bowl commercial, will be built on a new EV architecture, built in-joint Porsche. So that product sharing will keep costs down and profitability up, while also maintaining a quality product.
We all know that Audi is new to the EV game, being the last of the mainstream premium Germans to offer a fully electric car, but it seems as if it’s catching on quickly.