Keogh wasn't making specific predictions, but it's been a long while since we've heard such a high-level Audi executive act like such a troubadour for the electric vehicle future. As long-time readers will remember, we used to hear things like this from Nissan's Carlos Ghosn, but public predictions have taken a bit of a back seat recently. It's promising to hear reasonable optimism again.
"This is the reality as we see it." - Scott Keogh
"When you look at what needs to happen and you look at what we see happening in the marketplace, we're probably looking at a world where 25 percent of Audi's sales, over the next ten years, just to throw out a rough point in the future, are either going to be full electric or have some plug," Keogh said. "This is the reality as we see it."
The reason Keogh is so positive is because Audi thinks the E-Tron Quattro concept is going to birth one heck of an EV. Whatever it's called when it arrives – it's unlikely to be the Q6, as some rumors have it. Internally, Audi is calling it the C-BEV, since it is a C-segment Battery Electric Vehicle – the concept previews a luxury all-electric vehicle with a range of over 300 miles. No one is talking about the price yet, but Audi of America's director of product management, Filip Brabec, did say that the sweet spot for the pricing is in the range of how mainstream luxury vehicles are priced today. "If you can put a car in the market that's priced right ... people are going to want to buy it," Keogh said. Read into all of that what you will.
It's not just the price that's going to be right. Keogh said that the key point is changing hearts and minds to want electric vehicles. That means tripling down on public infrastructure (see more below) and making sure the car itself is amazing. "Everyone knows, in the history of the world, launch a defining, game-changing product, in whatever category it bloody is, and - boom - the world changes," Keogh said. "I'm convinced that's what our engineers are doing. It's a vehicle that's going to put a smile on your face and it's going to go bang. When something goes bang, people watch and they want to be a part of the bang. And away we go."
To get to 20-25 percent electric sales, you'd think Audi is setting the stage today, right? That's exactly what's happening with the roll-out of the Audi A3 E-Tron this fall (that car should arrive at dealers within the next 60 days). Of the over 210 Audi dealers in the US, less than 10 have not signed up to be ready to sell the plug-in A3. That means these dealers have got a number of Level 2 EV chargers on site (in the parking lot, the service area, and in the show room, for example) and there are salespeople there who are trained to answer questions about the plug-in car. This means that when the C-BEV arrives in the US, it will be a 50-state car. Audi is also getting ready to work on some sort of 150-kW fast charging network with its partners in the SAE Combo standard. Exactly what that network will look like is unclear, but it's unlikely to be an Audi-branded series of chargers, à la Tesla. Still, Audi has said that the C-BEV will be capable of charging at that rate, so things are happening behind the scenes.
Audi isn't saying how many electric models it will need to have to hit the 25 percent level other than it will need at least one more all-electric model. In other words, it's time to paying a bit more attention to Audi on the electric vehicle front.