Audi looking for Tesla-style, non-traditional way to sell EVs

How The German Brand Gets To 25% Sales Will Be Fascinating To Watch

Audi e-tron quattro concept
Audi e-tron quattro concept / Image Credit: Audi
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As part of Audi's notable EV emphasis at the Los Angeles Auto Show last week, there was a bit of a secondary discussion on just how the automaker might get to the point where 25 percent of all of its sales would be electric vehicles. After all, no major automaker has figured out how to crack into the double-digit percentage of plug-in vehicle sales. The problem might be, as The New York Times noted recently, that traditional dealerships just don't know how to sell EVs. While no one at Audi was saying that the automaker is going to open up its own EV stores, like Tesla has, but two Audi of America executives were certainly warm to a different style of how an automaker can encourage EV sales.

Filip Brabec, AoA's director of product management, said that Audi is at least considering making changes, including some sort of different dealership experience and perhaps a new kind of test drive. "The traditional automotive approach is not necessarily working," Brabec said. "A lot of it has to do with the complexity of the product and the complexity of the offer and it's difficult, I think, to bring that into a classical dealership and sort of treat is as another car and off we go. I think there needs to be some differences in how we go in the future."

AoA president Scott Keogh said that Tesla has shown the rest of the industry how to make selling EVs a complete experience. It's not just about the car, he acknowledged. "I think we have to give Tesla credit where it's deserved," he said. "I think the charging network, at least from a public relations point of view, is quite strong and that's definitely added to the message." So many automakers want to have that, "Tesla fighter," as we've heard over and over recently, but Keogh hinted that Audi could do a better job than Tesla is doing today. "I think they've done a good job of looking at the full package. I think we have some resources and the network and everything else that we can put a fuller package together."

The most important part is getting people into the cars, Brabec said. "I think exposing consumers to EVs, letting them experience EVs is another big aspect, and probably different than we have today, because test driving a car today is a very conventional thing. It's probably not going to be as conventional with EVs, particularly if you've never been in one before." We can't wait.

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