Outside of Tesla, Nissan and Chevrolet, very few automakers seem willing to stock electric cars on dealership (Tesla stores) lots here in the U.S., so news of Audi opting for special-order only for the e–tron is not unexpected.
Audi of America President Scott Keogh attempts to downplay this news and spin it into an advantage, but in all honesty, his words don't sway our opinion.
Basically, Audi wants to be cautious with the e-tron, which seems to indicate to us that it will be a money loser for the automaker. But here's what Keogh states:
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. This would be a beautiful state; so let's go see if we can find this dream state.
The same network that got us to double our sales, and got us to 200,000 units [annually], is going to be the same network that's going to lead this electric revolution for us. And that's a massive competitive advantage — an onboard and engaged network.
All of this comes off sounding rather odd to us. In fact, Keogh basically told Automotive News that the idea is to limit back-end costs to sell electric vehicles for a profit.
Audi e-tron buyers will be able to place an order at all 303 U.S. Audi dealers. A $1,000 refundable deposit is required though (online or in-person) and wait times are dependent on demand, which Keogh suggests could be months or even years.
The e-tron officially goes on sale in the U.S. in mid-2019, but if demand is high, delivers could start sometime in 2020 then. Provided the sold e-tron factory in Belgium can crank them out and ship quickly.
We're thinking this method won't work well for Audi, as we can't see buyers willing to wait and wait and...What works for Tesla won't necessarily work for others.