E-tron Q8 is Audi’s big play this year

E-tron moniker will be added to more South African Audi models this year.

January is traditionally the report card season for automakers. All the previous year’s sales are totalled and collated to see who did well. And perhaps, not so well.

The automotive industry struggled tremendously with semiconductor shortages in 2022. Added to that was colossal production price inflation in Germany due to the energy price escalations in Europe.

Despite these challenges, Audi sold 1.6m cars globally. And of 118 196 of those were battery-electric. The percentage remains small, but the demand curve is real.

The global increase in buyers for electric powertrain Audis was 44% in 2022. Despite being the smallest of Germany’s three luxury car brands, Audi is terrifically ambitious with its electrification efforts. Even in the South African market, which is beset with intransigence from government and navigating a generational electricity crisis.

Audi knows that its wealthy customer profile is most eligible for off-gridding. That means the prevailing Eskom power crisis probably won’t narrow demand for Audi’s electric vehicles. Why? Most potential owners will have the convenience of reliable home recharging due to solar installations with battery capacity.

E-tron Q8s for the smart money

Although Audi is at risk of losing the established sales volumes of its smaller luxury cars, such as the A1/3 hatchbacks, A4 sedan and Q3 crossovers, the medium-term strategy is clear. It wants to market and retail the most profitable electric cars.

Large vehicles are where the margins are. Whether they are powered by liquid fuelled engines or batteries. And Audi knows that big SUVs and crossovers will be most profitable. Its plan for 2023 is to introduce Q8 e-tron derivatives. These electrified versions of established Audi models compete in the lucrative large luxury vehicle space.

Although the e-tron GT has been a credible launch vehicle for the brand’s electric vehicle ambitions in South Africa, infrastructure realities limit its adoption.

With South African road conditions regressing, luxury vehicle buyers want the increased ride height to sight and survive those pothole strikes, instead of flatting a tyre or breaking a wheel. And Audi’s Q8 e-tron crossovers will provide exactly that.

Lance Branquinho


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