Audi wants to ease a customer’s transition from a petrol/diesel SUV to an e-tron by offering multiple service, warranty, RSA, buyback and charging plans.
The Audi e-tron has been launched in India with prices starting at Rs 1 crore (ex-showroom), marking the German marque’s foray into the EV space in the country. And while awareness about electrification is on the rise, some concerns amongst buyers still remain when it comes to adopting the new technology.
e-tron gets an 8 year/1,60,000km battery warranty, complimentary 5 year RSA
Customers can sell their e-trons back to the company within a 3 year period
e-tron designed to look like any other modern Audi SUV
“Our studies show that there is a lot of anxiety, as well as questions, in the customers’ minds before they buy electric cars. So, at least before EVs become common in everyday life, there will be apprehensions about them. So, we have worked on multiple fronts when it comes to electrification,” Balbir Singh Dhillon, head of Audi India, told Autocar India in a recent interview. As such, the company is trying to boost customer confidence in EVs by offering benefits and packages for aftersales, roadside assistance (RSA) and charging.
Multiple service, warranty and buyback choices
Dhillon mentioned that the “fear of unknown” among car buyers is the first hurdle in accepting EVs. “This is one of the factors that came to us – what will be the repair cost, what happens to my battery, and so on.” To quell such apprehensions, the company has introduced various schemes.
The e-tron comes with a standard vehicle warranty of 2 years, with the battery pack getting an 8 year or 1,60,000km coverage. The vehicle warranty can also be extended till the fifth year.
With aftersales being an important factor in shaping the ownership experience, Audi is offering multiple service plans for a period of 2-5 years. Customers are also promised complimentary road side assistance (RSA) for 5 years, which they can avail anywhere across the country in case of a breakdown.
EVs are still a new concept in India, which means how well they hold their value is something that is relatively unknown. Audi, for its part, is trying to address this ambiguity through a buyback programme. “We will buy your car back if you are not comfortable, after one year at 60 percent (of the original price), after two years at 55 percent and after three years at 50 percent. So, this should make customers comfortable about owning the EV,” detailed the Audi India chief.
Various charging options provided
Charging has always been a sticky point with prospective EV adopters, something that Audi believes can be tackled by providing convenient options. “We are going to give two chargers to each customer. One is a stationary (wall box) charger, which can be installed at the customer’s office or home, in the parking,” said Dhillon. The complimentary, 11kW AC wall box will be offered to those purchasing the e-tron this year. Additionally, Audi is also providing an 11kW AC portable charging cable with each vehicle as standard.
“The second is the portable charger that remains in the car wherever you drive. That charger will have two plug points – you can use one with a five-pin public charging point. And where you don’t have a public charger around, you can also charge with a normal, three-pin point,” he added.
The top-spec e-tron 55 gets a 95kWh battery that can be charged from 0-80 percent in 8.5 hours using an 11kW AC supply. DC fast charging is also possible, with a maximum rate of 150kW, reducing the charging time to just 30 minutes. However, customers are more likely to find a 50kW DC fast charger at public networks, which can fill up the battery to the 80 percent mark in less than 2 hours.
On the public charging side, the carmaker is offering complimentary charging to its customers at Audi showrooms equipped with the facility. It is also installing 50kW fast chargers at “key” Audi India dealerships. The company says that over a 100 chargers will be installed across 75 “key” cities.
Diving deeper, Dhillon explained, “We have already installed 30-plus chargers across our dealerships throughout multiple locations in the country. We are going to use our (VW) Group companies to also look at locations, for instance, let’s say 25 big highways in the country, or the Golden Quadrilateral, wherever there is a mass movement of cars. And we are not going to restrict these chargers for only our e-tron customers. We are making them open for anybody to come and charge their cars, but for our customers, we will make them free (for at least 2021).”
Audi has also worked out a solution for owners who run out of juice out on the road. “Let's say that if you run out of charge, the RSA will reach you and charge your battery with a battery,” stated Dhillon. This should be enough for the EV owners to reach a nearby charging station or service centre and power up further. However, the facility will be available only in six cities, to begin with.
e-tron designed to ease transition from ICE SUVs
The e-tron 50, with a smaller 71kWh battery, is rated to deliver a driving range of 264-379 km on a single charge, as per Europe’s WLTP test procedure. The e-tron 55 sees the same figure rise to 359-484 km. “I think this is good enough for city commute. We don't commute this much in one day, so I personally believe that most of the times, the cars would be charged at home. And they need to be charged just once or twice a week, which is good enough,” said the head of Audi India.Audi looking to reduce the anxiety of EV ownership with the e-tron.
The company has also packed the EV to the gills with equipment. “At the end of the day, we are selling an Audi, and we want our customers to have the same experience which they’ve had with our other (internal combustion engine or ICE) SUVs in the past. The e-tron just happens to have battery and motors instead of an engine. So, we want to give the same experience,” he said.
In that effort, the e-tron has been designed to look like any other modern SUV from Audi, with only a few clues, like the front grille and orange brake calipers, giving it away as an EV. However, this could leave some buyers wanting, who’d also like to instead flaunt the green credentials of their electric vehicle. Still, taking away the pain points of EV ownership is something that will work well for the e-tron.
“I think, the anxiety will be high in the beginning and the slope of anxiety will come down once you run this car for a month or so. Then, it will become any other car,” said Dhillon.