Electric Cars

Here's why you won't find Audi E-Trons sitting around the dealership

Customers might have to wait a hot minute to get their cars, though.

Audi

When you go to a dealer, the cars you see on the lot are actually owned by the dealer, which has to purchase them from the manufacturer. This can end up costing a fair bit of money, so Audi has an idea for its upcoming E-Tron that could reduce these costs, but it puts buyers in an interesting position.

Audi will not foist its E-Tron upon its dealers in the traditional way, Automotive News reports, citing an interview with Scott Keogh, Audi of America's president. Instead of requiring dealers to purchase inventory, Audi's dealers will only need to take orders for the E-Tron.

In a sense, it's a hedge against potentially unprofitable electric cars. There won't be any cars languishing away on lots, which can be costly for dealers who can't sell cars shortly after they arrive -- dealers generally purchase cars from the manufacturer on credit, and when a vehicle sits for a long time, it accrues interest that can affect a dealer's bottom line. Not stocking cars on lots means less upfront costs for dealers, who may very well pass over those vehicles in their floor plans in favor of gas-powered models that sell quickly and earn better profits.

This way, if the E-Tron doesn't sell in the way Audi hopes, dealers won't have bet the farm on 'em.

Audi

But it comes at a cost to the buyer. Keogh told Automotive News that after a customer places their order, the wait will be determined by global demand, which "could stretch for months or even a year or more." The entire world's supply of E-Trons will come from a single plant in Brussels, so it's not obscene to suggest that there might be quite a backlog if the E-Tron proves popular out of the gate.

At that point, it would require a very serious buyer to wait with bated breath for their EV to arrive. Some buyers might then skip over the EV entirely and just grab something on the lot, because not everybody has the luxury of waiting months for a new car to arrive.

Audi E-Tron orders can be placed today at any of Audi's 303 US dealers, requiring a $1,000 refundable deposit, even though deliveries won't still until mid-2019. Its pair of electric motors will scoot the E-Tron to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds, but range and specific power numbers are still not public. In Europe, E-Trons will get the same Level 3 semi-autonomous Traffic Jam Pilot system that the new A8 has, but us Yanks won't be as lucky.

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