The automaker Audi wants to streamline the transition from a gasoline/diesel SUV to an e-Tron by offering various services, such as warranties, RSAs, and buyback plans. The Audi e-Tron has been launched in India at a starting price of Rs 1 crore (ex-showroom), marking the German marque’s first foray into the domestic electric vehicle market. Although awareness about electrification is on the rise, there are still some concerns among buyers when it comes to embracing the new technology.
“Before purchasing an electric car, customers’ minds are filled with anxiety and questions. EVs are likely to cause some apprehension before they become more common in daily life. Electrification is one part of the project we have been working on,” Balbir Singh Dhillon, head of Audi India, told a reputed auto news source in an interview. So, Audi is offering benefits and packages for aftersales, roadside assistance (RSA) and charging.
EV acceptance may be hampered by the “fear of the unknown” among car purchasers, said Dhillon. He added that “A number of factors came up for us – they were concerned about repair costs, what would happen to my battery, etc. To alleviate these concerns, the company has instituted various schemes. The E-Tron comes with a standard vehicle warranty of 2 years, while the battery pack has a warranty of 8 years or 1,60,000 km. Vehicle warranties may also be extended to the fifth year.”
Audi offers several service plans that cover a span of 2 to 5 years, which has been deemed an important factor to the ownership experience. Furthermore, customers will receive complimentary roadside assistance (RSA) for five years, which they can opt to use anywhere across the country in the event of a breakdown.
In India, EVs are still a relatively new concept, which means they aren’t very well known for their ability to hold their value. Audi, for its part, is trying to resolve this ambiguity through a vehicle buyback program. “Our policy is to buy your car back if you aren’t satisfied with it, after one year at 60 per cent (of the original price), after two years at 55 per cent, and after three years at 50 per cent” said the Audi official. The reassurance by Audi India’s chief executive offered should make customers feel at ease about owning an electric vehicle.
“Audi believes convenient options can help EV users overcome the charging dilemma. We will give each customer two chargers – a stationary one (wall box), that can be installed at business or home or in the parking garage”, added Dhillon.
“Audi will also offer a free 11kW AC wall box with all e-Tron vehicles this year. The second is the portable charger, which can be kept in the car when you’re driving. It will have two hookup points – one can be used with a public five-pin charger. Additionally, you can also charge with a normal, three-pin point if there aren’t any public chargers around,” he said.
Customers can charge the 95kWh battery in less than 8 hours using an 11kW AC supply, or can swiftly charge it to 80 per cent with a 50kW DC fast charger available at public chargers. Both charging options reduce charging time to around 30 minutes in many cases. Additionally, the company is providing complimentary charging to its customers in Audi showrooms with charging stations. Fast chargers of 50kW are also being installed at Audi India dealerships, which the company says will cover over 75 “key” cities.
In addition, Dhillon further elaborated, “We have already installed 30 and more portable chargers on multiple locations throughout the country”. The (VW) Group will also examine the Golden Quadrilateral and any other strong automotive corridor, such as the country’s 25 biggest highways or the Golden Circle, wherever the flow of automobiles is high. And we are not going to restrict these chargers to 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).” It is possible that Audi will offer a solution for owners who lose juice out on the road. “Let’s say the RSA will approach you and charge your battery,” said Dhillon. This should ensure the EV owners can reach a charging station or service centre and charge further.
“According to the European WLTP test procedure, the e-Tron 50 can cover 264-379 km on a single charge, even with a smaller battery size of 71kWh. This same figure is raised to 359-484 km for the E-Tron 55. In my opinion, this is sufficient for city commuting. Our commutes each day aren’t so long that we have to charge the cars at home most of the time. In addition, they require charging only once or twice a week, which is manageable”, explained a representative from Audi India. The e-Tron is designed to ease owners’ anxiety over owning an electric vehicle. EV drivers will also find the vehicle well-equipped. “At the end of the day, we’re advertising an Audi, and we want to give our customers the same experience they have with our other (indoor combustion engine or ICE) SUVs,” an official from Audi said.
As such, the e-Tron has been designed to look like any other Audi SUV, with only a few clues to a Green SUV, like the front grille and orange brake callipers. However, some buyers may want the green credentials of their EV too.
Dhillon said, “I think there will be high levels of anxiety, to begin with, but as it runs for a month or so, the slope of anxiety will come down and it will become like any other car.”