Audi Claims Upcoming E-Tron Won’t Be Available at Dealerships

The Germans are trimming the fat on profit margins by taking the dealership out of the e-tron equation.

byRob Stumpf| UPDATED Sep 25, 2018 9:06 AM
Audi Claims Upcoming E-Tron Won’t Be Available at Dealerships

Audi's newest electric SUV is headed to consumers next year, but they shouldn't expect to just visit a dealer and walk away with a car on the same day. No, Audi is changing its buying process so that the e-tron never touches a dealer showroom or sits in a lot.

According to Automotive News, offering the e-tron in an order-only fashion enables Audi to effectively trim its footprint, eliminating the need for dealer lots to store and showcase its cars. The move is designed to maximize all profits surrounding the e-tron while modernizing the way vehicles are purchased, significantly reducing Audi's cost overhead for vehicles moving forward and potentially signaling the beginning of the end for dealerships as we know it.

"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," said Scott Keogh, Audi of America's President. "This would be a beautiful state; so let's go see if we can find this dream state."

Potential customers interested in purchasing an e-tron can still visit a dealership in order to place the refundable $1,000 deposit which secures their place on Audi's waiting list. Or, if the same person doesn't want to leave the comfort of their home, the same deposit can be made online through Audi's website.

This model embodies a similar approach to Tesla's direct-to-consumer sales methodology where the traditional car dealership doesn't play as important of a role in the purchasing and servicing of a vehicle as it does with other automakers. Although Audi doesn't claim to offer a solution as inclusive as Tesla's approach to vehicle buying, the e-tron follows closely in what will effectively be Audi's first unofficial trial at a similar model.

Audi's up-front financial commitment to electrification has been substantial, however, the potential for untapped services and cost-savings models present in the emerging industry is considerable.  The German luxury automaker has begun to investigate different ways to profit, including launching a "premium" charging network, an all-inclusive vehicle subscription service, and now a closer feel to what may eventually become a direct-to-consumer sales model.