The good news is that Audi has confirmed that it is trying to move mountains to get the Q4 e-tron launched in Australia sooner rather than later.
But the bad news is that the company’s first mainstream electric vehicle (EV) to ride on a dedicated pure-electric architecture rather than using a modified internal combustion engine platform won’t be available before the first or second quarter of 2024 at the very earliest, meaning it’s still up to 20 months or so away from your local dealer.
Speaking at the launch of the decidedly un-EV SQ7 and SQ8 V8 twin-turbo V8 petrol performance luxury SUVs, Audi Australia director, Jeff Mannering, revealed that this is partly due to this country being largely incompatible with his company’s global EV rollout strategy.
“Australia as a market doesn’t really have emissions targets,” he explained. “So, where the focus for the factory is: ‘Where are the countries that you could get penalties, or there could be issues, with not meeting emissions targets? Where do we need to focus?’
“(Audi AG) is focussing on these markets (instead).”
With one of the Q4 e-tron’s key competitors, the Tesla Model Y, rising to the top of the Australian passenger car sales charts in September, the potential for an Audi rival to get in on that immense and unexpected popularity is not lost on the recently-installed local boss.
“If I had a wish, I’d love it to be here now… whether we can pull it off, we’re still open to discussions,” Mr Mannering admitted.
“We’re fighting hard for it now, there’s a market, and that’s what the customers want. Let’s go as hard as we can to get the right car for the market.”
However, with production capacity severely limited and other countries desperate for Q4 e-tron supply, Mr Mannering revealed that Audi Australia has set itself a goal and is working as hard as possible to achieve it.
“(The Q4 e-tron) won’t be here next year,” he said bluntly.
“Production may start next year, it could, but the car won’t be introduced here next year. If I had a wish, I would love it to be here early 2024, and that’s what we’re pushing for, but I cannot confirm it (at this stage).
“It’s reliant on the capacity for the factory to be able to build the car for us.
“I would love to have it tomorrow. Is it going to happen? Absolutely not. It’s just a structure of having to position it correctly and you have to get it on time… we’re in the middle of discussions with Audi (in Germany) and we are pushing as hard as we can.
“I think it’s from brand position you have the right cars in the market to compete with competitors.”
Audi Australia product manager, Matt Dale, added that while the global semiconductor crisis as well as COVID-related production hold-ups are filling order books worldwide, the company is struggling to supply markets where the Q4 e-tron is already on sale.
“It’s an extremely popular segment globally, and obviously with one factory building to that demand, it’s (very difficult),” he revealed.
“As Jeff mentioned, markets that have to put battery EVs into the market to get carbon dioxide emissions compliance are obviously on the agenda list, and Australia is looking like it might be one of those.
“With the current shift in government (policy) change we are seeing some throughput there, which I think bodes well for us and it bodes well for our argumentation.
“But we are fighting every day to get that car to market.”
Mr Dale went on to say that the Q4 e-tron would be ideal for our market.
“The electric vehicle market has been growing very rapidly in Australia,” he said. “It’s been 65 per cent growth year-on-year… and a lot of that growth has been in the (small and medium EV) segments.
“We hope we will have that in the future.”
Revealed early last year globally, with production commencing in Germany as well as China (for that market), the Q4 e-tron shares the Volkswagen Group’s MEB all-electric architecture with the VW ID.4 and Skoda Enyaq crossovers.
Along with a more sensible SUV wagon, it is also available as a Sportback SUV coupe, as per most of the brand’s Q-badged models.
As we’ve outlined before, there is an entry-level 35 producing 125kW/310Nm, followed by a mid-range 40 developing 150kW/310Nm. These rear-motor and rear-wheel-drive grades are also joined by the all-wheel-drive 45 quattro and 50 quattro versions making 195kW/425Nm and 220kW/460Nm respectively, featuring an e-motor on each axle.
The 35 features a 52kWh lithium-ion battery pack with between 341km (wagon) and 349km (Sportback) of driving range according to the WLTP regime, while the rest use a 77kWh unit that can offer from 488km to 520km WLPT, depending on spec.
The Q4 e-tron’s acceleration from zero to 100km/h varies between 6.2 and 9.0 seconds as you rise up the range, top speed is either 160km/h or 180km/h depending on RWD or AWD configuration, while WLTP range is between 341km and 520km (for the 40 RWD).
At 4588mm long (with a 2760mm wheelbase), 1865mm wide and 1632mm tall, the wagon’s boot has a cargo capacity varies from 520 litres to 1490L, compared to the Sportback’s 535-1460L.
Key rivals are increasing on a seemingly monthly basis, and include the Mercedes-Benz EQA and EQB, Polestar 2, Genesis GV60, Volvo C40/XC40 Recharge Pure Electric, Lexus RZ, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Ford Mustang Mach-E, BMW iX1, Jaguar I-Pace, Subaru Solterra and Toyota bZ4X.
We’re still up to a year or more away from pricing details being announced should Audi be successful in getting the Q4 e-tron here in a timely manner, but don’t expect change from $85,000 if these competitors are any reliable indicators.