It is no mystery that EVs and plug-in hybrids can save you a ton of money on refined dino juice, but there are added costs associated with these vehicles that some buyers simply cannot overlook. Things like the long charging times or purchasing an expensive in-home charging station and added electricity costs to charge these vehicles are all legit concerns. Audi recognizes these concerns as it approaches the 2015 release of its first plug-in hybrid — the A3 Sportback e-tron — and is finding ways to alleviate the concerns of prospective buyers with its Audi Energy program.
The first issue at hand is the long charging times on a residential outlet or the massive cost of a 240-volt charging station. Audi Energy is tackling this issue by offering its Level 2 in-home charger standard with all A3 e-trons. It is also working with Bosch Automotive Service Solutions to add the required 240-volt outlet in the desired charging area in the buyers home and installing the charger. Unfortunately, this installation is not included with the purchase of the A3 Sportback e-tron, but I assume it will be at a discounted rate.
The next concern is the added electricity used to charge your A3 Sportback e-tron, which in some cases could approach the cost of fuel over time. Audi Energy is taking on this concern by working with SunPower to install highly efficient solar panels on buyers’ houses. These will not be free, but SunPower has a wide array of lease, finance and purchase options that can help buyers afford them. These super-efficient panels produce up to 75 percent more power over 25 years than traditional panels and can help offset the charging cost. Like the charger installation, I assume the cost of these panels will be discounted with the purchase of an A3 e-tron.
Audi will help out buyers in Africa and California by including the purchase of carbon offset certificates through a partnership with 3Degrees with the A3 e-tron. These certificates help offset the emissions associated with producing, delivering and the first 50,000 miles of driving the A3 e-tron.
With this new Audi Energy program in full swing, it looks as if the German auto manufacturer has most customer concerns handled. Releasing this program early into the e-tron life is a great idea, as it will ease the release and sale of addition e-tron models in the future.