In the past 20 years of development of China's luxury car market, the BBA trio has long held a market share of more than 70%. Such an exaggerated market share once led outsiders to believe that BBA could still reign supreme in the era of new energy cars, replicating its success in fuel cars to the high-end new energy car market.
However, the entry of new forces at the head of the market has changed the rules of the game for the entire high-end new energy vehicle market and has greatly changed people's psychological perception of high-end new energy vehicles. The BBA, which was supposed to be the "leading player" in the high-end new energy vehicle market, was even at risk of being reduced to a "supporting role" in the market, although this does not seem to be the case in light of the latest market performance.
The May passenger car retail figures show that the Audi Q4 e-tron and BMW iX3 are among the top 10 pure electric SUVs, while the usual "best sellers" such as the Azera ES6, Avita 11 and the M5 EV are not on this list.
More notably, the Audi Q4 e-tron took first place in the premium compact SUV category, which is definitely a weighty achievement. As the premium new energy market has been shrouded in the shadow of the new forces for the past few years, with some new brands commanding premiums even higher than traditional luxury brands, the market is in dire need of a "new enlightenment movement" to break out of the shackles of perception formed by the new forces.
Now, the performance of Audi Q4 e-tron means that the high-end new energy vehicle market has started to return to rationality. In the future, a mature high-end new energy market must not be a one-man show for the head new power, but a stage for multiple forces such as first-tier luxury brands and head new power to compete.
At the same time, from the perspective of the Audi brand itself, the Q4 e-tron's strong counterattack on the market also means that its electric vehicle strategy in the Chinese market has entered a new stage of development.
Starting with the Q4 e-tron, Audi has truly fired its first shot at the new energy market
As one of the only traditional luxury brands able to open up the high-end new energy market in China, Audi's road to market breakthrough has not been a straightforward one, but one with many twists and turns.
On November 18, 2019, Audi launched the Q2L e-tron on the MQB platform and the e-tron on the MLB platform. The strong fuel-engine styling, low range and "vanilla" pricing strategy sealed the fate of these two models early on.
To date, the Q2L e-tron and e-tron have not really entered the mainstream of the Chinese high-end new energy market, especially the entry-level product Q2L e-tron, which has to some extent affected the image of Audi's pure electric products in the minds of customers and dissuaded many potential customers.
In July 2022, Audi finally launched its first truly competitive pure electric product in China, the Q4 e-tron, a compact SUV built on the exclusive MEB pure electric platform. Because before coming to China, the Audi Q4 e-tron had already proven itself in several developed markets in Western Europe, including Germany, Norway and France, taking the top spot in luxury pure electric SUV sales for three consecutive quarters in Q4 2021, Q1 2022 and Q2 2022, and to this day the Q4 e-tron remains one of the best-selling pure electric models in the Western European market.
In the following months of April and May the Q4 e-tron took the top spot in sales of luxury compact SUVs in a row, and was significantly ahead of new powerhouse favourites such as the Xiaopeng G9, Avita 11 and Zhiji LS7 in the similar price range. Not surprisingly, the Q4 e-tron will take the segment title again in June with around 2,500 deliveries, and the Q4 e-tron's continued hot sales mean that Audi is truly firing its first shots in China's premium new energy market.
Three times the market performance of the core competitor with descending strikes
Behind the Q4 e-tron's strong market performance, apart from its highly competitive pricing strategy, is the support of its product power.
As a product of the exclusive MEB pure electric platform, the Audi Q4 e-tron is clearly differentiated from the oil-to-electric products of its competitors in terms of styling, range and space performance.
Taking the Mercedes-Benz EQA, a competitor of similar size and price, as an example, firstly, the styling of the Audi Q4 e-tron is hardly visible as a fuel car, and its simple and stylish styling is in line with the mainstream aesthetics of the current new energy era.
Secondly, the Q4 e-tron has a larger body size and the long axle and short overhangs of the
MEB platform give it an excellent interior space performance, and the almost flat rear floor is also very comfortable for the second row of passengers. The EQA, on the other hand, is a little more constrained in terms of overall space, especially with the raised second-row floor, which is a common problem in fuel-to-electric models, and affects passenger comfort.
Having seen these comparisons of the interior and exterior, it is worth looking at the range and power performance. In terms of range, the Q4 e-tron comes with an 84.8kWh battery pack and a CLTC range of 605km, while the EQA achieves a range of 619km on a 73.5 degree battery. It should be stressed here that the EQA's longer range with a smaller battery is not achieved by better energy control, but by the small 18-inch wheels + nearly 200kg weight difference. With the Q4 e-tron's 20-inch wheels, the EQA will probably have a range of 590km or less. The power and peak torque parameters of the two cars are mutually advantageous, but the Q4 e-tron with rear-mounted electric motor drive will be a little more fun to drive.
In terms of configuration, compared to the Q4 e-tron 2023 40 e-tron Genesis Edition and the EQA 260, at a guide price of almost $5,000 cheaper, the former is ahead with 360-degree panoramic view, parallel assistance, keyless entry, heated front seats, power seat memory for the main driver, power seat adjustment for the passenger and independent air conditioning in the rear.
In front of these tangible product differences, why would the Q4 e-tron triple the market performance of the Mercedes-Benz EQA, or even the EQA plus the better-selling EQB, which is still some way off the Q4 e-tron's market performance. Of course, outside of the Mercedes EQA and EQB, the BMW iX3, Model Y and Xiaopeng G9 at similar price points are also potential competitors to the Q4 e-tron.
Audi will launch a full-scale electric car offensive after gaining a "ticket" to the high-end new energy market
In any fully competitive market segment, sales are the only way to have a say. Only through a phased "price for volume" approach to survive can we make our brand and products known to customers.
This is one of the main mistakes that traditional luxury brands have made in China's high-end new energy market over the past few years, in addition to the "oil-to-electric" switch.
As the first step of Audi's three-step strategy in China's EV market, the Q4 e-tron has already taken the most crucial step, which is equivalent to tying the first button. "This will enable Audi to achieve twice the result with half the effort in the subsequent promotion of its pure electric products.
Audi FAW's product planning shows that the products of the PPE mid-size pure electric exclusive platform jointly developed by Audi and Porsche will be launched one after another. The two mid-size e-tron family products, A6 e-tron and Q6 e-tron, will be officially launched to the market next year, and the two models will be pointed at EQE and ET7, EQE SUV and ES7 respectively.
With the Q4 e-tron in the forefront, I believe the A6 e-tron and Q6 e-tron will also make their mark in the market segment.