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Audi Trolls Tesla: Genius or Desperate?

What is a good way for a legacy automaker to advertise their new electric car model?  By showing it off at their competitor’s supercharger stations, of course!  Audi has been spotted parking their Audi e-tron vehicles at Tesla charging stations and even taking up charging stalls, despite the fact that the e-tron is in some ways inferior to Tesla’s current offerings.  Why is Audi inadvertently trying to advertise for Tesla?

Audi Advertises to Tesla Owners

Audi’s e-tron is the automaker’s first fully-electric model, and they have not been subtle in publicizing it.  When they are not showing off the car in recent blockbuster movies, Audi has also been caught placing promotional merchandise at Tesla Club tables at recent conventions, at least according to the electric car community in Europe. 

Now they have been spotted placing demo cars at Tesla Supercharger stations and in front of Tesla stores, presumably hoping to convert potential and current owners alike. It seems like attempts by Audi to advertise to Tesla owners could backfire.

Part of the problem is that the Audi e-tron comes with a subpar range compared to any of Tesla’s current models.  Its 204 mile EPA rating comes below that of the Model 3 Standard Plus, or even older models like the 2012 Model S.  By showcasing their cars at Tesla Superchargers, they run the risk of emphasizing the e-tron’s lackluster range to the very people they are trying to convert.

Then there is the fact that Audi does not have its own charging infrastructure.  While the e-tron can receive rapid charging, any long-distance travel will require reliance on third-party solutions to obtain it.  Tesla, however, has a huge supercharging network.  How does Audi expect to convince Tesla owners to give up a good thing for something mediocre? 

Wrong Focus

I do not believe that the Audi e-tron is a bad vehicle by any means.  Compared to a lot of gas-powered cars, it is head and shoulders over them in terms of environmental impact and aesthetics, and the interior is reported to be very quiet and luxurious.  But it feels like Audi is focusing on the wrong audience.

Much like Tesla, Audi should be focusing on reducing the number of cars on the road which are powered by fossil fuels.  By trying to convert current electric vehicle owners rather than the traditional market, Audi is missing the entire point of electrification. 

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