2019 Audi e-tron prototype
In the wake of its massive diesel emissions scandal, VW and its luxury brand Audi apologized by promising to deliver electric cars.
Now that effort has been delayed by the arrest of Audi's CEO, Rupert Stadler, who was scheduled to introduce the brand's first electric car, the 2019 Audi e-tron SUV, at an event in Brussels on August 30.
Now Audi has postponed the launch event, according to a report in the Financial Times.
The event had been scheduled to beat Audi's largest competitors, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, to market with electric cars.
Mercedes is scheduled to launch its EQC, another all-electric SUV, at an event in Stockholm, Sweden, on September 4.
Citing "organizational reasons," Audi confirmed to Automotive News on Monday that the event would be and rescheduled to happen instead in the United States at a future date. The automaker hasn't said when the debut will occur.
Audi CEO Rupert Stadler
In an interview before his arrest, Stadler had told the Financial Times, "It's not just an electric car, it's a starting point for the next quantum leap."
Last month, Audi laid out plans to sell 800,000 electric and hybrid cars by 2025, including an electric version of every car in the automaker's lineup.
Stadler acknowledged in the interview that the diesel crisis, along with competition from Tesla, had shaken German auto executives out of their complacency to say "How do we get out of this [diesel] mess?" Tesla, he said, had robbed German carmakers of their reputation for innovation.
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Following his arrest, Stadler is being held in administrative custody pending trial, because prosecutors feared he could suppress evidence in their investigation of Audi diesels.
The e-tron is a five-passenger SUV with a range of at least 250 miles. It is expected to be the first production electric car equipped to handle 350-kw fast charging from a new range of chargers being installed in the U.S. by VW subsidiary Electrify America—using funding from the diesel settlement.
The e-tron remains scheduled to go on sale in the United States as a 2019 model.