Audi takes aggressive stance with diesel in the US; four new models and new 3.0L diesel engine; challenge to policymakers
Audi of America is taking a more aggressive stance with diesel in the US, both in terms of product offerings and in policy. In his press presentation at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Scott Keogh, the president of Audi of America, officially announced the addition of A8, A7, A6, and Q5 TDI diesel models to the Q7 and A3 TDI already on sale in the US. (Earlier post.) The new models, as well as the 2013 Q7 TDI, will feature an all-new 3.0L diesel engine, more details of which will emerge closer to launch.
During his talk, in which he referenced the “bold bet” Audi of America made three years ago with the introduction of the first A3 and Q7 TDI models, Keogh also strongly emphasized the fuel savings benefits of current diesels; touched briefly on the sustainable potential of the combination of more advanced engine technology and cleaner—including bioengineered—fuels; and challenged state and federal policymakers to open HOV lanes to diesel, rethink how the miles per gallon metric is calculated, ratchet up diesel research, and make the tax on diesel equal to gas.
In 2009, Audi launched the A3 and Q7 TDI models in the US. At the time, said Keogh, Audi would have been delighted if the TDI models constituted 20% of our Q7 and A3 sales mix. As of September 2012, a third of Q7 models sold, and more than 55% of A3 models sold, are diesel.
In the last 12 months, more than one-third of all the A3 TDIs sold in the US were sold in California. Over the past two years, California car buyers have purchased as many Q7 TDIs as New Yorkers, Floridians, and Pennsylvanians combined.
By Audi’s calculations, the 22,000 current owners of the two Audi TDI models in the US have saved 4,583,773 gallons of gasoline and counting—equating to more than $26 million dollars at the filling station—and prevented more than 22,000 tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere.
Think about what four more models will do...Especially since this isn’t the same TDI technology we saw even three years ago. In fact, the new, second generation Audi TDI shares very little with its common rail predecessor beyond displacement.—Scott Keogh
Although details on the US-spec 3.0L TDI are still sparse at this time, Keogh said the block, heads, cooling system, engine management, turbo and exhaust components are all new.
The new engine—which weighs 44 lbs (20 kg) less than its predecessor—delivers more power and greater efficiency. Ultra-precise injector can pulse up to three times after ignition, and an all-new, double chain drive system and honing of the cylinder walls further reduce friction for smooth running.
According to Keogh, recent fuel economy testing of the new flagship A8 TDI sedan delivered 28 mpg US (8.4 l/100km), city and highway combined.
And because we believe that innovation shouldn’t just take place at the last step in the fuel process—when it is burned—we intend to work closely with innovation centers like the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Labs and biotechnology pioneers to develop the technologies that will lead to a renewable energy future.
...We’ve just started to tap the potential that diesel technology can offer. The engines in our cars today will be able to work seamlessly with advanced fuels derived from bioengineering—something that’s moving from science fiction to science fact as we speak. And when it does, we’ll be talking about a renewable, cleaner, alternative source of energy that further improves America’s energy independence.
That’s why we believe the efficiency gains that diesel offers today aren’t a ceiling, they’re a floor. We believe diesel can be even cleaner, even more powerful, even more efficient in the days ahead. Clean diesel is a fuel that makes good business sense for car companies, good consumer sense for drivers, not to mention common sense for all those focused on our energy future.—Scott Keogh