Audi To Add Diesel Versions Of Every Model It Makes By 2015

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Audi A3 TDI clean diesel - European model

Audi A3 TDI clean diesel - European model

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In Europe, roughly half of all passenger cars sold come with fuel-efficient diesel engines.

But for a variety of reasons, passenger diesels haven't caught on in the States, though the number is climbing slowly.

Audi, proud of its diesel engine technology--which, among other things, has won the prestrigious 24 Heures du Mans endurance race in the Audi R15 TDI--is forging ahead and plans to offer a diesel variant of every model it sells in the U.S. by 2015.

Audi R15 TDI diesel race car at Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta, October 2010

Audi R15 TDI diesel race car at Petit Le Mans, Road Atlanta, October 2010

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Modern clean diesels usually deliver fuel economy one-third to one-fifth better than that of a gasoline engine of similar power. They're also appealing to drive, due to their copious low-end torque. And it's often impossible to tell from behind the wheel that there's a diesel under the hood.

Currently, Audi offers diesels in just two models: the A3 TDI compact hatchback and the Q7 TDI large sport-utility vehicle. Neither model represents a large portion of its total U.S. sales, but Audi says it could sell more of the diesel variants if it could keep them in stock. Diesels represent half of A3 sales and close to 40 percent of Q7 sales this year.

Audi of America president Johan de Nysschen told industry trade journal Automotive News that it plans to add diesel versions of its current A6 midsize sedan and A8 large luxury sedan, as well as its Q5 crossover.

diesel and AdBlue fillers in Audi Q7 TDI

diesel and AdBlue fillers in Audi Q7 TDI

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Its highest volume model, the A4 sports sedan, will be offered with a four-cylinder diesel when it is redesigned for the 2015 model year. The company had considered using its diesel V-6, but that engine is simply too expensive for the U.S. market, so the company expects to fit a powerful four instead.

Audi says its customers are ordering diesels at higher-than-expected rates, and that it is responding as much as to dealer demand as to the tightening fuel-economy rules. Roughly 5 percent of its sales this year represent clean diesels; de Nysschen said that number could be as high as 20 percent by 2015.

The company is also hedging its bets, adopting the Volkswagen Group hybrid-electric powertrain for a future version of its Q5 sport utility. But among Volkswagen, Porsche, and Audi--the three brands that will offer hybrids--Audi is the last, and it seemingly remains the most bullish of the three on the potential for clean diesels to save fuel.

While Audi will take a tentative step with hybrids, de Nysschen has gained some notoriety for his dismissal of electric-drive as a way to increase fuel economy. Last fall, he famously said that anyone who bought a 2011 Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car was "an idiot."

[Automotive News (subscription required)] 

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Comments (4)
  1. you gotta be kidding me - by 2015, evs will have a good footing.
    hey, by 2017, i will re-introduce the horse and buggy. that has about as much chance of selling as long-term diesels. LOL.

  2. @ ev enthusiast - The U.S. market is huge. I'm fairly sure there's enough room for both EVs and diesels in there somewhere. As John mentions in the article, diesels have very pleasing driving characteristics, ones that are actually quite suited to U.S. motoring - namely lots of low-down torque and great midrange. They're certainly more suited to U.S. roads than some of the anaemic small gasoline vehicles available.

  3. hi antony,
    i think they are nuts putting that much emphasis on diesel vehicles. sorry to tell them, but we have hit the ev age.
    has there been any other company who has stated that they plan to bring out diesel models of most or many of their offerings ? there may be a reason for that - LOL.
    5 years is a long time. lets just see if they are dumb enough to actually do it.
    many of these car companies seem to still have gasoline ties, just not as bad as gm.
    as someone stated on a thread somewhere on the site, companies like tesla and coda are ev companies, only.

  4. @ ev enthusiast - Worth noting though that Audi is hardly all of a sudden spending millions on developing new diesels. They've been running around in Europe for years and years and the overheads of them being brought to the U.S. will be relatively low. I understand your affinity to EVs and I'm excited for a time when they're more common, but in the meantime a great many people would still be better served by diesels until EVs have a broader repetoir.

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