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Audi leading changeover to US diesel popularity

Diesel vehicles could easily equal as much as 10 percent of the market within the next five years if current trends continue unabated, thanks largely to five Audi models that take full advantage of the fuels higher mileage capabilities.
Posted: August 28, 2013 - 7:59PM
Author: Don Bain


These include the A6, Q7, A8, Q5 and A7 – all using a 3.0-liter TDI diesel engine and are available in the US. All of these vehicles get a minimum of 19-mpg for the SUVs and a maximum highway rating of 38-mpg in the sedans.

Of course, these are high mileage luxury models, so though fewer visits to the gas pump are required, there is a premium to pay at the dealership.

However, if the trend remains strong, you can expect more and more constituents to insist their clean diesel cars are green too, so why shouldn’t they be included in the incentive and tax credit programs as well. Fair is fair, after all.

No the pundits aren’t smoking whacky tobacco – it’s just that when you combine CAFE requirements mandating a 54.5-mpg fleet wide average by 2025 with the 20 to 40 percent better efficiency of diesel engines, the writing is on the wall – and its not just the squiggly signatures of urban taggers.

Many US manufacturers are adding diesel variants to their lines – especially the full size pickups and some small commuters.

Audi is certainly leading the changeover, nevertheless, with Volkswagen following close behind.

Audi was the sponsor of a panel discussion in the nation’s capital yesterday to discuss the market prospects of diesel vehicles and highlight the brand’s contributions to the marketplace choices we enjoy in the US.

The Panel's conclusions included the following points:
• Availability of diesel models in the US will double this year, in comparison to last year.

• Diesel vehicle sales will make the greatest inroads in the SUV segment – over 26 percent of those sold by 2018. Last year only 8 percent of this market segment burned diesel fuel.

• Compact cars will also contribute to the changeover but only 10 percent of midsize cars will be diesel powered by 2018.

Panelists included representatives from Bosch Diesel System North America and LMC Automotive.

Mercedes-Benz is also contributing to the trend by build entry-level diesel models at low price points for the luxury line. Mercedes-Benz has been a leading authority in the automotive application of diesel engines for many decades.

The final piece of the diesel puzzle would seem to be the advent of diesel hybrid vehicles. The mileage to be gained by adding a battery and electric motors would do far more to enhance the already excellent mileage of diesel engines than its gasoline variants.

Reportedly such vehicles were tested by the US government in the ‘90s, achieving up to 80-mpg in the days well before clean diesel.

As these diesel hybrids are just beginning to appear in Europe, they will inevitably cross the pond to America.

Whether Audi will be at the head of that flotilla remains to be seen.

Source: USA Today