Diesel passenger cars are slowly making their way into prominence here in America for the first time and of course, the Germans are at the forefront. For good reason too, and that’s because diesels have proven to be just as powerful, if not more powerful, than their gasoline counterparts while returning considerably more mpg’s.
And to make sure diesels are here to stay, Audi is reworking their marketing strategy to pitch their diesel Q5 mid-sized crossovers as performance versions while their hybrid variants will be pitched for fuel economy here in America. This comes after a confusing discovery where Audi apparently found that their A8 hybrid achieves no better fuel economy than the competing BMW 7-Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class hybrids and that the A8 diesel achieves better fuel efficiency than any of the aforementioned.
“Our current A8 with the 4.2L gasoline V-8 gets the same fuel economy as hybrids from BMW, Lexus and Mercedes,” said Audi of America’s President Johan de Nysschen. He also attributed the reason for such a result was due to Audi’s extensive use of aluminum in the space frame chassis of the current A8. “Imagine now what happens when you put a diesel in the car. You have all the drivability and driving enjoyment with even better fuel economy.”
As a result, the A8 with Audi’s turbocharged 3.0L V6 diesel achieves 39.2 mpg’s on the combined EU cycle whereas the A8 Hybrid only achieves 36.8 mpg, even when the hybrid system features the brand’s 2.0L turbocharged gas engine with a 54hp electric motor.
“We therefore have decided not to do the hybrid in the A8 for the U.S.,” added de Nysschen.
Mr. de Nysschen said there’s a similar equation with the Q5 and is the reason why the Q5 will be given two bigger turbodiesels rather than the normal 2.0L turbodiesel four-banger. The Q5 will be given the same 3.0L turbodiesel that found its way into the Q7 that we tested last year.
“The V-6 diesel already has been thoroughly developed for the U.S. for applications in the Q7, and it will be in the A6 and A8 as well, so we get economies of scale with that,” de Nysschen says. “And the hybrid’s specific consumption will be better. I think the case would be somewhat muddied if we had a 2.0L TDI (in the Q5), which tends to give the hybrids a run for the money.”
In other words, with the current technology, de Nysschen believes that its redundant to offer the Q5 with the 2.0L TDI four-banger because it would make the purpose of a Q5 hybrid completely irrelevant, which is counterintuitive with Audi of America’s plans. As a result, they’re giving the turbodiesel V6 to the Q5 and the byproduct of that move is that the Q5 V6 turbodiesel will get better fuel economy because that’s what happened when Audi gave the A8 the V6 diesel rather than the four-cylinder. That said, Audi of America is still adamant about introducing a Q5 hybrid, but because it’s not a priority for Audi of America, they’re going to weigh their bets on the V6 diesel until the Q5 hybrid achieves a better EPA rating.
“Customers are interested in efficiency, of course, but it is not the most important driver,” de Nysschen concluded. “They make that decision base on rational criteria – the cost of the technology vs. the benefit it brings. If it is not a positive answer, then it doesn’t make sense. And this is actually part of our concern (in marketing hybrids), because we believe our customers are behaving quite rationally.”
– By: Chris Chin