Audi U.S.A. plans to dramatically boost the number of clean-diesel models it sells in the U.s., Green Car Advisor has learned.
Diesels are a popular fuel economy and performance choice among Audi buyers. TDI models account for 50 percent of A3 sales in U.S.
After enjoying better-than-expected success in selling Turbo Diesel Injection versions of its A3 and Q7 in the American marketplace since their introduction last year, Audi "will more than double our existing diesel portfolio in the next year or so," Scott Keogh, chief marketing officer of Audi U.S.A., told us in an interview.
He would't disclose which models might be added to the TDI portfolio, saying that Audi didn't want "to show our cards too soon."
But Audi USA spokesman Brad Stertz noted that, in the past, Audi had said it was "looking at the possibility of TDI for the A8, A6 and A4," all contingent on "working through packaging of the TDI equipment in different models, emissions, and other regulatory testing."
Audi clearly has been the most enthusiastic about diesel of the three German luxury brands that have been pushing its re-appearance in the American marketplace and also has been the biggest winner, its diesels posting better sales performance that those from either BMW or Mercedes-Benz.
TDI is "definitely a part of the growth and success we're having in the [U.S.] marketplace," said Keogh.
Audi's July sales in the U.S. were up 22 percent, and the first half was was the automaker's best six months ever in this marketplace. Audi is on track for a record annual performance.
For the A3, TDI models represent about 50 percent of overall sales at this point and diesel is where all A3 sales growth has occurred in the last year.
"If you look at last year's A3 sales number for the gasoline version, it has stayed essentially flat this year," Keogh said.
"Diesel business growth has been 100 percent incremental" for the A3, he said, meaning the diesels provide growth without "the substitution issues" of losing sales in one category because of gains in another.
Meanwhile, TDI versions represent about 40 percent of overall sales of the Q7 (right) Keogh said.
"These numbers are way beyond our expectations," he said Keogh. Audi U.S.A. initially had expected TDI sales by this point to comprise about 15 percent to 20 percent of overall sales of the A3 and Q7 lineups.
American consumers are reacting favorably to the fuel-economy gains offered by Audi's diesel powertrains over gasoline engines, especially because diesel fuel prices that are within a dime or two of gasoline per gallon offer easy comparisons of diesel's 20- to 30-percent fuel economy advantage.
Diesel's much-touted torque properties also are a boon when consumers test-drive comparable models.
"Generally the types of buyers coming into diesel are younger than our gasoline buyers too," Keogh enthused. "And these are generally people with higher household incomes [than gasoline customers], and equipping cars more richly."
Audi charges a price premium of about $1,300 for the four-cylinder A3 TDI over the gasoline-powered four-cylinder A3.
Moreover, Keogh said, Audio dealers are hard-pressed to keep the TDI models in stock. They are averaging a 15-day supply - the amount of time it would take to sell out if Audi stopped building them. The industry average for all passenger vehicles is 52 days.