Audi Plots Dominance of Premium Car Sector With New Diesels
Audi has announced a new phase of expansion that the carmaker’s management hope will take it to a new position of dominance in the prestige car market by 2020. To achieve this goal the firm is boosting its model range from 50 up to 60 in a move that is intended to further increase production by around 20% from current record levels to two million cars per year.
Audi has announced a new phase of expansion that the carmaker’s management hope will take it to a new position of dominance in the prestige car market by 2020. To achieve this goal the firm is boosting its model range from 50 up to 60 in a move that is intended to further increase production by around 20% from current record levels to two million cars per year. Audi Chairman, Rupert Stadler, revealed the plans during a speech at a motor event in Copenhagen, scheduled to celebrate 25 years of the company’s diesel TDI engines. He said that a new expansion phase would begin as soon as this autumn in order to meet the company’s challenging new targets. This new strategy will continue to focus on diesel engines and will require that the diesel market continues to grow.
Audi has long been a leader in developing diesel engines and will shortly cement that position by approving a new family of performance diesel cars, which may carry the company’s famed ‘RS’ badge. This decision follows on from the positive reception given to Audi’s RS5 V6 TDI-e 380bhp concept car, which brings exciting turbocharged performance to the diesel sector. That new car is thought to be close to production and a range of such RS cars could be topped with a diesel supercar inspired by the Le Mans diesel racing cars, which have won the demanding event in 2012 and 2013.
Audi has so far sold almost eight million TDI engined cars and currently diesels represent 40% of the company’s output. Indeed, in some markets, this figure rises to as much as 90%. In the US, where diesels are traditionally viewed with some suspicion, Audi’s diesel sales still manage a creditable 30%, and that figure is rising. Audi has become dependent on diesel technology and needs to lead the way in the sector. In recent years this has not been the case. The company has been overtaken by rivals who have successfully implemented innovations like intelligent injecting piezo technology and common-rail fuel injection.
To fight back, Audi has announced that it is to begin production of electrically driven turbos, a technology that it has already successfully deployed in its racing cars. This is capable of cutting out turbo lag and will be used in the proposed new range of high-performance diesels. Stadler was bullish about Audi’s position as a leader in diesel technology, pointing out that his company’s TDI engines have doubled in power over their 25 years in production, while at the same time eliminating 90% of all toxic emissions. Audi’s engineers are now confident that they can further improve efficiency by around 15% before the end of the decade.
Stadler has said that he believes that diesel engine cars could form the backbone of Audi’s range until 2030, although he has acknowledged that plug-in hybrids will become increasingly important as the decade progresses. He said: "Electrification is much more expensive than continuing to improve the combustion engine, so we believe the TDI will continue to have the biggest impact for quite a long time."
Stadler is also determined that Audi’s diesels are capable of delivering an ‘RS feeling’ in driving enjoyment, along with excellent fuel economy and high levels of torque. He has stopped short of confirming that the company will produce a diesel version of the R8 supercar. He did, however, point out that Audi was one of a very few companies offering a V8 diesel engine capable of powering such a car. Stadler added: "Why shouldn't we have high performance diesels, if that’s what the customer wants?”
Stadler also took the opportunity to deny that Audi was worried about the success of Tesla’s Model S in the key US market, which sells more in California than Audi’s offering. He restated that Audi’s strategy remained focused on plug-in hybrids rather than pure electric cars, saying: “We are thinking of the customer and their needs. They want to be able to drive where they want, without worrying about battery range, or whether new infrastructure is in place. In a plug-in, they can do that in an efficient way.”