Leading the charge in reshaping the American perception of diesel-powered vehicles, Volkswagen Group of America announced last week that it has sold over 100,000 TDI-equipped vehicles in the U.S. 2013, under its Volkswagen and Audi nameplates. That's the highest number of diesels the company has ever sold here in a single year.
Offering impressive low-end torque and up to 30 percent better fuel economy than gasoline counterparts, Volkswagen TDI engines have helped push a major turnaround in the way Americans view diesel technology. No longer the filth-sputtering and clamoring monsters that many American buyers recall from their childhoods, modern diesel engines are quiet, reliable, and durable.
“The past year has shown that American consumers clearly recognize the benefits of clean diesel TDI vehicles,” said Audi of America president Scott Keogh in a statement. “They understand now more than ever that this is a technology delivering real answers to society’s concerns about fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions without compromises.”
Of all diesel-powered passenger cars and SUVs sold in the U.S., more than 75 percent are manufactured with either Volkswagen or Audi badges. Sales hit a recent peak in November, with Volkswagen data showing that diesel vehicles constituted 21 percent of the month’s sales. That pushed the year-to-date diesel take rate within Volkswagen's offerings to 24 percent.
Audi has addressed this shift in perception with its recent ads depicting various would-be good Samaritans in slow-motion trying to stop drivers from picking the wrong fuel as they reach for the once-feared diesel pump. Knowing better, the savvy Audi TDI drivers smile at one another, faintly amused.
Audi made a huge push toward expanding its diesel lineup in 2013, introducing diesel variants for Audi Q5, A6, A7, and A8 models, alongside the existing Q7 TDI. Audi will introduce the new A3 TDI in summer 2014.
Volkswagen itself offers diesel engines in numerous models including the Volkswagen Beetle, Golf, Jetta, Jetta SportWagen, Passat, and Touareg. We recently wrapped up a year with a 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI in our long-term fleet, and praised the 2.0-liter diesel’s excellent fuel efficiency which helped average about 38 mpg. We were often able to travel more than 600 miles between visits to the pump.
As diesels continue to gain popularity and acceptance, there is a distinct possibility that sport-focused diesel models are on the horizon, as well. A sporty Volkswagen GTD hatchback, a diesel-powered GTI variant, could arrive sometime after the 2015 Volkswagen Golf debuts this coming spring.