Audi isn't giving up on diesels yet, but it only plans one for America

November 21, 2016

Volkswagen's ongoing, never-ending Dieselgate scandal has all but killed the company's diesel lineup in the U.S. Its three big brands here--Audi, Porsche, and VW--have suspended sales of diesels, and VW isn't sure that they'll ever return.

Audi is more optimistic, but only slightly. The company thinks there's room for exactly one diesel model in its American portfolio: one.

What model might that be? Audi hasn't determined that just yet. However, in speaking to reporters at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Audi of America President Scott Keogh said that it "would probably be the Q7 SUV".

Thankfully, Keogh seems to have a clearer understanding of where automotive technology is going than his predecessor, Johann de Nysschen, did. De Nysschen once famously called the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt a "car for idiots", insisting that diesels were the best way to address the problem of global warming. (Ironically, de Nysschen is now in charge of Chevrolet's upscale sibling, Cadillac.)

Keogh, on the other hand, understands that like mild hybrids, diesels are really a "bridge technology". They're not an end in themselves, but a kind of stepping stone as the auto industry makes its transition to fully electric vehicles. 

And despite some stuttering progress in the early days of Audi's electrification program, EVs will soon be arriving on Audi lots. Its first electric SUV is slated to appear in showrooms around this time next year at a 2018 model, and by 2025 or so, the company expects up to 30 percent of its U.S. mix to consist of battery electric vehicles. 

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