It is a tough choice. Do one thing and do it well? Or offer your customers a lot of options? Audi has decided to do a lot of powertrains well when it comes to the A3.
Audi has worked hard to become known as the brand with the most complete lineup of clean-diesel vehicles in the American market, and as the foremost advocate for that particular type of “green” technology.
Yet Audi of America always has carried out an “all-of-the-above” powertrain strategy and has expressed strong support for a similar approach in U.S. automotive public policy.
And now the company’s stance is paying off in the form of a lineup for the new Audi A3 sedan that will present its own complete all-of-the-above family of options. In the United States, they’ll range from two TFSI gasoline engines with greatly improved fuel efficiency, to a TDI clean-diesel version, to the brand’s first plug-in hybrid model, the A3 Sportback e-tron, which will be powered in part by a 1.4-liter TFSI engine.
Keogh has been seeking more favorable U.S. regulatory treatment for clean diesel because current federal and state tax and other policies discriminate against diesel engines while favoring other green alternatives such as hybrids. “I don’t think [the government] should just pick technologies that they say, or feel, may be better,” he told Automotive News recently.
Yet AUDI AG and Audi of America also have recognized that, driven by government policy and compelled eventually by consumer demand, electric and hybrid vehicles will take a growing share of U.S. premium-car sales. The sales success of Tesla’s EV alone illustrates a high-end demand for such vehicles.
And so Audi’s all-of-the-above strategy finds the next stage of its expression in the A3 Sportback e-tron, which will be available in the U.S. market by early 2015 as it takes advantage of Audi innovations in manufacturing that also support an all-of-the-above approach.
“As the consumer is looking for range and wants to be able to have the certainty of being able to stay mobile at any time, the plug-in hybrid is the best solution,” Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, told Automotive News recently. “We are also able to integrate this technology in all our existing and future plants. We can produce plug-ins on the existing lines. This distinguishes us from one of our competitors whose production is concentrated in just one place.
“I think [the Audi A3 e-tron] is the right answer to today’s consumer perceptions. Moreover, it is agile and dynamic.”