Autoblog Audi High Mileage Marathon Blog Hit With Existential Crisis
I have no idea why Autoblog transcontinental trekker Sam Abuelsamid has suddenly and finally “woken up” to the fact that the U.S. new car market– indeed the entire U.S. economy– is in a deepy parlous state. But some prince has kissed our sleeping beauty. And now Sam is beginning to realize what we’ve been saying before he turned a wheel [slowly] in anger on behalf of Audi’s poorly-timed diesel-powered High Mileage Marathon: the whole project is a futile gesture. “The TDI technology used by Audi is available now with more coming to the U.S. market in the coming months. The question is will anyone be able to buy it or any of the future powertrains? Very few people buy new cars with cash. The industry relies on being able extend credit to drivers. The key element of what is happening this week is that financial institutions have become unwilling to loan money to anyone. After loaning way too much over the last decade to people who couldn’t afford to pay it back, there is now nothing going out. That creates a great deal of uncertainty in product planning. Audi made the decision to launch their new diesels in the Q7 long before this ever started and it’s unclear what their future path will be. The A4, Q5 and A3 have all been talked about as potential future U.S. diesel products, but without knowing where auto sales in general are going it’s hard to choose a direction. With Toyota already having canceled its planned diesel for the Tundra and rumors of other product cancellations on the horizon, the only thing we know for sure is that we know nothing.” Point taken.
We'll know if diesels are here to stay based on the experience Honda will soon have with its made-in-America 2.2L. Honda will be the first in a long time to build manufacturing capacity in the US specifically focused on small diesels for cars. This will be a much more important test for diesels than whether Sam can find something interesting to blog about on his family vacation with McDraftin and McLuggage.
Perhaps the automakers hail mary is at the other end of the model spectrum? What consumers will be demanding are small, lightweight, highly fuel-efficient cars. We already had our glut of large, lumbering, fuel sucking SUVs & trucks. Downsize that TDI and drop it into something small, lightweight, and presto!... you'll be seeing the north side of 50 MPG. There are a large range of compact-to-midsize Diesels available in Europe that get anywhere from 40 to 70 MPG. If you want to sell oelmotoren to Americans you have to be able to put big numbers up on the MPG scoreboard. SUVs that get 5-9 MPG better than their Otto-cycle brethren are too little (or too much) and too late (by three years.) Bring the A4 TDI, the TT TDI, the VW Polo TDI, etc. The SUV fad is dead. --chuck
But will diesels have any relevance with American consumers with the falling price of gasoline. If anything I can see Americans once again going for larger engines attached to larger vehicles (aka SUVs). The American consumer is a fickle bunch. Maybe folks who worry fuel will approach $4 per gallon every summer will still consider a diesel. I want an EV for our second car but would gladly drive a turbo diesel for our first car. Think VW Sportwagon 5 speed.
I do think that we should not mix things here. Firstly, the application of diesel technology to small cars. Secondly, buing a car with a loan. On the first issue there, Diesels have been sold in Europe for a long time. There is a war going on between Peugeot and VW for doing the world´s best diesel engine. Even recently, BMW has commenced to catch up with them. Even in the very cold Canada, VW has been selling the diesel engines for quite a while. I remember my father who came with his Jetta powered by a 1.6 L TDi. I did not laugh for long since his car made 200 000 km without a glimpse in the harsh weather of Quebec. Myself, I have bought a ten year old Audi 80 powered by a 1.9 L TDi delivering a real 105 HP at 3000 RPM. The torque values are incredible and the car handles the road better than most of those fake sports cars made in the USA. For a family, this is maybe the best and safest car available and if you buy them used, you will go far on a low budget and a small amount of fuel. This means that the US has some catch up to do and Audi has a great idea to make the TDi visible to a big market which should be level with the European one. The second issue is one that many have been forecasting. The US banks are not chartered banks like they are in Canada and these brokers have been giving too many risky loans, putting the lives of many families at stake there. Now, those wheeler-deelers pushed it so far that all our countries´ economies went down and it is the taxpayer´s money that will save the sinking ship. This fraud shows that liberal capitalism does not work without safeguards to corner the careless economic leaders. I think that people who buy a car with a loan are throwing monies out the windows if this car is not going to be payed back by an economic activity. I prefer to buy a used car such as an Audi TDi since they can run forever in diesel format. This reduces my carbon foothprint and this means less petrol consumption. Moreover, if, like Peugeot, you fit them with particle filters on the exhausts, then pollution is much lower than with petrol cars. If people cannot afford a car, then it is time to improve the public transit systems with proper modern train, tram and metro technologies. For example, every big cities should have a train system or even Maglev from city center reaching their airport to make it in 15 minutes. LHR