A1 gets the greenlight, but Audi chief says it's not for the U.S.

We love what Audi has done for the image of the modern diesel engine, and even though their state-side offering isn't the greenest stable on the block, they pulled a respectable 533 in J.D. Power and Associates' Automotive Environmental Index (AEI). That was good enough to place them 13th on the inaugural list just after the Mini. Speaking of the Mini, where would Audi have placed if they offered a small, economical A1?

Motor Trend is reporting that Audi is aiming to present six new vehicles for release in the next three years. Whether or not they'll hit their timetable is one matter up for discussion, but what we're particularly interested in is the fact that they included the A1 on their list. It was "a well-placed member of [Audi's] marketing department" who informed the magazine that Audi chief Martin Winterkorn is an admirer of BMW's Mini which the A1 would presumably target. There is, however, a fine line between admiration and jealously. Winterkorn insists that the car will not be a clone of the Mini as he calls the U.K. icon "an accident that came out of BMW's ill-fated British adventure." One other point that Winterkorn makes is that the Mini's American success was also an accident. He says, "U.S. sales aren't a priority for us... [Y]ou can't design a small car with U.S. success as the object."

This, of course, gets our green blood boiling, but does Winterkorn make a good point? Outside of our major metropolitan cities is there a market for small, economical cars? The Mini has obviously done well, but is that only because of the brand's iconic status? And how will the most diminutive of cars, the Smart ForTwo, sell in the states? Is Audi's premium-brand status a factor in Winterkorn's remark? Then again, the last time I checked, VW has yet to export the Polo to our shores. As always, sound off in the comments section. We're particularly interested to hear what you think about the American market for small, economical cars.

[Source: Motor Trend]

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