click above for a high res gallery of the Audi R15 TDI
There's an old line that "racing improves the breed" that goes back to the origins of the industry. Indeed, many innovations developed on the race track have made their way back to road going cars including rear view mirrors and fuel injection. Someday, there might even be an innovation in NASCAR, but that's another story. Over the last two decades, Audi has been particularly active in motorsports, first in rallying- where its Quattro all wheel drive was spawned - and later on race tracks - where it debuted gasoline direct injection on the R8. Most recently, the R10 and the R15 have taken diesel technology to new heights with three consecutive wins at Le Mans.
Audi's now using that racing success to boost its first U.S. clean diesel vehicle, the Q7 TDI, which is finally going on sale about now. Last fall, in the cross country Mileage Marathon, the 50-state legal Q7s averaged about 29 mpg, far more than any of the big hybrid SUVs can manage. Yes, diesel contains more carbon than gasoline but the 30 percent improvement in efficiency far outweighs the extra carbon content and still yields about a 25 percent cut in CO2 emissions. While even clean diesels also produce more NOx than current gasoline engines, they are a huge improvement over they were and the particulate filters like those used on the race cars eliminate the soot.
Progress on Racetrack = Progress in Fuel Tank
* Clean diesel could play major role in achieving energy independence
* Race-proven TDI clean diesel technology to be sold in U.S. for first time this spring
* Next generation of clean diesel, R15 TDI, shatters track record in debut
HERNDON, Va., Mar 31, 2009 - From politicians to marketers, from oil companies to environmentalists. No matter who you speak to these days – it seems like everyone has an idea to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
Wind turbines, energy-saving light bulbs, hybrid cars...the list goes on. The truth is – they all help in one way or another. But one solution is not just available in the here and now, it was formed and perfected on the race track. Imagine, forging the path to energy independence while driving 200 mph.
It sounds far-fetched. But it's true. The federal government estimates that converting one-third of the cars on the road to clean diesel – the fuel behind motorsports' most prolific race car – would allow the U.S. to send back every barrel of oil from a foreign supplier the size of Saudi Arabia.
Look at the list of winning vehicles at the world's most well-known endurance race – the 24 Hours of Le Mans. You will see one car listed as the winner for the past three years running. That car is the Audi R10 TDI. The vehicle's dominance in Le Mans is common knowledge in the world of motorsports. It is a tradition that lives on in the Audi R15 TDI. Yet the race, and its significance, are lesser known here in the United States. However, Le Mans influence will soon be felt.
This year, Audi will literally take its winning racing formula and apply it to vehicles sold at dealers throughout the country starting this spring. For the first time, U.S. drivers will reap the benefits of the Audi racing team's not-so-secret weapon – TDI clean diesel.
In motorsports, a few seconds can separate winners from losers. Every race team is looking for ways to limit pit stops. Diesel engines make more efficient use of the energy released by their fuel than do gasoline engines. This fundamental principle of physics has been refined through many solutions that Audi has played a major role in developing – including the four-valve technology that ensures optimum filling of cylinders in every situation. The TDI engine compresses air to super-hot temperatures, so when the fuel is injected more of it instantaneously combusts making the whole engine far more efficient with every droplet.
Watching the drama unfold in the Le Mans documentary "Truth in 24" (www.truthin24.com), you can see the Audi TDI clean diesel engine's distinct advantage. The R10 TDI technology can drive further with fewer pit stops – even compared to other diesel engines.
The results can't be ignored. The Audi R10 TDI has never been beaten in the coveted 24 Hours endurance race of Le Mans. Upgraded to the Audi R15 TDI, the clean diesel results have been the same. This month, the R15 debuted at the 12 Hours of Sebring in Florida achieving the fastest Sebring race ever, beating the previous distance record by 13 laps. Not only did the R15 run circles around the competition, the prototype racers won the Michelin Green X Challenge award for achieving greater higher efficiency than their competitors.
But what does this mean for U.S. drivers? Why should you care about a European endurance race? There answer is simple: The innovations on display at Le Mans will mean fewer stops at the fueling stations and more value for your dollars when you fill up your tank.
The same clean diesel technology, which allows Audi Le Mans drivers to go farther on a single tank, will now be available in Audi TDI vehicles sold in the United States - starting with the Audi Q7 TDI. The outstanding efficiency of Audi's TDI engines benefits the driver of a Q7 TDI both when it comes to saving money and when it comes to covering long distances: with its 26 gallon tank, the car can cover more than 600 miles on a single fill up – saving the cost, time and annoyance of extra stops at the filling station.
That's a big benefit for America and American households. Consider the 15,000 miles on average that an American family drives each year. Simple math suggests they're on the road more than 280 miles a week. With the range made possible by clean diesel's fuel efficiency, that average family will only need to stop at a filling station twice a month – even if they are driving a sizeable SUV.
Each month throughout 2009, Audi is highlighting specific symbols of progress by providing facts, photos, videos, and information about Audi innovation. Learn more about TDI and the Audi R10 by watching TDI in action at www.truthin24.com and get the facts about how TDI represents progress at the pump, progress in emissions, and progress on foreign oil at www.audiusanews.com.
ABOUT AUDI OF AMERICA
Audi of America Inc. and its 270 dealers offer a full line of German-engineered luxury vehicles. The Audi line up is one of the freshest in the industry with 23 models, including 12 models launched during model years 2008 and 2009. Audi is among the most successful luxury automotive brands globally. In selling one million vehicles worldwide in 2008, AUDI AG recorded its 13th consecutive record year for sales growth. Visit www.audiusa.com or www.audiusanews.com for more information regarding Audi vehicle and business issues.