Audi TDI: The bestseller for efficiency

Around 7.5 million Audi TDI models sold since 1989

Audi is marking a very special anniversary: It was 25 years ago that the company first unveiled the TDI engine, which has since gone on to become the most successful efficiency technology on both road and racetrack. Since that time, Audi has achieved worldwide sales of around 7.5 million automobiles with a TDI engine, and at the Le Mans 24 Hours a TDI-powered model with the four rings has been first over the finishing line on eight occasions since 2006. The two latest developments in one of Audi’s main areas of innovation also embody athletic efficiency: the new, fuel-efficient 3.0 V6 TDI generation, and the Audi RS 5 TDI concept with electric charging.

“The TDI is a pioneering achievement with which we have brought efficiency onto the roads millions of times over,” declares Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG. “More power but lower consumption and emissions, that is the fundamental idea behind the TDI that makes it such a hit with customers, and that we are continually refining.”

With the present-day TDI clean diesel, Audi has reduced pollutant emissions by 98 percent over the past 25 years. Over the same period, the diesel engine’s power and torque have doubled relative to its displacement. Since 2000 alone, Audi has cut the average fuel consumption of the TDI fleet by around one-third.

“25 years of TDI mean a quarter-century of impressive technological progress,” says Prof. Dr. Ulrich Hackenberg, Member of the Board of Management of AUDI AG for Technical Development. “We look back on this time with pride, for the TDI has made a big contribution to our brand’s upward positioning in the premium segment. Today we are taking the next big step as we begin with its electrification.”

With the electric biturbo, the brand with the four rings is giving diesel technology even more emotional and dynamic appeal. The current study – the Audi RS 5 TDI concept – marks the first time that a diesel engine has powered a high-performance RS model. Thanks to the combination of V6 TDI biturbo with an additional electric-powered turbocharger, the RS 5 TDI concept achieves an output of 283 kW (385 hp) and up to 750 Nm (553.2 lb-ft) of torque. The electric turbocharger develops its power especially quickly and smoothly even at low revs – the energy required for this is largely gained through recuperation and therefore has in large part a neutral impact on consumption.

Audi RS 5 TDI concept

Audi has reached another milestone of efficiency with the new generation of the 3.0 TDI, the bestseller in the large model lines. It will be making its debut in the updated A7 Sportback*, which will go on sale in its first markets this fall. With an increased output of 200 kW (272 hp), the new 3.0 TDI is even cleaner and achieves in the A7 Sportback 13 percent better fuel efficiency than its predecessor. TDI clean diesel likewise plays a key role in the Audi ultra models – the most efficient engine version in every model line. The most economical Audi model powered purely by an internal combustion engine uses TDI technology as well: The Audi A3 ultra* consumes just 3.2 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers (73.5 US mpg). This equates to CO2 emissions of 85 grams per kilometer (136.8 g/mi).

 In parallel with optimizing its engine technology, Audi is pursuing the development of alternative fuels. In collaboration with the U.S. firm Joule, the premium brand is taking a fundamentally new approach to the diesel fuel of the future. The biotech company is working on producing synthetic fuels such as Audi e-diesel with the help of special microorganisms. Audi e-diesel is virtually climate-neutral, as it only releases as much CO2 during combustion as was bound during production.

“With our ultra models and very sporty cars such as the SQ5 TDI*, the first S model with a diesel engine, we are redefining efficiency and performance for our customers,” says Luca de Meo, Member of the Board of Management of AUDI AG for Sales. “TDI clean diesel is a real customer magnet for Audi that we are increasingly bringing to the global markets beyond Europe.”

AUDI AG is expanding its TDI business primarily in Asia and North America. In 2008, the company became the first premium manufacturer to enter the Chinese market with this efficiency technology. The diesel initiative launched in the United States in 2009 has fundamentally transformed the image of this technology there in recent years, and sales have clearly exceeded all expectations. In 2013 alone, sales of the Audi TDI clean diesel to U.S. customers increased by around 40 percent. Audi of America today has the most extensive range of diesel models in the U.S. premium segment and will be adding the diesel version of the A3 Sedan* to the TDI range from the fall, followed by the A3 Sportback* TDI announced for 2015.

Audi RS 5 TDI concept

With its fuel efficiency, supreme torque and superior economy especially for drivers who cover large distances, the TDI is popular among private customers and company car users alike. Today, this diesel technology is especially popular among Audi customers in Western Europe: Germany, the United Kingdom and Italy are the biggest markets globally for TDI models. Over two-thirds of customers in the home market Germany ordered a diesel in 2013. Worldwide, nearly 40 percent of all Audi cars built last year were fitted with a diesel engine, with some 593,000 TDI powered units leaving the assembly line.

The initial impetus for the diesel technology’s breakthrough into volume car production came at the 1989 IAA Frankfurt Motor Show: After more than 13 years in development, the brand premiered the first turbodiesel with direct injection and fully electronic engine management in the Audi 100 TDI. Today, Audi offers its customers an extensive diesel range, with over 150 engine and transmission combinations across the model lineup.

Audi RS 5 TDI concept

Motorsport plays a key role for Audi as a challenging test bench for its TDI innovations. At the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2006, Audi became the first manufacturer to enter a TDI engine in an endurance race. Since then, the brand has achieved eight wins in nine years at Le Mans – five times with a genuine TDI engine, and with the diesel hybrid e-tron quattro in the past three races. The winning car in 2014, the R18 e-tron quattro, consumed 22 percent less fuel than its predecessor in 2013 – a decisive advantage when it comes to winning tough competitions.