Audi boss Rupert Stadler has added his voice to the defence of diesel as a road car fuel — but also urged rule makers to give more consideration to cars powered by natural gas.
Talking in response to growing governmental, legislative and academic pressure to restrict and even ban diesel use, especially in built-up areas, Stadler said: “Diesel is a key technology yet the value of it as a fuel is no longer recognised.
“I’d prefer to see its value through the eyes of the customer, who gets good torque, range and fuel consumption. These values should be respected, especially when we know that, for the next 10-15 years, 70-80% of the market will be diesel, petrol or mild hybrid. Even the most positive expectation is 30% pure electric.
“We are investing heavily in battery technology, but we should never forget that most mileage will be covered for a long time by vehicles with internal combustion engines. We need to have the best options for those, and restricting choice will not help.”
In some markets, Audi sells gas-powered cars under the g-tron banner, with the A3 g-tron leading sales and costing just over £21,000. It is powered by CNG (compressed natural gas) and so-called Audi e-gas, which is produced via a low-CO2 system that uses a process of electrolysis and methanation to split oxygen and hydrogen before using CO2 to produce synthetic methane. However, the cars have proved to be relatively slow sellers to date.
“I’m a big supporter of CNG,” said Stadler. “It’s very clean, can be stored everywhere, you get a long range and you can refuel in two to three minutes. The trouble is it has an image problem, but I’m convinced of its advantages. The strategy is right, but we need industrial partners to make it work on a wider level.”