“Diesel” has become a dirty word at the Volkswagen Group, where the company’s emissions-cheating scandal has caused its TDI engines to be banished from its U.S. lineup—and cost the company billions in penalties and buybacks.
But while the Volkswagen brand is sticking with management’s decision to keep diesel out of the U.S. market, as it pursues a new electrification strategy, the situation is different at Audi and Porsche, according to high-ranking sources within the VW Group. Audi and Porsche are likely to go ahead with the 3.0-liter V-6 TDI.
Porsche had no official comment on the speculation, but the brand’s general statement, referring to global markets, is: “Porsche continues to believe in the diesel and will offer the technology where customers demand it.”
And from Audi, we hear that the U.S. market continues to ask for diesels for several models, including the Q7. With a top Audi official stating that the diesel is far from dead. With the latest exhaust-treatment technology, it will be possible to meet emissions regulations consistently in the United States and elsewhere. Volkswagen developed an approved fix for roughly 58,000 of the affected V6 TDIs, indicating that it has an adequate filtration system at its disposal.
Diesel has been popular in Europe for decades because of its fuel economy and engine longevity. While it’s long been the preferred fuel for the trucking industry because of its torque and trailering proficiency, it’s slowly gaining popularity with smaller vehicles, such as the Chevrolet Cruze, because of its miles-per-gallon efficiency, which only grows more attractive as EPA standards tighten.
The issue with diesel, however, is that it produces more greenhouse gas than gasoline, particularly nitrogen oxide. In the wake of 2015’s Dieselgate fiasco, regulators are acutely aware of this trade-off and will literally peer over Volkswagen’s shoulder to make sure it doesn’t try to pull any funny stuff.
The V-6 TDI previously was offered in the Audi A6, A7, A8, Q5, and Q7. At Porsche, it was sold in the Cayenne. Were the TDI to return, it would give Audi and Porsche a counterpoint to competitors, most notably BMW and Mercedes-Benz, that continue to offer diesel engines in the U.S. market. Especially as gasoline prices rise, and diesel remains the cheaper option.