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Audi's R10 Racer Fuels Diesel Revolution
TDI Diesel Technology
By Alain Gayot

You had to be there to watch, maybe hear, but certainly not smell Audi's R10 racer win the 54th Annual 12 hours of Sebring. Why might you ask? Well, because this endurance race win by a diesel-powered car could trigger a new wave of interest and sales for such automobiles in the United States.

Already strong sellers in Europe with a dominant percentage of the overall passenger car market in countries like France, diesel vehicles have become renowned for providing their owners with many years of reliable, extended-range miles. Not to mention that fewer taxes are levied on diesel at the pump. Imagine a 700-mile range and a 50-percent less expenditure per gallon. You would be silly not to go that way.

The news keeps getting better as clean-burning fuels are about to penetrate the market globally. Already available in Germany and the Netherlands, new formula diesel dubbed V-power by Shell is super clean. Tack on engine technology developments, the addition of particulate filters and exhaust processing and we swear that infamous diesel stink of yesteryear will become a long-forgotten memory. As for the traditional noise associated with diesel engines, that is also going away slowly but surely. In fact, due to its low RPM range of operation (3000 RPM average), you did not have much warning as the Audi R10 approached at Sebring. The whirl of the twin turbos was more dominant. We had the chance to get behind the wheel of a 3.0-liter TDI-powered Q7 and A6 (cars available in Europe) fueled by the same Shell GTL diesel that propels the R10 and were pleasantly seduced. After warm up, the V6 delivered robust power and the gas gauge didn’t move too quickly.

In 2004 we reported on the Pump Duse technology as test driven in the last generation Jetta. The V10 TDI Touareg as been continuously sold out and VW has not had any problems selling the Passat 2.0 TDI (EPA-rated 27 city/38 highway).

What's next for Audi? First take the prestigious 24 hours of Le Mans race with its diesel R10, then bring in a few TDI-powered models to the U.S. market and increase sales.

(Updated 07/22/08 HC)

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