Scott Keogh 2012 L.A. Auto Show Speech

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November 28, 2012

Source: Audi Media

“Let me say, there’s never been a more exciting time to be representing Audi – in many ways, because of these numbers. I suppose you’re wondering what they mean. By now, you’ve probably guessed that this isn’t the debt clock. This is the Audi TDI clean ciesel clock.

It doesn’t tell the time; it tells a story – a powerful one – about what TDI clean diesel technology has accomplished for our company and our customers. Even more important, what it can accomplish for our country and our environment. In order to explain what the numbers mean, let me begin at the beginning.

Three years ago we made a bet – a bold bet – about the future of this country’s fuel mix. That’s what you saw in our “Oil Parade” ad – our first effort to get American drivers to look at the advantages diesel technology provides in a new way.

At the time, most drivers still believed diesel was the worst thing you could fill up with at a truck stop. Diesel was more sooty than sexy. Their views about diesel hadn’t evolved. But diesel technology had. And we knew it. It was among the most affordable, sustainable, highest-performing fuels on the market, achieving 30% better fuel economy and lower carbon emissions.

And despite what a lot of people thought, diesel’s transformation went far beyond just fuel economy and lower C02 emissions. By almost every measure it was as clean – or cleaner – than gasoline. We were achieving lower levels of particulate emissions, significantly lower levels of evaporate emissions, and less nitrous oxide. Some of this was thanks to lower sulfur fuel, and some thanks to advanced filters and catalytic processes that Audi pioneered.

But all of it was real. It wasn’t happening in theory. Or just in a concept car. Or in some obscure engineering papers speculating on an elusive next breakthrough. This was increased performance in actual cars, on actual streets.

So, Audi made an investment. We took the Turbo Diesel Injection engine technology found in our championship racing program, further improved the emissions profile, offered it in our smallest vehicle on the market – the A3 – and our largest, the Q7 – and sent those cars to our showroom floors.

Still, the big question was, would Americans see diesel the way we do? Would they buy TDIs? Well, after three years, the returns are in: Absolutely!

Back in 2009, we told ourselves we’d be ecstatic if TDI models constituted 20 percent of our Q7 and A3 sales mix. As of September, a third of Q7 models sold are TDI – and more than 55 percent of A3 models are. Which brings me back to the diesel clock.

Because of clean diesel’s fuel efficiency, the 22,000 owners of Audi TDI models have saved precisely 4,583,773 gallons of gasoline and counting. Which means they’ve saved more than 26 million dollars of their own money at filling stations. It means they’ve prevented more than 22,000 tons of carbon dioxide from entering our atmosphere. And, recalling the message of our earlier ad, it means Audi TDI drivers have rolled back more than 240,000 barrels of foreign crude on to the tankers. Again, that’s a pretty outsized impact for just 22,000 vehicles and two models.

In doing this, these drivers have sacrificed precisely nothing. Not style, or comfort, or performance. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that they’ve gained in performance, because of strong torque characteristics provided by a TDI engine. These are cars without compromise. That’s a part of the reason we think this technology has a big future.

And that is why, today, Audi is opening up what we think will be a new chapter for clean diesel. Today, I’m proud to announce we are officially adding an A8, an A7, an A6, and a Q5 to our TDI offerings here in the U.S. These new models, as well as our 2013 Q7 TDI, are being introduced with a new engine. To luxury car buyers who’ve been pleading with us for more TDI offerings, here you have it.

It’s fitting that we’re making this announcement in California, where people love two things: the great outdoors and great driving. Because clean diesel dramatically improves both the quality of the air and performance on the road. And that’s why Californians are embracing it. In the last 12 months, more than one-third of all of our A3 TDIs sold in the U.S. were sold here in California. And over the past two years, California car buyers have purchased as many Q7 TDIs as New Yorkers, Floridians, and Pennsylvanians combined.

When you look at the numbers on this clock – which we’ve achieved with just two TDI models – think about what four more models will do. At the very least, this thing is going to have to start ticking faster. Especially since this isn’t the same TDI technology we saw even three years ago. In fact, the new, second generation Audi TDI shares very little with its common rail predecessor beyond displacement.

The block, heads, cooling system, engine management, turbo and exhaust components are all new. That’s why we’re able to deliver more power and greater efficiency in an engine that weighs forty-four pounds less. It delivers low sulfur clean diesel at a high pressure through ultra-precise injectors. These injectors can pulse up to three times after ignition to help scrub particulates in the exhaust system. An all-new, double chain drive system and honing of the cylinder walls further reduce friction for smooth running. And that all adds up to better, more efficient performance.

In fact, we’ve just tested the fuel economy of our new A8 TDI… and by our manufacturers estimate, it’s put up a stunning number – 28 miles to the gallon, city and highway combined. And that means incredible range for our flagship sedan.

And because we believe that innovation shouldn’t just take place at the last step in the fuel process – when it is burned – we intend to work closely with innovation centers like the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Labs and biotechnology pioneers to develop the technologies that will lead to a renewable energy future.

This expansion of our TDI fleet is rooted in our belief that, among so many choices, clean diesel is often the best choice whether you are talking about better residual values or better fuel economy.

You know, it’s amazing for me to stand here and think that six short years ago – when I joined Audi – we were the seventh-most cross-shopped brand in the luxury vehicle market. Today, Audi is ranked second.

The leading consumer rating magazine just named Audi as the brand with the most reliable European vehicles overall on the market.

And October 2012 was the 22nd consecutive record sales month for Audi in America. As a matter of fact, I’m here to tell you that we’ve already surpassed last year’s record-breaking sales number.

It’s not just that our company is moving more volume than ever… or that our dealerships are more profitable than ever… or that our cars are more recognized than ever… What distinguishes us is that all these things are happening at once. And I think we owe that to an across-the-board commitment to being bold. Bold design. Bold engineering. And yes, bold innovation – especially when it comes to sustainability.

One of the things we say at Audi is that we don’t want to be making the best cars when the last car is made. We want to make mobility a truly sustainable enterprise. That’s why you’re hearing about our commitment to diesel, today – because it’s an efficiency technology available right here, right now. But it’s also why you’re seeing a broad spectrum approach to efficiency on our part.

Audi engineers led the way in developing smaller, more efficient TFSI gasoline engines that didn’t force luxury car buyers to sacrifice anything in performance. This was the case when we introduced our redesigned A8 flagship model, which right off the bat achieved better fuel economy with a traditional gasoline engine – the V8 FSI – than many of our competitors were seeing with their hybrid models.

In addition to diesel, we’re making investments in other drivetrains, from a plug-in electric hybrid to our new hybrid TCNG A3 concept, a car recently showcased in Europe that achieves a 750-mile range on a mix of natural gas and gasoline. We’re not betting on one technology in the hopes of achieving a sustainable future. We’re betting on a sustainable future, and developing a whole host of technologies that we believe can get us there.

The best part of all? We’ve just started to tap the potential that diesel technology can offer. The engines in our cars today will be able to work seamlessly with advanced fuels derived from bioengineering – something that’s moving from science fiction to science fact as we speak. And when it does, we’ll be talking about a renewable, cleaner, alternative source of energy that further improves America’s energy independence.

That’s why we believe the efficiency gains that diesel offers today aren’t a ceiling, they’re a floor. We believe diesel can be even cleaner, even more powerful, even more efficient in the days ahead. Clean diesel is a fuel that makes good business sense for car companies, good consumer sense for drivers, not to mention common sense for all those focused on our energy future.

So here’s Audi’s position – our challenge – to policymakers at the state and federal level: let’s level the playing field – or, in this case, the road – and see just how dramatically clean diesel can lower America’s fuel consumption and carbon emissions. Let’s open HOV lanes to diesel, rethink how miles per gallon is calculated, ratchet up diesel research, and make the tax on diesel equal to gas.

If we do these things, we know diesel will do in the market exactly what it does on the road: outperform. Ultimately, if government is going to be in the business of creating incentives, it should create incentives for the low carbon, high efficiency future we want.

We’ve always said, “The best choice is a choice.” For drivers seeking efficiency without sacrificing performance, for a nation seeking to free itself from the grip of foreign oil, and for a world seeking to slash its greenhouse gas emissions, clean diesel is not simply a viable choice… but frequently today’s best choice. And with these new models, we think it’s the choice a lot more drivers are going to enjoy making.”


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