Audi introduces clean diesel models

LOS ANGELES Audi has been in the luxury SUV business for a few years with its Q7 model, priced at $50,900 for the 20009 model. But like all car companies, they are looking toward a future of less energy use and have brought out a smaller model, the Q5, priced at $37,350 for the 2010 model.

"This is not your typical truck-based platform. It's based off a car and it has all of Audi's sophisticated technology," said Scott Keough, Audi Spokesman.

The Q5 enters a crowded field of compact luxury SUVs, but offers a choice smaller than its seven-passenger sibling. But the Q7 is also getting a fuel-efficiency makeover, with a newly available turbo-diesel engine.

Audi is taking up the challenge of convincing Americans that diesels are a viable solution for larger vehicles.

"I think the big myth about diesel is people think of trucks, of course. And they think of noisy, they think of pollutants, they think of smoke, they think of rattling," said Keough. "And diesel for us is high performance, fuel efficient."

A diesel engine typically offers reductions in CO2 emission and a fuel economy advantage of up to 30 percent.

As part of its diesel push, Audi will also soon be launching a diesel version of its A3 compact, with early fuel mileage estimates of well over 40 miles per gallon

The Q5 is currently only available with a gasoline V6, which is good for about 20 miles per gallon. Audi says they have many options for making it more efficient.

Audi will have hybrid versions of some of their vehicles soon. They are also looking into smaller gasoline engines.

"When you're coming from Europe where gas is $5, $6, $7 per gallon ... we very much understand what it takes to make a fuel efficient car," said Keough.

From large, to medium, to small, Audi is taking a cue from its European lineup to make the cars sold in America more fuel efficient and more eco-friendly.

The tough part will be convincing buyers that diesels are ready to share the spotlight with hybrids.

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