With Audi announcing, teasing, or revealing an electric production car or concept virtually on a monthly basis, some would be tempted to believe the Four Rings are ignoring the ol’ internal combustion engine (ICE). Factor in the company’s decision to launch 20 EVs by the middle of the decade, it seems like the days of the TSI, TFSI, and TDI badges are numbered. However, that’s not the case.
Speaking with Automotive News Europe, Audi CEO and R&D boss Markus Duesmann revealed the ICE still has a future despite the company’s electrification push. He argues “it will be a while” before the curtain will fall on traditional powertrains, and that includes the much-criticised diesel. As a matter of fact, he defends oil-burning mills by saying they’re “by far the most efficient” among the current crop of combustion engines.
Gallery: 2020 Audi A3 Sportback 30 G-Tron
Duesmann, who is also the R&D chief for the whole VW Group and supervisory board chairman at Lamborghini among other roles, went on to mention Audi customers “still love diesels.” While the company pledges to keep the TDI alive, the high-ranked executive did admit having to tweak the exhaust to make diesels comply with stricter regulations has become “very expensive.” As a consequence, Audi believes the diesel engine has lost some of its appeal in some segments of the market.
With Audi still seeing a future for internal combustion engines, Duesmann says efforts will continue to make them as fuel-efficient as possible. The head honcho believes the death of the ICE will come down to a political decision and it won’t happen simultaneously all over the world. Europe will likely be the last bastion of the diesel engine whereas the gasoline engine will have a longer life, especially in emerging markets.
Audi is one of the very few premium automakers to invest in alternatively powered cars that still have combustion engines, with the A3, A4, and A5 G-Tron models compatible with compressed natural gas (CNG). At the same time, it’s also increasing efforts regarding hydrogen fuel cell technology following the reveal of several H-Tron concepts in past years.
But make no mistake about it, the future is electric. The most exciting EV coming up from Audi is unquestionably the E-Tron GT. In a sea of zero-emissions SUVs from Ingolstadt, the electric sedan will spice up the green portfolio with an RS version that will likely mirror a hotter derivative of its sister model, the Porsche Taycan.