Audi is working towards a goal of having carbon-neutral production sites by 2025. Part of the process includes using special blends of petrol and diesel which are a mix of standard fossil fuels and renewable fuels. Called R33, it's used to tank up many new Audis leaving factories in Germany, as well as vehicles and equipment used on-site.
The fuel was actually co-developed by Audi's parent company, Volkswagen Group, along with Shell and Bosch. The idea is to create a fuel that can help lower carbon emissions while also being compatible with current engines and filling stations. Audi transitioned to R33 Blue Diesel in 2021, and now the automaker is using R33 Blue Gasoline as well.
R33 is approximately two-thirds traditional fossil fuel, with the remaining one-third being a renewable biofuel (hence 33 the name). The petrol uses a mix of ethanol with bionaphtha, a substance pulled from residual materials. In the diesel mix, you'll find primarily renewable paraffinic fuel – essentially vegetable oil – with biodiesel.
Audi says the R33 Blue Gasoline complies with regular standards for petrol. That makes it compatible with anything that can run on pump-grade petrol with a 10 percent mix of ethanol. Additionally, Audi says the R33 Blue Diesel also meets the necessary standards for use in all diesel engines, new or old. The fuels reportedly have cleaning qualities that help prevent corrosion, too.
There is no mention of fuel efficiency in vehicles, but Audi claims the R33 Blue fuels can reduce carbon emissions by "at least 20 percent" in a well-to-wheel analysis. That's a study that considers not just emissions from vehicles, but overall emissions resulting from fuel production, processing, and distribution. Presently, Audi used the fuel at plants in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm.
Audi seeks carbon neutrality in 2025, but longer term, the German brand has committed to an electric-only lineup beginning in 2033. Of course, simply stopping internal combustion production for new vehicles doesn't mean there won't be millions of older petrol and diesel-powered cars on the road. Renewable fuels like R33 and other synthetic fuels could provide a long-term, combustion-powered solution.
In the meantime, the Audi RS3 recently won a Motor1.com Star Award for Best Performance Vehicle. Learn about the RS3 and other award winners in the Rambling About Cars podcast, available below.