Friday, 3 December 2021

Audi to produce just one US diesel model after emissions scandal

BERLIN: Luxury German auto brand Audi envisions the potential of just one diesel model in its US product mix in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal that has embroiled its parent company Volkswagen, according to Audi’s US head. “Once we hopefully get past everything, I see an opportunity to offer it on one model, and that model would probably be the Q7 SUV,” Audi of America President Scott Keogh said at the Los Angeles Auto Show. “It’s the one model that makes the most sense.” At its height, diesel made up 7pc of Audi’s US mix, said Keogh, who added it was “always a bridge technology” before emissions standards got progressively tighter. Keogh said the future for Audi was electric, with battery electric vehicles projected to make up 25pc to 30pc of its mix in by 2025. The brand plans to launch its first electric SUV in 2018.

Chief executive officer of Volkswagen of America Hinrich Woebcken told the AutoMobilityLA auto dealers conference that diesel would never reach the 25pc of Volkswagen sales it once enjoyed in the United States. “Our prediction is that we will not come back with diesel in the same magnitude we had before,” Woebcken said. Volkswagen this week reached an agreement with US regulators for a mix of buybacks and fixes for 80,000 polluting Audi, Porsche and VW 3.0l vehicles, two sources said.

The agreement includes a buyback offer for about 20,000 older Audi and VW SUVs and a software fix for 60,000 newer Porsche, Audi and VW cars and SUVs, the sources said. A separate, more complex fix is expected to be offered for the older vehicles. Talks are ongoing between lawyers for the owners and Volkswagen over compensation for the owners before a court hearing on November 30. The agreement is a major step toward Volkswagen resolving its outstanding diesel emission issues in the United States – after it reached a separate $10.03bn (€9.3bn) buyback offer for 475,000 2.0-litre vehicles in June. Volkswagen has already agreed to spend up to $16.5bn (€15bn) to resolve US diesel emissions cheating allegations, including the 2.0-l buyback offer. Audi said it is still working closely with regulators “to reach an agreement on an approved resolution” ahead of the court hearing, but declined to comment on confidential talks.

Elizabeth Cabraser, the lead attorney for the owners, said in a statement that any agreement between owners and the company should offer all 3.0-litre owners a choice between a buyback or a fix if approved by regulators. The US Environmental Protection Agency declined to comment. “While an agreement between the EPA and Volkswagen may address some of the environmental damage, it does not hold the company accountable for the harm caused to consumers. We will continue to pursue a fair resolution,” she said. Details of a final settlement are still being worked out but Volkswagen is expected to save potentially billions by avoiding a buyback of all 3.0-litre vehicles.

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