New Audi diesel engines can now be run on renewable fuels

  • Audi has approved a number of new six- and four-cylinder diesel engines to run on hydrotreated vegetable oil (HVO), which is derived from residues and waste materials from agriculture and the food industry.
  • The fuel promises to deliver CO2 reductions of between 70% and 95% compared to regular diesel.
  • Only relatively new Audi models will be certified to run on HVO, which is mostly available in Scandinavia at the moment.

    Volkswagen’s diesel crisis may have largely closed the door on many of the group’s cars in North America, but the same is not true for the rest of the world, where diesel sales are still active and are expected to remain so for many years.

    Even as Volkswagen Group pursues a rapid electrification strategy among its brands, the automaker continues to work on making existing diesel models more sustainable, as part of its goal of achieving net climate neutrality by 2050.

    A few days ago, Audi revealed that it had approved several of its new V6 diesel models to accept renewable fuels, in this case Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (HVO). The automaker says that the sustainable fuel allows for a CO2 reduction of between 70% and 95% compared to diesel-based fossil fuels, while the fuel’s higher cetane rating also allows for cleaner combustion compared to fossil diesel.

    “Because the cetane rating of HVO is about 30% higher, the combustibility of the engines is enhanced. The positive effects of this can be seen especially at cold starting. We tested the effects on different components, performance and exhaust emissions in the specific verification,” said Matthias Schober, Head of Development Group Transmissions for Audi’s V-TFSI, TDI and PHEV, “working before approval is given”.

    HVO fuel is made from residual materials and waste, including residues from agriculture and cooking oils obtained from the food industry. Through the hydrogenation process, these oils can be converted into aliphatic hydrocarbons, making them suitable for use in vehicle engines. It can be used in place of, or mixed with, common diesel fuel.

    What models will be able to use HVO?

    Currently, the A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, Q7 and Q8 models will be produced from mid-February this year, with new Q5 diesel models set to follow in the first part of March. So this fuel will not be officially compatible with Older Audi V6 models, even if they are relatively recent.

    A number of other Audi diesel models have already been built to accept HVO, including the A3, Q2 and Q3 equipped with four-cylinder diesel engines in Europe. Audi also notes that A4, A5, A6, A7 and Q5 models in Italy, Sweden and Denmark have been able to use HVO since mid-2021.

    Of course, there are a few asterisks for this possibility.

    For starters, HVO is largely offered in Scandinavia, with the automaker estimating the total number of stations equipped with HVO at more than 600. Audi also notes that in its home country Germany only a few stations offer HVO.

    Second, HVO’s compatibility with Audi’s remaining diesel engines only began last year, so many current models produced in the last two decades or earlier won’t be able to count on them. Third, Audi plans all of its newly launched models to be battery electric within years, making the next few years the final pages in the diesel chapter, at least for the Volkswagen Group models offered in North America, Western Europe, and a few other markets. .

    “With our ‘Vorsprung 2030’ strategy, we are pursuing the clearly defined goal of having all new models we launch worldwide from 2026 to be fully electric. In this way, we are making an essential contribution on the road to carbon,” said Oliver Hoffmann. Audi chief development officer: “Neutral Mobility”.

    Where HVO . subtracts Some We suspect the long-term potential exists in countries where electric vehicle adoption rates are lower than in Europe, and are not expected to catch up for some time. This includes Central Asia, Eastern Europe, parts of the Middle East and Africa, as well as South America which for decades has been a leader in the production and use of sugarcane ethanol.

    So there are certainly a few areas where there is a new type of fuel, even if it’s not based on fossil fuels, can To be a realistic and more sustainable option in the medium term, before electric vehicles gain a larger market share, especially with regard to the trucking industry.

    With current EV share rates in the US, it’s not unreasonable to expect gasoline and diesel to stay for some time here as well, with the difference being the small number of diesel passenger cars on the road right now compared to Europe.

    “Through several pilot projects, such as the gas power plant in Werlt, Audi has gained valuable insights into the manufacture of sustainable fuels, which are used throughout the Volkswagen Group,” the automaker adds.

    “These experiences are also an important basis for developing concepts for a general sustainable energy system. The VW Group collaborates with mineral oil manufacturers and other energy suppliers and contributes its technical expertise to ensure the compatibility of existing engines with fuels.”

    Do you expect diesel passenger models to remain in use in Western Europe during this decade, or will the rapid transition to electric vehicles make them less popular there? Let us know in the comments below.

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