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Audi: Time to flaunt pricey, diesel-powered luxury cars

German automakers rolls the dice on 'exclusivity' of diesel ownership for luxury shoppers in a new ad campaign.

By James_Tate Sep 11, 2013 7:43AM

Imagine the scene: A woman in her 30s pulls into a gas station with an Audi A8. She walks around the car to get to the pump, and as the nozzle approaches her tank, everything goes into slow motion. Police spring into action while cars screech to a halt in the street, bystanders shout in horror and the gas-station attendant sprints out and shouts, “Hey, lady — that’s diesel!


“I know,” the woman says. While the attendant stares, nonplussed, the woman gives a look to a 40-something man in an A6, who simply shakes his head.

 

This is “The Station,” a new ad campaign that Audi is rolling out to introduce its expanded lineup of TDI diesel-powered vehicles. For 2014, Audi is adding TDI versions of the A6, A7 and Q5, which join the currently available Q7 and A8. But "The Station" is an interesting route for Audi, in that the attitudes of the drivers at the diesel pumps seem to unintentionally confirm the stereotype of Audi drivers being, diplomatically speaking, a touch smug and self-important.


Among the messages coming through in the new Audi ad are that it’s not odd to own a diesel, even if you’re American. The ad wants to announce that "diesel" doesn’t have to mean "econobox" or "beige" — that diesel is for the luxury market as well. The message Audi wants you to take away from “The Station” is literally spelled out for you, the viewer: “The future is Audi TDI clean diesel” in stark white letters over black.

Many American car enthusiasts have been clamoring for more diesel options here in the U.S. and spreading the gospel of better fuel economy and higher torque figures. Maybe some will applaud Audi’s new campaign for its self-aware sense of humor and for pushing the diesel market upscale, but there is some danger that “The Station” is a little too subtle in its portrayal of Audi owners and might accidentally reinforce those all-too-negative opinions of them.


It’s too early to tell how successful “The Station” and Audi’s clean-diesel push will be, especially since these Audis are more than double the cost of a Volkswagen Jetta TDI, which has been the most popular diesel passenger car in the U.S. for many years. Volkswagen, which owns Audi, makes up roughly 84 percent of the U.S. diesel market, which makes up only 1 percent of the entire car market. But with new models from Chevrolet and Jeep – and more to come from BMW – diesel sales increased by 42 percent in August compared with last year, according to data from HybridCars.com.


In addition to the new ad, Audi put journalists and noted hypermiler Wayne Gerdes, who set a Guinness record for fuel economy in a Volkswagen Passat TDI, in a fleet of TDI models from California to New York. In a move that surprised no one, the cars outperformed their EPA estimates by a long shot while refueling only four times over 2,850 miles. The A6 TDI, for example, hit 43.5 mpg, or 50 percent higher than the car's EPA combined estimate. But due to legal concerns, no doubt sparked by Ford's troubles with its advertised ratings, you won't see an Audi ad claiming those numbers any time soon. It'll only be found in press releases and media coverage.


For now, though, let’s give Audi some credit for trying to push diesel engines into everyday conversation in the United States.


[Source: Automotive News; photo via Audi USA]

 

12Comments
Sep 11, 2013 8:19AM
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After seeing this add, I "built" an A6 diesel at Audi's website.  It stickered at about $67k with the options I wanted.  Very nice, but I am not going to spend that much money on a car.

 

Waiting for a 328D to show up so I can take it for an extended test drive...

Sep 16, 2013 4:26PM
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I completely concur with the stereotype of Audi owners as stuck-up, self-important "cocks", as Jeremy Clarkson calls them. I've known quite a few Audi owners, including my sister in law's husband (who drives an Audi S5), and they are all a**holes, my sister in law's husband being the biggest one of them all. 
Sep 11, 2013 10:50AM
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Jetta tdi for 24k..buy it used for 18 then hook it up.. spend 2k on suspension, brakes and rotors, 1k on entertainment sound/ navi etc, and another 1k in miscellaneous upgrades, and you have a poor mans audi..

or just lease it brand new, the MSRP's will scare you, but they do have some good lease options.

Sep 14, 2013 5:39PM
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That is a really cool advertisement. I can totally identify with the guy shaking his head... Only in America can it happen that people are ignorant of diesel passenger cars. I feel ashamed for my fellow Americans.

We used to be the #1 automotive force in the world, now most of us are so ignorant about cars that we need to be shown pictures of a car being fueled with diesel in order to comprehend.
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