This week, Audi is conducting a 1,000-mile demonstration drive in California featuring two Audi A3 TDI® cars, the reigning 2010 Green Car of the Year®, fueled exclusively with synthetic RenDiesel® produced by Los Angeles-based Rentech Inc. Starting in Eureka, Calif., the journey’s aim is to spread the message that diesel technology has tremendous potential to make future inroads against the challenges of reducing fuel consumption and improving emissions. The trip will include a welcome reception from Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at the State Capitol and a high-level panel discussing diesel’s bright future at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. When it’s all completed, Audi will donate one of the A3 TDI cars to the museum for its alternative vehicles display.
Throughout the Eureka! Diesel Drives the Future tour, we will provide impressions on the journey and the performance of the fuel in this award-winning Audi.
Todd Kaho, Green Car Journal
“Driving down from Eureka we encountered some pretty steep grades and stop-and-go conditions in some of the smaller towns. It seemed like a good early challenge for the car and the Audi TDI technology. Plus we really wanted to drive the route through the redwoods. What struck me was the fact that you simply couldn’t tell any evidence that this car wasn’t running on standard diesel. We started in fairly cool conditions in Eureka and still managed to average 41.8 mpg in our car. (Note: the EPA highway fuel economy rating for the A3 TDI is 42 mpg).”
Ron Cogan, Editor and Publisher of the Green Car Journal
“So we get to the famous redwoods you can drive through – this one was the Chandelier tree. It’s a tree that’s 2,400 years old, 315 feet high and 21 feet wide. Seemed like a great place for some iconic California photos. We’re taking shots of the A3 TDIs driving through the road that goes right through the Chandelier tree when we notice a large service truck with ladders on top apparently determined to drive through this small opening.
It was a tight fit for the A3s, but the driver had his heart set on trying to make it through. Finally we managed to convince him to drive around the tree and we’d shoot photos of his truck as if he’d driven through this famous location. Score another one for this tour’s goal of helping the environment!”
“More than halfway through the first day I was amazed at how seamless the driving performance felt. The engineers at Rentech said to expect a 1-2% reduction in fuel economy because this synthetic fuel is less energy dense than traditional diesel. That seemed about right in our early turns behind the wheel. At the same time, the government’s research shows RenDiesel can produce significantly improved emissions in cars like this.”
“There seemed to be no difference in the driving. We still got the kick in the pants that helped convince us to name the Audi A3 as the 2010 Green Car of the Year. That’s the kind of experience I’ve come to expect from a well-engineered alternative vehicle – once you settle into driving it you can’t notice any difference from any other driving experience. We got behind the wheel of a clean diesel car like this roaring along on an emerging alternative fuel and the light bulbs just go off. Then the challenge becomes an educational issue, where matters like politics and money come into play. But from a sheer driving standpoint, we’re already seeing convincing arguments for this technology.
- Audi of America