Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen accepting the Green Car of the Year Award for the Audi A3 TDI
At last year’s LA Auto Show, the Volkswagen Jetta TDI rather surprisingly beat out many non-diesel contenders to win the title of 2009 Green Car of the Year. And, if I were a betting man, I would have never guessed that the Green Car Journal would choose another diesel to win the 2010 title. But they have. The Audi A3 TDI was just named the 2010 Green Car of the Year.
Why is it surprising? Diesels have for a long time been relegated to the back shelf of the American automotive scene. Aside from heavy duty truck applications, it was a rare day that your normal American actually even saw a diesel passenger car on the road. But all of that is slowly changing, and, as witnessed by the attention many German manufacturers have been paying to the Americanization of diesels, the future looks bright for diesels in the US.
For good reason too: many of these cars get astoundingly good fuel economy and have very low emissions. They’re not your papa’s diesel. In the case of the Audi A3 that’s available in the US, it gets a reported 30 city/42 highway mpg (in Europe they sell a model that gets roughly 40 city/52 highway mpg… if that model were for sale here, I’d certainly be happier to say the A3 deserved the title of Green Car of the Year).
Personally I think the choice of the A3 TDI as Green Car of the Year was more of a political one than anything else—sculpted to add additional credence to the viability of diesels on the US market. The A3 TDI was up against a bevy of green cars including the venerable Toyota Prius, the universally panned Honda Insight, the Mercury Milan Hybrid, and another diesel, the VW Golf TDI.
Photo Credit: Nick Chambers