While heading to an appointment yesterday I was suddenly surrounded by an armada of Audi vehicles and what at first looked like the crew from Jackass hanging out of the windows and sunroofs; cameras in hand. What started in New York, passed through Philadelphia and has moved on to Washington D. C. is Audi’s “Mileage Marathon,” a publicity event to tout Audi diesel technology and test vehicles on a 4,800 mile, two week nationwide tour. From October 5-20, 184 drivers representing countries in North America, Europe and Asia will drive a series of Audi fuel-efficient vehicles in 13 daily stages and document their experiences with the hope of rallying support for the advantages of driving diesel.
The vehicle that first caught my attention, in no small measure because of the photographers perched outward from the interior like paparazzi, was the new 7-passenger Audi Q7 3.0 TDI and its ultra-low emissions system. With an EPA estimated 25 miles per gallon on the highway, the Q7 3.0 TDI offers highway driving range of more than 600 miles, while providing 400 lb-ft of torque. By reducing up to 90 percent of the nitrogen oxide (NOx) from a vehicle’s emissions, the Audi TDI exhaust purifying system complies with the world’s most demanding emissions law, ie: those in California. The TDI system also meets the upcoming European limits planned for implementation in 2014. Compared with the average gasoline engines typically found in the U.S., the TDI achieves a fuel-efficiency advantage of up to 40 percent.
Along with the Audi Q7 3.0 TDI, the brand new Q5 3.0 TDI, 3.0 TDI A4 and A3 Sportback 2.0 TDI can also be seen in the Mileage Marathon. The cars will be monitored during each leg of the journey and evaluated by speed, distance and fuel economy. Adding to the fuel-efficiency equation, each Audi vehicle will be equipped with special Michelin energy saving tires intended to deliver a level of energy efficiency among the highest in the market and further reduce CO2 emission while maintaining all the advantages of long wear, safety, and performance. Additionally, two vehicles will use fuel with Shell GTL, a synthetic fuel made from natural gas and one of the components of Shell V-Power Diesel race fuel, which fuels the hugely successful Audi team in the Le Mans series. The two vehicles will test this revolutionary gas to liquid technology, which is synthesized from natural gas and has the potential to burn more cleanly and efficiently than conventional diesel.
The route of the Mileage Marathon leads across America from New York to Los Angeles, passing through major cities like Chicago, Dallas and Las Vegas as well as traveling through the Rocky Mountains, Death Valley and the Grand Canyon. The route was chosen not only for plenty of pretty photo ops but to be a realistic mix of city and rural driving that is intended to mirror every day driving. Coverage of all of these new vehicles and technology will be forthcoming, but if you are curious as to when and where Audi will be in the next two weeks the itinerary includes:
New York, New York: October 5 – 6
Washington, D.C.: October 6 – 7
Cleveland, Ohio: October 7 – 8
Chicago, Illinois: October 8 – 9
Memphis, Tennessee: October 9 – 10
Dallas, Texas: October 10 – 11
Amarillo, Texas: October 11 – 12
Denver, Colorado: October 12 – 13
Durango, Colorado: October 13 – 14
Sedona, Arizona: October 14 – 15
Las Vegas, Nevada: October 15 – 16
Mammoth Lakes, California: October 16 – 17
Monterey, California: October 17 – 19
Los Angeles, California: October 19 – 20