Audi e-tron EV Sports Car Concept

2010 Audi A3 TDI clean diesel  (Source: CarCollery)

Audi of America president Johan de Nysschen  (Source: Detroit News)
More controversial comments have been delivered by Audi's contentious North American president

Audi of America President Johan de Nysschen isn't impressed with electric vehicles despite flirtations with the battery-driven cars by other German automakers and even designers at his own company.  He has vocally called out the electric vehicle industry, which he sees as a sham, in the past.  He once famously remarked that those buying GM's 2011 Chevrolet Volt are "idiots".

Mr. Nysschen, who prefers clean diesels, delivered a speech at the National Press Club on Monday blasting the U.S. government's decision to back electric vehicles by funding EV research and offering EV makers loans according to the Detroit News.  Ignoring the profitability of Tesla Motors, he insists that electric vehicles cannot be viable in the near terms and accused the U.S. government of "falling in love" with electric vehicles at its citizens' expense.

States Mr. Nysschen, "The 50 percent or so price increase that the Volt represents over a similar gasoline car cannot be offset through the savings from reduced fuel compensation. The only way to offset the extreme premium is through taxpayer-funded subsidies."

He's referring to the $7,500 tax credit the U.S. government is offering citizens who buy electric vehicles.  The credit essentially brings down the price of ownership for the Volt from an estimated $40,000 USD to a more manageable $32,500 USD.  He complains, "Paying customers to drive your cars is not sustainable."

He prefers for the government to avoid intervention, a scenario in which he envisions clean diesel vehicles reigning victorious.  He opines, "I understand why political leaders have fallen in love with hybrids and electrics. But this may be the one time you'll hear someone in Washington say it shouldn't be a monogamous relationship."

He points out that America could cut off all its oil importation from Saudi Arabia if only a third of Americans switched to diesel vehicles.  He describes, "America would save 1.5 million barrels of oil a day.  I make no apologies for being the world's biggest diesel advocate."

U.S. President Barrack Obama, however, remains a firm supporter of electric vehicles and hybrids as the route to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and foreign oil consumption.  He argues that the issue is of importance to national security and points out that many groundbreaking technologies in the U.S. -- such as the railroad system -- came at a steep initial cost to the U.S. government in terms of land or grant money.

As for Audi, the company as a whole is looking at electric vehicles.  However, half of the company's lineup sold in Europe is diesel-driven, so it's clear where the automaker's sympathies lie.  In the States, the Audi A3 TDI is one of two clean diesels sold by the company.  The A3 TDI won green car of the year honors at the 2009 LA Auto Show. 

One thing that President Obama and Mr. Nysschen agree on is the need to improve fleet efficiencies to combat climate change and reduce fuel costs for customers.  Automakers are currently struggling to meet incoming fuel economy mandates that will require fleetwide fuel economy of 34.1 mpg by 2016.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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