Audi A6 TDI

A number of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are set to debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show, but some automakers are also previewing diesel models that will hit showroom floors in the not-so-distant future. A move toward oil burners may make sense, as Diesel Technology Forum reports that sales of clean diesel vehicles increased by more than 25 percent in 2012.

"With higher and fluctuating fuel prices, Americans are seeking more fuel efficient cars,” says Allen Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Diesel Technology Forum, in a press release. “In addition, the new federal fuel efficiency standards that will required a 54.5 mpg average by 2025 will also boost clean diesel auto sales, as diesel cars are 20 to 40 percent more fuel efficient than gasoline versions."

Mazda is among those taking the plunge, as the automaker plans to reveal more details about its Skyactiv-D 2.2-liter clean diesel engine at the LA Auto Show. Car and Driver notes that the Mazda6 is available with a diesel engine abroad, and speculates that the Mazda CX-5, Mazda3 and Mazda6 could all be candidates for the new engine.

Other sources indicate that Mazda’s move toward diesel could help distinguish the automaker from other Japanese brands. Automobile Magazine writes, “We can assume that the automaker hopes the diesel option will help align it better with premium diesel options from Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi and less with the hybrid-loving Toyota and Honda.”

While Mazda has yet to reveal which vehicles will be blessed with diesel power, Audi has announced that four new diesel models will go on sale for the 2014 model year. First up is the Audi A8 TDI, which will go on sale in spring 2013. This version of the A8 will be powered by a 3.0-liter clean diesel engine that generates 240 horsepower and 406 pound-feet of torque. Official fuel economy estimates and full specs are pending, but Audi estimates that the A8 TDI will deliver 24/36 mpg city/highway fuel economy. In comparison, the EPA reports that the gas-powered A8 3.0 gets 18/28 mpg.

Diesel versions of Audi A6 and A7 models, as well as the Q5 SUV, will use the same engine and hit showroom floors in fall 2013.

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