Green Police, Audi and What Diesel Means for Platinum and Palladium

Not one to completely shy away from controversy, we understand that Audi’s Green Police Super Bowl ad caused quite a stir. And though personally, I found the ad amusing, I couldn’t help but think that given all of the controversy surrounding Toyota, car manufacturers that carry diesel lines like Audi may become the unintended beneficiaries of green conscious buyers. And for those of you who missed the ad:

Courtesy of YouTube and Audi

Consider some of the touted benefits of diesel engines and in particular, the Audi A3: 30% less fuel than comparable gasoline engine cars, a 30% reduction in of C02 emissions, 12% more powerful than gasoline engines and a chunky 609 miles to the tank. But don’t let me sell you on this car based on their marketing drivel, play with this turbo diesel calculator against other car models to see for yourself.

Now what Audi does not tell you relates to some of the precious metals at the core of some of these touted benefits. Precious metal demand (specifically platinum, palladium and rhodium) will increase due to new emissions standards in China, Europe and Japan along with a dozen or so states that have implemented tougher standards as well. These requirements will ultimately increase average platinum loadings per vehicle.  Diesel engines, which rely heavily on platinum but for which palladium has become a growing substitute will also increase demand for these precious metals.

And as we have previously reported, automotive demand is forecast to grow in 2010 and with it PGM demand. Now whether or not you consider yourself green or not, 2010 will make for an interesting year to see how some of these diesel models do in comparison to the hybrids.

–Lisa Reisman

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  • Mercedes should reissue the 240D (manual, not the automatic) and the non-turbo 300D … Best diesels ever made. And you could stink out your neighbors with them, making them green (but not in the way we’ve come to think of it today).

    The entire thought of some twenty-something who does not even know what a glow plug is buying an Audi diesel because “it’s green” is hilarious. I still remember taking a hair-dryer to my 240D (which did not have the engine block warmer) in sub 10 degree weather.

  • I’d be interested to see a side-by-side comparison of the precious metals that are used in hybrid batteries and those used in diesel and other cars. Do larger vehicles (SUVs) use more of these metals than others?

    • We’ll take a look at that. Yes, larger vehicles do use more of these metals than smaller vehicles but I’ll do some research and post a blog on it. Thanks for writing in!

  • What we must keep in perspective is that the new, cleaner diesels are the first generation to hit the market, since the EPA mandated ULSD fuel (fuel that reduces sulfur to the point that exhaust-treatment systems can be designed that will not be contaminated by the sulfur).

    It is highly likely that exhaust-treatment systems will continue to advance to the point that such high use of precious metals will probably not continue to be required in subsequent generations of such power trains.

    My point is this. Diesel tech. is on par with where spark ignition was around 1975, when automakers were first dealing with lead out of gasoline. If we decide not to support diesel power due to this precious metal thing, with all the advantages it affords over spark-ignition technologies, it will keep us from overcoming this 21 mpg average we’ve had for the last twenty-five years. Hybrids and electrification can help move us forward, but these technologies will take years to move towards mass production. Clean diesels are already being massed produced all over the world. All we need is just more American acceptance and we can start reducing our use of petroleum through diesel powered autos.

  • Greg, I agree with you on both points – PGM use will decline with subsequent power train generations (eventually) and we need more American acceptance of diesel….it will be interesting to watch the numbers. LAR


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