Audi, which plans to introduce a hybrid version of its Q7 SUV in the United States in 2008, also is considering a diesel version.
Audi has not had a diesel-powered vehicle in the United States since it offered a turbocharged diesel with an automatic transmission in the 1982-83 Audi 5000.
"We're strongly looking into that," said Wolfgang Hoffmann, director of product planning for Audi of America Inc. "Especially with the oil prices rising, I believe strongly that diesel can reduce oil consumption dramatically."
Audi unveiled the Q7, including the hybrid-electric version, last month at the Frankfurt auto show.
The Q7, Audi's first SUV, will debut in Europe in February and in the United States in May, Hoffmann said.
The Q7 will arrive in the United States with a 350-hp, 4.2-liter V-8 engine; it will be followed in September by a 280-hp, 3.6-liter V-6 engine.
Hoffmann said Audi has a "strong diesel competence" in Europe. He said Audi must decide whether it wants to do both the hybrid and a diesel in the United States or just the hybrid.
The Q7 will be launched in Europe with the V-8 and a 3.0-liter V-6 diesel engine.
The Q7 fills a huge gap in Audi's U.S. lineup. Hoffmann said the Q7 was designed with a focus on the U.S. market. Its big V-8 engine, seating for seven in three rows, 10 cup and bottle holders and large sunroof should appeal to U.S. SUV buyers, he said.
Johan de Nysschen, who heads of Audi of America, said: "Ten cupholders and bottleholders is a new record for Audi. Our engineers in Germany were wondering what it is we do in our cars in America."
At least half of the Q7's sales volume is expected to come from the United States.
The closest vehicle Audi had to an SUV was its all-road quattro, which was discontinued in the United States after the 2005 model year.
"It was the top-of-the-line Avant, but we felt it wasn't distinctive enough," Hoffmann said.
But, he said, some time after the Q7 is launched, "we have to think about bringing it back. We still see the SUV segment as growing. This was a gap we had to fill."
Audi also is planning to bring a smaller SUV to the United States in 2008 to compete with the BMW X3.
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