NEW YORK – The ’10 Audi A3 turbodiesel goes on sale in late November, but it will take six months for new buyers to take delivery.

That's because Audi dealers have a half-year of advance orders to fill before new customers can be accommodated, says Carter Balkcom, product manager for the new model.

With a starting price of $29,950 (not including $825 destination charge), a typically equipped A3 TDI probably will sell for $31,500, he predicts.

Balkcom expects the San Francisco bay area, Pacific Northwest and New England to be leading sales markets for the new Audi turbodiesel because those are the best-selling areas for the conventional gasoline-powered A3.

He believes the diesel will track those markets. About 3,000 A3s have been sold through Aug. 31, and Balkcom predicts about 5,000 will be sold by year end.

He forecasts the A3 TDI will appeal to households with $75,000 annual income. “They’re more affluent than you would expect.” His market research reveals an intellectual class of customers will find the diesel appealing.

The A3 TDI will be the second diesel Audi launches this year, following on the heels of the Q7 cross/utility vehicle. Through the end of September, 32% of Q7 buyers selected the 3.0L V-6 TDI. Overall, Balkcom predicts turbodiesels will account for about 10% of Audi sales volume this year.

Audi builds the A3 TDI at its factory in Ingolstodt, Germany. Its 2.0L turbodiesel generates 140 hp and 236 lb.-ft. (320 Nm) of torque. The auto maker claims a top speed of 130 mph (209 km/h), and the Environmental Protection Agency expects the car to achieve 30/42 mpg (5.6-7.8 L/100 km) in city/highway driving.

The powertrain is shared with the Volkswagen Jetta TDI, a 2009 Ward’s 10 Best Engines winner.

However, there is about a $5,000 price difference between the two cars. Also, the Jetta is a 4-door sedan, while the A3 is a 5-door hatchback. In addition, the interior of the Audi A3 is more luxuriously appointed than that of the Jetta.

Balkcom says Audi is studying the introduction of additional diesel models in the U.S. “We would especially like to have a diesel in the A4 here,” he says. Also under consideration is a diesel for the Q5.