Engineers at Audi 's California electronic research laboratories believe that the next step in reducing carbon dioxide emissions will come through 'connected' vehicles.

Daniel Rosario, the automaker's manager of connected vehicles, said the shortest route to a destination is not necessarily the optimised CO2 route.

"The path between two points can be measured in distance, but it can also be measured in the amount of carbon dioxide that our vehicles emit," he said. "Through this research we believe that information provided by connected vehicles will allow a driver to decide the best route to achieve the lowest CO2 emissions."

The technology exists today to connect vehicles, now researches and engineers need to integrate these technologies into what Rosario calls an "intelligent vehicle network".

"The goal is sustainable transportation," he said. "Driving behaviour can improve fuel efficiency by 20%. This initiative could improve that by another 20%."

Audi AG sales and marketing chief Ralph Weyler said at the Los Angeles motor show that the automaker is working with three California universities on six multi-year research projects aimed at reducing CO2 emissions through more intelligent interactions between driver and car, cars on the road, and in the collection and distribution of real-time traffic patterns.

Its researchers are working with the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at Riverside, and Stanford University on the project dubbed 'Clean Air, a Viable Planet'.

The Volkswagen group's electronics research laboratory in Palo Alto (near San Francisco), California, is a high-tech think-tank that has been developing new technologies since 1998.

It employs 40 engineers and researchers focused on accelerating innovations for future production vehicles. Located in the heart of 'Silicon Valley', the lab works closely with many high-tech companies, start-ups, and universities.