Category: Germany

By on September 13, 2017

Concept EQ, Exterieur Concept EQ, exterior

Everyone’s doing it. It’s as popular as the fidget spinner and Pokémon Go crazes all those years months ago. In a rush to signal their environmental bonafides and display their dedication to the Next Big Thing, luxury automakers are tripping over themselves in an effort to promise an all-electrified model lineup as soon as technology and finances allow.

This time, it’s Mercedes-Benz. The world’s oldest car brand doesn’t want its rivals cashing in once governments around the globe start turning off the fossil fuel taps. So, earlier this week, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche stepped up and made a promise we’ve heard ad nauseum as of late: every model in the brand’s lineup will soon sport some form of electric propulsion, be it a hybrid setup or full-on battery electric powertrain.

For Mercedes-Benz, this means 50 hybrid or EV models, including at its irrelevant-to-Americans Smart brand. The move isn’t without a steep cost, however — Daimler is bracing for a slashing of vehicle profit margins. In some cases, the green collected from green cars could be half that of a gasoline Benz. What to do? Read More >

By on August 31, 2017

Image: 1990 BMW Z1, image via seller

Though not the first BMW-powered vehicle in our Rare Rides series, and not the first with two doors, it is the first BMW convertible we’ve seen here. And the two aforementioned doors on this little convertible have One Simple Trick up their sleeve — disappearing into the body of the car. It’s the kind of detail you’d only expect on some crazy old Citroën.

But that’s not the only unique aspect of the Z1. Want to learn something?

Read More >

By on August 15, 2017

merkel

After a lot of back and forth on citywide diesel bans and loads of corporate scandal, the German automotive industry has taken a public beating. However, with a few politicians still left in its corner, it’s managed to avoid some of Europe’s anti-combustion wrath. Proposed diesel bans haven’t yet come into effect, but there remains a strong contingent to force change with Chancellor Angela Merkel suddenly taking a greener stance as an election looms.

There’s no shortage of controversy surrounding Europe’s automotive industry, and much of it surrounds environmental issues. The public solution is to move away from fossil fuels and promote electric vehicles through regulatory action within the next few decades — an idea Merkel now openly supports.

“I don’t want to name an exact year,” she said in a recent interview with SUPERillu. But she also believes Britain and France’s plans to phase out internal-combustion cars by 2040 is “the right approach.” Read More >

By on July 24, 2017

german flag and reichstag

Volkswagen will hold an emergency supervisory board meeting on Wednesday to discuss recent allegations that Germany’s automakers have been operating as an automotive cartel since the 1990s. Meanwhile, Daimler’s workers council is demanding answers from management as the automaker reels from a one-two-punch of collusion and emissions cheating accusations.

“I advise the car industry to clear the air now, to say what has happened, and then we can look to the future together again,” parliamentary group leader Volker Kauder, said Monday on German television. “If the antitrust violations prove true, and there’s a lot to suggest that, then one must really say the clear sentence: the rule of law also applies to the car industry.”

However, claiming there is sufficient proof to prosecute is a little premature. With the exception of a somewhat damning letter intercepted from VW, no hard evidence of collusion has been made public. Investigators are still in the early stages of the antitrust probe and have given few details as to its progress.  Read More >

By on July 23, 2017

Volkswagen Blue

Government authorities are concerned that Germany’s automakers have been running one of the biggest CARtels in history. Allegedly active since the 1990s, automakers used secret working groups to remain in cahoots on decisions regarding technical issues, suppliers, and cost suppression. The groups may have even set the table for Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal by encouraging regulatory cheating.

Major manufacturers had apparently agreed on the size of the tanks containing AdBlue, Germany’s preferred diesel treatment fluid to reduce exhaust emissions, and decided the units should be small to keep fluid prices up. When the entire system turned out to be insufficient in meeting regulatory guidelines, illegal software manipulation became the alternative solution.  Read More >

By on July 7, 2017

hamburg Porsche fire

A Porsche dealership in Hamburg, Germany fell victim to a fire targeting roughly a dozen vehicles last night and there is some speculation on whether or not the arson was politically motivated — primarily due to its close proximity to this weekend’s G-20 summit. Relegated primarily to 718s and Macans, firebugs apparently missed some of the hotter ticket items in the showroom to burn the less-expensive models sitting in the lot. However, at least one Porsche 911 went up in smoke, along with an almost unrecognizable Panamera.

While the fire may have been unrelated vandalism or insurance fraud, Hamburg protesters spent a portion of the evening starting dumpster fires and setting cars ablaze in other parts of the city. They’ve since geared up and organized for a weekend of globalist opposition near the city’s center as police rolled in with water cannons and riot gear. Organizers of Thursday’s demonstration have titled the event “G-20: Welcome to Hell.”  Read More >

By on June 29, 2017

 

Porsche Leipzig Plant - Image: PorscheWhile the United States concluded its investigation into Volkswagen Group’s diesel emissions scandal months ago, the wheels of justice turn appear to turn more slowly in Germany.

Prosecutors in Stuttgart have launched a preliminary investigation into employees at Porsche to assess whether they were involved in designing any of the company’s emissions-cheating software. Porsche is the latest addition in a governmental probe against Volkswagen Group. German prosecutors have already launched a formal investigation against the core brand and Audi.

Prosecutor Jan Holzner explained on Thursday, however, that the Porsche inquiry was not yet a formal investigation. The same could not be said of managers at Bosch, who Holzner believes may have had a role in aiding and abetting Volkwagen’s emissions fraud.  Read More >

By on June 23, 2017

Image: 1988 Alpina B7S, image via Enthusiast Auto Group

The glorious green Alpina coupe before your eyes nets three firsts for the Rare Rides series. It’s the first coupe coated in any shade of green paint, the first BMW, and indeed the first German vehicle in the series (I don’t count last week’s Rolls-Royce as German, though you might).

Time for some eye candy.

Read More >

By on June 22, 2017

2017-camaro-zl1-1le-610x407

Team Camaro just went ballistic.

With ride and handling engineer Bill Wise at the wheel, the 2018 Camaro ZL1 1LE ate the 12.9-mile Nürburgring Nordschleife for breakfast, devouring the Teutonic track in an absurd 7:16.04, making it the fastest production Camaro, ever.

It might even be the fastest piece of metal GM has ever made for public consumption.

To put the Camaro’s time in context, the Corvette ZR1 officially looped the Green Hell 3.6 seconds slower than the 1LE; a brand new Ferrari 488 GTB is 5.6 seconds behind; meanwhile, the Formula 1–derived Enzo looks like a hot mess showing up 9.1 seconds after the land rocket from Lansing.

Rumor has it that Wise actually turned in a hand-timed 7:13.xx, but it will remain unofficial.

That’s like, super, stupid fast. Read More >

By on May 17, 2017

Matthias Müller, Image: Volkswagen AG/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

German prosecutors verified the launch of a formal investigation involving Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller and chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch due to suspected market manipulation.

While we reported on the probe last week, Müller’s inclusion was highly unexpected. It was unclear what, if anything, officials had on the CEO and why they waited until now to add him to the growing number of upper-level executives under examination.

The Stuttgart prosecutor’s office stated on Wednesday the investigation was prompted by a request from market regulator BaFin in the summer of 2016. After spending some time gathering evidence, investigators began to believe executives deliberately postponed releasing information to investors about the scale of the scandal and didn’t adequately disclose its financial consequences.

VW Group maintains the leadership had complied with disclosure rules and executives were unaware of the scope of the emissions cheating scandal when it kicked-off.  Read More >

By on May 11, 2017

Matthias Müller, Image: Volkswagen AG/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller is under investigation in Germany over the possibility he withheld important information on the company’s emissions scandal to investors, as well as potential market manipulation relating to Porsche. While public prosecutors continued to broaden their search among high-ranking company officials, the inclusion of the CEO is a bit of a surprise.

It was widely believed Müller would be free from scrutiny as he was appointed to replace ex-CEO Martin Winterkorn shortly after the emissions scandal went public in September 2015. Initially, German investigators even stated the CEO was not suspected of any wrongdoing. Then, in March of 2017, prosecutors launched a raid that seized the mobile phones, electronic passwords, appointment books, and email files of numerous Volkswagen and Audi employees — including Müller.  Read More >

By on May 5, 2017

Tesla Factory California

Tesla Motors has said it is making efforts to resolve outstanding issues with Grohmann Engineering’s legacy clients, including Daimler, BMW, Bosch, Intel, and Volkswagen Group. After the Tesla takeover last November, CEO Elon Musk indicated to Grohmann’s management team that the brunt of its efforts should be diverted away from former customers in order to focus primarily on production facilities related to the Model 3.

The move placed Musk at odds with company founder Klaus Grohmann, eventually resulting in his abrupt departure, and was a major source of tension among the German workforce — which, backed by IG Metall, has threatened to strike. Negotiations have already yielded improved worker pay and hiring promises, but Tesla now appears to be tackling the issue of how to handle the numerous clients who have been hung out to dry. Read More >

By on April 28, 2017

Peugeot 208, Image: PSA Group

When you’re hot, you’re hot. And when you’re the architect of a leasing promotion gone bad (by way of being too successful), you’re fired.

PSA Group reportedly canned its top German managers after a scorching lease deal on Peugeot 208 hatchbacks sent the country’s residents clamoring for wildly discounted French cars.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way. Read More >

By on April 26, 2017

[Image: Audi AG]

After history’s largest and most expensive automotive scandal forced a sudden pivot at Volkswagen Group — from expansion-minded to profit-focused — the German automaker might let go of a cherished toy.

According to insider sources who spoke to Reuters, VW is exploring the sale of Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati as part of a company-wide streamlining effort. After shoveling over $20 billion to the United States in a bid to end its diesel debacle, the company is in full penny-pinching mode.

The revered boutique motorcycle company was a long-awaited feather in ex-VW chairman Ferdinand Piëch’s hat, but after just five years of ownership, it may be time for Ducati to find a new home. Read More >

By on April 20, 2017

Tesla Model 3

It’s no secret that the success of Tesla’s forthcoming Model 3 will dictate its position as a mainstream automaker for the foreseeable future. Tesla’s current status as the most valuable carmaker in the United States is riding, almost entirely, on the problem-free assembly of its “affordable” EV this summer. So, when one of its German suppliers threatened to go on strike earlier this month, you can imagine the series of panic attacks CEO Elon Musk probably suffered.

Last week, the company’s recently acquired industrial robotics unit Grohmann began labor negotiations over insufficient wages and Tesla’s decision to suspend all contracts that didn’t pertain specifically to the Model 3. And, to ensure things went his way, Musk has become directly involved in the process.

Read More >

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