Category: Germany

By on February 17, 2017

opel-cascada-4

What’s the selling price for a huge automaker’s entire European operations? $2 billion, apparently — one billion in cash and another billion in gained liabilities.

That’s the valuation that General Motors and PSA Group are discussing as the American automaker attempts to unload its Opel and Vauxhall divisions, Bloomberg reports. Read More >

By on February 17, 2017

BMW M760Li xDrive

For the first time, BMW has given its flagship 7 Series an M badge. And while that may conjure up images of a standard 7 Series with a bit of performance tinsel, that’s not really the case here. The numbers are quite impressive.

The full name of this new model is a mouthfull: M760Li xDrive. Though that sounds more like a fax machine from about 1997, there are a few differences between the BMW and a dated beige electronic.
Read More >

By on February 16, 2017

GM: Barra at 2016 GM Annual Stockholders Meeting

It comes across as a movie scene where the departing mother soothes the nerves of two children frightened by their father’s impending remarriage.

In this case, the children are the trembling employees of German General Motors division Opel, and the departing parent is GM CEO Mary Barra. Well, “departing” isn’t accurate, at least not yet. The American automaker is in talks with France’s PSA Group to potentially sell off Opel, as well as its Vauxhall sister division.

Yesterday, Barra spoke to employees at Opel headquarters, hoping to allay fears and quell protests from Opel’s works council and union, as well as the German government. Her words, or what we know of them, relayed the message, “Kids, it’s gonna be okay.” Read More >

By on February 15, 2017

Buick Grille Logo Emblem, Image: General Motors

As politicians and labor unions in Europe reel from yesterday’s revelation of high-level talks between General Motors and Peugeot over a possible sale of Opel, GM’s most European-infused brand on this side of the Atlantic is operating business as usual.

Buick, which is GM’s second-largest brand globally by volume behind Chevrolet, has product in the wings, including the largely rumored but unconfirmed Buick Regal, based on the recently revealed Opel Insignia.

Buick sees no problem with that.

Read More >

By on February 15, 2017

Opel-Astra-295903

After yesterday’s shocking news of a potential takeover of GM-owned Opel and Vauxhall by France’s PSA Group, General Motors CEO Mary Barra hopped on a plane to the Fatherland.

Given the sudden uncertainty surrounding a major employer, Opel’s works council, labor union and the German government staged a collective panic attack. Soothing words were needed, stat. Britain, home of Opel’s Vauxhall sister division, would also like to hear a few assurances of its own. Read More >

By on February 14, 2017

Charles de Gaulle in a Citroen DS (Image: Gnotype/Flickr)

Maybe it’s leftover regional rivalry from generations past, or perhaps Germany just doesn’t want anything to affect its status as Europe’s financial powerhouse. Whatever the deep-seated reason, the residents of Deutschland are none too pleased about a possible French takeover of the Opel brand.

Earlier today, PSA Group, maker of Citroën and Peugeot vehicles, was revealed to be in serious talks to acquire the General Motors-owned automaker (as well as its Vauxhall sister company). Politicians and the head of Opel’s workers union apparently didn’t see this coming.

On the other side of the Maginot Line, the French seem just fine with the idea. Read More >

By on February 10, 2017

It looks like mustachioed, jeans-loving Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche will have to look elsewhere for a successor to the company throne.

Wolfgang Bernhard, head of Daimler Trucks & Buses, was thought by many a likely candidate to take on the top job once Dr. Z retires. Announced today, Bernhard is stepping down from his post and leaving the company he joined in 1994, even before his contract expires.

Infighting and age could have a lot to do with it. Read More >

By on February 7, 2017

VW logo

Minus an ongoing criminal probe that has some executives, including the company’s former CEO, sweating bullets, Volkswagen has seen relatively little blowback from the emissions scandal in its home country.

Its emissions-rigged diesel vehicles continue to ply the roadways of the Continent, with nothing like the multi-billion-dollar American buyback scheme in sight. It’s not smooth sailing, however, as some burned customers have decided to come for their own pounds of flesh. This week, a company that knows all about flesh showed up in search of payback. Read More >

By on February 3, 2017

1960 BMW 700, Image: BMW

Following in the footsteps of last week’s Karmann Ghia article, it seemed natural to take a look at two other lesser-known German alternatives to Volkswagen’s Type 1 Beetle and the ‘Beetle-in-a-suit’ Karmann Ghia.

Like the Karmann Ghia, both were attempts to capitalize on a new and expanding market for automobiles in Germany during the postwar economic boom times. That meant that the models had to incorporate existing technology, yet also appeal to a crowd increasingly interested in performance and style. However, both had to be at least somewhat economical and practical as family cars.

The result was a series of interesting and mostly forgotten air-cooled, rear-engine, rear-drive sedans, coupes and convertibles from both BMW and NSU.

Read More >

By on January 27, 2017

Martin Winterkorn, Image: Volkswagen AG [CC BY 3.0]/Wikimedia Commons

German prosecutors say their investigation into Volkswagen’s dirty dealings now includes the company’s former CEO, Martin Winterkorn.

The long-running probe into the diesel emissions scandal recently expanded from 21 suspects to 37, Reuters reports, placing Winterkorn solidly under the microscope. Winterkorn stepped down just days after the scandal went public in September 2015.

The former top boss recently emerged from the shadows to tell a German committee he knew nothing of the decade-long conspiracy under his watch, though prosecutors suspect he may have known more than that. Read More >

By on January 27, 2017

1961 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Type 34, Image: Volkswagen

The Karmann Ghia is familiar to most automotive enthusiasts as a styling exercise intended to turn the Volkswagen Beetle into a slinky “sportscar” using pedestrian internals. The resulting Type 1 Ghia debuted way back in 1955 and added some (more) Porsche styling to the family sedan. Assembled by Karmann in Osnabrück, Germany, with styling from Carrozzeria Ghia in Turin, Italy, the curvy two-door offered little performance, but much style, compared to its stablemates.

However, the Type 1 Karmann Ghia wasn’t the only car to bear that German-Italian nameplate.

Read More >

By on January 16, 2017

BMW Manufacturing plant

After being warned against producing vehicles in Mexico, German automakers are not scrambling to re-think their production plans.

In an interview with the German publication Bild, President-elect Trump issued a now-familiar warning to the country’s manufacturers — essentially, any vehicles imported into the U.S. from Mexico will face a 35 percent tax.

The Germans, for the most part, aren’t buying it. Meanwhile, the country’s economy minister saw Trump’s remarks as an opportunity to engage in some not-so-friendly automotive ribbing. Read More >

By on November 16, 2016

Mark-Fields (Image: Ford)

There’s something about billions of dollars in investment and carefully planned long-term product strategies that make it hard for an automaker to turn on a dime in the face of a threat.

Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields says his company has no plans to reverse course on its goal of boosting production of cars and components in Mexico, even after President-elect Trump’s promise of a 35-percent tariff on vehicles crossing the Rio Grande.

It’s a game of chicken Ford intents to win. Read More >

By on November 4, 2016

volkswagen 1938

The sudden termination of historian Manfred Grieger’s contract with Volkswagen is generating controversy in Germany, with some accusing the automaker of trying to put a lid on its dark past.

Grieger spent 18 years on the VW payroll, and was hired specifically to air the automaker’s dirty laundry. During his time with the company, Grieger penned detailed accounts of Volkswagen’s wartime use of forced labor from concentration camps while opening up the company’s archives to journalists and historians.

The New York Times reports that his contract came to an end this week. Some suspect that Grieger’s criticism of a report on Audi’s past led to his departure, and they worry VW could be trying to downplay revelations about its history with the Nazis and Brazil’s military dictatorship. Read More >

By on October 28, 2016

Volkswagen Atlas, Image: Seth Parks

The Atlas, Volkswagen’s entry into the hotly contested three-row crossover segment, is here — and it has the company’s future fortunes resting on its shoulders.

Volkswagen has not been doing well in the United States. Since 2012, its best sales year this millennia, VW has shed 30 percent of its sales volume. The brand that invented the compact car in the eyes of many Americans now finds itself in 14th place on the brand leaderboard with a 1.6 percent market share.

Dieselgate didn’t help, but its unbalanced product range may be the more nagging culprit. This is VW’s first mainstream, three-row crossover.

Read More >

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