Category: Germany

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 >

By on October 13, 2016

audi-r8-e-tron-03

Maybe buyers weren’t ready for an electric supercar. Maybe there wasn’t enough hype and star power. Hell, maybe no one knew about it.

Whatever the reason for the Audi R8 e-tron’s lack of sales and visibility, we do know one sure thing about this environmentally friendly phantom — it is stone cold dead. Read More >

By on October 12, 2016

2015 Volkswagen Beetle Classic, Image: Volkswagen Group of America

Volkswagen’s plan to cut costs by cancelling underperforming models isn’t enough to right the scandal-rocked ship.

With an incredibly powerful workers union breathing down its neck, trimming its ranks has proved a tough operation. Meanwhile, there’s only so many models it can drop, and bills are coming due from the many fines, settlements, and lawsuits stemming from the diesel debacle.

How does Volkswagen get rid of 25,000 employees while placating a union boss who sits on the supervisory board?

According to Reuters, the answer comes down to one word: attrition. Specifically, retiring Baby Boomers. Read More >

By on October 10, 2016

Exhaust pipe of running vehicle, Image: By Ruben de Rijcke (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The German government has passed a resolution to ban the sale of internal combustion engines in the European Union by 2030.

Receiving bipartisan support in the German Bundesrat, the resolution calls on the EU Commission in Brussels to ensure only zero-emission passenger vehicles be approved for sale within the next fourteen years.

While the act has no direct legislative implications for Europe as a whole, German regulations could still undoubtedly influence and shape future automotive policies in the EU.

Read More >

By on October 4, 2016

2017 Buick Regal, Image: General Motors

Update: Added statement from Buick.

As Buick rolls out its Avenir sub-brand, slashes underperforming products, and bolsters its crossover and SUV portfolio, the Regal withers on the vine — but not for long.

Speaking with a well-placed source, TTAC gleaned details on the forthcoming Buick Regal, which will be revealed in the second quarter of 2017, possibly at the New York International Auto Show.

Read More >

By on September 27, 2016

volkswagen-jetta-tdi-clean-diesel-event-no-better-time-to-buy-large-3

It has been a year since we learned that Volkswagen’s tranquil and oh-so-green “clean diesel” utopia was actually a carefully constructed facade hiding a scorched wasteland of pollution and lies. Apparently, that doesn’t mean the jokes need to stop.

The scientific humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research has awarded the financially hurting automaker with a notorious prize that most recipients usually build a fun evening around. It’s extremely, no, absolutely likely that Volkswagen didn’t appreciate the humor. Read More >

By on September 24, 2016

2014 audi a6 tdi engine

Despite witnesses claiming Audi CEO Rupert Stadler was involved in the Volkswagen emissions scandal, the law firm investigating the company has reportedly found no evidence to support the claim.

According to company sources, U.S. law firm Jones Day found nothing that suggests the company chairman had any prior knowledge of the brand’s rigged diesel engines, Reuters reports. Read More >

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