The Truth About Cars » Volkswagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 16 Apr 2014 04:59:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Volkswagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/volkswagen/ Leaked Documents Link Anti-Union VW Incentive Offer To TN Governor’s Office http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/leaked-documents-link-anti-union-vw-incentive-offer-to-tn-governors-office/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/leaked-documents-link-anti-union-vw-incentive-offer-to-tn-governors-office/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 14:15:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=786417 092112_WEB_a_VW_Sign_t618

Leaked documents linked to the United Auto Workers battle for the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. point to a connection between Governor Bill Haslam and the German automaker regarding a $300 million incentive in exchange for over 1,300 jobs at a proposed SUV plant within the state.

WTVF-TV reports the incentives were contingent “to works council discussions between the State of Tennessee and VW being concluded to the satisfaction of the State of Tennessee.” By the time Volkswagen entered into election talks with the UAW in January, however, the Haslam administration formally notified the automaker that it was withdrawing the offer, citing that it had kept the offer on the table past the 90-day window normally reserved for incentives when the incentive in question had no such expiration date.

Though Haslam has denied any such connection to the incentive — dubbed “Project Trinity” — U.S. Senator Bob Corker claimed as early as February of this year that the offering would be made should the workers at the Chattanooga plant vote against representation by the union.

As for the UAW, organizer Gary Casteel stated the following in response to whether the now-public documents were a game-changer in the union’s appeal to the National Labor Relations Board over the election results:

To me, it puts pressure on the state to do what they should have done in the first place — and that’s give the incentives with no strings attached, just like they would any other company, union or non-union.

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VW Confirms New Turbodiesel Due Later This Year http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/vw-confirms-new-turbodiesel-due-later-this-year/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/vw-confirms-new-turbodiesel-due-later-this-year/#comments Wed, 19 Mar 2014 10:15:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=775585 VW EA288 TDI Diesel Engine

Fans of Volkswagen diesels will be thrilled to know that later this year, the automaker’s latest 2-liter turbo-four will be available for the 2015 Golf, Jetta, Passat, Beetle and Beetle Convertible.

Autoblog reports the new EA288 TDI will produce 150 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque, with an additional 10-horsepower boost for road train-passing emergencies. Other features include EGR, an intake manifold with integrated intercooler, and low-friction camshaft bearings.

Though the turbodiesel will arrive in five VW models for the 2015 model year, all Audis and Volkswagens will eventually receive the EA288 as the automaker phases out the current 2-liter TDI; 12 such models are in showrooms at present, with 105,899 units sold in 2013.

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Dispatches Do Brasil: Movin On Up! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/dispatches-do-brasil-movin-on-up/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/dispatches-do-brasil-movin-on-up/#comments Mon, 17 Mar 2014 17:31:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=774089 VW_white_up!_1.0_–_Frontansicht,_14._April_2012,_Velbert

As of late Brazil has been on a roll and a multitude of makers have set up or are in the process of setting up in our tropical paradise. Everybody from Jaguar to Hyundai (not to mention a motley crew of Chinese brands) are placing their bets, but they face an obstacle that nobody has really noticed: the existence of a number of foreign makes that locals consider, well, local. Among them, the most Brazilian of makes – Volkswagen. Currently trailing Fiat, and sometimes GM, VW nonetheless is as Brazilian as feijoada, and for the first time in decades, VW has deemed us worthy of getting a taste of the best they have to offer on their European menu, the whimsically named up!.

My oh my, what a wonderful little thing it is, albeit different in its Brazilian incarnation. The up! delivers a nutritious meal in a tight, dare I say it, beautiful package. Never having been one that cared much for the looks of VWs, I’m humbled to say I approve. I approve very much. Though it sits quite upright, it is both narrow and short, using the beauty of its simple lines to create a positive impression. Most impressively in our post-Bangle world, it does so without any undue reliance on wanton creases and bulges. Peculiarly attractive is the way the windshield meshes into the front fenders and hoods. To nitpick, my only objection would be that the front could have been done more demurely, but that’s besides the point. To compare this with the unwieldy shapes that usually come out of Asia’s subcompact cars is truly a lesson to be taken to heart.

The Brazilian up! at 142 inches long is 2.5 inches longer than the European one. Although it is about an inch taller than the Euro version, its width and wheelbase remain the same. The extra length is explained by the need for more trunk (285m³) and the extra height is due to a taller stance that better handles our bad roads, and VW recognizing that some extra tirewall does add comfort. In Europe the up! is strictly a four seater, while here it is homologated for five. Other differences include rear windows that actually go down and a hatch made of metal and not glass.

Though it starts at a reasonable R$26,500 (and goes up to a very unreasonable R$46,000), most versions are equipped with the bare, legal minimum level of safety features(ABS and 2 frontal airbags – thank God for government regulation) and all desirable equipment (electrical windows, locks, AC and on it goes and goes and goes) costs a pretty penny. Besides the looks, the mini VW pales in comparison to some of the competition in terms of features, but VW does have a trump card.

Surprisingly enough, that ace comes in the form of a 3 cylinder 1.0L 12v engine. Believe me, it’s a gem. It has an aluminum block, variable valve timing and a double cooling circuit (which allow the head and block to work at different temperatures). All of this, I’m told, helps the little engine in terms of efficiency and output. The mill corrals 75 horses on Brazilian gas (E25) and 82 hp on pure Brazilian ethanol.

More importantly, 85% of total torque (9.7m.kgf and 10.4m.kgf, respectively) is available at a low 2000 rpm. While the engine struggles a little against its inherent 3 cylinder imbalance at idle, the effect is minimal in comparison to other brands (namely Hyundai’s) 3 cylinders in our market. Most Brazilians will not even notice it’s not an I4. It also pulls very well up to its lofty redline and thanks to its suave functioning, it never feels unduly strained.

Top speed is a little low, around 165km/h, and 0-100km/h is accomplished at about 12-13 seconds. The consumption is the highlight of this car. Real world drivers are reporting 10km/l in heavy stop and go traffic. Other cars in the 1.0L category, in such circumstances, rarely get more than 9.

I find most Volkswagens a tad on the stiff side, especially the best-selling VW in Brazil and perennial market leader, the Gol. The Gol is fun to take out on the road and gun it, a situation in which it shines. However, in the city, that extra stiffness proves not at all pliant. That makes for a downright unpleasant ride. The up! on the other hand, took the curves I threw at it in a nonchalant manner, all the while being quite comfy in our slow traffic and took in the bumps on our imperfect pavement in a more civilized fashion. I hope this sets a trend for future VWs. Though surely stiffer than some of the competition, the up!’s suspension system does not add discomfort at low speeds due to its relative competence at higher speeds.

Once inside the car, most Brazilian buyers will probably be pleasantly surprised. In spite of the gimmicky flat bottomed steering wheel, the rest of the interior is modern and minimalist. VW was careful in choosing plastics that did not feel any less substantial than that in competitors. Some will balk at the metal apparent on the doors, a throwback to more pristine times, but on the whole it seems rather well screwed together with no glaring deficiencies as to finishing. Instrumentation is adequate, as are seat adjustments. The seating position is very pleasant and one does sit more up than in other small VWs, which I wholeheartedly endorse. Seats, pedals and wheel are almost perfectly aligned and the gear shift action is minimal and light, and most especially quiet. I, who stands 1.8m tall, found headroom and shoulder room more than adequate while in the back footroom and hiproom are at a premium.

The most glaring defect is that air vents are only present off to the side. In the center console there’s simply no room. Up on the dashboard, close to the windshield, there is another one, but its adjustability is limited. Also, since the infotainment system is a couple-on affair that goes right in front of that vent, its usability is rendered even lower. On the day I drove the car it wasn’t that hot, so I didn’t suffer, but I’d be wary of the apparent lack of climate control in a country where temperatures can get up to and above the 40°C mark in the summer.

Due to its tall greenhouse, sight lines are better than in most, though the pillars can intrude. In all honesty I expected better, but quite good for a modern car. The light steering and compact dimensions, added to the adequate sight lines make city parking quite easy. Finally, this is the second Brazilian car to score a perfect five star rating in Latin NCap testing. So, safe it is.

All in all, a nice surprise from VW. The Volkswagen up! offers great economy, tidy but relatively spacious cabin, modern internal ambience, technological gadgets, safe, nice interior design, great exterior design. If you can stomach the relatively high asking price, and the usual VW-games with accessories, this is a Volkswagen that even I would be happy to own.

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VW Group, Led By Porsche, Aiming For 10 Million In Sales By Year’s End http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/vw-group-led-by-porsche-aiming-for-10-million-in-sales-by-years-end/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/vw-group-led-by-porsche-aiming-for-10-million-in-sales-by-years-end/#comments Fri, 14 Mar 2014 11:37:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=771258 Porsche-911-991-Targa-01

Volkswagen Group’s goal of selling 10 million units annually may come as soon as the end of 2014, with Porsche leading the way in operating profitability.

Automotive News reports the target, originally set for 2018, is on-track to come this year, according to CEO Martin Winterkorn. The group sold 9.72 million units last year, beating General Motors to become the world’s second-largest automaker.

Fueling the growth are rising volumes in Europe and China, and introductions of over 100 models between now and the end of 2015, including new and updated SUVs for Volkswagen and Porsche.

Speaking of Porsche, the premium sports car brand’s profit earnings tripled to 2.58 billion euro last year, while those of VW and Audi fell to 2.89 billion and 5.03 billion, respectively. Overall revenue for Porsche totaled 14.3 billion euro on sales of 155,000 units worldwide.

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UAW Will Appeal NLRB Decision Giving Anti-UAW VW Workers Voice http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/uaw-will-appeal-nlrb-decision-giving-anti-uaw-vw-workers-voice/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/uaw-will-appeal-nlrb-decision-giving-anti-uaw-vw-workers-voice/#comments Thu, 13 Mar 2014 11:39:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=770945 092112_WEB_a_VW_Sign_t618

Angered by the decision made by the National Labor Relations Board to allow anti-UAW Volkswagen workers to defend the results of an election held last month at the VW plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. on whether or not to be represented by the United Auto Workers, the union has vowed to appeal.

Reuters reports the union believes the NLRB discarded its own precedent by allowing the workers — supported by both the National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation and Southern Momentum, two of the outside groups that had campaigned against organization by the UAW — a formal role in the dispute, and expressed their displeasure in a statement:

It is an outrage that their allies, who refused to reveal their funding sources and who openly republished the illicit threats in the media and among the Volkswagen workforce, will now be allowed to participate in the NLRB hearing.

Though it was the regional office in Atlanta who signed-off on the decision to allow the anti-UAW workers a valid voice in the dispute, the UAW plans to appeal directly to the five-member NLRB board in Washington, D.C. The office is overseeing the main dispute over the election results — whose decision could lead to a new election if all is found in favor of the UAW — and is planning an investigation regarding the outside interference alleged by the union to be the main cause of their loss.

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Winterkorn: T-ROC Will Be Built If Customers Want It http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/winterkorn-t-roc-will-be-built-if-customers-want-it/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/winterkorn-t-roc-will-be-built-if-customers-want-it/#comments Sat, 08 Mar 2014 14:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=767265 Volkswagen-T-ROC-Concept-02

Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn is optimistic for the future of the T-ROC, with the automaker willing to build the crossover if the customers want it.

Automotive News Europe reports the production version of the concept crossover — based upon the MQB architecture found in the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf — would slot between the compact Tiguan and VW’s planned Taigun subcompact SUV.

Winterkorn believes the concept will have a mass appeal for the automaker’s customer base — especially as sales of crossovers and small SUVs rise in Europe and the United States. VW brand head of development Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neusser concurred, dubbing the T-ROC a logical evolution of the Golf.

The three-door T-ROC seats four, comes with a removable tablet infotainment display, and is powered by a 2-liter diesel found in the Golf GTD, pushing 182 horses through all four wheels.

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VW Considering Larger Pickup For U.S. Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/vw-considering-larger-pickup-for-u-s-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/vw-considering-larger-pickup-for-u-s-market/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 13:14:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=766241 2013-Volkswagen-Amarok-Canyon-07

The Amarok may not be coming to the United States, but depending on the success of the General Motors’ twin midsize pickups, Volkswagen may re-enter the light-duty truck market with a product more suited to a U.S. audience.

Autoblog reports VW is mulling over the idea of bringing a truck to the U.S. market, though it may not be the Amarok popular around the world, according to VW Group head of powertrain development Dr. Heinz-Jakob Neußer:

We are just reworking our truck strategy, and this is part of thinking about it. But the Amarok fits not very well to the efforts of the market.

Speculation around the VW U.S. pickup include a revised Amarok or a separate U.S.-only model.

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Volkswagen Mum On Alleged Expansion Of U.S. Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/volkswagen-mum-on-alleged-expansion-of-u-s-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/volkswagen-mum-on-alleged-expansion-of-u-s-plant/#comments Mon, 03 Mar 2014 15:30:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=760105 Volkswagen CrossBlue Concept SUV

Though United States Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee claimed Volkswagen would announce an expansion of the plant in his native Chattanooga — slated to build a midsize SUV based on the CrossBlue Concept from this year’s Detroit Auto Show — if the workers rejected the United Auto Workers in last month’s attempt to organise the plant, the German automaker has remained silent as of this weekend.

The Detroit Free Press reports Corker believes the delay is the result of an appeal made by the UAW to the National Labor Relations Board, citing the senator’s comments and those of outside anti-union interests as the chief causes in the election’s failure. He also dismissed the idea VW would decide to build the new SUV in either Tennessee or Mexico no matter the election’s outcome:

There is no way I’d put out a statement like I put out unless I was 1,000% that it was accurate in every way.

Meanwhile, VW is moving forward with a plan to install a works council in the Tennessee plant, though where the automaker may build its next U.S. plant depends on the success of the campaign. VW Global Works Council head Bernd Osterloh warned that the “massive antiunion atmosphere” surrounding Chattanooga could prompt the company to take their ball out of the South should future expansion be considered.

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VW Budget Brand Hitting Budget Wall, Still Under Consideration http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/vw-budget-brand-hitting-budget-wall-still-under-consideration/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/vw-budget-brand-hitting-budget-wall-still-under-consideration/#comments Mon, 03 Mar 2014 14:47:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=760145 2013 Volkswagen Up

In 2012, Volkswagen began research into starting a budget brand in the vein of Datsun and intended rival Dacia, with the aim of having a full lineup ready for sale by 2015. Two years later, the budget brand has hit a budget wall, and that’s only the start.

Autoblog and Autocar report VW is having issues hitting safety and quality targets while maintaining the low-cost pricing — aimed between 6,000 and 8,000 euro; the Up above begins at nearly 10,000 euro — the automaker expects for the unnamed budget brand.

Though no business case has been found thus far, VW’s project is still under consideration as technicians pour over how similar rivals — including one-time partner Suzuki and considered partner Proton — are able to build low-cost vehicles without compromising on quality or price. Even though Renault-Nissan manages to be profitable with Dacia, VW is concerned that a low-cost car would erode their own margins.

Last year, Volkswagen announced they would work in a joint venture with Chinese automaker FAW to bring a budget vehicle to China by 2016; cost issues are affecting this effort, as well.

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Corker: Labor Board Should Not Silence Lawmakers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/corker-labor-board-should-not-silence-lawmakers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/corker-labor-board-should-not-silence-lawmakers/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2014 15:45:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=757161 Senator Bob Corker

Former Chattanooga, Tenn. mayor and current United States Senator Bob Corker urged the National Labor Relations Board not to silence him or fellow lawmakers opposed to unionization as the NLRB considers an appeal by the United Auto Workers over the results of the three-day election recently held at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga.

Reuters reports Sen. Corker issued a statement during the election, where conversations led him to believe that if the workers rejected UAW representation, then VW would build a new midsize SUV in his state. He adds that when Democrat politicians voiced support for unions in the past, the NLRB ruled they properly expressed their free speech rights, a ruling Corker hopes will run for the opposition, as well:

I hope that the NLRB will understand and realize the magnitude of what they are going to be deciding and in no way will try to muzzle public officials who are community leaders from expressing their point of view.

Corker said he spoke out against the UAW in order to counteract misinformation about the SUV’s arrival being tied to the plant’s unionization, an allegation the union denies making while consistently stating the vote would not affect where the SUV would ultimately be produced.

Though mum on where his information regarding the rejection originated, Corker stood firm on his criticism of the UAW and its main reason for showing up in his state in the first place:

I think it was very apparent the UAW was in Chattanooga for one reason – dollars.

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VW Chattanooga Workers File Against UAW Recount http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/vw-chattanooga-workers-file-against-uaw-recount/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/vw-chattanooga-workers-file-against-uaw-recount/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 21:52:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=755345 volkswagen-chattanooga-solar-park-08

Five workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn. plant have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board against the United Auto Workers’ challenge to invalidate the outcome from this month’s three-day election, which saw the union fail to win the right to represent the plant’s workers in a close fight.

Automotive News reports the quintet are aided by attorneys for anti-union organization National Right to Work Foundation, who believe if the NRLB doesn’t hear the workers, then no one might be able to resist the UAW, a belief NRWF President Mark Mix further explained in a statement regarding the petition:

Based on Volkswagen management’s actions leading up to this point, these workers are concerned that VW will not actively defend their vote to remain free from union boss control. That’s why these workers have filed a motion to intervene.

Meanwhile, the UAW’s argument for their filing is based upon alleged interference from anti-union forces, such as United States Senator Bob Corker, who said if workers voted against the union, the plant would find new funding to expand around a new midsize SUV set to be built in 2016. If allowed to stand, however, the results would be a major setback for the union in their battle to organize the South’s automotive industry.

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UAW Files Rejection Of Chattanooga Election Results http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/uaw-files-rejection-of-chattanooga-election-results/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/uaw-files-rejection-of-chattanooga-election-results/#comments Fri, 21 Feb 2014 21:49:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=751521 092112_WEB_a_VW_Sign_t618

The United Auto Workers union has filed an appeal this day with the National Labor Relations Board over the results of the three-day organization election at Volkwagen AG’s Chattanooga, Tenn. plant held last week, citing outside intimidation from anti-union groups and individuals.

In the 58-page filing, the UAW goes into detail over the anti-unionization campaign, including references to United States Senator and former Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker’s threat/promise over Volkswagen’s plan to build their BlueMotion Concept-based mid-size SUV in 2016.

Union president Bob King reaffirmed the union’s commitment to organizing the VW plant in the filing, while also having this to say about the anti-union forces who campaigned against the workers’ right to join the UAW:

It’s an outrage that politically motivated third parties threatened the economic future of this facility and the opportunity for workers to create a successful operating model that that would grow jobs in Tennessee. It is extraordinary interference in the private decision of workers to have a U.S. senator, a governor and leaders of the state legislature threaten the company with the denial of economic incentives and workers with a loss of product.

The NLRB will now investigate the results for potential interference. If found in the UAW’s favor, the board will throw out the results and hold a new election at the plant.

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VW Works Council May Block New Southern U.S. Expansion Without Unionization http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/vw-works-council-may-block-new-southern-u-s-expansion-without-unionization/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/vw-works-council-may-block-new-southern-u-s-expansion-without-unionization/#comments Thu, 20 Feb 2014 16:15:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=749889 volkswagen-chattanooga-solar-park-08 (1)

Should Volkswagen’s workers in Chattanooga, Tenn. not be allowed to unionize — with or without the United Auto Workers — the automaker’s works council may veto any plan to expand VW’s presence in the Southeastern United States.

Reuters reports VW Works Council head and supervisory board member Bernd Osterloh said his council would be wary to vote on expansion “if co-determination isn’t guaranteed in the first place”:

I can imagine fairly well that another VW factory in the United States, provided that one more should still be set up there, does not necessarily have to be assigned to the south again.

The recent UAW vote in VW’s Chattanooga plant failed by a close margin under anti-union campaigns led by Tennessee conservative politicians such as U.S. Senator and former Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker, whose comments regarding the automaker awarding the factory a mid-size SUV upon rejection of the UAW brought President Barack Obama into the fray.

In spite of the voting results, the works council will press forward in bringing about organization to the factory, one of the few VW factories in the world without the labor relations structure.

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UAW, VW Works Council Regrouping Under Voting Fallout http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/uaw-vw-works-council-regrouping-under-voting-fallout/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/uaw-vw-works-council-regrouping-under-voting-fallout/#comments Mon, 17 Feb 2014 11:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=742985 2012AerialfromWest

Following the 712 – 629 decision against representation by the United Auto Workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., the union may be forced to throw in the towel on foreign-owned auto factories as the automaker’s works council vow to press forward with plans to establish their brand of representation in the plant.

Bloomberg and Reuters report that though the UAW may have been thwarted in their recent organizing efforts at the plant by third-party organizations and local and state politicians opposed to the union, Volkswagen’s works council remains undeterred, according to council secretary general Gunnar Kilian in a statement:

We have always stressed that the decision over union representation lies in the hands of the workers in Chattanooga. The result of the election has not changed our goal of creating a works council in Chattanooga.

Kilian and VW Global Works Council Secretary General Frank Patta are expected to travel to the United States in the next two weeks to meet and consult with labor law experts to determine the next steps needed to bring a works council to the U.S. plant.

Meanwhile, the UAW remains optimistic in the face of the Chattanooga vote for the time being, with support from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

The closeness of the results and the courage and tenacity of union supporters prove that this election is a minor setback, and not a permanent defeat. The ferocity of the anti-union forces only reinforces the fact that there is a powerful new form of organizing emerging.

The union faced opposition by anti-union groups, including one with ties to anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist, and Tennessee Republican political leaders such as Governor Bill Haslam and former Chattanooga mayor and current U.S. Senator Bob Corker.

In the long-term, and with membership hovering around 400,000 after falling 75 percent from a peak of 1.5 million in 1979, the UAW may be forced to extend its hand to workers outside of the automotive industry, such as motel maids and university assistants, while walking away from the effort to represent transplant factory workers.

Clark University labor law professor Gary Chaison noted that representation at the VW plant would have bolstered efforts to unionize other Southern plants, such as Daimler AG’s MBUSI plant in Vance, Ala. However, the roadmap may need to be redrawn:

This is a time for soul-searching at the UAW and within the American labor movement. This was the ideal situation and they know that. They might just give up on transplants.

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UAW VW Road Map Guiding March To Mercedes-Benz http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/uaw-vw-road-map-guiding-march-to-mercedes-benz/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/uaw-vw-road-map-guiding-march-to-mercedes-benz/#comments Fri, 14 Feb 2014 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=741377 MBUSI

Following the same road map that led to the ongoing organization efforts at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., the United Auto Workers have allied with German union IG Metall and Daimler’s works council on their march toward Mercedes-Benz’s MBUSI plant in Vance, Ala.

Reuters reports the UAW are doing card checks and distributing propaganda at MBUSI with help from the two German organizing bodies in the former’s ongoing march to unionize the South; other efforts include those at two Nissan plants in Tennessee and Mississippi.

Furthermore, the UAW has gone after Daimler via the National Labor Relations Board over allegations of interference and intimidation of MBUSI workers in exercising their right to organize; the hearing is scheduled for April 7.

Leading the Southern march, UAW regional director Gary Casteel explained how the union was paying attention to globalization and its effect on workers’ rights:

“The companies globalized a long time ago, and workers’ rights didn’t follow suit. It’s time that the workers’ rights caught up, and that’s the reason you see all the interaction between international unions and a global strategy.”

Said interaction comes as the result of the UAW gaining representation with Daimler’s World Employee Committee, whose role is to “strengthen and deepen the dialogue and information transfer between the various employee representatives and unions” according to Daimler in a statement.

While union leaders on both sides of the Atlantic want to see representation at MBUSI, not all of the plant’s 3,000 workers are on board. Elizabeth Kelly, who works as a team leader in quality control during the plant’s overnight shift and is opposed to the UAW, sees no link being what the union is doing with VW and Mercedes:

“The UAW supporters believe that if a union is voted in in Chattanooga, it will help their cause here. I tend to believe that it doesn’t really affect us one way or the other. It’s two totally different companies.”

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Tennessee Lawmakers Threatening To Kill Subsidies If UAW Wins VW Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/tennessee-lawmakers-threatening-to-kill-subsidies-if-uaw-wins-vw-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/tennessee-lawmakers-threatening-to-kill-subsidies-if-uaw-wins-vw-plant/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 16:40:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=739385 092112_WEB_a_VW_Sign_t618

Should the United Auto Workers win the upcoming election to represent workers at Volkswagen’s Chatanooga, Tenn. plant, the automaker may find itself shunned by state lawmakers as far as further subsidies are concerned.

Volkswagen is seeking a new site this year to build their CrossBlue-based mid-size SUV in 2016, wooing both powers that be in Tennessee and Mexico for subsidies. However, Republicans in the Tennessee state legislature are threatening to back down on $580 million in state and local incentives the government offered to the automaker in 2008.

Tennessee House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick and state senator Bo Watson both said VW would have “a very tough time” attracting anymore tax dollars from the coffers should the UAW win representation, and while they were happy to have the automaker in their backyard, it didn’t mean they were ever given a “green light” to force unionization into the plant. They also criticized VW for giving union supporters an unfair advantage against anti-unionization lobbyists, a charge the automaker denied in a statement supporting the workers’ right to be approached by union supporters and opponents prior to the upcoming election.

Furthermore, VW also stated they would have recognized the UAW through a card check in lieu of an election, but insisted on the workers voting for representation to reflect the automaker’s belief that “democracy is an American ideal,” according to vice president of human resources Sebastian Patta.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Governor Bill Haslam warned that the legislature would play a huge role in approving incentives to help fund the project — being too large for the state’s FastTrack incentive program as it is — and that the impact of UAW representation would affect the state’s ability to recruit other companies to the state.

Longtime UAW critic United States Senator Bob Corker originally remained mum on the upcoming vote, but after the union’s regional director Gary Casteel offered his praise of Corker’s statement by prompting other politicians to do the same in respect of the upcoming vote, the former mayor of Chattanooga felt the union was attempting to stifle other voices from commenting on the issue before stating that he would “return home [to] ensure [his] position was clear”: that the UAW would make VW “the laughingstock” of the automotive industry. Casteel fired back, calling Sen. Corker a flip-flopper prone to being swayed by special interests before restating his belief that UAW representation at the plant would improve the quality of life for both workers in the VW plant and everyone in Chattanooga.

Other critics weighed in on the election, such as the group called Southern Momentum, who quoted a factory worker leading the anti-unionization coalition at the plant as saying, “A vote for the UAW is a vote against the expansion of the plant, plain and simple.”

The election will take place from Wednesday to Friday of this week under supervision by the National Labor Relations Board. Around 1,500 workers will be eligible to vote during the three-day period.

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UAW Hopes For Swift Southern Unionization Victory ‘Overly Optimistic’ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/uaw-hopes-for-swift-southern-unionization-victory-overly-optimistic/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/uaw-hopes-for-swift-southern-unionization-victory-overly-optimistic/#comments Mon, 20 Jan 2014 20:28:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=703914 Bob King

Outgoing United Auto Workers president Bob King admitted that his timetable for a swift unionization of one of the auto plants in the Southeastern United States was overly optimistic.

Though the UAW is still slogging through efforts at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn. and Nissan’s Canton, Miss. plants, King hopes that the VW workers will become card-carrying members before union rules bring his four-year term to a close in June 2014. King believes the only thing holding back the assimilation is the process in which to bring UAW membership to a vote, stating that a “strong majority” of the VW workers have submitted cards in support of joining the union.

In his speech at the Automotive News World Congress last week during the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, King said that while workers in European and Japanese auto plants throughout the United States were not opposed to UAW membership, past organizing efforts have been hampered by employers through intimidation tactics and threats of unemployment. King further claimed that without the current push to bring the workers under their umbrella, jobs in the automotive industry would come to consist of “low-wage, temporary labor working under unsafe conditions” in the 21st century.

On the other side, Volkswagen and Nissan — the latter specifically called out by King for their alleged anti-unionization efforts — both stated that they would respect the wishes of their factory employees in whatever they decided to do regarding the UAW.

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UAW Dues Hike Supported By Membership According to Union President http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/uaw-dues-hike-supported-by-membership-according-to-union-president/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/uaw-dues-hike-supported-by-membership-according-to-union-president/#comments Fri, 17 Jan 2014 15:15:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=701994 Bob King

The United Auto Workers will, for the first time since 1967, ask their membership to pay a 25 percent increase in dues to the union in order to shore up their strike fund and fight for better contracts, a move outgoing UAW president Bob King believes the membership will overwhelmingly support.

The increase will be voted upon during the UAW’s Constitutional Convention this June, which is also when members will vote for a new president to lead the union in their effort to unionize autoworkers at foreign-owned plants throughout the southeastern United States. Currently, union members pay two hours’ worth of their wages every month; the increase would tack on another 30 minutes of earned income to the strike fund, which has $600 million at the ready, down from a peak of $1 billion.

Speaking of unionization of the South, King believes the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. will soon join the UAW rank and file once an election process is agreed upon. Though the union claims to have received signed cards from a clear majority of the plant’s autoworkers, critics dispute the idea that the UAW has such a majority in place, nor would the plant be unionized without an election.

Volkswagen says they will respect whatever decision their Chattanooga plant makes, with Volkswagen Group of America CEO Michael Horn invoking the values of American democracy in a statement made at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show January 13 regarding the eventual vote to either join the UAW or remain non-union.

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Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion Concept Unveiled Before Detroit Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/volkswagen-passat-bluemotion-concept-unveiled-before-detroit-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/volkswagen-passat-bluemotion-concept-unveiled-before-detroit-debut/#comments Fri, 10 Jan 2014 12:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=695681 2015 Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion 01

Another day, another early unveiling prior to the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, this time from Volkswagen AG with their 42-mpg Passat BlueMotion Concept.

The magic behind the concept’s fuel economy lies within its turbocharged 1.4-liter gasoline four-pot; at city speeds, the engine deactivates two cylinders to boost economy, a feature already found in the automaker’s Polo and Golf sold in Europe. Other fuel-saving methods include a stop-start system, and a coasting function that decouples the engine from the transmission when the driver lifts off the accelerator; the latter is already available in the Jetta Hybrid.

The above setup — which Volkswagen aims to evaluate for the U.S. market — improves upon the current base Passat’s 34 mpg highway from its 1.8-liter turbocharged power plant, though horsepower drops from 170 to 150. The Jetta may also receive a similar package in order to improve upon its 32 mpg highway rating in an effort to catch up to more efficient offerings from Honda, Hyundai and Mazda.

2015 Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion 01 2015 Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion 02 2015 Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion 03 2015 Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion 04 2015 Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion 05 2015 Volkswagen Passat BlueMotion 06 ]]>
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Review: 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/review-2014-volkswagen-passat-tdi-with-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/review-2014-volkswagen-passat-tdi-with-video/#comments Fri, 20 Dec 2013 14:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=679274 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI

Once of the most frequent car advice emails I get is from consumers looking to cut down their fuel bills while still hanging on to a family sedan. Until recently, this question narrowed the field down to a few hybrid sedans and the Volkswagen Passat TDI. Today, there are more hybrid options than ever and soon Mazda’s diesel powered Mazda6 will enter the fray. While we wait for the Mazda’s new SkyActiv diesel to ship, I picked up a Volkswagen Passat TDI to find out if a little diesel could bring some cost reduction to my commute.

 

Click here to view the embedded video.

First off we have to dispense with the fallacy that buying a new commuter car will save you money. Of course we all know that is rarely true, especially if you are simply replacing one family sedan with another. (This disclaimer is just for the readers that may object to the forthcoming cost savings comparisons.) Second you must think about what kind of driving you do before you start looking at technologies to reduce your gas bill. If your commute is highway heavy, then a diesel or amvery efficient conventional vehicle may be the better choice for you. If your commute is balanced between highway and city or city heavy, then many hybrid technologies may be the winner.

Exterior

While other VWs get expressive fascias, VW’s sedan line is pure conservative German design. We have a three-slat horizontal grille up front, a flat character line and little detaining on the side and nothing terribly expressive out back. The adjectives that came to my mind were simple, elegant, and unemotional. No matter how you park it, the Passat never strikes a pose that would offend a conservative mid-size shopper.If you want Euro flair, VW would be happy to sell you a CC which sports more aggressive bumpers, more chrome and sexier tail lamps. However the Passat TDI is competing with the hybrid versions of the Fusion, Camry, Accord, Optima and Sonata, as well as the “we hope its not a mirage” Mazda6 diesel. While some in the press have called the Passat boring, I would posit the sedate lines will help the Passat age more gracefully than some of the competition, most notably the Sonata and Camry, however I think the Fusion and Mazda6 are more attractive and dramatic.

2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-012

Interior
Mid-size shoppers demand expansive rather than expensive cabins, and VW took note when they redesigned the sedan for the 2012 model year. Our Euro friends may notice that this doesn’t look quite like the Passat you know in Europe, and that’s because the American Passat isn’t the same car as the Euro Passat anymore. Although both Passats are related, the NMS Passat gets a 4-inch body stretch and a 3.7-inch wheelbase stretch, the beneficiary being the rear seat which goes from cozy in the Euro model to ginormous in the American model. Although the numbers would indicate that the Fusion and Passat’s rear legroom are similar, the devil is in the details of how car makers measure and the Passat is the clear winner here.

Sadly Camcord shoppers place fuel economy, electronic doodads and rear-seat leg room higher on their list than squishy dash bits and VW was happy to oblige. As a result the Passat’s plastics are attractive to look at but just as mainstream to feel as the competition slotting in below the new Accord and well ahead of the aging Korean competition. Speaking of attractive, I find the traditional “single bump” dashboard layout to be a refreshing change from the massive dashboards that are creeping into every mis-sized sedan lately. Front seat comfort proved excellent for long car trips, tying with the Accord and Fusion while the rear seats, although large, weren’t as comfortable as Honda’s sedan.

2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-015

Infotainment

Because there is no “S” trim Passat TDI, base diesel lovers get a slight feature bump compared in the infotainment department. The base 6.5-inch touchscreen system is joined by 8-speakers, HD Radio and standard Bluetooth for a decent base package. The systems iDevice and USB integration offers no voice commands like you find in most of the competition, but it is reliable and intuitive. VW offers two different navigation systems depending on how far up the trim ladder you want to walk. SE models with the sunroof can get the “RNS-315″ which uses a 5-inch touchscreen and very basic navigation software.

Jumping up to the SEL model adds a Fender branded speaker package and a 6.5-inch high resolution navigation system with satellite radio and Sirius Travel Link live traffic and information services.  While most of the information is superfluous, the fuel pricing and locations proved handy as locating a diesel station can be tricky. The traffic and Travel Link features require a Sirius subscription and VW tosses in a 6-month trial for free. Sadly VW’s navigation systems predate the 2012 Passat refresh by a decent window and are among the oldest and least feature rich in the mid-size sedan segment barely scoring a win over the ancient system in the Chrysler 200. You won’t find smartphone apps, slick graphics and VW has even reduced the number of voice commands the system can recognize because the hardware was unable to handle it with reasonable performance. With Toyota and Honda recently launching their new infotainment systems and Ford’s MyFordTouch system getting a much needed refresh, this puts VW in next to last place, just in front of the dreadful navigation system lurking in the Mazda6. 

Passat TDI  engine, Picture Courtesy of Volkswagen

Drivetrain & Pricing

Powering the Passat is the same 2.0L turbodiesel found under the hood of every diesel VW in America except the Touareg. The small diesel engine features twin cams, 16 valves, aluminum head, iron block and a variable geometry turbocharger to deliver 140 horsepower and 236 lb-ft of torque. Funneling the power to the front wheels via a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic, the Passat doesn’t feel as slow as 140 ponies might suggest. The gasoline electric hybrids on the market are peppier, with the Camry delivering 200 ponies, with the Optima and Sonata nearly tying at 199, while we get 188 from the Fusion and 166 from the Accord. Normally, the high torque is a bonus when you compare a TDI to a small gasoline engine. However, modern hybrids deliver diesel-like torque with flat torque curves thanks to their electrification. The Koreans serve up 235 lb-ft and the Accord cranks out 226 with both curves being more advantageous than the TDI. Ford and Toyota do not release official torque numbers, but I suspect they are both in the 220-230 lb-ft range.

Because of tightening emissions regulations in California, the Passat now comes with a urea injection system also known as “diesel exhaust fluid” or DEF to reduce NOx emissions. This is a significant difference from Mazda’s new SkyActiv diesel engine which they claim does not require this additive to achieve the same emissions compliance. This is significant not only because owners won’t have to buy DEF every few thousand miles, but also because VW decided to put the DEF filler port in the trunk rather than by the fuel filler on the side of the car (like other manufacturers do.) The result is an inconvenience on the VW side and, according to Mazda, a power bump on the SkyActiv diesel which they expect to come in around 170 ponies (if we get the high-output version) and 300 lb-ft of torque which should put the Mazda neck-and-neck with the hybrids.

The Passat TDI starts at $26,295 for the SE trim and tops out at $32,995 for the loaded SE. This price walk essentially mirrors the Passat V6 and feature for feature is substantially similar to the Camry, Optima, Sonata and Fusion hybrid sedans meaning the TDI doesn’t have a price advantage initially compared to the gas-electric competition. Honda’s Accord Hybrid starts at $29,155 making it the highest base price in this bunch, but the top-level Accord at $34,905 seems reasonable compared to a fully-loaded Fusion Titanium Hybrid at $38,870.

Because the mid-size sedan segment is so competitive, when you calculate the value of standard feature content, most of the pack ends up within a few hundred bucks of one another except for the Optima which undercuts the pack by nearly a grand. The higher top-end pricing on the hybrid competition is largely due to the availability of more features like radar cruise control, self parking, lane departure prevention that you won’t find on the Passat.

2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-007Drive

The Americanization of the Passat has had an effect on the way VW’s large sedan drives. The difference is most obvious if you drive the VW CC and the Passat back-to-back. The CC has a more solid and connected feel and the handling limits are higher. That’s not to say the Passat will let down the VW faithful with Camry-levels of grip, but in the pursuit of higher fuel economy narrower tires we required. In the pursuit of rear leg room, the wheelbase and chassis had to get longer making the American sedan drive larger than the European model. The result is a Passat that slots below the Mazda6, Accord Sport and some levels of Fusion in terms of handling, but notably above the Camry and Korean competition  which have less refined suspension manners.

Diesels have never been known for spirited performance despite the modern crop of torque-strong turbocharged designs. Our TDI tester clocked 60 MPH in just over 8 seconds which is on the long end of the green pack with most of the hybrid competition in the low to mid 7 second range. Diesels have a dedicated following largely due to their high fuel economy, high torque numbers and the plateau like horsepower and torque curves. Today’s hybrids however deliver much the same experience thanks to electric motors that deliver their maximum torque at low speeds without the turbo lag experienced in turbo Diesel engines. This negates many of the claims popular in the TDI forums.

2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-011

Once upon a time when Toyota’s unique planetary gearset power-splitting hybrid system was the only game in town, many shoppers and reviewers disliked CVT-like feel of the Hybrid Synergy Drive system. Despite the fact that CVTs are more efficient, I’ll admit that there’s something about gear changes that I find satisfying. If that describes you, then there are now hybrid options, like the Sonata and Optima, that combine electric motors with traditional automatics for a more “normal” feel.

This now brings us to fuel economy. During a week and 732 miles, I averaged 36.5 MPG, slightly higher than the EPA number and on a one-way level highway journey I managed 47 MPG on  a 50 mile trip with the cruise control set to 68 and the AC on. The more time you spend in stop and go traffic or on city streets, the lower your number will be. That’s a sharp contrast to most hybrids that excel in city and heavy traffic because they can keep the engine off for most low speed maneuvers. This segment is the poster child of “your mileage may vary.” If your commute is characterized by long highway stretches cruising at 70MPH, the Passat will be the mileage winner. If however you drive in moderate to heavy traffic or find yourself running around town on the city streets, a gasoline hybrid is going to be the mileage champ.

2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-009

A few short years ago the Passat TDI was the clear choice for high mileage cruisers that didn’t want a softly sprung Camry hybrid. Unfortunately today’s Passat has some serious competition from the handsome Fusion hybrid which posted similar economy numbers while being faster and costing less to operate. We also have the new Accord hybrid. The Accord may cost $2,850 more than the Passat TDI, but it delivers more feature content in the base model and an incredible (and personally verified) 50 MPG in the city with a combined 47 MPG score and road manners that equal or exceed the Passat. When you factor in the higher cost of diesel and the diesel exhaust fluid the VW requires, the Accord “breaks even” vs the TDI at 60,000 miles. Perhaps the biggest problem for the Passat TDI’s proposition as a thrifty commuter is the Kia Optima delivered the same mileage while drinking cheaper fuel, is less expensive to purchase and has a longer warranty. My experience with the Passat TDI left me wondering if I should really be as excited about the Mazda6 diesel as I am, or should I instead be hoping VW jams the Jetta’s hybrid system into the Passat? The Passat TDI isn’t without its charms, but after a week burning the midnight oil, my heart and my pocket book were dreaming gasoline hybrid dreams.

 

Volkswagen provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for the review.

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.0 Seconds

0-60: 8.01 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 16.4 Seconds @84 MPH

Average observed fuel economy: 36.5 MPG over 721 miles

Sound level at 50 MPH: 71 dB

 

2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-021 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-020 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-019 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-018 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-009 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-010 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-001 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-002 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-011 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-012 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-003 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-004 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-013 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-014 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-005 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-006 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-015 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-016 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-007 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-008 2014 Volkswagen Passat TDI-017 ]]>
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Volkswagen Looks Within to Solve “The American Problem” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/volkswagen-looks-within-to-solve-the-american-problem/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/volkswagen-looks-within-to-solve-the-american-problem/#comments Tue, 17 Dec 2013 13:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=681922 2013 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid, Exterior, Front 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Despite giving the old college try for decades, Volkswagen is still confounded by the lack of cachet their namesake brand holds among the hearts and minds of many an American. With VW of America CEO Jonathan Browning stepping down and returning to the United Kingdom at the end of this year, the Wolfsburg automaker hope one of their own, successor Michael Horn, will be able to finally crack the code of success in the United States.

Volkswagen AG has set a goal of selling 800,000 units in the U.S. by 2018 with a strategy of four vehicles built to American tastes. With eight consecutive months of losses due to poor sales of the current lineup, the automaker has their work cut-out for them. According to insiders and U.S. dealers, Horn’s experience with the culture on the German side could be just what is needed to help determine a proper course of action with the American market.

In addition to knowing how to communicate to his bosses in Wolfsburg in a manner Browning never could, Horn also brings product development experience to the table, helping to launch the Touraeg and Phaeton as head of sales and marketing of VW’s premium units. The aforementioned strategy has already been implemented in part, with redesigns of both the Jetta and Passat, but no green light has been given to the remaining two vehicles, a compact and a midsize SUV. Horn’s voice could make all the difference in bringing the SUVs to market, especially if they are aimed at Toyota and Honda customers instead of BMW and Lexus.

For now, Horn and VW of America COO Mark McNabb will together oversee the launch of the next-generation Golf and its variants in the automaker’s Puebla, Mexico factory. The hatchback will go on sale this coming spring.

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Turbos, Diesels Rule Top 10 Engine List in 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/turbos-diesels-rule-top-10-engine-list-in-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/turbos-diesels-rule-top-10-engine-list-in-2014/#comments Fri, 13 Dec 2013 11:30:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=678850 Audi 3.0 TFSI Engine

‘Tis the season for year-end Top 10 lists celebrating and lamenting all things in the world of life, and the automotive industry is no exception. Ward’s Automotive has announced its list of the 10 best engines for 2014, and it’s a turbodiesel-intercooled festival of power this year.

The winners on the 20th anniversary of this list are as follows:

  • 3.0L TFSI Supercharged DOHC V6 (Audi S5)
  • 3.0L Turbodiesel DOHC I6 (BMW 535d)
  • 3.0L Turbodiesel DOHC V6 (Ram 1500 EcoDiesel)
  • 83 kW Electric Motor (Fiat 500e)
  • 1.0L EcoBoost DOHC I3 (Ford Fiesta)
  • 2.0L Turbodiesel DOHC I4 (Chevrolet Cruze Diesel)
  • 6.2L OHV V8 (Chevrolet Corvette Stingray)
  • 3.5L SOHC V6 (Honda Accord)
  • 2.7L DOHC H6 boxer (Porsche Cayman)
  • 1.8L Turbocharged DOHC I4 (Volkswagen Jetta)

Of note, Ford’s three-pot EcoBoost marks the first time an automaker won a spot on the list with only three cylinders, while Fiat scores a first-time win with its 83 kW electric motor found in the 500e. On the other end, only two engines from last year’s list returned — Audi’s 3.0-liter TFSI and Honda’s 3.5-liter V6 — while six of the 10 are oil-burners, a first for Ward’s.

General Motors scored two wins this year for the first time since 2008 with the Cruze’s 2-liter turbodiesel I4 and the new Corvette Stingray’s 6.2-liter naturally aspirated V8. Among trucks, the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is the sole winner, based on the strength of its 3-liter turbodiesel stump-puller.

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The Cars We’ve Lost in 2013 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/the-cars-weve-lost-in-2013/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/the-cars-weve-lost-in-2013/#comments Tue, 10 Dec 2013 12:30:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=676202 2012 Acura ZDX-014

Every year, new cars arrive in the showrooms. Some are brand new to the world, others go through evolutions and revolutions. Yet, every year, some cars are sent off to the showroom in the sky.

This year, we’ve lost seven vehicles. Some died due to poor sales, some to improper marketing, and others to horrible execution. 2014 will bring about the deaths of these seven vehicles.

  • Acura ZDX 
  • Cadillac Escalade EXT 
  • Nissan Altima Coupe  
  • Toyota Matrix 
  • Volkswagen Routan
  • Volvo C30
  • Volvo C70

In some cases, like the ZDX and Routan, the product was poorly conceived and faced an equally poor reception in the marketplace.  In other cases, like the Escalade EXT and Altima Coupe, they were based on previous generation cars and the business case wasn’t strong enough to justify a replacement. The Volvo twins and the Matrix weren’t necessarily bad cars, but they were long in the tooth and faced declining sales, thus leading to their euthanization.

2013 Volvo C30 Polestar. Photo courtesy Car and Driver. 2013 Toyota Matrix 2012 Acura ZDX 2013 Volvo C70 2013 Nissan Altima Coupe 2013 Cadillac Escalade EXT Volkswagen Routan. Photo courtesy GoMotors.net ]]>
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Shields Up! For Volkswagen’s Product Budget http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/shields-up-for-volkswagens-product-budget/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/shields-up-for-volkswagens-product-budget/#comments Mon, 25 Nov 2013 15:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=663226 2013 Volkswagen Beetle Convertible 70s, Exterior, Side 3/4, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

With plans to give the world more of their wonders, such as the XL1, Twin Up! and Jetta, through 2018, Volkswagen has opted to shield their product spending from cost-cutting.

The German automaker plans to devote 65 percent of their overall $113 billion investment over the next four years to their line of wares and the technology behind them in all vehicle classes, both tied to their MQB modular archecture and the coming Euro 6 emissions standard.

Spending related to anything other than the above — such as construction projects for new facilities — will drop to $17.2 billion between this year and 2015, all in an effort to boost financial sustainability and profit margins.

Speaking of profits, Volkswagen aims to raise their operating margin from 3.5 to 6 percent of sales, and expects their 2013 margin to match the $15.6 million earned in 2012 when the year draws to a close.

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VW Plays a Round of e-Golf Before LA Auto Show http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/vw-plays-a-round-of-e-golf-before-la-auto-show/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/11/vw-plays-a-round-of-e-golf-before-la-auto-show/#comments Thu, 14 Nov 2013 16:30:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=651018 2015 VW e-Golf

Much like the Kia Soul EV, Volkswagen has added a compliance-only EV to their lineup and dressed it up to resemble her diesel brothers and gasoline sisters. Behold the 2015 e-Golf, set to make its official debut at the LA Auto Show next week.

Emerging from the starting gate are 115 electric horses pulling 199 lb-ft of golf course-ready torque, all fueled by the 24.2 kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery pack. Charging ranges from 20 hours through a standard 110v outlet to four hours through a dedicated 220v wattbox, with DC fast-charge bringing the pack up to 80 percent in half an hour.

Speaking of speed, zero to 60 is a leisurely 10.4 seconds, maxing out at 87 mph in Normal mode. At Eco mode, power is brought down to 94 horses and 162 lb-ft of torque (and the cabin becoming warmer through the AC being taken down a few notches). At that point, zero to 60 takes 13.1 seconds, and top speed is 72 mph. Finally, in Eco+ mode (a.k.a., city-only mode), your e-Golf will plod along to a top speed of 56 mph with only 74 horses and 129 lb-ft of weed-pulling power; in the last two modes, you can punch it like Chewbacca back to 87 mph by simply adding more lead to your foot, thus defeating the purpose of Eco and Eco+ mode in the first place.

Regarding range, expect to remain close to the city: VW says anywhere from 70 to 90 miles per charge. If, however, you find yourself stranded on the highway, the automaker’s Roadside Assistance Plan will offer to pay cab fare and bring your e-Golf to the nearest charging station as long as you’re within 100 miles of home; the plan covers unlimited events.

On the inside, you’ll be able to monitor range and energy flow alongside managing charging times, speed, navigation and the like through a new instrument cluster made specifically for the e-Golf. Outside, full LED headlamps — a first for VW — and aero all around come together to shine a path into the electric future, or at least get you from your bedroom community to the cubical and back, anyway.

Though Volkswagen has yet to say anything about the price of admission, you’ll be able to drive away to Pebble Beach for a round of 18 come the fourth quarter of 2014.

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