Wired Autopia’s Damon Lavrinc got the chance to drive the Volkswagen XL1 in Germany. Lavrinc, who has a wealth of experience writing about automotive technology and alternative powertrains, gives us a good picture of what it’s like to drive the XL1, from the awkward entry/egress, to the seemingly underpowered air-conditioning system to the lack of a simple iPod connector (because that adds weight, natch). Check it out over at Autopia.
In three weeks, Bertel will return to the scene of his crimes at Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, and will drive the XL1 on the same Wolfsburg-to-Berlin trip as Wired, maybe even the same XL1 as Wired. Check it out when he returns. If he does.
This week, the idea of Brazil’s cars being “unsafe” due to inferior construction has been gaining a lot of currency on the blogosphere after the Associated Press published a report on this topic. Very few outlets have anyone posted in Brazil to do any deeper digging, but TTAC does. Unfortunately, our man Marcelo de Vasconcellos is currently in exams right now (good luck, Senhor!) and was unable to write up an article refuting these claims. Still, Marcelo took the time out to talk to TTAC about the problems behind the article.
The Volkswagen CrossBlue and CrossBlue Coupe will be made in China by the Shanghai-Volkswagen joint venture, Carnewschina reports today. According to the report, the car will be built when Volkswagen’s new factory will open in Changsha in China’s Hunan Province. (Read More…)
After plans failed to sue Porsche in America, where juries are impressionable and awards are rich, the lawsuits are now in Germany, where courts are cautious, and where professional judges need to be convinced. The wheels of justice crank slowly. (Read More…)
“The coming months will be anything but easy,” Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn told Reuters today at VW’s annual shareholders’ meeting. Nevertheless, he still plans to rule the world. (Read More…)
The pendulum swings to the U.S.: As expected, Ford turned in higher-than-expected first-quarter profits today, while in Germany, Daimler’s formerly pornographic profits were slashed in half, and Volkswagen stubbornly maintained its outlook despite declining profits. (Read More…)
Toyota released global production numbers for the first quarter of 2013 today, which gives us a chance to officially initiate our 2013 tracking of the World’s Largest Automakers, based on hard data. Having made 2.5 million units in the first three months, Toyota maintains its lead over runner-up GM and third-place Volkswagen, however, the field is tight. (Read More…)
Looking a bit like a hybrid between the Range Rover Evoque and a Subaru Outback, the VW CrossBlue Coupe Concept is the smaller companion to the larger CrossBlue that debuted at Detroit. The Coupe has a twin-turbo V6 and a plug-in hybrid system making 409 horsepower, but don’t expect that to make it into production. Hopefully the CrossBlue’s diesel engine does carry over to the production version, which is rumored to be the next Tiguan.
1998 Pontiac Rageous
All good things, even obscure and maybe even not so good, must come to an end. You can see previous installments of the Encyclopedia of Obscure Concept and Show Cars here, here, here, and here.
Oldsmobile, Packard, Plymouth. Another dead brand with obscure concept cars in this part of the alphabet is Pontiac. This is their Rageous concept from 1997, another proto-CUV, and what some have called “the Aztek that should have been”. Imagine a four door Trans Am (the rear doors are suicide style like on the RX-8 Mazda) with a hatchback and a flat load floor that will accommodate a 4X8 sheet of plywood. A ’90s vintage LT1 and a Corvette based rear suspension completed the package, which of course had Pontiac’s supernumerary nostrils from that era. Actually, the Rageous isn’t that obscure. Mattel’s Hot Wheels released their own version of it in 1999 and reissued it at least 8 times since then. Like the Jeep Jeepster concept, if you’re a Gen Y’er, or a baby boomer who collects Hot Wheels you may actually remember the Pontiac Rageous. (Read More…)
Despite a chorus of largely uncritical reporting, there is a growing contingent of those who question VW’s claim that their new MQB modular architecture will bring about significant savings. The latest among them is Bernstein Research. A report by noted analyst Max Warburton (who recently authored the definitive study on Chinese cars) questions VW’s claims and shows how MQB may be helpful, but not nearly as significant as VW claims. On the other hand, it’s worth noting that these reports are meant for end-user investors, not necessarily industry types.
GM published global sales numbers for the first quarter of 2013, and media from The Detroit News to Bloomberg considered it headline material that GM edged out Volkswagen – barely. Who would have thought that the scrappy maker of cars that – if the blogs are to be believed – can’t keep their wires from crossing is breathing down the neck of the formerly mighty General? (Read More…)
Redesigning retro is a herculean task. You need to change the vehicle enough to be worth the effort, meanwhile maintaining an iconic retro theme. If you don’t change enough, shoppers won’t see a reason to trade in their old flashback for the new time capsule. Change it too much and you’re left with a caricature. The task is so daunting that few even attempt it. (Just look at the one-hit-wonders: PT Cruiser, HHR, SSR and Thunderbird.) VW on the other hand is different. After all they continued to build and sell the same Beetle with minor tweaks for 65 years straight. If anyone can tweak retro and convince people they need it, it’s VW. Sure enough, 2012 was the best Beetle sales year since 1973. As a chaser to VW’s revived retro-mojo, the Beetle is now offered sans-top and VW tossed us the keys to a brown-on-brown model for a week so we could get our 70s on. Can you dig it?
Bernstein Research analyst Max Warburton thinks that the cost savings being anticipated by investors regarding VW’s MQB modular architecture will not materialize as planned.
Volkswagen chairman Ferdinand Piech solidifies his and the Piech-Porsche clan’s control of Europe’s largest carmaker by placing his wife in positions of power. A year after taking a seat on Volkswagen’s supervisory board, Ursula Piech will be up for certain election to Audi’s supervisory panel at the annual shareholders’ meeting on May 16, Reuters reports. (Read More…)
No works council without representation. Those are the words of UAW President Bob King, in an interview with Autoline Detroit, when asked about a possible works council at VW’s Chattanooga assembly plant.