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. Sat, 13 Sep 2014 17:39:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 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 Brazilian Truth Commission May Sue Auto Makers For Crimes Against Humanity http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/brazilian-truth-commission-may-sue-companies-crimes-humanity/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/brazilian-truth-commission-may-sue-companies-crimes-humanity/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 12:30:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909674 João Paulo de Oliveira found it hard to find another job after he was fired by Rapistan, a Michigan-based conveyor belt maker, in 1980. He was detained or arrested another five times until the Brazilian military dictatorship, that had successfully realized a coup d’état in 1964, and returned power to civilians in 1985. Oliveira claims that […]

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João Paulo de Oliveira found it hard to find another job after he was fired by Rapistan, a Michigan-based conveyor belt maker, in 1980. He was detained or arrested another five times until the Brazilian military dictatorship, that had successfully realized a coup d’état in 1964, and returned power to civilians in 1985. Oliveira claims that no other company would hire him after he lost his job, and hge was constantly threatened by police. His crime? Being a union member at a time the military considered strikes as subversive communist movements.

Oliveira declares that he and many other union members suspected that private companies, including many auto makers collaborated with the state’s repressive forces. Apparently, his suspicions have been borne out.

Last Monday, September 8th, the Truth Commission, an organization installed by the federal government as an attempt to investigate human rights violations during those dark years, called the press to clarify and give their position on the rumors and news that have been circulating for days about companies collaborating with the State in its repression of labor movements.

According to the Commission, recently unearthed documents confirm that almost 70 Brazilian and multinational companies acted as “information sources” on union members and workers who were suspected of leading strike movements and of belonging to left-wing organizations. These documents contain name and addresses of the suspects as well as the names of companies that monitored their workers “in order to collaborate with the censorship and repression system during the last years of the civil-military dictatorship” in Brazil.

Sebastião Neto, executive secretary of the work group in charge of investigating collaboration between civilians, companies and military claims that, “Volkswagen, according to the documents, functioned as a sort of intelligence central of that group”. That group included other companies like Brazilian Petrobras, Engesa, Confab and multinationals like Ford and Ericson. They collaborated by keeping tabs on who showed up at union meetings, and exchanged information on worker movements and their plans for strikes and demands on working conditions.

Perhaps the most damning document as it hurt people on a personal level, was one found in the public archive of the state of São Paulo, dated 1981. In it are the names and addresses of some 450 workers and union members and the names of at least 67 companies that gave the information.  Among the auto sector companies charged with giving names are Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz, Ford, Chrysler, Scania, Westinghouse, Rolls Royce, Toyota and Toshiba, among other Brazilian corporations.

Lawyer Rosa Cardoso, coordinator of the Commission affirms that, “what happened in Brazil were selective arrests based on information given by companies. Almost 40 percent of those who were dead and disappeared at the time were workers.” According to her, even though the companies were not directly involved in the disappearances, these companies may be accused of crimes against humanity. “Arbitrary and illegal arrests and in places where torture happened are also considered torture in international law”. Such was the case as these illegally detained workers didn’t even have arrest warrants expedited against them.

The lawyer affirms the Commission will present in its final report by December 16. It will include two chapters reporting the persecution of workers and the unions, and the relations between companies and the dictatorship. To help clarify this aspect, Cardoso promises a public hearing where representatives of the companies mentioned in the documents will be called upon to present their testimony.

Being accused as a sort of coordinator of the collaboration between military and companies, Volkswagen has declared that they will conduct their own investigation. According to them, Volkswagen is the only large-scale company in Brazil that, so far, has made a public commitment to “investigate any and all traces” of collaboration between its employees and the military regime. According to a release given to the press, Volkswagen claims they are, “internationally recognized as a company that treats seriously its corporate history”. In Brazil, Volkswagen claims, “the company will deal with this matter in the same way”.

Other companies so far have not commented or have downplayed their responsibility. According to this article, dated Friday, September 5, Mercedes Benz claims that the company “does not confirm” the alleged collaboration and is “non-partisan and zeals for the confidentiality of employees’ data”.  Ford has refused to comment. Toyota and Fiat, who now owns Chrysler through FCA, stated they have no registers of the “possible abuse” that occurred back in that time. Toyota, thorough its local Public Relations department wrote, “We would like to remind others that we are discussing something that happened over 30 years ago”.

Reviewing all the information available a cynic might think the Truth Commission is only interested in reparations. A more generous person might believe that people are interested in revisiting the past to point out mistakes and not repeat them in future. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle and it seems evident that at the time there was a struggle in Brazil between those who wanted to keep the status quo and those who would subvert it. Workers and unions probably helped the re-democratization of the country along, while many in the military and civil society believed such actions were fundamental in thwarting a Communist takeover. Companies may have helped the military out of fear or ideology. It is terrible that people got killed or hurt. In the end, relations between civil society, labor movements and government will be better understood because of the efforts of the Commission and hopefully mistakes, on both parts, will be avoided going forward.

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Volkswagen: Hydrogen Will Struggle Outside of Japan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/volkswagen-hydrogen-will-struggle-outside-japan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/volkswagen-hydrogen-will-struggle-outside-japan/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 13:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909146 While Toyota and the administration of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are going all in on hydrogen, Volkswagen Group Japan President Shigeru Shoji proclaims FCVs will struggle to make headway elsewhere. According to Bloomberg, Shoji says the government subsidies meant to push Toyota’s Mirai and other FCVs into the marketplace are likely too high for […]

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While Toyota and the administration of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are going all in on hydrogen, Volkswagen Group Japan President Shigeru Shoji proclaims FCVs will struggle to make headway elsewhere.

According to Bloomberg, Shoji says the government subsidies meant to push Toyota’s Mirai and other FCVs into the marketplace are likely too high for other governments to match. He adds that issues surrounding refueling infrastructure and the handling of hydrogen itself will add to the roadblocks awaiting the technology outside of Japan.

Those comments — echoing sentiments by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and other hydrogen skeptics — aren’t lost on either Toyota or the Abe administration. Company representative Dion Corbett says the subsidies are needed to help get hydrogen off the ground, citing the high cost of developing fuel-cell technology. That said, Dion believes demand will not only be the highest in Japan — where Abe envisions a “hydrogen society” of fuel-cells for homes and businesses as well as cars — but in Germany, California and the U.S. East Coast.

Though Volkswagen has its doubts, VW Japan representative Yasuo Maruta says the company is keeping its eye on Toyota’s efforts, planning to be no more than three years’ behind R&D work in relation to Toyota.

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A Look At Europe’s Top Selling Brands By Country http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/look-europes-top-selling-brands-country/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/look-europes-top-selling-brands-country/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 11:30:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=904657   From the Twitter account of Bob Flavin comes this map of Europe, overlayed with each country’s best-selling auto brand. Volkswagen, along with Skoda (and to a lesser extent, SEAT and Audi) are far and away the dominant force in Europe, with Fiat, Renault (and Dacia) trailing behind. Regionally, Audi is popular in wealthy enclaves […]

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From the Twitter account of Bob Flavin comes this map of Europe, overlayed with each country’s best-selling auto brand.

Volkswagen, along with Skoda (and to a lesser extent, SEAT and Audi) are far and away the dominant force in Europe, with Fiat, Renault (and Dacia) trailing behind.

Regionally, Audi is popular in wealthy enclaves like Monaco, while Skoda dominates in Central Europe. Dacia is abundant in developing countries as diverse as Romania, Moldova, Morocco and Algeria while Fiat is tops not just in Italy, but Turkey and Serbia as well – countries where Fiat builds vehicles locally.

Popular brands in North America, like Ford, Toyota and Honda are much smaller players in the continent. While the Fiesta, Focus and other nameplates enjoy widespread success throughout Europe, Toyota and Honda are much smaller players. And most tellingly, none of the PSA nameplates (Peugeot and Citroen) are present. Or Hyundai/Kia, for that matter.

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Capsule Review: 2015 VW Saveiro CD Highline (Double Cab – Brazilian Market) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2015-vw-saveiro-cd-highline-double-cab-brazilian-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2015-vw-saveiro-cd-highline-double-cab-brazilian-market/#comments Sun, 31 Aug 2014 17:36:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=904225 The car-based small pickup market was launched in Brazil by Fiat during the 1980s. Taking a 147 as its base, the Italians cut out the back seats, added a bed, beefed up the suspension and called it good. The market deemed it so, and soon, there was a whole new segment gracing Brazil’s roads, with […]

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The car-based small pickup market was launched in Brazil by Fiat during the 1980s. Taking a 147 as its base, the Italians cut out the back seats, added a bed, beefed up the suspension and called it good. The market deemed it so, and soon, there was a whole new segment gracing Brazil’s roads, with Fiat’s Strada dominating the segment. Since that time, nearly every challenger has been vanquished by the Strada’s unquestionable longevity – except for Volkswagen’s Saveiro.

According to VW do Brasil, the Saveiro is now the market leader in single and extended cab configurations. It has sold roughly 40,000 units up until the middle of the year while Fiat sold roughly twice that. Volkswagen says half of Strada sales were of the double cab line. So finally VW reacted and launched its own double cab (the Strada’s arrived in 2009).  Its take on this style of small pick up is different from Fiat’s. As of 10 months ago, the Strada now comes with three doors, which of course (in theory) helps entry. The Volkswagen offers just two. Getting in the car and reclining the seat, I wiggle my 6 foot, 220 lb  frame into the back seat.

Nice surprise. While the Strada seats just four, the Saveiro does it for five. There are three headrests and three point seat belts only for those who sit off to the sides. The middle passenger, besides fighting for space, has to make do with a lap belt. Space is larger than in the Strada, though I wouldn’t want to be there with two friends for more than short jaunts. The rear side windows open by popping out, while the back window is fixed. There are two cupholders and even an auxiliary jack and a compartment under the seats. Some thought was indeed put into it.

Getting into the front and sitting in the driver’s seat, the whole ambience is very typically Volkswagen. That means a sober, almost boring layout, hard but well assembled plastics, monotone decorations and lots of unmarked plastic covers where commands for optional equipment would be. All in all it is an ambience I don’t especially admire or find pleasure in being, while I can appreciate why others do. The seat is placed a little low, and the dashboard quite high leading to that sunken feeling that many nowadays equate with safety. What’s safer than driving a tank, right? As such, it’s good the Saveiro CD comes with parking sensors. That way you won’t smash the bed into anything.

Speaking of the bed, it has been reduced to 1.1 m in length and capacity is now 580L. The spare has been placed under the bed. Just to compare, the Strada has a volume 100L greater and can carry 50 more kilos (650 to the Saveiro’s 600). Though short, it is longer than the Strada’s and offers 10 tie-down points, a number its rival can’t touch.

The Saveiro Double Cab offers two engines. Both are 1.6L. One however has 8v while the other 16. The 16v is new and corrals 110 or 120 ponies (depending of fuel chosen, the first figure for Brazilian gasoline, the second for Brazilian ethanol) while the simpler mill makes do with 101 or 104 horsepower. While this output is relatively low, the multi-valve engine pulls well and vibrates less than the old one. Pulling power is steady and its capacity to rev higher makes it more comfortable to drive at high speeds on the highway. Top speed is 179 km/h, almost 10 more than the 8 valve unit. It has been on the market for a while now, and so far has not shown the same propensity of the old unit of going kaput at very low mileage. Keeping fingers crossed, one can hope Volkswagen do Brasil has finally figured out what kind of oil is needed to lubricate its 1.6 L motors.

Finally, and exclusively for its segment, the new engine also makes do without an auxiliary start up tank. In low temperatures, cars running on ethanol can have trouble firing. To avoid this, most cars here come with an extra tank you must fill with gasoline to aid firing. The new engine dispenses with this, aiding comfort and safety as there is no need for the extra tank, usually placed in the engine bay.

The Saveiro Highline comes with the 1.6 16v. I chose to drive it as I’m well acquainted with the 8v unit. It really helps the experience and makes the car that more enjoyable. Faster than ever, the little pickup has always been a handful to drive at high speeds with an empty bed. So much so that cars like these are known as caminito al cielo (road to heaven) in some South American markets. This time around VW has endowed the picape with stability control but only on the top-level Cross trim. Lower trim level buyers will have to be wary and drive with special care trying to make it around bends. While very sure-footed and planted in a straight line, the driver must not forget he is in a pickup and not a car. The bed will try to find the front of the car if the driver abuses it.

All double cab Saveiros come with disc brakes all around. Stopping power is of course enhanced, and emergency braking is done without drama. It helps that the Saveiro offers EBD throughout the Double Cab line. It’s very interesting how Brazilian cars are getting more equipped. Besides the mandatory airbags and ABS, the pickup comes with a hill holder function and special programming that allows VW to claim an off road traction launcher (depending on trim level). The Germans also claim their ABS and EBD have special programming offering better braking in muddy conditions. All of this was not present in the car I drove. For now, these are reserved for the pseudo-adventure Cross trim line.

The steering is precise as in most VW cars. In the city it’s not the lightest out there, but on the highway it beefs up nicely. Being a hydraulic unit, it offers more feedback than electric setups. The car comes with a manual 5-speed gearbox that remains among the best in Brazil. Its short and precise throws are better than the competitions and it can shift fast and true. Better yet, this time around the thumping noises of its engagement have been largely avoided.

I enjoyed this little truck. Pressure is now on Fiat to improve its Strada. Volkwagen pricing is in line with Fiat’s, but always offers just a bit more content. The drive is certainly modern and the use of an interdependent axle with longitudinal arms and springs in the back make it a less jumpy vehicle than the Strada. While the engine in the VW is smaller than the Strada’s 1.8, 16v, 132hp unit, it makes the car almost as fast and more economic, plus smoother than Fiat’s. Pulling power is aided by the hill holder function while the Strada has more torque. The Saveiro is now on par with the Strada and it will be interesting to be seen whether it will fulfill Volkswagen do Brasil’s prediction of taking over first place from the Strada. Though that will be a tough, uphill battle, the Saveiro now has what it takes.

 

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Volkswagen Shows Off CLA Competitor In Chengdu http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/volkswagen-shows-cla-competitor-chengdu/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/volkswagen-shows-cla-competitor-chengdu/#comments Fri, 29 Aug 2014 16:50:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=903378 Volkswagen’s latest MQB-based vehicle is another challenge to Mercedes-Benz – the last time they threw down the gauntlet against Daimler, we ended up with the Phaeton. This should fare a bit better. Dubbed the “Lamando”, the vehicle in question is based on the MK7 Golf and its MQB chassis, and uses both the 1.4L and 2.0L […]

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Volkswagen’s latest MQB-based vehicle is another challenge to Mercedes-Benz – the last time they threw down the gauntlet against Daimler, we ended up with the Phaeton. This should fare a bit better.

Dubbed the “Lamando”, the vehicle in question is based on the MK7 Golf and its MQB chassis, and uses both the 1.4L and 2.0L TSI 4-cylinder engines, along with a 7-speed DSG gearbox. The Lamando will be built in China, for the Chinese market only, with a starting price of about $29,000. This puts it in direct competition with the Mercedes-Benz CLA.

Live shots of the car can be seen here.  Sales of the Americanized Jetta have slumped recently, despite a strong (but price-driven) introduction. A car like this would do a lot to add some pizzazz to Volkswagen’s compact sedan, and given its MQB bones, it could likely be built in Mexico easily. How about it, VW?

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New Union Goes Up Against UAW For Chattanooga VW Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/new-union-goes-uaw-chattanooga-vw-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/new-union-goes-uaw-chattanooga-vw-plant/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=902153 In response to the United Auto Workers establishing a union local in Chattanooga, Tenn., anti-UAW Volkswagen employees have begun the process of forming their own union. Reuters reports Mike Burton, who helped in the effort to defeat the UAW’s attempt to unionize the VW plant in Chattanooga earlier this year, is leading the charge for […]

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In response to the United Auto Workers establishing a union local in Chattanooga, Tenn., anti-UAW Volkswagen employees have begun the process of forming their own union.

Reuters reports Mike Burton, who helped in the effort to defeat the UAW’s attempt to unionize the VW plant in Chattanooga earlier this year, is leading the charge for what he says will be the first local of the American Council of Employees. He claims that since the UAW lost in February, VW has strengthened its ties to the union, and wants ACE to become the alternative to Local 42, the local established by ACE’s opponents last month.

Meanwhile, UAW secretary-treasurer Gary Casteel believes Burton’s counterattack doesn’t have much of a chance because of the consensus between his union and the automaker, proclaiming Local 42 has “substantially more than 700 members” from the 1,500 hourly employees who work the floor in Chattanooga. He added that it would be up to VW to recognize ACE.

Though VW has said nothing regarding ACE thus far, it has repeatedly supported the establishment of a works council at its sole U.S. factory.

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Wiedeking Ordered To Stand Trial Over Market Manipulation Charges http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/wiedeking-ordered-stand-trial-market-manipulation-charges/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/wiedeking-ordered-stand-trial-market-manipulation-charges/#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 10:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=901441 Former Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking may be facing jail time in the future if convicted on charges of market manipulation recently revived by a German court. Bloomberg reports the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court ordered both Wiedeking and former Porsche CFO Holger Haerter to stand trial in criminal court over the charges, linked to the failed […]

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Former Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking may be facing jail time in the future if convicted on charges of market manipulation recently revived by a German court.

Bloomberg reports the Stuttgart Higher Regional Court ordered both Wiedeking and former Porsche CFO Holger Haerter to stand trial in criminal court over the charges, linked to the failed takeover of Volkswagen AG in October of 2008. The court proclaimed it found “numerous indications” of a possible hidden agenda to increase Porsche’s stake in Volkswagen from 74.1 percent to 75 percent “as they could suggest the opposite evaluation by the lower court.”

Both Porsche and attorneys for the two defendants believe the charges to be without merit, especially as they were overturned in a lower court back in April due to lack of sufficient evidence. The regional court, however, states that as far back as 2006, Wiedeking had plans to take over VW in secret.

In addition to the criminal case, a few civil suits are waiting in the wings in Braunschweig, Stuttgart and Hanover. The plaintiffs — investors who believed Porsche had planned to assimilate VW months before the October 2008 takeover attempt — are seeking over €5 billion ($6.6 billion USD) in damages.

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Volkswagen Golf MK8 Will Debut In 2017 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/volkswagen-golf-mk8-will-debut-2017/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/volkswagen-golf-mk8-will-debut-2017/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 15:08:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=897426 American consumers are just barely getting a taste of the all-new MK7 Volkswagen Golf, but the next-generation is looming on the horizon, according to German outlet Hannoversche Allgemeine. According to the paper, the next-generation Golf will debut in 2017, and borrow the upcoming Passat‘s suite of advanced safety and tech features. A new infotainment system, […]

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American consumers are just barely getting a taste of the all-new MK7 Volkswagen Golf, but the next-generation is looming on the horizon, according to German outlet Hannoversche Allgemeine.

According to the paper, the next-generation Golf will debut in 2017, and borrow the upcoming Passat‘s suite of advanced safety and tech features. A new infotainment system, automatic braking with pedestrian detection, a self-parking system and distinctive styling will be the major changes for the MK8.

Both the Passat and the MK8 Golf will use VW’s MQB architecture, but don’t expect to see the MK8 in North America any time soon. While the MK7 has been in production for world markets since late 2012, sales have only just begun in North America. That should put it on track for debut around 2019 on our shores.

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How The UAW Could End Up Representing Volkswagen Workers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/uaw-end-representing-volkswagen-workers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/uaw-end-representing-volkswagen-workers/#comments Mon, 18 Aug 2014 13:57:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=894162 Despite losing a vote on organizing workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant, the UAW could end up representing Volkswagen workers through its newly formed Local 42, with the end goal being the establishment of a works council at Chattanooga. Local 42 was formed by the UAW as a voluntary union that workers could join. Representation […]

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Despite losing a vote on organizing workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant, the UAW could end up representing Volkswagen workers through its newly formed Local 42, with the end goal being the establishment of a works council at Chattanooga.

Local 42 was formed by the UAW as a voluntary union that workers could join. Representation for the workers would only come from a majority of them joining Local 42.

Now, Reuters is reporting that the UAW appears to be close to hitting the majority threshold needed for representing workers at Chattanooga, though the UAW wouldn’t give specific numbers. Also unclear was whether the UAW would be recognized as the exclusive bargaining unit for Chattanooga workers.

UAW secretary-treasurer Gary Casteel told Reuters that the two entities “have a consensus” on whether the UAW could exclusively represent workers, but a little reported development is likely to ensure that this goes through. Bernd Osterloh, VW’s global works council chief, was appointed to VW of America’s board of directors just over one month ago. Osterloh has been a major player in increasing cooperation between the UAW and IG Metall, Germany’s largest labor union, and has been fond of meddling in affairs at Chattanooga.

The establishment of a works council was previously held as a condition of VW’s supervisory board – which includes labor leaders and representation – approving the upcoming three-row crossover for production at Chattanooga. And for a works council to happen, workers need union representation. Who better to fill that role than the UAW?

 

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Junkyard Find: 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1984-volkswagen-rabbit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/junkyard-find-1984-volkswagen-rabbit/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 13:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=888417 I haven’t shot many Junkyard Finds involving water-cooled Volkswagens, mostly due to the fact that these cars tend to depreciate into the crush-worthy price range before age 15, which means that interesting VWs don’t appear too often in self-service wrecking yards. We saw this ’82 Scirocco and this ’80 Dasher Diesel recently, and I’ve found […]

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01 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI haven’t shot many Junkyard Finds involving water-cooled Volkswagens, mostly due to the fact that these cars tend to depreciate into the crush-worthy price range before age 15, which means that interesting VWs don’t appear too often in self-service wrecking yards. We saw this ’82 Scirocco and this ’80 Dasher Diesel recently, and I’ve found 2/1461ths of the North American Etienne Agnier Edition Golfs in junkyards, but nearly all the Golfs I find these days are Mk2s or later, or Mk1 Cabrios (or ones that I’m helping to load up for a trip to The Crusher). Here’s a genuine, numbers-matching (maybe), final-year-of-American-production, Westmoreland-built, Mk1 Rabbit two-door that I spotted in Denver a while back.
02 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNothing very special about this car, other than being uncommon in the junkyard.
03 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNo shortage of these engines in the world.
09 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Whorehouse Red Velour Interior craze peaked in the mid-1980s; Japan and Detroit did the most lurid red interiors, but VWoA made some good ones as well.

This car isn’t a GTI, but the ’84 GTI TV ad was so great that I’m including it anyway.

01 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1984 Volkswagen Rabbit Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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Chinese Government Investigating Quality Issues Among Volkswagen Sagitars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/chinese-government-investigating-quality-issues-among-volkswagen-sagitars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/chinese-government-investigating-quality-issues-among-volkswagen-sagitars/#comments Fri, 15 Aug 2014 12:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=893458 Amid complaints of broken rear shafts from Sagitar owners, China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine has contacted Volkswagen to fix the problem. Bloomberg reports 435 complaints were collected into the nation’s National Defective Motor Vehicle Recall Information Management Platform’s Defect Information Collection System, half of which were filed between July 30 and […]

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Amid complaints of broken rear shafts from Sagitar owners, China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine has contacted Volkswagen to fix the problem.

Bloomberg reports 435 complaints were collected into the nation’s National Defective Motor Vehicle Recall Information Management Platform’s Defect Information Collection System, half of which were filed between July 30 and August 12 alone.

FAW-VW responded late last month by claiming the problems were isolated incidents (via expert analysis) and not anything on their end. The joint venture also vowed to sue anyone spreading “untrue” information about their products.

The investigation is taking place at the same time an antitrust probe by the government over price-cutting by seven transplants, including Volkswagen AG’s Audi.

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What Can The Chattanooga CrossBlue Do For You? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/can-chattanooga-crossblue/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/can-chattanooga-crossblue/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 13:30:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=888809 This much we know: the Volkswagen brand sold more new vehicles in America in 2012 than in any year since 1973. The company predicted moderate growth for the Volkswagen brand in 2013, but sales fell 7%. Still, by topping 400,000 units, Volkswagen sales were 35% higher than they were a decade prior. Through the first […]

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Volkswagen CrossblueThis much we know: the Volkswagen brand sold more new vehicles in America in 2012 than in any year since 1973. The company predicted moderate growth for the Volkswagen brand in 2013, but sales fell 7%. Still, by topping 400,000 units, Volkswagen sales were 35% higher than they were a decade prior. Through the first seven months of 2014, Volkswagen brand sales are down 14% in the United States, or 13% if we exclude the transitioning Golf lineup.

We also know that the company’s bigger SUV, the Touareg, is tasked with taking the fight to premium utility vehicles. The smaller Tiguan, mostly unchanged since 2008, has 36% less cargo capacity behind the rear seats than Honda’s CR-V does.

Obviously, Volkswagen could repair its utility vehicle lineup’s destined-to-fail reputation in America and provide a measure of remediation for the overall brand’s decline with a more value-oriented family crossover. Indeed, Volkswagen will attempt to do so with a Chattanooga-assembled vehicle inspired by the CrossBlue Concept.

Of course, it was once thought that a more value-oriented midsize Volkswagen, one more suited to American tastes, would assist Volkswagen’s passenger car division. And the Passat did so, at first. Sales zoomed to a record-high 117,023 units in calendar year 2012.

Three row crossover U.S. sales chart July 2014 YTDYet other automakers – Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Ford, Hyundai, Chevrolet, Kia, Chrysler/Dodge – were selling significantly more midsize cars, bringing some perspective to the Passat’s record-setting sales year. The Passat’s 6% decline in 2013, even as the midsize sector grew, and its 12% decline so far this year (overall midsize cars are slightly south of level) is disheartening.

Nevertheless, we can assume there will be a relatively large number of buyers attracted to a three-row VW people carrier. What impact could it have in terms of rescuing the brand’s U.S. fortunes? Consider three retroactive scenarios, as if the production CrossBlue arrived seven months ago at full steam.

Scenario #1: the CrossBlue is a top-of-the-pack Ford Explorer rival. Possible? No, but here are the figures. Had the Chattanooga SUV generated 123,466 sales over the last seven months, had all else at Volkswagen continued as is, brand-wide volume would be up 37% to 333,163 units year-to-date (up from 242,571 during the same period in 2013), turning Volkswagen into a Subaru-beater, but not quite a Kia-catcher.

Scenario #2: the CrossBlue sells half that well. General Motors has sold 61,586 Traverses so far this year (in addition to 49,265 GMC Acadias and 35,408 Buick Enclaves), a fair mid-pack yardstick for the Chattanooga SUV. With numbers like that, Volkswagen brand sales would be up 12% to 271,283 units this year, enough to overtake Ram, the 12th-ranked auto brand in America at this moment.

Scenario #3: the CrossBlue is CX-9-like rare. Mazda has sold 10,931 CX-9s so far this year, nearly triple what Volkswagen has done with the Touareg, but less than a quarter of what Nissan does with the Pathfinder. In this case, by driving Volkswagen up to 220,628 year-to-date sales, the Chattanooga SUV would not have stopped the brand’s losses over the last seven months – sales would be down 9% instead of 14%.

Volkswagen’s recent downward spiral in the U.S. has not been replicated in other parts of North America. The Volkswagen division is Mexico’s second-ranked brand behind Nissan, and Volkswagen brand sales are up 3% in a market that has fallen less than 1%.

2014 will end as the brand’s fifth consecutive year of growth in Canada, where their current market share, 3.5%, is far higher than the brand’s 2.2% year-to-date showing in the U.S. When asked about the differences between VW Canada’s surge and VW USA’s difficulties, Volkswagen Canada’s media relations manager, Thomas Tetzlaff, naturally wasn’t going to point out the errors of VW USA’s ways: “More than five years ago, we decided that if Volkswagen Canada was going to be a volume player in this country we would have to fine-tune our products, and fine-tune our pricing to match consumer wants and needs.” Yet it’s clear that the job of fine-tuning has been done more effectively north of the border than it has south of the border.

Volkswagen’s subsidiaries have also proven capable of understanding the North American market. Porsche sells more vehicles seemingly at will, and 2014 will once again be a record-setting year for Audi, which is outselling Cadillac this year in America. Sales at Volkswagen, on the other hand, have declined in 16 consecutive months.

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VW Works Council Forces Out Consultants Amid Headcount Reduction Fears http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/vw-works-council-forces-consultants-amid-headcount-reduction-fears/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/vw-works-council-forces-consultants-amid-headcount-reduction-fears/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 13:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=889337 Volkswagen AG execs will have to go back to the drawing board to determine where to cut costs after its works council demanded outside consultants be shown the door. Reuters reports last month, CEO Martin Winterkorn informed his employees that he was seeking €5 billion ($6.7 billion USD) in efficiency gains by 2017 so as […]

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Volkswagen AG execs will have to go back to the drawing board to determine where to cut costs after its works council demanded outside consultants be shown the door.

Reuters reports last month, CEO Martin Winterkorn informed his employees that he was seeking €5 billion ($6.7 billion USD) in efficiency gains by 2017 so as to close the profit gap between his company and its rival automakers. In turn, VW brought aboard consultant group McKinsey to help determine where to find the needed gains. But the pricey consultants were a point of contention with VW’s labor representatives.

The concerns over McKinsey’s presence focused upon fears of potential layoffs at factories in Kassal and Wolfsburg, Germany, where a total of over 65,000 assemble components, transmissions and vehicles. Labor leaders suggested the company focus on cutting both R&D spending and its trimming its bloated model lineup rather than reduce headcount.

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Capsule Review: 2015 Volkswagen Golf GTI http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-gti/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/capsule-review-2015-volkswagen-gti/#comments Mon, 11 Aug 2014 14:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=869586 There I was, all ready to do something that no automotive journalist ever does: purchase a brand new performance car. I was days away from going down to the local Ford dealer and signing on the dotted line for a brand new Ford Fiesta ST. I had it all picked out: an ST3 model, with the […]

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There I was, all ready to do something that no automotive journalist ever does: purchase a brand new performance car. I was days away from going down to the local Ford dealer and signing on the dotted line for a brand new Ford Fiesta ST. I had it all picked out: an ST3 model, with the Recaros, grey wheels and Performance Blue paint. And then I got a phone call from Volkswagen, offering me the chance to drive the brand-new, MK7 GTI.

For those of you still reading the buff books, the MK7 GTI has been out for the better part of a year – and every keen TTAC reader knows that this is the first GTI to be built off of VW’s MQB modular architecture. But what does it mean for the enthusiast who doesn’t live and breathe the ins-and-outs of modular architectures?

Well, quite a bit. The MK7 is longer, wider, more spacious inside, while packing more power and less weight. Length is up by 2.1 inches, while width is up by half an inch. Notably, the GTI loses 1.1 inches in overall height, while the front wheels have been moved forward by nearly two inches (thanks to the MQB chassis placement of the pedal box), which adds up to the much more pleasing “lower, longer, wider” look.

The overall effect is that of a substantial car. From the outside, the GTI still looks like it takes up the expected footprint of a C-segment car. Inside, the cabin looks nothing short of huge. The panoramic sunroof and generously bolstered seats give it an airy feel, while the uncomplicated center console feels like it belongs in something with four rings. The rear seats contain enough room for two full-size male adults, though three abreast might be a stretch. It’s better than a number of CUVs that I’ve recently come across, and would be more than adequate for the sort of “bro-trips” that many buyers of this car will undertake. Like most auto reviewers, I adore the tartan cloth and would skip the leather upholstery.

The added size appears to have no negative consequences for the GTI’s performance. Dynamically, the GTI has but one fault. The gas and brake pedals are spaced too far apart to properly execute a heel-toe downshift. Everything else you’ve read about the car is true: it is utterly brilliant, and possibly the best all-round performance car on the market.

The newest generation of Volkswagen two-point-oh-tee motor delivers peak twist at just 1,500 rpm, pulling all the way up to 4,500 rpm. That means all 258 lb-ft is easily accessible in the meat of the power band, right where you’d be most inclined to use it. Torque-steer manages to be mercifully contained, and describing the acceleration as “brisk” doesn’t quite do this car justice.

An optional Performance Pack adds another 10 horsepower, bigger brakes and a limited-slip differential. Does the GTI need it? I’m not sure. The example we tested did not have it, and I never wished for a second that it did. The brakes are strong and progressive, the handling beautifully composed with crisp, quick steering and the kind of sharp turn-in that you wouldn’t normally expect on a front-wheel drive car.

This performance is also fully accessible to the average driver on something as banal as a highway on-ramp, and you can tap into it while you’re averaging 26 mpg in spirited driving. Even with the low-profile tires and sharp handing, the ride is never punishing. If the light clutch and precise 6-speed manual gearbox are too arduous for your daily commute, there’s a dual-clutch gearbox available as well. What could possibly be wrong with a car that can truly lay claim to being the ultimate performance daily driver?

Well, as Jack said

 Imagine that the GTI was slow-roasted until all the joy dripped out of it. Then imagine that all the joy that dripped out was caught in a drip pan. Then imagine that the drip pan was emptied into the Fiesta ST.

When I was 17 years old, my father bought a MKV Jetta 2.0T, and I, entitled little brat that I was, scoffed at the notion that a powerful, front-wheel drive car could be any fun. After all, video games and endless forum flame wars had taught me, so it had to be true. As it turned out, I adored that car, and I adore the MKVII, which is faster, lighter sharper and more refined than the MKV, with its laggy motor and first-generation DSG, ever was. But even though I’m less entitled and (slightly) more mature, I still want the raucous, slightly unhinged brand of front-drive fun that the Fiesta ST offers, even at the expense of the GTI’s substantial rear seat and cargo area. For everyone else that’s gotten that puerile recklessness out of their system, the GTI is the one you want.

N.B. Our photography car has a DSG gearbox, but is otherwise identical to our tester. Thanks to AutoGuide.com for the photograpy.

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Roadside Temptation http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/roadside-temptation/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/roadside-temptation/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 11:30:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=882306 Just a little ways ahead is your favorite spot on the whole trip. It’s a place you always look for as you drive by, craning your neck and slowing down to take in the view. You’ve never stopped there, though. Whether it’s a spouse, the kids, or just a nagging commitment, something always gets in […]

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Just a little ways ahead is your favorite spot on the whole trip. It’s a place you always look for as you drive by, craning your neck and slowing down to take in the view. You’ve never stopped there, though. Whether it’s a spouse, the kids, or just a nagging commitment, something always gets in the way. Or maybe it’s your guilty conscience holding you back. This time, though, you’ve made up your mind. You’re going to stop and have a real look-see around the place. Your pulse quickens as you get closer.

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                Don’t worry; you’re hardly alone. Every car nut falls prey to the temptation at one point or another. Everyone has their own particular affinities, but broadly speaking, the car hoard is a universal attraction. There’s always one in particular that bedevils you, gets inside your head, and demands to be investigated more fully. Whether it’s a scruffy towing and repair place, an old house by the highway, or just an open field, it’s out there somewhere.

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                For me, it was this roadside stash of VWs in northeast Alabama. After several passes by, I gave into temptation. There was no fence, no signs, and no junkyard dog guarding the gravel lot, so I was able to mill about at leisure. My non-enthusiast traveling companion was suitably supportive, even if he didn’t quite understand my excitement.

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                What made this particular collection interesting to me was that it wasn’t strictly segregated by propulsive power. VW enthusiasts tend to be divided into air-cooled and water-cooled camps, with a big generational gap between the two. In this case, several Westmoreland-produced water-cooled VWs were jumbled in with a bunch of Beetles and two Karmann Ghias. That included two Rabbit GTIs, which weren’t rusty but which were disappearing into the underbrush.

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                It also included this rare Rabbit-based Pickup, also known as the Caddy. Unfortunately, it had a much more pervasive case of car cancer. By the looks of the tires, it hadn’t gone anywhere for a very long time and wouldn’t be moving soon.

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                There were the carcasses of several Beetles strewn around the place, including the shell of this rare Sun Bug. Most of them appeared to be beyond saving, but perhaps not for a dedicated VW freak. Doors, fenders, and other parts were there, arranged in stacks and piles. There was a bright yellow Beetle that looked freshly restored in the back of the lot. Maybe this is the parts cache for an enthusiast keeping other VWs on the road.

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                Unfortunately, there was no one around to ask. And there were no signs indicating whether or not this was a commercial enterprise, a private collection, or both. It was a Sunday, and the service station next door was closed. The two places sort of spilled into one another, as is often the case with these kinds of hoards. I’d like to know if anything is potentially for sale. The metal building behind them all was also quite intriguing- what other treasures might it hold inside? Reluctantly, I moved on. I haven’t given up hope, though; this might not be the last word on this collection. Check the thumbnails below for more images.

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Heads Rolling At Volkswagen Over MQB Fumbles http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/heads-rolling-volkswagen-mqb-fumbles/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/heads-rolling-volkswagen-mqb-fumbles/#comments Mon, 04 Aug 2014 15:52:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=881546 Michael Macht, the man in charge of production at Volkswagen, is leaving immediately, with Automotive News Europe reporting that VW CEO Martin Winterkorn was unhappy with the rollout of VW’s MQB “toolkit” that will underpin everything from B-segment hatchbacks like the Polo to large sedans like the Passat. According to the outlet, poorly functioning production equipment has […]

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Michael Macht, the man in charge of production at Volkswagen, is leaving immediately, with Automotive News Europe reporting that VW CEO Martin Winterkorn was unhappy with the rollout of VW’s MQB “toolkit” that will underpin everything from B-segment hatchbacks like the Polo to large sedans like the Passat.

According to the outlet, poorly functioning production equipment has led to cost overruns and delays, with overtime adding a significant cost to the rollout. With Macht responsible for overseeing MQB’s introduction – which would ostensibly include new machinery and tooling, manufacturing processes and all the other assorted initiatives required for such a grand undertaking, his departure is understandable. Executives may be handsomely compensated, but when things go wrong, they’re the first to be shown the door.

Let’s see what happens when it’s time for MQB to head to Chattanooga. Or when the first major recall strikes MQB vehicles.

 

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Vellum Venom: Honda N600 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/vellum-venom-honda-n600/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/vellum-venom-honda-n600/#comments Mon, 04 Aug 2014 12:57:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=880466 What’s the difference between car design and styling? My stint at CCS in Detroit makes me think styling is the shallow, frilly, cosmetic side of car design. Freshman designers are (were?) trained to focus on styling, but anyone integrating with marketing/accounting/engineering departments after school knows the real deal. They gotta know car design. The folly […]

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What’s the difference between car design and styling? My stint at CCS in Detroit makes me think styling is the shallow, frilly, cosmetic side of car design. Freshman designers are (were?) trained to focus on styling, but anyone integrating with marketing/accounting/engineering departments after school knows the real deal. They gotta know car design.

The folly of a sheltered life aside (don’t us delusional autobloggers know it?) the Honda N600’s heavily constrained blueprint came to life with nearly to zero style.

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Is this a golf cart with mad retro styling? Those pub style tables could seemingly support the N600’s shockingly small footprint. Except not, but compare the N600’s seats to the chairs. Then note how “open” the greenhouse is relative to the diminutive body underneath. Like many of our younger readers, I never saw an N600 in person…they actually sold a car this small in America?

photo credit: imcbd.org

My only recollection of the N600 was “CHiPs” reruns as a kid. Watching a huge guy destroy a perfectly servicable machine horrified took me aback, yet most viewers probably found it entertaining.

Be it Architecture, Graphic, Product or Car design; I wonder if designers recoil in horror when their art (so to speak) extends past its prime in such a public manner. It’s gotta hurt.

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To see it is to understand the term “bare bones.” With a healthy smattering of chrome, that is. The N600 cleanly mounts headlight pods, a toothy grille and a subtle emblem into its tiny body. The signal lights are an unfortunate afterthought. But the massive bumper must be a last minute addition for the American market. It’s an interesting dynamic, but like damn near any car from the early-to-mid 70s, looks better with small bumpers.

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This emblem, like the bodywork, has been refinished. This blend of midcentury modern in the “H” with a prominent model designation within a clean wedge of a badge does work. But the dual grille texture (metal bars with latticework behind) is an unexpected surprise, adding depth and…um…excitement?

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Shame about the protective bumper tubing: note how the hood tapers down to the grille and effortlessly surrounds the headlight’s northern hemisphere. Without that merry-go-round grab handle, the N600 would be an appealing little car.

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Even better, there’s no odd cut line separating the front fascia from the headlights. And there’s the hood’s logical end point at the headlight’s center line. This ability to hide cut lines at natural transition points is something we love in today’s Aston Martin, and rarely elsewhere.

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Too bad Aston craftsmanship is so damn expensive: exposed bolts/screws and slip-fit panels are the marks of a super cheap whip.

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This wee machine can’t fit all its mechanical bits inside the body!

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I’m enamored with the N600 from this angle: looking like the Plymouth from Stephen King’s “Christine.”

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Sadly all the subtle integration, the blend of flat planes and voluptuous curves of the front end absolutely disappear once you turn the corner. VW Beetles and MINI Coopers rest easy: this is design over styling.

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Some strange bits: the blocky, stagnant negative area making a hood valley, on something small enough to need no contouring for curbside appeal. And the teardrop bulge, which I was couldn’t verify was needed, as the hood wouldn’t open. A tricky latch, that!

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The washer nozzle is adorable.

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The hood vents cleanly integrate into the N600’s form, even if they shouldn’t need to “fight” the valley in the hood. The simple cowl treatment looks clean, staying that way those who battle snowfall or falling leaves/debris.

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Wait, where did all the round-ish and somewhat appealing style go? Uber static lines! Gone, in the name of design?

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Afterthought chrome aside (needed for chrome hungry Americans?), there’s nothing appealing from this angle. It’s in stark contrast to the front.

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Much like the grille’s emblem, the N600’s hubcap makes a strong statement in its minimal form: that Mad Men worthy Honda emblem inside a “keystone” perimeter with a subtle lip at the cap’s edge is a nice touch. The size of the hubcap relative to the wheel makes it close to a full wheel cover, and more chrome here means the N600 is less warehouse trolley-like.

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SITTIN ON KUMHO TENZ, Y U HATIN SON???

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The N600 is cleaner/faster looking without the chrome spear. And note again how large the greenhouse is relative to the body: necessary considering the N600’s cramped cockpit.

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Practical says the decal? Some Americans embraced the N600’s appeal, but Detroit ruled the roost back in the early 1970s. They had size, and style. The N600’s uncanny ability to lack any sense of style a la VW Beetle, Mini Cooper or Fiat 500 musta hurt sales.

To wit, note how the A-B-C pillars lack a cohesive flow in terms of complementary rake, size and shape.

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The fender emblem possesses similar elements to the one on the grille, but with unique textures/topography. It’s cooler than the front emblem.

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Clearly a victim of an almost-professional restoration, yet I suspect door/rocker panel gaps weren’t laser perfect back then anyway.

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The A-pillar is rather fast and sleek on its own, not to mention the full length rain gutter accentuating the speedy demeanor. The windshield rubber is another sign of a lost era…for good reason.

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Poor paint/body work, but still more appealing than a modern car’s black plastic triangle of A-pillar DLO fail.

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Not only does the B-pillar fail to emulate the A-pillar, it’s not symmetric! Square off the lower portion of the quarter window (or round the door) and curb appeal increases.

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While the integrated release button/key cylinder is trick and space efficient, the flat profile and lumpy negative area do not help with the N600’s lack of cohesive style. Is there any room for style on this machine?

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Real estate for a fuel door is in Manhattan-grade short supply on the N600’s body.

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It doesn’t get more honest than a roof-mounted antenna, perfectly mounting on a curved shape. Nice.

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While the front end’s roundness was a stark contrast to the fender’s solidarity, the N600’s middle section softens up thanks to a modicum of tumblehome (seen in the door cutaway) from the base of the door to the roof.

Curves, they are a good thing.

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Imagine how much more “wrong” the N600 would look without that tumblehome from this angle!

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While the tail light flows into the body like that clean roof antenna, the rain gutter, molding and vent louver are necessary(?) afterthoughts.

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But it’s quite fetching by itself!

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The N600’s proto-CVCC DNA is showing! The taillights and trunk cutout is a nice cross between pre-war automobile construction (exposed hinges and a bustle trunk) and the future of hatchback design once a little more rear overhang was deemed necessary.

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The back end’s flattened demeanor is very MINI Clubman, without the charm. Or the functionality, thanks to the fixed rear glass. Luckily there were no Sam’s clubs back then.

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The pudgy, cheeky contour of the trunk is both ungainly and adorable at the same time. Design over Styling!

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Nice bit of retro kit functional design for the grab handle, I was tempted to fix the logo’s problem with a Testors enamel marker.

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Quickly glance at this shot and you’d be forgiven for thinking this is a whip from L.A. Noire.

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Logical and well-designed license plate light, note the exposed screws that’ll make bulb replacement a breeze. Hopefully.

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Exposed hinges in the 1970s? No wonder that dude on “CHiPs” ripped it apart so easily!

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There’s a material heft and functional beauty presented in the lock cylinder’s one piece, polished design. Pictures fail to show the craftsmanship.

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Now let’s bring it home: no overhang is a big, BIG problem.

How can you “style” a design this restrictive? Imagine your job if your boss halved your budget. Or didn’t give you one in the first place! Therein lies the “beauty” of the N600, so to speak.

The Honda Civic that followed was a leap forward, the public’s reaction to Honda’s design and engineering prowess was logical. Because when you give enough room (literally and figuratively) to a design department, they will can make a nicely styled vehicle.

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a lovely week.

 

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Reader Review: 2010 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/reader-review-2010-volkswagen-jetta-sportwagen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/reader-review-2010-volkswagen-jetta-sportwagen/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:51:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874393 Reader Phil Brown shares his experiences with his Jetta Wagon Volkswagen still has the temerity to sell a compact station wagon in an American market scarfing up CUVs, and bless them for it. I should have been in the heart of the CUV market when looking for a new vehicle in 2010, but I ended […]

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Reader Phil Brown shares his experiences with his Jetta Wagon

Volkswagen still has the temerity to sell a compact station wagon in an American market scarfing up CUVs, and bless them for it. I should have been in the heart of the CUV market when looking for a new vehicle in 2010, but I ended up in a MkVI Jetta Sportwagen. It isn’t brown and it doesn’t burn diesel, but after four years and 51K miles of ownership I can understand some of the fervor of wagon fans here on TTAC. There is just something so fundamentally sound and good about the way this car drives, the way it goes down the road, and the surprising utility it offers. With the recent ascension of the Volkswagen Golf to the MQB platform and the 1.8TSI engine on North American shores, I thought it would be an appropriate time to share my longer-term ownership experience of the outgoing platform.

The VW replaced a second-hand 1996 “champagne” beige Camry (how appropriate, for what better title could you give a 1996 Camry than the Champagne of Beiges?) which I had owned for 8 responsible years. Despite being the crème de la crème of 1990s sedans and exhibiting a build quality rarely seen in a Toyota showroom since, it was completely lifeless from behind the wheel and falling badly behind on safety features. Kids were coming. ABS, side airbags, and LATCH anchors were suddenly a priority, and I wanted at least a whiff of driver involvement. Time in a Focus ZX5 and the joker-faced Mazda 3 had opened my eyes to affordable driving enjoyment, and I wanted some of that in a package that could haul a couple of kids and their accompanying detritus.

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Turns out that was a lot to ask from a $21K budget when a hatchback/wagon body style was mandatory. Lightly used CUVs were ruled out after realizing they were as dull as the Camry despite acing the functional criteria. It’s hard to swallow 4 years of payments on a used vehicle when you don’t actually like it. Every other hatchback or wagon had a fatal flaw, whether too small in the cargo area (xB & Soul), too small in the backseat (Mazda3), or too cheap and nasty to warrant the asking price (Matrix). The Jetta Sportwagen was about the only offering left, and poking around one at an auto show left a really good impression. Subsequent test drives only improved on that.

I never thought I’d walk into a VW dealership after seeing the pages of Consumer Reports splattered like a crime scene with black dots from the infamous Mk IV days, but once those Mk Vs landed in 2005 the dots turned to white and red. So I put aside brand bias and worked with a very professional and low-pressure sales manager to order a base S model with the 5 cylinder engine and 5 speed manual from the factory. Five weeks later, the Mexican-assembled wagon arrived wrapped in bug-splattered plastic.

Most will openly wonder why on God’s Green Earth one would special order a gas Sportwagen instead of picking a TDI already on the lot. The answer is $4500, the price difference between the cheapest TDI with its obligatory bundled options and an already well-equipped base 2.5S. Being trendy and undersupplied, TDI Sportwagen inventories were low in my area that year and the dealers weren’t about to budge a nickel on them. I wasn’t seeing $4500 worth of value there, but time will tell if the higher depreciation and fuel costs wash out the initial price savings.

Regardless of engine choice, this car treats both the driver and passengers well. It provides some feedback and involvement without beating up or cramping passengers, and provides class-atypical levels comfort and refinement without completely anesthetizing the driving experience. The suspension and structure absorb broken pavement, potholes, and jarring ripples with poise and composure that no Civic or Elantra can manage, yet the handling is still responsive. The steering provides respectable feel and precision at speed, with no center dead zone and none of the tiring dartiness some quick ratio systems provide. The driving position is excellent and seat comfort is superb. It is hushed, stable and confident on the highway and just eats up miles for hours on end without fatiguing you. I’m six feet tall and can still find a good driving position with twin rear-facing toddler seats behind me, although anyone taller will have trouble. An SUV’s worth of cargo capacity resides behind the backseat so I can haul both kids and gear. Without the family aboard, I can turn off the traction control and dump-n-ride the clutch to shriek the tires across half an intersection if I’m feeling like an abusive imbecile. That is a smile you cannot get from a CR-V.

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The interior of this generation of Golf/Jetta received unanimous praise in the media, and it is well-deserved because the materials quality is closer to an entry-level luxury car than a $20K compact. Happy little details are hidden everywhere, from the glovebox lined in faux felt to the brilliant tilt-and-telescope center armrest to the standard heated seats to the real metal door pulls that release the latch with such a satisfying feel and sound. The speedometer is absolute genius, marked in 10 mph increments until 80 and in 20 mph increments beyond, so you can have your stupid obligatory 160 mph speedometer and not sacrifice legibility in the 0-80 mph range. The interior shows no wear on the touch points, so whatever shoddy craftsmanship plagued the MkIV interiors is not present here.

The interior and solid structure can perhaps be cheerfully compared to Audi, but several things remind you this car was built to a low price. The HVAC fan roars like a tornado and the air conditioning is a bit tepid. There is no modern infotainment technology to speak of. No trip computer. No Bluetooth. No USB integration. You get AUX and a CD slot with a stereo head unit that is laughably basic even if the sound that it routes through the eight speakers isn’t bad. My biggest complaint involves the brakes, which are mushy and require a surprisingly good stomp to extract all of the mediocre performance despite being four-wheel disc. The unparalleled bitching about the 2011 Jetta’s rear drums was amusing considering it stops in a shorter distance than my car.

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The engine won’t fool an Audi owner either, but for $20K why should it? VW’s 2.5 liter 5 cylinder is controversial, I believe it deserves a final defense. The 5 cylinder was never going to engender anything but irritation from journalists narrowly focused on acceleration stats or how vigorously the needle swings to redline. Well, ignore their regurgitated groupthink because this is an affordable workhorse that is more relaxed and well-suited to everyday driving than most C-segment engines it competed with. The oft-quoted torque peak occurs above 4000 rpm, but 90% of that is available at 2000 rpm, so it pulls better at those engine speeds than a GLI with its sleeping turbo. Going for a hole in traffic doesn’t usually require a downshift. You can move out nicely in 3rd gear at 30mph and that gives you an advantage against a lot of other average cars that need to wake up and downshift before they can provide much thrust. In Everyday Car and Driver Land, this is more important than a 0-60 sprint.

If those sprints still interest you, the tires will chirp going into second but the engine doesn’t really rev eagerly and feels pretty much done by 5000 rpm. Expect an automatic Sonata to keep pace with you. Expect the GLI to flatten you. You’re just not going to win many stoplight races. Rest in peace anyway, noble 5-cylinder. You were a decent effort considering VW has approximately zero interest in normally aspirated engines.

I find the notorious fuel economy of this engine to be…adequate, but getting less so each year, as the industry extracts more power from the same amount of fuel. I get 28-34 mpg on the highway depending on whatever. It’s a 3200 pound car with 170hp so I wasn’t expecting 40 mpg, but cars of this weight and power should be getting 10-15% better. A section of the brain fixates on that, even if it doesn’t really dent the pocketbook.

I suppose we need to discuss reliability. No VW review is complete without stories of hellacious repair records, preferably of experiences 10, 20, or 30 years ago extrapolated far beyond the proper scope of inference to every VW model and powertrain produced today. Look, either you believe data collected by Consumer Reports and TrueDelta or you don’t. Those sources show the MkV Golf/Jetta far outperforming the MkIV and achieving parity or better with the rest of the industry, particularly for 5-cylinder cars. This is my personal experience: in 51K miles I’ve had one repair stop, a faulty ignition coil at 15K miles that didn’t leave me stranded or make me late to anything. The rear seat ski pass-through likes to jam as well and I have had that addressed 3 times during oil changes. Apparently it is a model-wide design flaw, but it’s not as if the window is dropping into the door. Otherwise, the car has been flawless. I don’t expect an easy 200K, but if I can run it for 10 years and 150K miles without headache you won’t ever see me criticizing this model’s reliability on the comment boards. Bulletproof reliability beyond 200K is something for the second owner to worry about, as the Camry taught me that 15 years of perfect operation is a critical asset only if you want to keep the car for 15 years.

I’ll probably pay for that reliability gap when I try to sell this thing in a world where used Civics fetch such high prices, and I’m fairly certain the manual transmission will be a resale hurdle as well. That’s OK. The modest gain in resale at the tail end of the depreciation curve is not worth driving a car I do not enjoy for a full decade. Volkswagen converted a skeptic here, and should this wagon not implode on me in the next 100K miles and render me an embittered hater of all budget German metal, I may just move into a GTI.

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Panoramic Sunroofs Killed The Volkswagen Eos http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/panoramic-sunroofs-killed-the-volkswagen-eos/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/panoramic-sunroofs-killed-the-volkswagen-eos/#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=872298 Volkswagen has officially announced that the Eos hardtop-convertible is coming to an end. Not entirely surprising, given that the convertible market has been dwindling some time and shows few signs of life. But one of TTAC‘s industry sources shed some light on an interesting threat to the convertible market. According to our source, the take […]

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Volkswagen has officially announced that the Eos hardtop-convertible is coming to an end. Not entirely surprising, given that the convertible market has been dwindling some time and shows few signs of life. But one of TTAC‘s industry sources shed some light on an interesting threat to the convertible market.

According to our source, the take rate for panoramic sunroofs has a correlation with the decline in the popularity of convertibles. Lacking access to that (very proprietary) data, it’s impossible to corroborate this assertion, but perhaps the B&B, especially those in the industry, have some insight into the matter.

As a two-time convertible owner, I understand that the idea of a convertible is romantic and enticing, but the reality is often the opposite. Hot summer days can lead to sunburns and sweaty scalps, while winters without a lined top (like the Thinsulate-lined roof in the Jaguar F-Type) can be nearly as miserable as being outdoors. If you’re ever stuck in traffic in an open-roofed car, you will fry like an egg on the engine block of Ted Nugent’s truck.

I happen to dislike panoramic sunroofs for the greenhouse effect it can have on a car’s interior, but many people seem to find them to be a fun novelty, and a viable alternative to a real soft top convertible.

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UAW Aiming For Works Council In Tennessee http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/uaw-aiming-for-works-council-in-tennessee/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/uaw-aiming-for-works-council-in-tennessee/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:22:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871474 The UAW’s new “voluntary” union local at VW’s Tennesse assembly plant will be aiming for the first Works Council at a North American plant. Just-Auto reports that Gary Casteel, the UAW’s secretary-treasurer, told the outlet “The commitment of this Local is to form the first works council – we intend to negotiate the first German-style works […]

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The UAW’s new “voluntary” union local at VW’s Tennesse assembly plant will be aiming for the first Works Council at a North American plant.

Just-Auto reports that Gary Casteel, the UAW’s secretary-treasurer, told the outlet

“The commitment of this Local is to form the first works council – we intend to negotiate the first German-style works council.”

The announcement comes on the heels of VW global works council head Bernd Osterloh being appointed to the board of directors for Volkswagen Group of America. Osterloh, who has previously made waves over any moves that would harm union organization, will be a powerful ally for the UAW, and their union allies in Germany.

Osterloh’s appointment to the board could very well have been a concession to the powerful IG Metall union, which has ties to both Osterloh and the UAW. Having exhausted all other options, including a plant vote on organization and an appeal to the National Labor Relations Board, Osterloh’s board seat and the “voluntary” union are the last options the UAW likely has in their arsenal.

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Junkyard Find: 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1982-volkswagen-scirocco/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/junkyard-find-1982-volkswagen-scirocco/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 13:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871498 These days, most of the older water-cooled VWs you see in American pull-yer-part wrecking yards are Golf Cabrios and the occasional ancient Malaisewagen. I see a second-gen Scirocco every now and then (the first-gens have long since disappeared from the junkyard ecosystem), and today’s Junkyard Find caught my attention with its distinctively early-80s paint color. […]

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07 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese days, most of the older water-cooled VWs you see in American pull-yer-part wrecking yards are Golf Cabrios and the occasional ancient Malaisewagen. I see a second-gen Scirocco every now and then (the first-gens have long since disappeared from the junkyard ecosystem), and today’s Junkyard Find caught my attention with its distinctively early-80s paint color.
12 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Robert ArmstrongWhen I see a Scirocco of this era, I always think of it as the car that genius cartoonist Robert Armstrong gave his lovable-dirtbag Mickey Rat character when The Man brainwashed him into becoming a solid citizen; a very yuppie machine in its time.
10 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinMechanically speaking, the Scirocco didn’t differ much from the Golf. 74 horsepower in 1982 for US-market Sciroccos (which were more fun to drive than that figure suggests).
01 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThese cars aren’t worth much in rough condition, so once one falls into the hands of a city tow-yard or an insurance auction, the junkyard is the likeliest next stop.

01 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1982 Volkswagen Scirocco Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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The VW/FCA Merger And Its Impact On The American Market, In One Chart http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/the-vwfca-merger-and-its-impact-on-the-american-market-in-one-chart/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/the-vwfca-merger-and-its-impact-on-the-american-market-in-one-chart/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 13:35:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=870130   Despite repeated denials from all parties, I’ve yet to give up on the idea that Volkswagen and FCA will eventually come together in an, ahem, Auto Union of sorts. Tim Cain’s chart shows us why there are synergies for both parties. Yes, a combined VW/FCA would be just behind GM in overall market share for […]

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Despite repeated denials from all parties, I’ve yet to give up on the idea that Volkswagen and FCA will eventually come together in an, ahem, Auto Union of sorts. Tim Cain’s chart shows us why there are synergies for both parties.

Yes, a combined VW/FCA would be just behind GM in overall market share for the month of June, and one month does not make the case for a merger. But there are plenty of benefits from a product portfolio standpoints, like a strong SUV, truck and commercial arm for VW, while FCA would finally get the global scale it’s been chasing so desperately, as well as the advanced technology to help its brand portfolios thrive well into the next era of automotive sales and manufacturing. Interestingly enough, Automotive News envisions a scenario where FCA’s hugely successful Latin American operations are sold off, perhaps to the Chinese.

The merger would also solve a huge problem for Volkswagen, namely the lack of traction its had in the American marketplace. America is the one major region where VW has failed to really establish itself, and by adding FCA’s brands, it could essentially buy its way in to further volume and a large dealer network, in addition to what it already has with Volkswagen, Audi, Bentley and Bugatti.

Oh, and Ferdinand Peich would finally get Alfa. But not before a massive web of complex financial, managerial and logistical matters are ironed out. Don’t expect anything to happen for a while – but I’m still pacing my bets on “yes”.

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Clean-Diesel Sales Up 25 Percent In The US For 2014 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/clean-diesel-sales-up-25-percent-in-the-us-for-2014/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/clean-diesel-sales-up-25-percent-in-the-us-for-2014/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 11:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=869994 Though hardly any of the offerings can be found in a brown wagon with a six-speed manual pushing power to the back, U.S. sales of clean-diesel vehicles have climbed up 25 percent this year. Autoblog Green reports clean-diesels are set to double their current 3 percent of total vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2018, […]

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Though hardly any of the offerings can be found in a brown wagon with a six-speed manual pushing power to the back, U.S. sales of clean-diesel vehicles have climbed up 25 percent this year.

Autoblog Green reports clean-diesels are set to double their current 3 percent of total vehicles sold in the U.S. by 2018, according to Diesel Technology Forum. The group also noted the 25 percent jump is besting overall sales thus far in 2014, having only seen a boost of 4.2 percent in comparison.

As for the cause of the leap into oil-burning, consumers seeking better fuel economy find a 30 percent gain when the engine quietly purrs, especially when 27 of the 46 available clean-diesel models for the U.S. market are cars and SUVs. Winners include Audi and Chevrolet, both moving 8,100 and 3,000 units through the first half of 2014. Meanwhile, Volkswagen, lost 8 percent in sales during the same period, though still lead the way with 42,000 vehicles leaving the lot.

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Torque Steer? What’s Torque Steer? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/torque-steer-whats-torque-steer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/torque-steer-whats-torque-steer/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 11:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=868770   How quaint it all seems, looking back 10 years and remembering how the enthusiast public was fretting about the Dodge Neon SRT-4 and its half-shaft threatening 250 lb-ft of torque.  How could a front-drive car put such twist through the front wheels? Well, now we’re dealing with Fusions and Sonatas putting down similar figures, […]

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How quaint it all seems, looking back 10 years and remembering how the enthusiast public was fretting about the Dodge Neon SRT-4 and its half-shaft threatening 250 lb-ft of torque.  How could a front-drive car put such twist through the front wheels? Well, now we’re dealing with Fusions and Sonatas putting down similar figures, and the newest crop of turbocharged front-drive hatchbacks are putting down some staggering numbers.

Having just driven a 2015 Volkswagen GTI, I was sure that the 210 horsepower/250 lb-ft figure quoted by VW was a bit underrated. Turns out that’s what it really makes at the wheels, which works out to about 241 horsepower and 287 lb-ft of torque. My car didn’t have the Performance Pack and its mechanical LSD, but I didn’t think torque steer was anything to fret about.

But if I got the APR Stage 1 ECU reflash, I’d re-consider that. The 291 horsepower figure is Golf R territory, but the most astonishing number is the 367 lb-ft at the wheels. That’s as much torque as a 2004 Mustang Cobra “Terminator”, arguably one of the fiercest performance cars of the mid 2000′s, was putting down.

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Volkswagen Interested In Buying Fiat http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/volkswagen-interested-in-buying-fiat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/volkswagen-interested-in-buying-fiat/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 13:14:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=867258 German business publication Manager Magazin is reporting that Volkswagen could be interested in acquiring Fiat. The Agnelli family, which controls the industrial conglomerate, is apparently looking to exit the volume car manufacturing business. According to the article, the Agnelli family would retain Ferrari, while Volkswagen would benefit from Chrysler and its associated brands by giving it a foothold […]

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German business publication Manager Magazin is reporting that Volkswagen could be interested in acquiring Fiat. The Agnelli family, which controls the industrial conglomerate, is apparently looking to exit the volume car manufacturing business.

According to the article, the Agnelli family would retain Ferrari, while Volkswagen would benefit from Chrysler and its associated brands by giving it a foothold in America, where it has traditionally struggled. VW CEO Ferdinand Peich has long coveted Alfa Romeo, though it’s unclear what would happen to FCA’s other brands.

Any deal would be faced with a number of obstacles, including financial issues and inevitable consolidation of the respective brand portfolios. But the Agnelli family’s desire to exit the volume car manufacturing business is a wise one, given the constantly shaky market conditions in Europe, their exposure to the hardest hit regions of that continent and the massive overcapacity crisis currently plaguing its assembly plants. By contrast, Ferrari is a license to print money, generating enormous profits from its merchandising arm alone. Sergio Marchionne has long said that economies of scale above 6 million units are required to survive in this next era of the automotive business – this may be the most expedient way for him to achieve that goal.

 

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