The Truth About Cars » Volkswagen The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:19:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (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 Volkswagen Group Of America Names German Labor Leader To Board Of Directors Mon, 14 Jul 2014 14:12:43 +0000 Bernd-Osterloh

The horse-trading between Volkswagen, the UAW and IG Metall that eventually led to both the UAW’s “voluntary union” and the new crossover’s production at Chattanooga isn’t quite over yet. Buried deep in VW’s announcement is the news that Volkswagen’s board member in charge of their global Works Council Bernd Osterloh will join the Volkswagen Group of Amerca’s Board of Directors.

Osterloh has long been a thorn in the side of anti-UAW forces, suggesting that without UAW representation, the crossover would not come to Chattanooga – something that Osterloh, as a member of Volkswagen’s supervisory board, can set into motion if he feels vengeful enough.

In the end, the UAW lost and the crossover came to Chattanooga, but presumably, something had to give so that IG Metall took some kind of victory, real or perceived.

VW’s official announcement states

“We are pleased that Mr. Osterloh has declared his willingness to play a concentrated role in shaping our US strategy in the future. He will represent the views of the workforce. This is in line with the codetermination culture of Volkswagen, which is one of our key success factors,” Prof. Dr. Winterkorn said.

Osterloh stated: “It is important for us that our colleagues in the U.S. know that we also care about the production site and the employment in Chattanooga. I am looking forward to my work on the Board. I am determined to uphold the interests of Volkswagen employees in Chattanooga. The North American market offers considerable opportunities; in my opinion, these have not been pursued with sufficient consistency in the past. With today’s decision to produce the midsize SUV in the USA, we are taking a key step.”

The natural response to this is, why does a German union official care about the interests of American workers? From where I sit, it seems that this was a concession made to get Osterloh and IG Metall to acquiesce to the production decision – something has previously been threatened if union demands weren’t met. Even though the UAW is gaining little traction with their own organization campaign, they now have an ally in IG Metall, able to influence decisions at Volkswagen Group of America.

This isn’t the first time a cross-continent trade has happened. Outgoing UAW President Bob King was chosen by IG Metall to sit on Opel’s board, and the two unions have been moving towards deeper ties in recent years.


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Volkswagen Confirms New SUV Will Be Built In Chattanooga Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:43:41 +0000 450x299x550x366xVolkswagen-CrossBlue-Concept-550x366.jpg,Mic_.uF-8gWFYml-450x299.jpg.pagespeed.ic.rA7817fp9x

Volkswagen will invest $900-million and add 2,000 jobs as part of a decision to build their long-awaited mid-size crossover in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

The plant, which already builds the Passat, has been the site of a number of disputes, pitting the UAW and organized labor against an equally passionate opposition that includes the state level government and other anti-UAW entities.

The new crossover, considered a vital part of VW’s success, will be based on VW’s MQB platform, and be produced in 2016.

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UAW To Form Union Local For Volkswagen Chattanooga Workers Thu, 10 Jul 2014 15:23:19 +0000 Click here to view the embedded video.

The UAW will apparently form a new local in Chattanooga, Tennessee to represent workers at Volkswagen’s assembly plant. But things will operate a little differently than in traditional union representation setups.

According to The Tennessean

Participation will be voluntary, and there will be no formal recognition of the union by the German automaker until a majority of its workers have joined, UAW officials have confirmed.

“We will be announcing a local, and we would fully expect that Volkswagen would deal with this local union if it represents a substantial portion of its employees,” UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel of Ashland City said this morning.

“It’s dependent on the employees and what they want to do.”

The arrangement is a bold step towards gaining representation – as well as a UAW foothold in the South – even after the UAW lost a vote held by plant workers to decide on representation. But it makes one wonder why the vote was even held in the first place. To further make matters complicated, a local news outlet is reporting that the end goal of the arrangement would be the creation of a German-style works council.

An official announcement is likely to come this afternoon, but the timing of the move is close to VW’s decision on whether to build their new three-row crossover – a vital product for the American market – in Tennessee or in Mexico.

VW’s supervisory board, where labor organizations have a say in matters, does not want Chattanooga to get the new crossover without some kind of arrangement regarding organization of the plant’s labor – and IG Metall, Germany’s largest labor union, has deep ties to the UAW. VW conveniently left some wiggle room in the matter, and we may be seeing that manifesting in the “voluntary” union, which has the possibility of being recognized by VW, even though that doesn’t appear to be confirmed.

On the other hand, the Tennessee state government is offering significant incentives to Volkswagen, but is vehemently opposed to the presence of the UAW.

For some time, it seemed as if the UAW’s defeat, as well as the crossover’s production in Chattanooga, was a slam dunk. But now, things have gotten a little more complicated. We’ll have more as the story breaks.

H/T to Jalopnik 

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BlackBerry Sells German R&D Center To Volkswagen Fri, 04 Jul 2014 15:22:42 +0000 qnx-car-2-in-car-infotainment-platform_100402649_l

BlackBerry has sold an R&D center in Germany to Volkswagen, with VW picking up both the employees and other assets.

Volkswagen Infotainment will take over BlackBerry’s facilities in Bochum, Germany, along with 200 employees. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. BlackBerry’s subsidiary QNX has established itself as a niche player in the in-car connectivity space, though it’s unclear whether there will be any links between the two companies.

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Volkswagen Reveals MQB-Based Passat Thu, 03 Jul 2014 20:54:07 +0000 db2014au00776_small


Volkswagen unveiled their all-new Passat, riding on the same MQB architecture as the all-new Golf.

The new Passat is 2mm shorter, but 14mm lower and 12 mm wider, while cargo and passenger space is increased. Nearly 200 lbs is lost from the car’s curb weight, helping to boost fuel economy by as much as 20 percent.

A new diesel making 237 horsepower and 368 lb-ft mated to a DSG gearbox is expected to be a highlight of the engine range. No word on whether we’ll get this Passat, or continue on with our American-ized version.

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VW Will Begin Production Of Beetle Dune In 2016 Thu, 03 Jul 2014 10:00:27 +0000 vw-beetle-dune-concept-10-1

Remember the Beetle Dune Concept we showed you a while ago? It’ll be in showrooms sometime in 2016.

Car reports Volkswagen announced production of the concept through a promotional video instead of the usual press release. Pricing for the new Beetle — which will come in coupe and convertible forms — will be €2,800 ($3,800 USD) over the standard Beetle.

Though no form of power has been specified — the concept had a 210-horsepower 2-liter turbo-four mated to a six-speed dual-clutch pushing those ponies to the front wheels — the production model will receive the concept’s 2-inch ground clearance and 1.1-inch wider track.

As for when the Dune will be seeking out its Kwisatz Haderach in the United States, Autoblog says VW of America has no official plans ready for announcement as of this writing, according to representative Mark Gillies.

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Volkswagen Crossover Will Be Built In Chattanooga Mon, 23 Jun 2014 04:01:12 +0000 550x366xVolkswagen-CrossBlue-Concept-550x366.jpg.pagespeed.ic.uF-8gWFYml

Reuters is reporting that the long-awaited decision on the production site of Volkswagen’s new crossover is set to be handed down any day now, and the winner is Chattanooga.

According to Reuters, a generous incentive package swayed the decision to build the new CUV in the United States, rather than Mexico

The state of Tennessee is offering tax breaks, staff training, free land and infrastructure upgrades worth about $300 million in total, giving it a clear edge over Puebla, Mexico

Dealers have been crying out for a CUV sized above the Touraeg, but priced closer to the Honda Pilot (rather than in the pseudo-luxury space occupied by the Touraeg). With CUV sales growing in globally, the lack of competitive crossovers in Volkswagen’s North American product portfolio is undoubtedly holding them back from further growth in North America. The new three-row CUV should help put them on track – but without a next-generation Tiguan that’s adapted to North American tastes, it may be too little too late.

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Spotted In The Wild: Volkswagen Touran Fri, 13 Jun 2014 01:19:19 +0000 photo (1)


Spotted in the wilds of Toronto today: A VW Touran TDI. Canadians, don’t get your hopes up.

Toronto is the central location for every OEM in the Canadian market, and that means that you can sometimes spot forbidden fruit out on the road, much like residents of Detroit and Los Angeles are privy to.

This Touran is here for evaluation purposes, but will not be offered for sale anytime soon. Canada’s regulatory regime is aligned with America, which makes the homologation costs too high for such a small market. Furthermore, while Canadians like smaller cars, they don’t favor small minivans. The Canadian-made Dodge Grand Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country own the Canadian minivan market by a huge margin, with small vans like the Mazda5 and Canadian-only Chevrolet Orlando and Kia Rondo picking up the scraps.

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Volkswagen To Triple SUV Lineup In Fight Against Toyota For Total Global Sales Wed, 04 Jun 2014 11:00:24 +0000 Volkswagen-T-ROC-Concept-02

With Toyota still in its sights, Volkswagen plans to triple the number of SUVs in its lineup in its fight for the top sales podium among the Global Three.

Bloomberg reports the current offerings — the midsize Touareg and compact Tiguan — will soon be joined by the upcoming seven-passenger CrossBlue-based SUV that will either be assembled in Mexico or Tennessee, coupe and long-wheelbase versions of the Tiguan, the Touareg and a subcompact based on either the Taigun or T-ROC concepts. The strategy would provide VW with the opportunity to meet Toyota across the latter’s range on its way to beat the Japanese automaker in global deliveries by 2018, and would build brand strength in the United States and emerging markets such as China.

Meanwhile, Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini and Porsche are also moving further into the SUV market, ranging from the Cayenne and new Macan — both of which are expected to account for 64 percent of all Porsche sales by next year, according to IHS Automotive — to the Q1 in 2016 and Urus in 2017. The overall game would net Volkswagen an operating profit boost over 6 percent of sales over the current rate of 2.9 percent, as SUVs are considered to be more profitable than other vehicles.

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VW Pulled By Competing Incentive Offers For New SUV Assembly Tue, 03 Jun 2014 13:00:28 +0000 Volkswagen-CrossBlue-Concept

Though the seven-passenger SUV based upon the CrossBlue concept is ready to be built, Volkswagen is being pulled by incentive offers in the two locations fighting for the right to build the SUV: Mexico and Tennessee.

Reuters reports VW would have made its decision by now as to where the new product would be assembled, but sources close to the issue have said the automaker will likely announce the location by the end of June at the earliest. Though Tennessee originally offered $300 million for the SUV, the state government now has to match or better what Mexico offered once the original deal was abruptly pulled off the table in January 2014 ahead of a contentious organized labor election at VW’s Chattanooga factory.

In Mexico, VW invested $700 million toward refurbishing its 50-year-old Puebla plant for production of the new Golf, which will be made alongside the Jetta and Beetle already in production by the plant’s 15,000 employees. If the nation is chosen, the new SUV would be made there or in Audi’s San Jose Chiapa, where the Q5 will be built beginning in 2016.

As for what VW knows about Tennessee’s new incentive offer, the automaker remains silent on the issue beyond confirming they are talking to state officials.

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Review: 2015 Volkswagen GTI Performance Pack (Mk7) Tue, 03 Jun 2014 13:00:22 +0000 IMG_6137 (Medium)

After the first one, the second one, the worst one, and the star-crossed one, we’ve finally arrived at the Mk7 GTI.

Good news: it’s worth the wait.
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After the mild update that turned the Mk5 into the lowered-expectations Mk6, this MQB Golf feels the entirely different car that it is. Longer, lower, wider, lighter, more spacious, better-equipped, but still recognizably a Golf both inside and out. A focus on Mexican production is at least partially responsible for Volkswagen’s ability to offer a $25.215 “S” model that offers slightly more equipment than the Mk6 it replaces. Those of us who remember the Rabbit S as the tape-and-stripe pre-GTI from 1981 will no doubt be slightly confused that there is now a Golf GTI S.

Let’s go over the equipment right quick, straight from the press release:

The Golf GTI S features the following standard equipment: 210-hp 2.0-liter TSI engine; 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels; Bluetooth® connectivity; a touchscreen radio; Sirius XM® Satellite radio; a Media Device Interface (MDI) with iPod® integration; a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, handbrake, and shifter knob; VW Car-Net® connected services; ambient and footwell lighting with LED reading lights; cloth sport seats with heritage GTI design; LED foglights; heatable front seats; and a new driving mode selection feature.

The SE starts at $27,395 for the two-door manual transmission model. It adds the following standard equipment: a power tilt and slide sunroof; Keyless access with push-button start; a rearview camera; automatic headlights; rain-sensing windshield wipers; the Fender® Premium Audio System; and leather seating surfaces.

The Autobahn is only available as a four-door model, priced from $29,595 with the manual transmission. This adds navigation, a 12-way power driver’s seat, and automatic air conditioning to the list of standard equipment on the SE.

The GTI S I drove had the Performance Pack, which adds big brakes, an electronically-controlled limited-slip (which I believe to have a mechanical component, not just brake programming) and 10 extra horsepower over the standard 210. It will be available later in the year. Car and Driver‘s Tony Swan could be reliably counted on to write “Know what? We’d wait for it” in regards to this sort of thing, so consider that written. You want a Performance Pack. Even if you don’t care about it, when you go to sell the car in five or ten years from now, each and every email and phone call you get about it will start with “Does it have PP?” As the song says, make it easy on yourself.

IMG_6142 (Medium)

All the first impressions are good: this is a car that follows the same dark-materials-and-shiny-trim playbook as everybody else from Mazda from BMW but the execution is exceptionally good. While the standard Golf perhaps offers a bit more Ikea-chic with its full brushed-metal dashboard and center console (and we’ll cover that car later in the week), the GTI interior does not disappoint and it looks and feels more than a bit above the $25k sticker.

IMG_6139 (Medium)

The control efforts are light but predictable and there’s more than a bit of Audi A4 to the GTI as I pull out for the “Long/Aggressive” drive loop. Time to boot the throttle. Directly prior to getting on the plane, I’d let the leash out on my 2014 Accord V-6 stick-shift for calibration purposes. I’m more than surprised at the way the new turbo engine out-torques the Accord from low revs; with 258 lb-ft across a very broad electronically-managed plateau, it has the twist of an ’83 Mustang five-point-oh delivered at pretty much the same place on the tach.

What a surprise to find that torque steer is mostly absent; the GTI simply runs hard until the small turbo runs out of puff in typical small-turbo style. Now, as the revs approach 6k, is when you’d really prefer to have a big Japanese six under the hood, but instead you get a lot of sound and fury, mostly artificial, signifying that it’s time to shift and ride the torque curve yet again. The net effect is bizarrely like the VR6 MkIII GTI, only played at fast-forward pace.

The Performance Pack suspension, brakes, and rubber all conspire to make the Volkswagen far too capable for our test loop. Letting the engine spin only results in running up more quickly against the next group of tourists or cyclists. What this needs is a track, but surely it would prove to be just as hapless as most Golf-pattern cars in that environment. Suffice it to say that you won’t easily reach the GTI’s limits anywhere that you wouldn’t reach the limits of something like a BMW 328i with the Sport package. This GTI probably runs semi-close to the Scirocco R for raw pace, assuming you select the DSG. As ever with these cars, no matter how many letters you use to describe the platform, the manual shift action is slow and steady at best, so you’ll have to take in satisfaction what you lose in over-the-road speed.

On the move, the GTI starts to feel distinctly mid-sized, particularly with regards to that nearly seventy-one-inch width. Still, visibility is decent enough given the considerable beltline draft. The same kind of dimensional gaps that made the Mk2 feel so much bigger than the Mk1 are at work here as well vis-a-vis the Mk6. Thank goodness the BMW 3er keeps getting bigger, or this Golf would catch it. As wide as an E90 and taller, slathered liberally with cold-to-the-touch metal trim, it’s light-years from the old GTIs. The proportions just keep drifting from the original, and at some point it starts to really matter that the perched-on-the-seat, elbows-on-the-doorsills feeling of the early cars is completely gone. VW did itself no favors bringing the “heritage” cars along, because they remind us of when the Golf was a compact car, not an Accord sans trunk. Why would you get an A3, other than for the rings on the grille and the guarantee that assembly took place without the involvement, direct or indirect, of a drug cartel?

It’s at this point that I want to suggest that you read Jason Cammisa’s review of the same GTI I drove. I want you to do this, not just because I want to prop up Jason’s career in the interest of receiving free drinks from him in the future, but because he’s such an unabashed fan of this car and I want you to hear all the good things about the car from a fan before I talk about it in a less than positive way.

Okay. You’re back? Let’s continue. This new GTI is, by any measure you can objectively apply, the best GTI in history. From the three-dimensional court and spark of the complex and gorgeous steering wheel to the video-game power delivery, from the considered retro chic of the upholstery to the absolutely vice-free way the nose turns even under braking, it is damned near flawless. If you envision the GTI customer base as people who cannot afford an M3 but demand a large subset of that car’s virtues at well under half the price, well… mission accomplished.

You can’t fluster it, not with idiotic midcorner braking, not with lazy shifting choices, not with pitch-and-catch attempts at adjusting its attitude around a turn. It’s effortlessly fast and frankly it would work just fine with a four-speed manual box, or possibly even a three-speed automatic, such is the flexibility and might of the engine.

The only problem with this car is that I’d rather have a Fiesta ST. 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. The Fiesta is everything the Golf isn’t: deliberately unstable at speed, hugely involving, capable of returning vast differentials of pace depending on driver commitment and talent.

“But wait a minute,” you say, “the proper competition for the GTI is the Focus ST.” Well, I’m not totally sure I wouldn’t take the Focus. It’s not nearly as good of a car on the road but it has some racetrack desirability to it and I prefer the Rude Ford look to the A3 Lite one. This GTI feels awfully grownup. There have always been two groups of buyers for this car: literature professors slumming it with a campus-friendly rocket and kids looking to start trouble with Daddy’s money or the entire proceeds of their McJob. With the Mk7, Volkswagen has tilted the balance drastically towards the former.

What we really need here is the Renault Megane, which is everything you really want in a front-wheel-drive enthusiast car. The GTI could have been a Megane competitor. Instead, it’s an Audi competitor, which seems odd, because VW owns Audi.

Unto the seventh generation, the sins of the original Golf have been long expiated. The problem is that the virtues, and the character, were dispensed with as well. What’s left is a fast, competent, useful car from which to sit back and watch the Bimmer drivers paying too much for the same experience — and the Fiesta drivers having unadulterated fun.

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Volkswagen Will Bring US Product Faster To Market Beginning 2017 Mon, 02 Jun 2014 11:00:48 +0000 2015 VW Golf Main

In an effort to keep its U.S. customer base satisfied — and to potentially boost sales — Volkswagen is planning on delivering the goods to the market at a faster clip than current.

Bloomberg reports VW U.S. CEO Michael Horn expects new models to arrive every five years with major refreshes after three years; currently, new models arrive in showrooms every seven years, while major refreshes come in the fourth year:

Customers want quicker change. We’re working to shorten the life cycle of the products to bring more new features and design elements, in terms of face-lifts, to the market quicker. We believe we have a positive business case. It commercially makes sense that we move.

The new product cycle won’t begin until 2017 at the earliest, and must still meet management approval before implementation can commence, further diminishing hopes of moving 800,000 units out of U.S. showrooms annually by 2018; Horn recently stated VW’s U.S. operations would focus more on “realistic targets in the short-term.

The CEO also said he and a number of execs within the parent company had been meeting every other month since January to discuss how best to get a handle on the U.S. market, while 50 individuals from the automaker’s various departments attended a two-day summit to throw in their two cents on the matter. The summit focused on fleet fuel efficiency, product lineup and speed of product cycle.

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Volkswagen Golf R Wagon Gets One Step Closer To Reality Thu, 22 May 2014 13:19:56 +0000 volkswagen-golf-r-wagon-spy-photo-03

We may not be clear on whether the Volkswagen Golf wagon will get all-wheel drive in North America, but it looks like VW is hard at work on an R version of the Golf wagon.

Spotted by AutoGuide photographers on its second Nurburgring run, this prototype looks a bit more polished than the last mule we encountered. The MQB-based wagon borrows the 296-horsepower 2.0T engine and Haldex AWD setup from the Golf R, and thanks to the flexibility of MQB, the marginal cost of making this car for world markets is likely low enough that VW can produce a limited run. North America, with its distinct regulations, might be another story. The business case for an R Wagon is tenuous at best – but we can always hold out hope.

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Editorial: Volkswagen’s Plan For A Cheaper Phaeton Is Another Disaster In The Making Tue, 20 May 2014 15:22:53 +0000 550x412xphaetons-550x412.jpg.pagespeed.ic.phcnXCd72w

The internet is abuzz with the possibility that the Volkswagen Phaeton might make a return to the United States – with a cheaper price point as well. Unfortunately, it’s a terrible idea. But not for the reason you might think.

At this point in the essay, other outlets would launch into a heartfelt soliloquy about the Phaeton’s technological brilliance, its lack of appreciation by the buying public and how a lower price point would tarnish its legacy as a Bentley Flying Spur built with the wrong badge.

None of that matters. Virtually nobody in America cared about the Phaeton, and fewer people bought one – save for our EIC pro tem, who has a great track record of buying rare, enthusiast vehicles that people praise online but consistently fail to purchase.

The big issue with this plan is that it is unbelievably nonsensical when looked at from a “business case” standpoint. The full-size car market is constantly contracting, with most nameplates – especially the Ford Taurus that VW cited as possible competition – seeing declining sales. Overall, the segment relies on fleet sales for about 50 percent of its volume – but given VW’s tactic of dumping Jettas and Passats in rental fleets, it might be possible to get a “Volkswagen Phaeton or similar” on your 2017 Disneyworld Vacation to Orlando.

Even more ironic is what’s taking sales away from full-size sedans. It’s crossovers, particularly the larger kind that VW doesn’t have, the kind that dealers are crying out for, the kind that VW cannot decide on where to build. For all its success in the rest of the world, Volkswagen seems constitutionally incapable of understanding the American market and its tastes. Some things can be chalked up to miscalculations. If the Phaeton arrives before a full-size crossover, it will be nothing less than unforgivable stupidity.

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Volkswagen’s Cervone Returns To GM As Global Communications VP Tue, 20 May 2014 10:00:01 +0000 GM Next

Autoblog reports Volkswagen Group of America executive vice president of group communications Tony Cervone is returning to the GM fold as the automaker’s senior vice president of global communications. According to CEO Mary Barra, Cervone “brings an ideal mix of outside perspective and experience that compliments a deep background in GM and today’s global auto industry.” Prior to his return, he also served as the vice president of communications for United Airlines and Chrysler Group, where he spent 14 years before his decade-long previous service to GM. Cervone succeeds Selim Bingol — who resigned from the company in April “to pursue other interests,” and will report directly to Barra.

Speaking of “outside perspectives,” Automotive News chronicles the story of how a trio of Southern gentlemen helped to bring the spotlight upon the out-of-spec ignition switch at the heart of the February 2014 GM recall. Leading the charge, attorney Lance Cooper had sought answers into the death of Brooke Melton at the wheel of her 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. Cooper retained a number of experts in his case, including auto shop owner Charlie Miller and materials engineer Mark Hood, both of whom discovered the switches in Melton’s Cobalt and related vehicles performed differently than those found in 2007 and later models. The evidence gathered would help cement the settlement for his client’s family, as well as pave the way for the recall.

Moving toward the present, victim compensation expert Kenneth Feinberg may end up sorting through a mountain of data as he works out the details for a compensation package between GM and the 35 families affected by the switch. Between the time the first vehicles left for showrooms in late 2002 through 2012, 1,752 individuals died in accidents involving the vehicles under the February 2014 recall. Though the link may be tenuous in most of the cases, each one may open an opportunity for affected groups to lay some of the blame at the door of GM’s comptroller.

Looking toward the future, GM and AT&T will offer a number of 4G LTE connected-car packages beginning next month to consumers, ranging from $5 for a few hours of streaming music to $50 for several showings of “Frozen” for the little ones in the back. However, demand for the service may not be what the automaker expects, as consumers who don’t have company on the road often may wonder why they need a connected car with 4G. The concern isn’t helped by the delay of an app suite — featuring offerings from NPR and The Weather Channel — which would allow owners access without using their smartphones; the delay is over quality concerns, according to GM.

In brand news, GMC is doing very well for itself as of late, being the healthiest among GM’s four brands left standing after the 2009 bankruptcy. The “professional-grade” line of trucks, SUVs and crossovers are leaving their bow-tied brethren behind for the premium market, bumping into Cadillac more often than may be comfortable for some within GM’s hallowed halls. That said, GMC’s demographic prefers to remain low-key in opposition to the flash that brings the celebs to Escalade’s yard, even if the Yukon XL Denali is within spitting distance of the Caddy’s $72,690 base price.

Leading the charge is Buick-GMC boss Duncan Aldred, who is looking forward to where GMC will go while shaking off the shadow of Buick’s “senior citizen” image within the United States. The former Vauxhall managing director sees similarities between Buick and Vauxhall/Opel, and aims to rehabilitate its image through a marketing strategy that may use “shocking and polarizing” messaging to prove his point. As for GMC, Aldred says he sees its future “as really exciting in an Audi-esque kind of way,” with plans to push the Denali line further up the mountain toward the summit.

Finally, CarNewsChina has the first official photos of the facelifted Chinese-market Chevrolet Aveo, which takes its looks from the upcoming Cruze. The Aveo will be priced between 81,800 yuan and 114,800 yuan ($13,113 to $22,732 USD), with power from 1.4- and 1.6-liter engines under the bonnet. Made by the GM Shanghai joint-venture between GM and SAIC Motor, the newly styled compact will arrive in showrooms in June for the sedan, July for the hatchback.

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Volkswagen Dials Back On 2018 Milestone Mon, 19 May 2014 12:00:39 +0000 Volkswagen-CrossBlue-Concept

Though Volkswagen had plans to move 800,000 units annually out of U.S. showrooms by 2018, the automaker may now opt to dial back its ambitious plan in light of slow growth and falling sales.

The Detroit Bureau reports VW’s U.S. chief Michael Horn said his goal with the company for now is to focus on “realistic targets,” especially as sales fell against the harsh winter weather earlier this year, and though the main goal is still there, it will be reached in the long-term.

According to industry insiders, the automaker wants to be sure it builds the kind of vehicles the U.S. market desires — such as the upcoming CrossBlue Concept-based full-size SUV — even if it means holding back on products until they are ready for production. Another diversion from the 800,000/year road is China: financing meant for the U.S. market was diverted across the Pacific in VW’s fight to dominate the emerging market, which it hopes will happen by decade’s end.

That said, VW will likely turn more of its focus back on the U.S. in order to shore up its stake in the fight to take the top podium in global sales, such as the impending announcement of where the aforementioned SUV will be built. There, the plants in Chattanooga, Tenn. and Puebla, Mexico are in the running, though the former may be out due to the fallout surrounding the February 2014 battle between the UAW and anti-union forces over organization of the plant.

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Corker: VW SUV Production Announcement To Come Sooner Than Later Wed, 14 May 2014 12:00:47 +0000 Senator Bob Corker

Though no word yet has come down from Volkswagen on where the confirmed seven-passenger SUV for the U.S. market will be assembled, U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee says that decision would come “in the very near future.”

Detroit Free Press reports the senator couldn’t put a time frame on when VW would deliver its announcement, but did believe the automaker’s plans were “moving in the right direction,” despite Tennessee governor Bill Haslam stating no meetings were set up between his administration and VW since the end of the tumultuous fight over the Chattanooga plant between the United Auto Workers and anti-union opposition earlier in the year.

In response, Corker proclaimed:

I think if you had that conversation with the governor today he’d give you a different response. Again, the election was just certified within the last few weeks and you know things are moving in the direction that we thought they would.

He further stated that while the plant may not be the clear winner it once may have been, he had no indication that anything else has changed.

The Haslam administration offered a $300 million subsidy to VW if it chose to build its CrossBlue Concept-based full-size SUV in Tennessee, only to withdraw the offer in January 2014 ahead of the contentious organization election at the Chattanooga facility.

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2015 Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen Will Not Have AWD – Yet Tue, 13 May 2014 21:25:14 +0000 Golf SportWagen Exterior

Volkswagen officially announced their new 2015 Golf Sportwagen (nee Jetta Sportwagen) for the US market. And they’re still unclear about whether it will get 4Motion AWD.

Despite rumors to the contrary, Volkswagen told TTAC that they are still “investigating AWD”. For now, FWD will be the only option, along with a 1.8T gas engine (with a 5-speed manual or 6-speed auto) or a 2.0 TDI with either 6-speed manual or DSG gearboxes. VW says that cargo space will rival many small SUVs, and now it’s up to all of you to buy them, rather than just let the internet know how great wagons are.

Golf SportWagen Trunk Golf SportWagen Interior Golf SportWagen Exterior


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VW Confirms American Crossover, No Manufacturing Site Announced Tue, 13 May 2014 11:13:30 +0000 550x336xVolkswagen-CrossBlue-Concept-SUV-550x336.jpg.pagespeed.ic.Uh5jr0m80K

Volkswagen partially answered one of its biggest questions today, with an announcement that a new mid-size SUV for the American market is in the pipeline.

The announcement is expected to be made official later today, as part of a broader plan to build a new Audi factory in Mexico and refresh VW’s lineup in Brazil. Along with the product announcements, Bloomberg is reporting that VW is on track to deliver 10 million vehicles in 2014, well head of VW’s initial forecasts.

But the success comes at a price: VW’s plans for the American market have been a major disappointment, with continuously sliding sales even as the American market hits record volumes. The new SUV is a major cornerstone for VW’s plans in America, as it competes in one of the biggest market segments, but dealers will have to wait years for its introduction.

Also left unresolved was its production site. The recent battle over whether or not the UAW could organize VW’s Chattanooga, Tennessee plant was supposed to have resolved the matter, but warring factions on both sides failed to provide a clear resolution. VW supervisory board officials said that a “No” vote to the UAW would put the SUV in jeopardy, while Tennessee state officials said that a “Yes” vote would mean an end to subsidies slated for plant expansion for the SUV. The SUV’s placement at Chattanooga could expand capacity from 150,000 to 500,000 units, but VW could also decide to build it in Mexico.

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VW Delivers New Details On 10-Speed DSG, No Set Debut Date Tue, 13 May 2014 10:00:11 +0000 2014 Volkswagen Touareg

Volkswagen enthusiasts could soon have a 10-speed transmission to go with their 10-speed bicycles, as the automaker released more details on its 10-speed DSG unit currently in the works during this year’s Vienna Motor Symposium.

Autoblog reports VW brand development chief Hans-Jakob Neusser informed symposium attendees that the transmission would see service in both transverse and longitudinal configurations under the bonnets of VW’s and Audi’s premium offerings, such as the Touareg and A8 according statements made by CEO Martin Winterkorn during last year’s affair.

The 10-speed will be a replacement for the current six-speed DSG, designed for “higher-powered engines” producing over 184 lb-ft of torque, being able to handle 369 lb-ft while helping to lower emissions by as much as 15 percent by 2020.

As for when the new transmission will debut, Neusser did not offer any word on a time of arrival.

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Imported Cars Have A Record Year In Japan Mon, 12 May 2014 13:16:21 +0000 vw-golf-japan-december-2010b

Sales of imported cars set a 17 year record in Japan, with brands like Maserati and Volkswagen leading the way, with Bloomberg reporting that non-Japanese brands captured 8.8 percent of non-key car sales – the highest figure since records started being kept in 1989.

Mercedes and Maserati both had record setting years in Japan, while the VW Golf was the best-selling non-Japanese car, ranking 27th overall. The VW Up! is also said to be stealing sales away from kei car shoppers, and the trend of smaller imported cars appears to be a welcome one for Japanese consumers.

Previously, most European brands imported big, expensive luxury sedans, attainable only to the upper strata of Japanese society. Many of these examples were also left-hand drive, which was considered to be a status symbol by many, in the way that a right-hand drive car has enthusiast cachet in North America (and an inconvenience as well – which was arguably part of the appeal).

But the Golf and Up! have demonstrated demand for smaller, imported premium vehicles, and other brands have been following suit. Mercedes is set to begin sales of the A-Class compact hatchback, while Volvo’s V40 small hatch is the brand’s best selling vehicle.

Nevertheless, it’s unlikely that imported vehicles will ever make up a big part of auto markets in Japan. Despite talk of non-tariff barriers and other obstacles, there are significant cultural hurdles to overcome. Certain American vehicles (like muscle cars and large custom vans) have a following among Japanese enthusiasts, but for the vast majority of consumers, American cars are simply too big and too thirsty for Japan. Witness the boom in European vehicles, which didn’t take off in earnest until smaller vehicles became available. Among Japanese auto makers, kei cars are the dominant segment, with smaller cars taking up most of the non-kei share.

Beyond that, Japan is a society where conformity, not individual expression, is considered a virtue. “The nail that sticks up gets hammered down”, is a constant refrain in discussions of Japanese management culture, and what better way to stand out than by buying a vehicle made by the opposing team? Based on that alone, it’s reasonable to conclude that talk of closed markets and non-tariff barriers are secondary

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Junkyard Find: 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Diesel Fri, 09 May 2014 13:00:38 +0000 24 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe original Volkswagen Passat, which was essentially an Audi 80, was sold in the United States as the Dasher. We saw this two-door diesel Dasher at a Northern California wrecking yard last year, then this first-cousin gasoline-burning ’75 Audi Fox a couple months back, and now we’re heading back to California for a super-rare four-door diesel Dasher.
02 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car was slow even by generous 1980 standards, but diesel fuel economy must have made diesel VW buyers feel smart. I took my driver-training classes in a Rabbit Diesel, and I’m pretty sure the top speed of that car was about 52 mph.
13 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car appears to have been driven down from Alaska, judging from the body rust, moss growing on the trim, and these parking stickers.
14 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe interior is packed with damp Alaska Airlines aircraft shop manuals, probably a couple hundred pounds of them.
15 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’m sure I could have picked up a Boeing manual for cheap or even free, but I decided that I’d be able to live without it.
09 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWas it still running when it got scrapped? Who can say?
16 - 1980 Volkswagen Dasher Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s hard to use up a car this thoroughly.

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Volkswagen May Announce Location Of New SUV Production Next Week Fri, 09 May 2014 13:00:12 +0000 Volkswagen CrossBlue Concept SUV

Volkswagen appears ready to announce where its upcoming mid-size SUV — based upon the CrossBlue concept from the 2013 Detroit Auto Show — will be assembled.

Automotive News reports the decision could come as soon as next week at the earliest, though execs either don’t know or cannot say for sure, citing the automaker’s board’s tendency to keep things close to its Teutonic heart. Two locations up for nomination include Mexico and the beleaguered-by-politics plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. Either way, the new SUV will be produced and sold for the U.S. and Canadian markets.

The only roadblock for production in the U.S. is whether or not a $300 million packaged offered by the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development — pulled off the table in January of this year ahead of a then-impending United Auto Workers election at the Chattanooga facility — will actually be offered. Department PR chief Clint Brewer stated in an email that his department has attempted to contact VW, but nothing more has come of it thus far.

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Stuttgart Prosecutors Call For Appeal In Wiedeking Market Manipulation Ruling Tue, 06 May 2014 13:00:10 +0000 wendelin-wiedeking

Two weeks after the Stuttgart Regional Court threw-out charges of market manipulation levied at former Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking in December of 2012, prosecutors have called for an appeal of said ruling.

Automotive News Europe reports the prosecutors filed a motion to gain more time to review the case prior to deciding whether to appeal the ruling made in favor of Wiedeking and former Porsche CFO Holger Haerter.

The charges in question came after an investigation of the October 2008 announcement that Porsche, under the former CEO and CFO, would use options to boost its ownership of Volkswagen from 74.1 percent to 75 percent, effectively taking control of the latter. The announcement briefly caused a run on VW stock among short sellers on the basis that the automaker would fail. The charges claim Porsche misled investors during the failed takeover.

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Chinese Market 2015 VW Passat B8 Caught Unclothed Thu, 01 May 2014 11:00:53 +0000 volkswagen-passat-china-2-660x501

For European and Chinese customers awaiting the 2015 Volkswagen Passat B8, the following spy photos should hold them until the sedan’s debut at the 2014 Paris Auto Show in October.

CarNewsChina reports the Chinese model in the photos will have a wheelbase 10 centimeters longer than the European version, but both will otherwise be identical. The MQB-based sedan in Europe will see power from an assortment of four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines, as well as a rumored V6 pushing over 300 horsepower under the hood of a high-performance model.

Meanwhile, the longer Chinese version — to be produced by the FAW-VW joint venture as the Magotan — will make its debut the following April during the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show, and will only come with gasoline powerplants due to cities prohibiting diesel fuel use in passenger vehicles. Local consumers should expect to pay anywhere from 200,000 yuan to 350,000 yuan ($32,000 – $56,000 USD) once the B8 arrives in dealer showrooms; no word on what Europeans will pay for their B8.

volkswagen-passat-china-2-660x501 volkswagen-passat-china-1-660x293 volkswagen-passat-china-3-660x499 volkswagen-passat-china-4-660x489 volkswagen-passat-china-5-660x483 ]]> 11