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. Tue, 30 Sep 2014 15:17:59 +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 UAW, IG Metall Working To Jointly Organize Chattanooga VW Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/uaw-ig-metall-working-jointly-organize-chattanooga-vw-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/uaw-ig-metall-working-jointly-organize-chattanooga-vw-plant/#comments Mon, 29 Sep 2014 19:04:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=921489 While former EICs Schmitt and Niedermeyer documented the increasing co-operation between the UAW and IG Metall, recent developments have taken the relationship to new twists and turns. First there was the appointment of IG Metall bigwig Bernd Osterloh to VW of America’s board of directors. Now, Reuters is reporting that the two unions, along with the […]

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While former EICs Schmitt and Niedermeyer documented the increasing co-operation between the UAW and IG Metall, recent developments have taken the relationship to new twists and turns. First there was the appointment of IG Metall bigwig Bernd Osterloh to VW of America’s board of directors. Now, Reuters is reporting that the two unions, along with the VW global works council, have signed a letter of intent to represent VW workers at its Chattanooga, Tennessee plant.

Since the UAW lost a 2013 vote to represent the plant’s workers, various machinations have occurred. A “voluntary” union local was established by the UAW in an attempt to organize the plant’s labor force, only to be met with another outfit that was distinguished by its anti-UAW stance.

Despite the “voluntary” nature of the UAW’s Local 42 (as its known), the bargaining unit could be recognized by VW if a majority of workers decide to join it. This would be a major coup for the UAW, which is desperate to make headway in organizing a foreign plant, as well as IG Metall, which would further solidify its influence in Volkswagen Group affairs, after causing a stink at the massive Wolfsburg assembly plant, where VW is experiencing labor unrest amid a bumpy rollout for its new MQB based cars.

Osterloh’s appointment to the VWoA board and the organization of Chattanooga workers under the auspices of the UAW may simply be the price that Chattanooga has to pay for getting the new 7-seat VW crossover. VW, ever careful not to piss off IG Metall, has never adopted an anti-UAW stance despite insider reports claiming that unionization was not a desired outcome. But in the spirit of “Solidarity Forever“, IG Metall appears to determined to bring their UAW brothers into the plant, even if they have to let them in via the side door.

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Can Ocean City Enforce Maryland Vehicle Laws On Out Of State Cars? Well, They’re Gonna Try http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/can-ocean-city-enforce-maryland-vehicle-laws-state-cars-well-theyre-gonna-try/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/can-ocean-city-enforce-maryland-vehicle-laws-state-cars-well-theyre-gonna-try/#comments Sat, 27 Sep 2014 13:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=920450 You know Facebook’s passe when the cops are using it to talk to citizens. In this case, it’s the Ocean City (MD) Police Department, warning visitors to the H2O International event of their “zero tolerance policy” for traffic violations, vehicle modifications, and compliance with Maryland motor vehicle regulations. Even if the motor vehicle in question […]

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You know Facebook’s passe when the cops are using it to talk to citizens. In this case, it’s the Ocean City (MD) Police Department, warning visitors to the H2O International event of their “zero tolerance policy” for traffic violations, vehicle modifications, and compliance with Maryland motor vehicle regulations.

Even if the motor vehicle in question is registered somewhere else.

This video shows “stanced” cars, featuring “poke and stretch” running gear where the tire is deliberately chosen to be considerably narrower than the rim. Think of it as the opposite of the 285-width-tires-on-a-7-inch-wide-wheel thing that SCCA National Solo types do. Most of these cars have some sort of air-ride suspension so they can be dropped on or near the ground, which causes some fairly outrageous negative camber. The Ocean City Police vigorously prosecutes cars like this at H2O, going to far as to impound them, as seen happening to a stanced TSX at around the three-minute mark.

I cannot recommend that readers watch the entire video but I did, mostly to get a sense of who goes to the H2O thing. I wasn’t surprised: by and large it’s awkward young men of all ethnicities, with a bunch of puppy fat and goofy clothing, having fun and harming no one. They’re very excited about having a cooler full of Bud Light or playing beer pong or just hanging out on the sidewalk. There’s a little bit of dangerous driving in the video but frankly you can see worse on the Chicago or Detroit freeways every day of the week.

So why bother them? Well, they have money. They’ll pay fines, they’ll pay tickets. Most of them are very nice kids and the last thing they want to is have a warrant out for their arrest, even if it’s not in their home state. They’ll lead chants and yell at the police from a distance but this ain’t Ferguson or Watts and nobody’s actually going to do anything on either side. In fact, you could argue that the police harassment is desired by the participants, at least on a subconscious level. For the rest of their safe, reasonable, middle-class adult lives they’ll be able to remember how they once drove a stanced-out Jetta to Ocean City and called some cop an asshole. It’s cathartic and helpful and I’d bet you that if there were no cops at H2O this year a lot of people would miss them. It’s their Woodstock. It’s their chance to fight the system, and if the system doesn’t show then there’s nothing to fight.

Some major percentage of you will have watched 90 seconds of the video by this point and decided, “I don’t care if the OCPD harasses those mooks. Hell, I rather approve of the idea that you shouldn’t be allowed to drive some bagged-out rustbucket with fifteen degrees of negative camber and a nightmarishly unsafe tire installation on the freeway.” Well, I don’t want to come across all Martin Niemoller on you, but these amiable morons with their visible wheel lips and ironic T-shirts and NISMO posters in their mothers’ basements are sort of canaries in the coal mine for the rest of us.

Until the day comes that California manages to impose its state vehicle regulations by fiat on the rest of the United States — and may that day never come — the presence on your vehicle of an out-of-state tag should be an absolute and unquestionable defense against motor vehicle specification enforcement of any type. Yes, that freedom could certainly be abused; think of all those twentysomething children of divorce whose fathers live somewhere else. Yet the minor abuses do not justify the major abuses that could be commonplace were it to be any other way.

As an example: Residents of southern states where deep tint is legal and virtually necessary due to the sunlight should not be afraid to drive through Ohio where every cop has a light meter and expects that your windows will not be any darker than the factory tint on a Somerset Regal’s windshield. If you live in Kentucky and don’t have to run a front plate, you shouldn’t have your car impounded in Ohio because it doesn’t have a front plate. Conversely, Ohio-registered cars from counties where there is no emissions checks shouldn’t be subject to drive-by monitoring in California.

As a society, we’ve come to expect that, although the vast majority of laws are the same everywhere in the country, there are exceptions and those exceptions should be respected. For that reason, the holder of a “shall-issue” concealed-carry permit from Indiana shouldn’t expect to be allowed to carry his gun on the New York subway. Nor should a Montana rancher be granted a special dispensation to graze his cattle in Central Park.

So long as personal vehicles remain the key to American freedom of mobility, however, it is critical that they be allowed to travel unimpeded through this country, with their owners free from the fear of persecution or impounding. The protection of Ocean City’s residents from “stanced” cars is not sufficient justification for a departure from this national understanding. So today I’m standing shoulder to shoulder with every awkward twenty-something with “illest” in his Subaru. Every tatted-up wanna-be thug with a private-school background and a poke-and-stretch setup on his M3. Every floor-staring, bowl-haircut, Magic-the-Gathering-playing doofus* with two thousand hours’ worth of labor in his Rabbit pickup. I’m standing shoulder to shoulder with them to demand that we treat them, and the rest of us, like hard-working, decent American citizens who are causing no trouble and deserve no punishment.

I’m speaking metaphorically, of course. I’m not sure I’d go within ten miles of that place for ten thousand bucks.

* It takes one to know one. Untap, upkeep, draw!

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Paris 2014: Volkswagen Takes The Golf Wagon Outback http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/paris-2014-volkswagen-takes-golf-wagon-outback/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/paris-2014-volkswagen-takes-golf-wagon-outback/#comments Wed, 24 Sep 2014 18:10:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=917882 This is the second time that Volkswagen has trotted out a butch-looking station wagon-on-stilts under the Alltrack moniker. The last version, a Passat, debuted at the 2012 New York Auto Show. This newest version is based on the Golf Wagon, and packs TDI diesel or turbocharged gasoline engines. Haldex AWD is standard. While the Alltrack […]

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This is the second time that Volkswagen has trotted out a butch-looking station wagon-on-stilts under the Alltrack moniker. The last version, a Passat, debuted at the 2012 New York Auto Show.

This newest version is based on the Golf Wagon, and packs TDI diesel or turbocharged gasoline engines. Haldex AWD is standard. While the Alltrack is confirmed for the European market, I’m wondering about the chances for this model coming to North America. VW showed an all-wheel drive Golf Wagon at the 2014 New York Auto Show, but this seems like a more likely option, given the success of the Subaru Outback.

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Editorial: Stop Trying To Make Phaeton Happen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/editorial-stop-trying-make-phaeton-happen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/editorial-stop-trying-make-phaeton-happen/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 16:51:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=917338 In the hagiography of automobiles beloved by enthusiasts, the Volkswagen Phaeton is revered as an icon of technological brilliance, rejected in America by a marketplace of Philistines too self-conscious to appreciate its technological brilliance or unmatched discretion. For once, it’s an estimation not entirely divorced from reality. But given the disastrous results that resulted in a […]

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In the hagiography of automobiles beloved by enthusiasts, the Volkswagen Phaeton is revered as an icon of technological brilliance, rejected in America by a marketplace of Philistines too self-conscious to appreciate its technological brilliance or unmatched discretion. For once, it’s an estimation not entirely divorced from reality.

But given the disastrous results that resulted in a brief, two-year stint for the Phaeton, one would expect that VW of America, which is desperately trying to rebuild their fortunes in the American marketplace, would be gun shy about reviving the Phaeton in America.

Instead, the Volkswagen Group’s terminal insecurity about the Volkswagen brand’s standing in the marketplace has led it to launch a two-pronged attack, with two luxury sedans planned for both China and the United States.

Legend has it that the Phaeton came about because VW boss Ferdinand Piech was incensed that Mercedes-Benz dared to tread on VW’s territory by launching the front-drive A and B-Class cars as competitors to VW’s small hatchbacks. So he decided to retaliate by going after the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and create the best car in the world.

The approach was flawed, for a number of reasons. First of all, VW had already acquired both Audi and Bentley, which were far better candidates for the job (and ended up sharing the A8 and Flying Spur platform with the Phaeton). Second, as any mainstream brand knows, it’s much, much harder to move upmarket than it is to reach downmarket. Mercedes, BMW and even Audi are able to move downmarket with ease. In the case of Audi, it’s a particularly astute move, since the rebadged Golfs they sell as lower-end Audis can reap fat margins using shared technology, whereas mainstream C-Segment cars have traditionally been a tough place to make any profit.

The flaws in Piech’s logic should have been obvious to anyone with even the briefest hint of cognitive abilities, but his shadow looms large over the Volkswagen group. His management team and board of directors failed to do their duty in acting as a check on his grandiose vision of Volkswagen besting one of the oldest luxury marques in the business. As a result, Volkswagen dealers were saddled with a product that was wholly unsuited for their showrooms, provided a dealership experience that was by all accounts horrific and somehow, Volkswagen wants to do it all over again.

As someone who covers the industry, I am often reluctant to make grand proclamations about strategic direction or product offerings. The OEMs tend to make decisions based on sound reasoning, empirical evidence and careful research and planning. VW’s recent choices, on the other hand, look like some alternate universe where product-focused enthusiasts are running the show with a myopic understanding of what the marketplace wants.

Crossovers are the hottest market right now, but VW’s only offerings are overpriced and not designed with American tastes in mind. Their lineup of sedans enjoyed a brief sales bump upon introduction (spurred on by aggressive pricing and incentives) but has failed to make any major headway. Sales have been on a continuous decline, while former bit players like Subaru have been rapidly eclipsing the VW brand. Meanwhile, reports assert that the next-generation Phaeton has already been completed, even though VW’s crucial mid-size crossover has only just found a production site.

To be fair, the Phaeton has enjoyed modest success in other global markets. But in America, where Volkswagen still hasn’t figured out who and what it wants to be, the Phaeton’s revival can hardly be seen as anything but gross mismanagement. Volkswagen still lacks crucial product like a range of crossovers that are appropriate for the American market, or a range of sedans that actually appeal to the American consumer. Sales have been continuously declining, and Audi is keeping the ship afloat. VW’s Chattanooga factory has also faced a series of skirmishes with the UAW, and VW has been unable to keep out foreign meddlers from interfering in their operations.

Ferdinand Piech, and to a lesser extent, Michael Horn, appear to be fiddling while the VW brand’s American operations burn to the ground. Or perhaps they’re determined to see Piech’s vanity project succeed, no matter what the cost.

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Volkswagen’s American Phaeton Will Start At $70k, Will Surely Fail Again http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/volkswagens-american-phaeton-will-start-70k/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/volkswagens-american-phaeton-will-start-70k/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 15:15:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916994 Hot on the heels of Volkswagen’s apparent plans for a Chinese-market luxury sedan, Automotive News is reporting that Volkswagen’s next-generation Phaeton, destined for the American market once again, will start at $70,000. According to AN, the next Phaeton will include a plug-in hybrid, as well as a V8 TDI engine. A W12 is also expected to make […]

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Hot on the heels of Volkswagen’s apparent plans for a Chinese-market luxury sedan, Automotive News is reporting that Volkswagen’s next-generation Phaeton, destined for the American market once again, will start at $70,000.

According to AN, the next Phaeton will include a plug-in hybrid, as well as a V8 TDI engine. A W12 is also expected to make a return, though this will likely not be sold in the United States.

Despite sorely needing a larger crossover and a refresh for key products like the Jetta, Volkswagen is persisting with their dream of selling a high-end sedan in the United States, at a price point that is encroaching on their premium marques like Audi and Porsche. The Phaeton, for all its engineering excellence, was a massive flop in the United States. 

On the other hand, the product VW most sorely needs in America, is conspicuously absent from their lineup, and VW has only just settled on where it will be produced, after a round of serious horse trading and internecine squabbling. The Phaeton, according to AN, has apparently been completed already, but VW seems content to continue the current car’s production run, owing to its popularity in China.

This, dear readers, is a great example of how the company continually seems to misunderstand the American market. Rather than get to work on plugging the biggest hole in its lineup, the company persists on a fool’s errand masquerading as a vanity project.

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The Definition Of Insanity: Selling A Premium Volkswagen And Expecting Different Results http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/definition-insanity-selling-premium-volkswagen-expecting-different-results/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/definition-insanity-selling-premium-volkswagen-expecting-different-results/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 15:24:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916458 If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results, then Volkswagen has gone certifiably bonkers. Volkswagens unrelenting determination to have consumers accept the notion of a premium priced Volkswagen has led them down the path of insanity before: first, the Phaeton, then their planned, cut-price Phaeton […]

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If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results, then Volkswagen has gone certifiably bonkers.

Volkswagens unrelenting determination to have consumers accept the notion of a premium priced Volkswagen has led them down the path of insanity before: first, the Phaeton, then their planned, cut-price Phaeton for America, which is apparently on track despite Phaeton 1.0′s spectacular failure.

Now, VW is preparing a China-specific premium sedan based on the Audi A6L. Apparently not contend with its exponentially higher volumes, VW wants Audi’s profit margins too. And the best way to accomplish that is, apparently, by making an expensive sedan priced perilously close to Audi, with a badge that, even in China, will be difficult for premium consumers to swallow.

Apparently, a crackdown on luxury car spending by government officials has created a market for upscale vehicles without premium badges, but it seems difficult to understand how this niche will sustain planned volumes of 50,000 units annually, even in the booming Chinese market.

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Bark’s Bites: Let’s Play TTAC Fantasy Garage! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/barks-bites-lets-play-ttac-fantasy-garage/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/barks-bites-lets-play-ttac-fantasy-garage/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 13:00:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=915874 All across America, every Sunday (and Monday…and Thursday, I guess), men and women glue their eyes to television screens to watch the National Football League’s latest public relations gaffe teams and players duel on the gridiron. However, the popularity of these games often has nothing to do with the teams playing or the cities/states they […]

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All across America, every Sunday (and Monday…and Thursday, I guess), men and women glue their eyes to television screens to watch the National Football League’s latest public relations gaffe teams and players duel on the gridiron. However, the popularity of these games often has nothing to do with the teams playing or the cities/states they represent.

It’s all about Fantasy Football, man! That’s right, people who’ve never played or coached a single down of competitive football in their lives can live vicariously through the players that they picked for their weekly lineups. In fact, people often are faced with the dilemma of rooting against their favorite teams so that they can get fantasy points.

So what if we could take the game that is responsible for the highest rated show on television and make it all about what we care about—cars? Of COURSE we can!

The way many fantasy leagues work is that they have a dollar amount assigned to each player, and teams can only spend up to the pre-determined “salary cap” for their league. For example, you might really want Peyton Manning, but your team salary cap is $100M and Manning would count $25M, so it might behoove you to choose Russell Wilson, who only counts $600K against the cap.

So let’s play Fantasy Garage! The average price of a new car in the United States is $32K, so we’ll use that as our number for figuring out our salary cap—nine classifications x $32K=$288,000. Use MSRP, not market pricing. We’ll use market segment classifications, and you’ll need to pick a car for each classification without going over the cap to create the “best” garage you can. You must pick a car that can be bought new for the 2014 or 2015 model years.

The classifications are (examples in parentheses):

Two-seater sports car (MX-5, Boxster, F-Type, Z4, Corvette)

Four-seater sports/pony car (Camaro, Mustang, Challenger)

Subcompact (B segment—Fiesta, Fit, Sonic, Versa)

Compact (C segment—Cruze, Focus, Civic, Sentra, 2 series)

Mid-size (D segment—Accord, Camry, Altima, 3 series)

Full-size (E segment—300, Taurus, Impala, A6)

Small CUV/SUV (CX-5, Escape, X3, Equinox)

Mid-size CUV/SUV (Grand Cherokee, Explorer, Highlander, Q7)

Pickup Truck (all sizes—Canyon, Silverado, F-150, RAM 1500, Tundra, Titan)

Here’s my version—see if you can beat me (it’s all subjective but I’m the final judge).

Two-seater: 2015 Mazda MX-5 sport ($24,765)

Four-seater: 2015 Ford Mustang GT Performance Pack ($35,420)

Sub-compact: 2015 Ford Fiesta ST w/Recaro package ($23,235)

Compact: 2015 VW Golf GTI Autobahn ($30,415)

Mid-size: 2015 BMW 435i ($49,950)—or the 335i variety if you insist on playing by the rules.

Full-size: 2015 Chevrolet Impala 2LT ($31,110)

Small SUV/CUV: 2015 Mazda CX-5 Touring AWD ($26,215)

Midsize SUV/CUV: 2014 Ford Flex SEL AWD ($32,495)

Pickup Truck: 2015 GMC Canyon SLE All-Terrain Package ($33,195)

Did it! My Salary Cap number is $286,800, giving me $1200 of room to spare in case my Fiesta transmission blows.

All right, now it’s your turn—quibble with my picks and make your own. Remember, pick one car for every category, and you cannot go over $288,000. Go!

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Chart Of The Day: Subaru vs. Volkswagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/chart-day-subaru-vs-volkswagen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/chart-day-subaru-vs-volkswagen/#comments Sat, 20 Sep 2014 12:53:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=912882 It’s not a brand new thing, this Subaru-besting-Volkswagen trend. But when Subaru outsold the Volkswagen brand in the United States in 2009 and 2010, Subaru was on a rapid upswing despite the market’s sharp decline, and all auto sales results were thought to be skewed by the recession. Year-over-year, Volkswagen volume shot up 26% in […]

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Subaru vs Volkswagen sales chartIt’s not a brand new thing, this Subaru-besting-Volkswagen trend. But when Subaru outsold the Volkswagen brand in the United States in 2009 and 2010, Subaru was on a rapid upswing despite the market’s sharp decline, and all auto sales results were thought to be skewed by the recession.

Year-over-year, Volkswagen volume shot up 26% in calendar year 2011 and 35% in 2012, a 113,731-unit increase. But 2013 volume fell 7%, and though the total number of sales was still far higher than anything Volkswagen had recently achieved, 2012 aside, there was cause for concern. Volkswagen’s new Passat, which, when 14,462 were sold in late December 2012 looked to have potential, slid 6% in a slowly growing midsize market. Volkswagen’s next big launch was to be the Golf, a car which, in America, simply didn’t have the potential for restore-the-brand volume that the Jetta and Passat sedans possess, or were thought to posess.

So here we are, with Subaru having reported its highest monthly U.S. sales total ever in August and Volkswagen having reported 17 consecutive year-over-year declines. Not all of the products marketed by these two brands in the United States are necessarily direct rivals, but they are both seen by many of their own buyers as slightly upmarket mainstream brands: Subaru arrived at this point after, until recently, fostering a niche status, while Volkswagen has consistently played on its German heritage.

The contradictions are obvious. Subaru is a tiny, part-Toyota-owned Japanese automaker. Volkswagen is the headline brand for the world’s second-largest automaker. The average margin of Subaru’s “victories” over Volkswagen during the last four months has been 13,693 units.

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A Hot Hatch Polo Match http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/hot-hatch-polo-match/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/hot-hatch-polo-match/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 14:15:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=914410 At 155 inches long, the current Volkswagen Polo fits neatly in between the size of the MK1 and MK2 Volkswagen GTI hatchbacks. That’s a foot shorter than the current MK7, and in GTI trim, an enticing competitor to the Ford Fiesta ST. For 2015, the Polo GTI gets a nice bump in power. Out goes […]

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At 155 inches long, the current Volkswagen Polo fits neatly in between the size of the MK1 and MK2 Volkswagen GTI hatchbacks. That’s a foot shorter than the current MK7, and in GTI trim, an enticing competitor to the Ford Fiesta ST.

For 2015, the Polo GTI gets a nice bump in power. Out goes the nifty twincharged 1.4L 4-cylinder, in favor of VW’s corporate 1.8L turbo mill. With 189 horsepower and about 2600 lbs to move around, the Polo GTI just nips the Fiesta ST to 60 mph (6.7 seconds, versus 6.9 for the Ford) while offering a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed DSG, as well as a nicer looking interior.

Unfortunately, the Polo GTI is not in the cards for North America. A shame, since the new MK7 platform has now morphed into something beyond a mere compact hatchback in terms of size. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the Fiesta ST and Fiat 500 Abarth have both shown that there is a market for hot hatches that are still small in stature. And for all its technical brilliance, the GTI, as Jack mentioned, just lacks that ineffable quality that puts a smile on your face – something that the Fiesta ST has in spades. The economics of importing a subcompact for sale in America are likely tough to justify for VW, but that won’t stop me from lusting after a Polo GTI.

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The Volkswagen Eos Is Dead: Here’s Why http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/volkswagen-eos-dead-heres/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/volkswagen-eos-dead-heres/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 12:09:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=912786 RX-8, FJ Cruiser, XLR: just some of the recent nameplates which at one time generated healthy sales activity in the U.S., but after slowly fading in un-updated form, were put out to pasture. Now we can add to that list the Volkswagen Eos. Cars like the Eos, which major on style over practicality, are prone […]

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2012 Volkswagen EosRX-8, FJ Cruiser, XLR: just some of the recent nameplates which at one time generated healthy sales activity in the U.S., but after slowly fading in un-updated form, were put out to pasture. Now we can add to that list the Volkswagen Eos.

Cars like the Eos, which major on style over practicality, are prone to early bouts of desirability which wanes as newer, fresher, brighter, bolder, faster machines enter the fray. It’s not surprising to see interest in these vehicles dry up more quickly than it does with a midsize sedan or smaller crossover.

Consider the Chevrolet Equinox. Sales in the Equinox’s category have been steadily rising – vehicles such as the top-selling Honda CR-V and Ford Escape recorded record-high U.S. sales in 2013. But they are newer examples of the breed. The Equinox, on the other hand, was introduced in second-generation form for the 2010 model year. Yet in 2013 it, too, posted record-high U.S. volume.

On the other side of that coin, consider the Chevrolet Corvette. Although it’s a relatively common car for a vehicle of its type, at least in the United States, Corvette sales in its sixth iteration declined sharply in 2007, 2008, and 2009 and didn’t recover as the overall size of the new car market grew somewhat in 2010, growing only slightly in 2011 and 2012.

New is necessary. Corvette sales, now in C7 Stingray form, jumped 166% in the fourth quarter of 2013 and are up 236% so far this year. The Corvette is on track for its best U.S. sales year since 2006.

The Volkswagen Eos is certainly no Corvette, but neither were the Mazda RX-8, Toyota FJ Cruiser, or Cadillac XLR. (Actually, the XLR was sort of a Corvette.) The point stands, regardless. An automaker can’t introduce a sporty little convertible, even one without trackday intentions, and expect consumer interest to remain level during its tenure.

The first and only Eos has been around since the latter portion of 2006, when Mercury was selling a Montego – when Mercury was – and when an Eos buyer could have also looked at a Pontiac G6 GTP convertible.

Though facelifted, the Eos was always as it always was. Equipped with Volkswagen’s ubiquitous 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder or, in the early part of its lifespan, a 3.2L V6, the Eos was a relatively attractive front-wheel-drive convertible. Along with the front-wheel-drive Volvo C70, it was tasked with fighting premium Germans from below and affordable droptop performance cars from above.

Most definitely from above. Back in the beginning, Mazda would sell you an MX-5 PRHT for about $5000 less.

And yet, the Eos was a new thing, and thus, when Mazda USA sold 15,075 more affordable MX-5s in 2007, Volkswagen sold 12,744 Eos convertibles. And in 2008, the Eos actually outsold the MX-5. The Eos outsold the MX-5 again in 2010 and 2011. Isn’t this a recipe for printing money? Sell the more expensive car, the one that shares a great number of parts with countless other high-volume machines?

Yes, it was, until Volkswagen invited a Beetle Convertible back to the party. Volkswagen USA sold 4178 Eos cabrios in 2013 (down from a peak of 12,837 in 2008), a figure which compares unfavourably with Volkswagen’s 18,050 Beetle Convertible sales. That’s more than the Eos’s total from all of 2012, 2013, and the first eight months of 2014 combined.

The Eos is dead because, by VW’s choice, it hasn’t been at all new since 2006 and because, by VW’s choice, the iconic and ancient Beetle nameplate became new again.

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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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Volkswagen-Sagitar-GLI

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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VW XL1s

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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2015-VW-GTI-01

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.

2015-VW-GTI-01 2015-VW-GTI-03 2015-VW-GTI-04 2015-VW-GTI-06 2015-VW-GTI-07 2015-VW-GTI-08 2015-vw-gti-09 2015-VW-GTI-10 2015-VW-GTI-11 Golf GTI Detail 2 Golf GTI Interior

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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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IMG_1301

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.

IMG_1308

                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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