The Truth About Cars » Volkswagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 30 Jul 2014 19:21:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Volkswagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Reader Review: 2010 Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/reader-review-2010-volkswagen-jetta-sportwagen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/reader-review-2010-volkswagen-jetta-sportwagen/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 15:51:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=874393 Reader Phil Brown shares his experiences with his Jetta Wagon Volkswagen still has the temerity to sell a compact station wagon in an American market scarfing up CUVs, and bless them for it. I should have been in the heart of the CUV market when looking for a new vehicle in 2010, but I ended […]

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Reader Phil Brown shares his experiences with his Jetta Wagon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Volkswagen Group Of America Names German Labor Leader To Board Of Directors http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/volkswagen-names-labor-head-to-us-board-of-directors/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/volkswagen-names-labor-head-to-us-board-of-directors/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 14:12:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865921 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/volkswagen-confirms-new-suv-will-be-built-in-chattanooga/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/volkswagen-confirms-new-suv-will-be-built-in-chattanooga/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:43:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865897 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/uaw-to-form-union-local-for-volkswagen-chattanooga-workers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/uaw-to-form-union-local-for-volkswagen-chattanooga-workers/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 15:23:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863049 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/blackberry-sells-german-rd-center-to-volkswagen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/blackberry-sells-german-rd-center-to-volkswagen/#comments Fri, 04 Jul 2014 15:22:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858681 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/volkswagen-reveals-mqb-based-passat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/volkswagen-reveals-mqb-based-passat/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 20:54:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858281   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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/vw-will-begin-production-of-beetle-dune-in-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/vw-will-begin-production-of-beetle-dune-in-2016/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 10:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=857937 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/volkswagen-crossover-will-be-built-in-chattanooga/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/volkswagen-crossover-will-be-built-in-chattanooga/#comments Mon, 23 Jun 2014 04:01:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=849794 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/spotted-in-the-wild/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/spotted-in-the-wild/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 01:19:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=843081   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. […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/volkswagen-to-triple-suv-lineup-in-fight-against-toyota-for-total-global-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/volkswagen-to-triple-suv-lineup-in-fight-against-toyota-for-total-global-sales/#comments Wed, 04 Jun 2014 11:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=836730 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/vw-pulled-by-competing-incentive-offers-for-new-suv-assembly/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/vw-pulled-by-competing-incentive-offers-for-new-suv-assembly/#comments Tue, 03 Jun 2014 13:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=836113 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, […]

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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) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/review-2015-volkswagen-gti-performance-pack-mk7/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/review-2015-volkswagen-gti-performance-pack-mk7/#comments Tue, 03 Jun 2014 13:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=835977 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. 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 […]

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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.

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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.

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/volkswagen-will-bring-us-product-faster-to-market-beginning-2017/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/volkswagen-will-bring-us-product-faster-to-market-beginning-2017/#comments Mon, 02 Jun 2014 11:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=835569 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, […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/volkswagen-golf-r-wagon-gets-one-step-closer-to-reality/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/volkswagen-golf-r-wagon-gets-one-step-closer-to-reality/#comments Thu, 22 May 2014 13:19:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=828682 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/editorial-volkswagens-plan-for-a-cheaper-phaeton-is-another-disaster-in-the-making/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/editorial-volkswagens-plan-for-a-cheaper-phaeton-is-another-disaster-in-the-making/#comments Tue, 20 May 2014 15:22:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=826882 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/volkswagens-cervone-returns-to-gm-as-global-communications-vp/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/volkswagens-cervone-returns-to-gm-as-global-communications-vp/#comments Tue, 20 May 2014 10:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=826618 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/volkswagen-dials-back-on-2018-milestone/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/volkswagen-dials-back-on-2018-milestone/#comments Mon, 19 May 2014 12:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=826242 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 […]

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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 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/corker-vw-suv-production-announcement-to-come-sooner-than-later/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/corker-vw-suv-production-announcement-to-come-sooner-than-later/#comments Wed, 14 May 2014 12:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=820370 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 […]

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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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