In an interview with the German Handelsblatt newspaper, United Auto Workers president Bob King said that a majority of workers at Volkswagen’s assembly plant in Chattanooga,Tennessee have signed cards supporting the UAW in the creation of a German-style works council at the factory. “Yes, we have a majority,” UAW President Bob King said.
It’s time to talk about Volkswagen. You know Volkswagen: they make the Jetta, which is possibly today’s most adept compact sedan at churning out lifelong Toyota customers.
The C-Suites of two major auto makers are unlikely to change in the near future, despite rumors suggesting that both Ferdinand Piech and Alan Mulally are set to depart both VW and Ford respectively.
Negotiations between Volkswagen and the United Auto Workers over the UAW’s possible representation of workers at VW’s Chattanooga, Tennessee assembly plant began last Friday, according to the German newspaper, the Handelsblatt. The newspaper also reported that UAW president Bob King and VW board member for human resources, Horst Neumann discussed the establishment of a German style “works council” to represent factory workers at the plant. VW and the UAW both declined comment. (Read More…)
Let’s start with the good news: It’s still possible to purchase a German-made Volkswagen sedan with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine and a manual transmission. Your humble author did just that back in February of 1998, taking delivery of a 1998 Passat 1.8t and thoroughly enjoying the sleek sedan while it was in my possession. The current Passat is aimed at a different market, and quite successfully so; it’s the “CC” four-door koo-pay that is meant to carry the torch for all the old B5 Passat fans.
Which makes sense, because this is fundamentally an old Passat. An eight-year-old Passat. And that, as you might expect, is a bit of a problem.
Two years ago, I caused VWVortex members to spit bits of Pocky all over their mothers’ basement walls when I declared the Jetta GLI the winner in a four-way comparison test of Volkswagens equipped with the enthusiast-oriented 2.0T engine. The idea of comparing Volkswagens to each other seemed a bit odd at the time, but take it from a guy who’s owned a 1990 Fox, a 1998 Passat, a 2000 Golf GLS 1.8T, two Phaetons, and an ’82 Quantum Coupe: if you’re a true believer, you don’t even bother to look at what the other guys have for sale. In the land of Volkswagen nutjobs, “cross-shopping” means “pretending you’re considering the lease of an Audi A4″.
VW, whose growth in the U.S. market has not gone quite according to their optimistic plans, may take a page from booming Subaru’s playbook and introduce an all-wheel-drive station wagon to compete with the Subaru Outback, Fuji Heavy Industries’ best seller in North America.
This weekend was the end-of-summer graduation at Auburn, and like all such events, it brought an avalanche of rental cars to our Loveliest Village on the Plains™. Amidst the ubiquitous Chryslerbishis and engineering-excellence-cum-fleet-staple Camrys, I spotted a couple of newish Jettas and Passats wandering about town, crooked rental bar stickers applied with obvious indifference. I saw one particular rental Jetta sitting in the parking lot not far from the bookstore when I went to pick up some cut-price tomes. Coated in dust and wearing those ugly DUI-style New York plates, it was a forlorn sight. I couldn’t help but think of it as a reminder that the road to hell can be paved with tax breaks as often as it’s paved with good intentions; at least that’s the case if you happen to be governor of Tennessee.
Though sales in Europe are at their lowest in 20 years, the Volkswagen Group reported an unexpected increase in quarterly earnings, attributed to new cost saving technology and strong sales at its luxury brands. VW operating profit was up to 3.44 billion euros ($4.56 billion) from 3.38 billion last year. Net income was 2.83 billion euros, down 50% because of a charge related to VW’s purchase of Porsche boosted last year’s net results. Revenue was up 9% to 52.1 billion euros. (Read More…)
Suzuki and VW don’t seem ready to officially call it quits just yet. The two companies are still talking, with both sides continuing to see positives in what was to be a partnership on small cars and Suzuki’s domination of emerging markets.
Senior management from both sides, including Osamu Suzuki, are currently in talks to revive the partnership as it could help Suzuki spread their R&D costs over multiple products and give them access to VW technology. Volkswagen wants a greater foothold in India and China, where Suzuki has been wildly successful, a stark contrast to their presence in North America. If talks fail, the courts have some decisions to make.
Despite planning to sell 486,000 units in America this year, Volkswagen has trimmed its sales targets to 440,000 units, after shedding market share in the first half of 2013.
Having failed to learn from previous mistakes, Volkswagen is inexplicably bringing the Phaeton back to North America, despite being totally contradictory to their push downmarket to appeal to mainstream American car shoppers.
Both General Motors and the Volkswagen group can claim bragging rights after Chinese sales results for June have been announced. VW outsold GM for the month, 262, 700 units to 236,207, but GM was still ahead for the first six months of 2013 with 1.57 million units sold compared to 1.54 million for VW.
Volkswagen is having a bit of a tough year in America. As of June 1st, inventory for the brand stood at 105 days supply (third highest in the industry, behind Cadillac and Lincoln). 500 workers have been laid off from the Chattanooga assembly line due to slow sales of the Passat, while VW is offering 0 percent APR across the board. What VW lacks, according to dealers, is a mid-size crossover, something bigger than the Tiguan but less expensive than the Touraeg.