Tag: VW

By on May 17, 2017

Matthias Müller, Image: Volkswagen AG/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

German prosecutors verified the launch of a formal investigation involving Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller and chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch due to suspected market manipulation.

While we reported on the probe last week, Müller’s inclusion was highly unexpected. It was unclear what, if anything, officials had on the CEO and why they waited until now to add him to the growing number of upper-level executives under examination.

The Stuttgart prosecutor’s office stated on Wednesday the investigation was prompted by a request from market regulator BaFin in the summer of 2016. After spending some time gathering evidence, investigators began to believe executives deliberately postponed releasing information to investors about the scale of the scandal and didn’t adequately disclose its financial consequences.

VW Group maintains the leadership had complied with disclosure rules and executives were unaware of the scope of the emissions cheating scandal when it kicked-off.  (Read More…)

By on May 15, 2017

VW logo

The National Labor Relations Board has again accused Volkswagen of unfair labor practices, stating the automaker increased health insurance premiums and altered working hours of employees who voted for union representation at its Chattanooga, Tennessee factory.

The facility — VW’s only U.S. assembly plant — produces the Passat and new Atlas SUV. A small portion of skilled-trade employees voted in 2015 to be represented by the United Auto Workers, but VW is claiming they shouldn’t speak for the entire workforce.

However, the NLRB says the UAW’s collective-bargaining rights for the select workers who maintain the plant’s automated machinery can’t be superseded by the federal appeals court case.

“Wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment of the Unit … are mandatory subjects for the purposes of collective bargaining,” reads the complaint. (Read More…)

By on May 11, 2017

Volkswagen VW Badge Emblem Logo

Volkswagen AG announced at its annual shareholders meeting this week that it will not be publishing the findings of an external investigation into its diesel emissions scandal conducted by the Jones Day law firm. The reason for VW’s secrecy is due to an underlying fear among management that the information held in the report would lead to further lawsuits and fines.

VW Chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch addressed the thousands of shareholders by first thanking the U.S. legal team for its hard work and then explaining there was no way in hell anyone outside of the company would benefit from its findings — tossing any promised transparency out the window. (Read More…)

By on May 8, 2017

[Image: Volkswagen/YouTube]

Lost amid the automaker’s newfound focus on bringing as many utility vehicles to global customers as possible, Volkswagen’s stalwart Jetta soldiers on without a diesel option, wearing more or less the same duds it donned for 2011. A mild — some would say unnoticeable — refresh came in 2016, but the Jetta’s U.S. sales have continued to slide at a remarkably steady rate ever since the current generation’s debut.

Naturally, Volkswagen wants to arrest the plunge. As part of its newly crafted product strategy, the automaker plans to find time for a new Jetta among all the crossovers. (Read More…)

By on May 8, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Atlas, Image: Volkswagen

Three years ago, Volkswagen Group teased attendees at the Vienna Motor Symposium with juicy details of a transmission designed to take fuel efficiency to new heights among the automaker’s higher-torque models. A 10-speed dual-clutch transmission was in the works, it announced, promising mondo improvements in efficiency.

Between then and now, VW changed its mind. As it pursues a strategy of electric vehicles, wide-ranging productivity gains and, ironically, utility vehicles that could make use of it, the 10-speed has vanished from VW’s development portfolio.

The sole example of the multi-cog DCT? Destroyed, according to VW’s powertrain chief. (Read More…)

By on May 5, 2017

2018 Volkswagen Atlas yellow front quarter on road

Volkswagen Group’s core brand has targeted an end to profit losses in the North America by the end of the decade, setting its break-even point for 2020. Central themes of the plan are dependent on cost cutting measures and higher-margin SUV models it believes will bring it back from emissions scandal purgatory. In its most recent announcement, VW continued to tout electric vehicles as an inevitable key focus by 2025, but hasn’t lifted the veil on all that entails.

In the short term, however, Volkswagen is promising the “biggest product offensive in its history,” with ten new models coming this year alone. In actuality the number is half that, as five of those vehicles are updated versions of existing models. The real number could be even smaller if VW is counting the Atlas/Teramont as separate vehicles; the same goes for the two wheelbases of the Tiguan. And, based on the information it provided us, that does appear to be the case.  (Read More…)

By on May 4, 2017

2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI

Despite having the worst public image since the Ford Pinto or Chevrolet Vega, Volkswagen’s sidelined 2015 2.0-liter diesel models flew off lots after being approved for sale in mid-April.

A crop of about 11,000 unsold TDIs loitered on dealer lots around the U.S. after being banned from sale by the Environmental Protection Agency in September 2015. In a weak month that saw numerous automakers sink on the sales charts, Volkswagen was a bright light, posting a 1.6-percent increase over April 2016. Much of that success came from still-polluting diesels.

So much for stigma. (Read More…)

By on April 27, 2017

[Image: Volkswagen/Youtube]

It was hard not to like the funky Volkswagen T-Roc concept when it appeared at pre-diesel scandal auto shows. Two doors! A targa-like removable top! Pillarless side glass! A low-slung, athletic body primed for on- and off-road adventures!

C’mon, folks — that’s fun stuff. Sadly, reality intervened, and the production-bound T-Roc is not the party animal it was in college.

In a revealing teaser video issued by VW, a camouflaged T-Roc is seen blasting through an arid landscape, presumably on its way to your driveway. It’s our best look yet at the model, which is scheduled to bow in Europe later this year and is reportedly green-lit for a utility-hungry America.

Minus its compact dimensions and optional 4Motion all-wheel drive, there’s clearly something missing from this production vehicle: everything that made the concept interesting. (Read More…)

By on April 26, 2017

[Image: Audi AG]

After history’s largest and most expensive automotive scandal forced a sudden pivot at Volkswagen Group — from expansion-minded to profit-focused — the German automaker might let go of a cherished toy.

According to insider sources who spoke to Reuters, VW is exploring the sale of Italian motorcycle manufacturer Ducati as part of a company-wide streamlining effort. After shoveling over $20 billion to the United States in a bid to end its diesel debacle, the company is in full penny-pinching mode.

The revered boutique motorcycle company was a long-awaited feather in ex-VW chairman Ferdinand Piëch’s hat, but after just five years of ownership, it may be time for Ducati to find a new home. (Read More…)

By on April 26, 2017

1968 VW Type II Transporter, Image: © 2017 Forest Casey

Pickup trucks are a stereotypically American product, right up there with blue jeans and barbeque. The best-selling vehicle in America for the past 35 years? Ford F-Series. And the pickup truck defines our needs as a nation, maximizing towing, luggage, and passenger capacities as much as possible at the lowest possible price.

But must a pickup wear an American badge for us to consider it a proper truck?

After seeing innovative trucks like this 1968 VW Type II Transporter, you can’t help but ask, “Why must these be so rare in America?”

(Read More…)

By on April 22, 2017

2015 Volkswagen Golf family, Image: Volkswagen of America

April has brought good news to diesel lovers and haters on both sides of the border.

After spending the winter (and the better part of last fall) jealously eyeing their southern neighbor’s buyback and compensation program, Canadian owners can now apply for that longed-for envelope of Volkswagen cash, as well as a one-way-ticket to hell for their emissions-rigged TDI model.

On Friday, the automaker settled court cases in Ontario and Quebec, paving the way for a 2.0-liter diesel settlement program that starts next week. The models involved are the same as in the U.S. — 105,000 units in all — and owners and lessees face similar choices as their American counterparts.

Unlike the recent shadowy roll-out of half-fixed 2015 models in the U.S., several Canadian dealers are proudly advertising the availability of “new” TDIs. (Read More…)

By on April 21, 2017

2015-Volkswagen-Golf-SportWagen-09
Oh my God, it’s finally almost over. After a 10-year conspiracy and almost 600,000 rigged diesel cars, VW’s legal battle with the United States is coming to an end. Volkswagen pled guilty last month to conspiracy to commit fraud and the obstruction of justice after it was caught cheating on emissions tests in 2015, and we’ve been eagerly waiting the verdict and subsequent punishment.

Today, a U.S. judge ordered the automaker to observe three years of probation and shell out a $2.8 billion criminal fine. The sum, which Steph Willems has informed me equates to 135,168 VW Golfs — after delivery and rounding up to the closest car — is in addition to the company’s $1.5 billion in civil penalties,  $4.7 billion in mandatory anti-pollution initiatives, and $11.2 billion diesel buyback program.  (Read More…)

By on April 21, 2017

Volkswagen VW Badge Emblem Logo

While it wasn’t quite on par with the drama of a mob trail, the criminal case of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal possesses a lot of similarities. A break in the case, police raids, a powerful family, an unwillingness to cooperate with authorities, and an informant that made it all possible. But just who was the Henry Hill to Volkswagen’s Lucchese crime family?

According to a new book on the subject, written by New York Times reporter Jack Ewing, VW’s Engineering and Environmental Office head Stuart Johnson was the primary contact for the United States’ regulatory agencies. Johnson was on the front lines of the scandal and was among the first managers the EPA publicly reached out to in September of 2015, but it seems that may have been a ploy not to blow his cover — he had already spoken to the California Air Resources Board a month earlier.  (Read More…)

By on April 18, 2017

[Image: Audi AG]

If the future is electric, it’s also crossover heavy. Volkswagen and Audi plan to dominate two tiers of that fledgling segment by the turn of the next decade with the production version of two crossover EVs revealed today.

The selection of the Auto Shanghai 2017 show for the unveiling wasn’t a fluke of timing. Both automakers plan to field a slew of electric models in China, while saving certain high-profile products for North American and European markets.

Bet on these two models eventually making the cut. (Read More…)

By on April 10, 2017

Volkswagen Golf family

Angry phone calls from Volkswagen diesel owners eager for settlement cash are on the decline, while the amount of money paid for doomed TDI models has ballooned in recent months.

A status update filed by the automaker paints a clearer picture of where the arduous process stood at the end of February, with most of America’s diesel owners opting for a buyback or lease termination in addition to compensation cash.

Still, taking the nearly 500,000 rigged 2.0-liter vehicles off the road hasn’t been an easy one. (Read More…)

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