By on October 13, 2015

Volkswagen Phaeton

Volkswagen in Germany announced Tuesday that its diesel cars on sale in Europe and the U.S. would be fitted with an emissions-scrubbing urea tank instead of a lean nitrogen-oxide trap and the automaker would develop further its all-electric vehicles, starting with the Phaeton.

“The Volkswagen brand is repositioning itself for the future. We are becoming more efficient, we are giving our product range and our core technologies a new focus, and we are creating room for forward-looking technologies by speeding up the efficiency program,” Volkswagen passenger cars board chairman Herbert Diess said in a statement.

The automaker announced it would trim €1 billion ($1.1 billion) from current projects, but didn’t specify what three-row SUVs those projects would be. 

Volkswagen announced that it would also focus on plug-in hybrid and battery tech for its MQB architecture that underpins its Golf, Tiguan and other cars. According to the statement, it would aim to produce those cars with all-electric ranges of up to 186 miles.

The automaker also said it would develop a universal electric powertrain for its cars, including light commercial vehicles. The all-electric technology would be based on current systems and could deliver a range between 155 miles and 300 miles in those vehicles.

Diess added that those projects would only be possible if the automaker continued to cut following a scandal that will cost at least $7 billion.

Last year, Volkswagen spent the most of any company — regardless of sector — on research and development.

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26 Comments on “No More LNTs for Volkswagen Diesels; Phaeton Goes All-electric...”

  • avatar

    They are scrambling in an all-hands effort to cut costs… why do they keep throwing money on the Phaeton? There must be something really odd in the water over there.

    If I’m VW, I’d seriously consider selling off Porsche (and maybe the niche brands too) for cash; that would give them the money they need to right the ship over in VW-land.

    That said, if they manage to pull off this universal electric drivetrain with the same success they had with the MQB platform, they might have a chance.

    • 0 avatar

      The Phaeton is selling OK in China, where long-wheel-based cars are all the rage. And it’s the default car for a bunch of government functions in Germany, Europe, etc…. so there is a reason why the Phaeton continues.

      Now, moving the Phaeton to be a Tesla fighter… wow, it’s too early after Dieselgate for VW to start punching above its weight. But I would drool for a nicely done e-Phaeton.

      • 0 avatar

        Why isn’t the S-Klasse the default car in the EU for said state functions? It’s a better, newer, more grand car.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          Politics. Lower Saxony owns a chunk of VW, so all their government functionaries need company product to ride around in. The S-class is also the steed of choice for all sorts of tinpot dictators and such, so it’s a bit gauche for department heads and ministers.

          • 0 avatar

            I forgot about the government ownership part. If the S-Class has dictatorial feels, I’d go in between it and the Phaeton, and get an A8L.

    • 0 avatar

      Selling off Porsche would be one of the stupidest things VW could do. It is one of the most highly profitable parts of the company and is walking away from the diesel issue with its brand image completely unscathed.

  • avatar

    I think VW sees an opportunity to compete with Tesla and rebuild their reputation with a “sustainable” vehicle.

    By all accounts the Phaeton was a good car that compared favorably with the competition at the time…other than the emblem on the hood.

  • avatar

    I’d advise the board of VW to go ahead and watch the classic American film “Money Pit,” featuring Tom Hanks and Shelly Long.

    My recommended amended title. “Money Pit: The Phaeton Assessment”

  • avatar

    VAG can’t exactly sell off it’s stake in Porsche, because in reality the shoe is sort of on the other foot: Porsche SE (the Porsche and Piëch families’ holding company) owns 50.76% of VAG, which in turn owns Porsche AG, the car manufacturing entity. It’s not likely that the families would agree to spin off Porsche to third party buyers, while to buy it back themselves they’d have to liquidate their now severely discounted VAG shares to generate the necessary cash.

    If this all seems to you like a snake swallowing its own tail, you’re not alone.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    An e-Phaeton is an interesting idea, but if it has ultra-boring style, it won’t compete well against Tesla.

    Ironically, since Audi and Tesla are the only EV mfrs using the 18650/21700 cell, VW could end up buying cells from Tesla’s Gigafactory some day.

    Sounds like VW diesels are getting a serious rethink, and maybe the company will eventually exit diesels altogether.

  • avatar

    Porsche is too much “in the family” to be spun off (as has already been commented on). And while this current dust-up over diesel engines is certainly going to be dramatic for VW, I can’t see them completely giving up on diesel engines, either.

    • 0 avatar

      The best thing VW can do is (1.) fix the cars they’ve already sold (if they use a urea tank as rumored, it likely won’t affect performance) and (2.) further refine their diesels so they are demonstrably cleaner than gas engines. Then they can come back stronger than ever. (as long as their reliability doesn’t regress)

      The classic crisis management study was the Tylenol poisoning case in the ’70s, but more applicable would be how Ford dealt with the defective Firestone tires – new tires, cost free to the users. Fix it and make it better.

  • avatar
    Nick Engineer

    Too late. Most other car makers have made widely available EVs for several years now, accumulating experience and market share (just in the US: Prius: 18 yrs, Insight: 15 yrs, Fusion: 10 yrs.) Even relative latecomers are taking market share: Leaf, Volt, C-Max, i3, Fit, Model S, 500e, iMiev. Everyone and their dog is in that space trying to grab a slide of that pie. Good bloody luck with the crumbs. And some have already been researching fuel cells and planning out product lines on that. They have created a horizon for themselves.

    All of this would have been debatable if VW executed a diesel strategy (old-tech as it was) without having to resort to a defeat device (or two).

    Huge research budget and careful acquisitions normally help, but making up for lost market share will hit their margins hard. And I’d personally be more realistic about how much the scandal will cost them worldwide. 50 billion is not at all unreasonable.

    • 0 avatar

      They could put the batteries behind the rear wheels in an homage to original Beetle handling – the sports version could claim kinship with an old SWB Porsche…..

    • 0 avatar

      EVs are still a miniscule portion of the overall automotive market and sales are stagnant with gas prices low and tax incentives going away. Right now there’s two kinds of EVs: almost affordable with little range or decent range but outrageously expensive.

      If VW can make the third kind of EV, it’ll be a winner.

      • 0 avatar
        Nick Engineer

        Re. EVs: I meant BEVs and PHVs.

        I don’t dismiss the small size of the EV market, but there is a larger issue of refusing to enter the fray so to speak, when their competitors were carving out a new market segment with their hybrid drives, thereby meeting CAFE standards (the elephant in the room) much more easily.

        If VW had some plans to create a niche market with their diesels and dominate it, it’s not like anyone else thought this was some brilliant strategy and tried to copy them.

        And let’s face it, VW was able to create a diesel segment where none existed here in the US. And the early entrants in the hybrid space and later the plugins were able to create a market where none existed. So, even if a market is small, or non-existent you can’t sit it out until it matures. Someone else will grow that electric market and keep it to themselves.

        We are all hoping for that 3rd kind of EV, but their last winner was clean diesel in small cars. Still, anything is possible, but the mess they are in is a distraction they cannot afford to have.

  • avatar

    The Phaeton was already an abject porker at 5400 lbs. So the obvious solution is to load in some batteries and break the 3,000 kg (6600 lbs) barrier for sedans.

    After that, they can transfer the powertrain with even bigger batteries to the Bentley Bentayga and go safari hunting, challenging similarly porcine rhinos to head butts just to see who’s boss.

    Who can see any logic in the Phaeton whatsoever? VW is in deep doodoo and losing its mind, but of course my man Ferdy Piech is still around pulling the strings. The TDI cheat might have fallen flat, but the Phaeton must succeed! By decree of Herr Doktor Professor Dipl Ing F Piech, Mastermind.

  • avatar

    VW does not deserve to survive if now they dangle in front of everybody the Phaeton EV as their halo car.
    “Look – it has batteries now!” What a bunch of arschloecher….

    The “foot-shooting” continues.

  • avatar

    Phaeton has been seen and heard in China and here. Tesla is a phantom here and there

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