TTAC News Round-up: America Slams the Brakes on Efficiency, Bonuses at Volkswagen, and Google Hires a Dream Team

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ttac news round up america slams the brakes on efficiency bonuses at volkswagen

Gasoline is gloriously cheap and the automotive industry is taking a break from the tiresome “more mpg” game.

That, Christmas comes early for Volkswagen employees, Carlos Ghosn has a plan to save big bucks, Google is luring more humans and Bentley can’t build enough SUVs for the “you call this caviar?!” crowd … after the break!

Americans say “that’s enough fuel efficiency for now”

The average fuel economy of cars and light trucks in the United States continues to stagnate, says Automotive News.

Average efficiency for the country’s private fleet didn’t budge in February, matching the 25.2 miles per gallon recorded in January.

With automakers continuously struggling to meet mileage targets imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, the flat-lining of average fuel consumption has much to do with satisfying buyer demand for bigger vehicles in during a time of low gas prices.

Average mileage peaked at 25.8 mpg in August of 2014 after a rapid climb from the previous decade.

This is for sticking around

Things must have been great at Volkswagen last year, because its factory employees are going to get a nice bonus, reports Automotive News.

Volkswagen’s employee newsletter spells out the reasons for the payout: regular overtime, extra shifts, and … continued loyalty to the company in light of the diesel emissions scandal.

About 100,000 in-house workers will be rewarded for staying at their posts, and though there’s no word yet on what amount the payout will come to, previous bonuses amounted to over 5,000 Euros.

Meanwhile, over at Audi, the annual bonus will be downgraded by about 1,100 Euros.

Renault and Nissan move their relationship to the next level

There’s piles of money to be saved at Renault S.A. and Nissan Motor Company, assuming both can get along with each other while sharing a lot more stuff, writes Bloomberg.

Under a new plan, the longstanding automotive alliance stands to save $6 billion in 2018 by sharing engineering processes and personnel. Existing resource-sharing agreements will also be extended.

The renewed spirit of European-Asian cooperation being pushed by joint CEO Carlos Ghosn aims to lift Renault’s flagging fortunes as it tries to gain a foothold in new overseas markets.

More humans hired for Google’s robot car

Google’s self-driving vehicle project stands to benefit from a dream team of automotive insiders, reports Automotive News.

A hiring surge is underway at Google in order to bring the car to the teeming masses, with at least 170 dedicated workers on the self-driving project payroll. About 40 of them hail from the human-driven auto sphere, including from such companies as Ford, Tesla and General Motors.

Google doesn’t like to talk about who it’s hiring or the total tally of the team, but the company has listed 40 job ads in the past month, several listing prerequisites related to manufacturing.

It is known that John Krafcik, former head of Hyundai Motor Company’s U.S. operation, is running the show and assembling Google’s team.

There’s still room at the top

If ultra-luxury vehicles are a reliable economic indicator, then there’s no reason to lose sleep worrying about the world’s rich people.

Motor Authority reports that Bentley is mulling another boost in production for its Bentayga SUV, even after raising the estimate in December. The $230,000 SUV is built using a highly laborious process and can be optioned with almost anything a wealthy buyer desires.

If an SUV costing nearly a quarter-million dollars is flying off the shelves, an automaker would be foolish to limit demand.

The production boost hasn’t yet been confirmed, so the target for the model’s first year still officially stands at 5,500 units.

[Images: Volkswagen: Rob Brewer/Flickr; Bentayga: Bentley Motors]

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3 of 27 comments
  • Redapple Redapple on Mar 05, 2016

    Ethanol is evil. Burning corn Elevates all grain prices. Elevates meat prices. Food is more expensive. People in poor countries can buy less. People die.

  • 50merc 50merc on Mar 05, 2016

    Pumps that dispense ethanol-laced fuel should be labeled "Adulterated Gasoline". And "denatured alcohol" should be labeled "Made Deadly by US Government Mandate". The feds have been waging war on untaxed 'shine since Washington was president.

    • John John on Mar 05, 2016

      Bingo. Not just distilled ethanol, either - try distilling your own gasoline from petroleum and selling it to your buddy without the federal and state taxes..... If you need a still to produce it, it's probably illegal for you to sell it in the USA.

  • Zerofoo "Hyundais just got better and better during the 1990s, though, and memories of those shoddy Excels faded."Never. A friend had an early 90s Hyundai Excel as his college beater. One day he decided that the last tank of gas he bought was worth more than the car. He drove it to empty and then he and his fraternity brothers pushed it into the woods and left it there.
  • Kwik_Shift There are no new Renegades for sale within my geographic circle of up to 85 kms. Looks like the artificial shortage game. They bring one in, 10 buyers line up for it, $10,000 over MSRP. Yeah. Like with a lot of new cars.
  • Ribbedroof In Oklahoma, no less!
  • Ribbedroof Have one in the shop for minor front collision repairs right now,I've seen more of these in the comments than in the 30 years I've been in collision repair.
  • Tassos And all 3 were ordered by Fisker's mother. Seriously, given Fisker's terrible record of Failure in the past, only an utter loser, (for example, VGhost or Art Vandelay?), looking for a BEV terrible enough to be a proper replacement of his 11 mile range Fiat 500E, would order one of these. (apart from Fisker's mother)