Volkswagen Group said on Thursday that it would be petitioning Germany’s constitutional court to overturn the appointment of a special auditor to investigate the actions of its management during its diesel emissions scandal. Appointed last November, the auditor’s goal is to establish whether or not VW’s top brass withheld information about the manipulation of vehicle emissions as they related to testing.
Even thought the automaker has said it wanted to improve transparency shortly after the scandal kicked off in September of 2015, Volkswagen wants the work of the auditor suspended prior to the constitutional-court hearing against it. This begs the question: Does VW still have something to hide or is it so fed up with the litigation surrounding “dieselgate” that it’ll do just about anything to keep officials from dredging up the past?
In a year of great political transition, there was also much change afoot at The Truth About Cars and more than a few alterations made in the way my life intersects with the automotive industry.
2017 was crazy. Yet midst all of the external upheaval (Trump, TTAC, Apple skipping the iPhone 9, the launch of a new Honda Odyssey) and an array of internal disorder (GoodCarBadCar’s acquisition, a move to rural Prince Edward Island, Miata purchase, new job) there was at least one constant.
I drove a ton of cars. Many tons of cars, to be more accurate.
The first salvo in Volkswagen’s battle to win the hearts and cash of the American populace arrived in the form of two crossovers: the new full-size Atlas and the vastly updated (and enlarged) second-generation Tiguan.
Both models sport three rows of seating, a key strategy for expanding the brand’s sales volume and appeal. Phase Two of the company’s U.S. campaign, however, involves ripping those seats out.
Volkswagen has slashed salaries and suspended the bonuses of 14 members of its works council, including council head Bernd Osterloh, as officials investigate alleged overpayments. In May, it was made public that German prosecutors were looking into current and former executives at VW under suspicions that they paid the labor chief an “excessive” salary.
This was followed by a November raid, after which the council claimed the probe didn’t “target Osterloh.” Members specified that all payments were in line with Germany’s legal guidelines. The offices of VW’s chief financial officer, Frank Witter, and personnel director Karlheinz Blessing were also searched.
Volkswagen Group has been a quite the busy bee when it comes to bolstering EV charging infrastructure. In addition to breaking ground on Europe’s new fast-charging network before the end of this year (with help from Daimler, BMW, and Ford), the brand’s Electrify America subsidiary is preparing to fulfill a court order that will force it to live up to its name.
A signification portion of VW’s emissions scandal penance involves investment into eco-centric technologies and the beefing up of the United States’ electric vehicle infrastructure. So, on Monday the company announced plans to install 2,800 EV charging stations in 17 of the largest U.S. cities by June of 2019.
Volkswagen, most recently seen lecturing European governments on the need to ditch the diesel subsidies that, until recently, made it the continent’s most popular fuel, has a bad case of timing.
Just a day after Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Müller not-so-subtly touted his company’s newfound green bona fides, telling a German newspaper, “We should question the logic and purpose of diesel subsidies,” another diesel-related scandal broke. On Tuesday, Germany’s automobile regulator, KBA, issued a recall of VW’s top-end diesel SUVs.
The reason? Undeclared defeat devices, apparently designed to make the late-model 3.0-liter vehicles run cleaner while undergoing emissions testing. If this doesn’t sound familiar, you’ve been dead for the past two years.
I often joke that not only are we all destined to buy a crossover in the near future, we’ll one day become crossovers. Oh, how the TTAC guys laugh…
Still, it’s hard to avoid the crossovers-are-replacing-cars narrative, as it isn’t some far-out theory — it’s a cold, hard reality. Crossover and SUV market share grows each year as buyers abandon traditional passenger cars in favor of a vehicle that does everything at least marginally.
That said, not every model faces the same rate of abandonment. Certain cars — through a hazy combination of performance, value, nameplate recognition, and other, more nebulous factors — haven’t yet been dropped off on the front steps of the orphanage by their once-loving guardians.
Let’s take a look at some surprisingly healthy performers in the non-premium, non-sports car class. Cars that aren’t declining in popularity, as this analysis isn’t about overall volume. Guess what? None of these vehicles are the Toyota Camry or Honda Accord, two models currently locked in a battle for midsize sedan supremacy (and worthy of their own singular coverage).
Hard to believe, we know, but there’s loyalty and desire to be found elsewhere.
Like an overspending spouse whose partner has commanded they sell their toys to pay off debts, Volkswagen put all its options on the table earlier this year in a bid to raise some cash.
After mulling a sale of Ducati during the darkest days of Dieselgate, VW now plans to hang on to the brand. Recently taking action to curb costs and cut red tape, chief executive Rupert Stadler said the company is “gradually increasing our financial and organizational leeway.” Sounds like VW has found a few more coins amid the couch cushions.
The standard Volkswagen Jetta rarely sets any hearts aflutter, given its sensible and sober styling and insomnia-curing interior. However, it is the marque’s bread-and-butter — its best-selling nameplate by many orders of magnitude, so mention of a redesign deserves notice.
Set to be shown at the Detroit show in January, it’ll likely launch as a 2019 model with new sheetmetal riding on the company’s MQB platform. Images that have surfaced around the ‘net seem to suggest a machine that’s sleeker and more expressive than today’s Jetta.
The judge didn’t go easy on the former Volkswagen executive. Oliver Schmidt, 48, former general manager of Volkswagen’s U.S. Environment and Engineering Office, was sentenced to seven years in prison and handed a $400,000 fine Wednesday for his role in covering up the automaker’s diesel emissions deception.
Schmidt’s punishment is the maximum allowed under the plea deal he reached in August. The executive pleaded guilty to two charges relating to the conspiracy to violate the country’s Clean Air Act with a fleet of pollution-spewing diesel cars.
“It is my opinion that you are a key conspirator in this scheme to defraud the United States,” U.S. District Judge Sean Cox of Detroit told Schmidt. “You saw this as your opportunity to shine … and climb the corporate ladder at VW.”
The sentencing wraps up a legal saga that began, unpleasantly, as Schmidt sat on a Miami toilet during a vacation stopover.
Volkswagen’s 3.0-liter diesel V6 isn’t returning to the U.S. anytime soon. After forking over roughly $25 billion in the wake of its diesel deception, the company’s not exactly enthused about getting back into the compression ignition game. But that doesn’t mean buyers aren’t.
Europhiles with a penchant for low-end torque can still get their hands on a diesel Volkswagen or Audi SUV that meets federal emissions standards. And, thanks to new discounts, they’ll stand to save some money.
It’s hard picturing the world automakers have painted for us. You know the one — it’s the exciting, progressive near-future vision in which electric crossovers sprout from everywhere all at once, instantly winning the approval of a populace hooked on the convenience of gasoline.
With the all-electric vehicle’s market share hovering at just over half of one percent in the United States, it’s difficult to imagine the needle budging significantly by 2020. Or even 2025. Still, an ever-increasing number of automakers are promising exactly this. Volkswagen’s among them, announcing at this week’s L.A. Auto Show that its horribly named I.D. Crozz concept will form the basis of a new crossover that arrives stateside in 2020, followed two years later by a reborn electric Microbus (or I.D. Buzz, in VW parlance).
Volkswagen’s American fortune will not come by way of an electric, next-generation Beetle. No, the automaker’s U.S. game plan rests firmly on the success of existing and future utility vehicles. With no new models kicking around to bring to L.A., the automaker decked out its recently introduced second-generation Tiguan in ever-so-edgy R-Line trim and headed to the show.
Featuring an added (but not heaping) dose of visual aggression, the Tiguan R-Line, available in the first quarter of 2018, should give crossover buyers something new to look at while the company fleshes out its lineup with new tenants. It’s early days yet, but it seems the company’s crossover push is already working.
The formula for the Volkswagen Golf GTI is simple; take a good car, add horsepower, add styling flourishes, and make something special. For the past 35 years in the United States, the GTI has done this more often than not.
Sure, there may have been some misses in there, but for over a decade now, it has been all hits. The 2018 GTI continues this trend. Even though it’s just a refresh of the seventh-generation GTI we first saw in 2015, the coming model year’s changes make the vehicle better in almost every way. The GTI is currently the best new car available in these United States of America that can be purchased for an MSRP of under $30,000.
That may be a bold statement, but it isn’t without merit.
The Volkswagen Golf is one of the best-selling vehicles of all time, in the top three in many global markets, but is somehow a niche vehicle in the United States. With consumer tastes shifting to crossovers and SUVs, Volkswagen has continued to differentiate the Golf from its peers by offering six unique versions. The most notable addition to the seventh-generation Golf is the off-road focused Golf Alltrack. Volkswagen accomplished this by lifting the Golf Sportwagen, adding standard all-wheel drive, and slapping on some body cladding.
The result is an attractive and viable crossover alternative. However, it may give up something car buyers love about the Golf: how it drives. After driving the Golf, Golf Sportwagen, and Golf Alltrack, it was obvious that significant driving fun is lost in making the Alltrack a crossover competitor. In its basic hatchback form, the Golf is an excellent driving vehicle. The Sportwagen retains most of that fun-to-drive character. The Alltrack however, doesn’t feel nimble or precise.
Volkswagen used the slogan “Drivers Wanted” for a number of years, but the Alltrack isn’t what someone who prioritizes driving actually wants.
It has been 41 years since Volkswagen’s iconic hatchback debuted in the United States. The Giugiaro-designed replacement for the ubiquitous Volkswagen Beetle would go on to become one of the world’s most successful cars during that time. Now, the Golf finds itself in the middle of its seventh generation, and it’s time for a refresh.
During its lengthy existence, the Golf settled down and started a family. The Golf clan now contains six members — the standard Golf hatchback, GTI, Golf R, Golf Sportwagen, Golf Alltrack, and eGolf. While each model shares the same architecture, they all boast a unique identity. For the 2018 model year, the whole family is getting a new look.
We’ve been talking about the next Volkswagen Beetle — well, a few of us have — ever since the restyled two-door dropped the “New” moniker and flatted out its roofline a tad.
While the 2012 reshaping gave the model a new lease on life, it also seemed to be the plucky coupe’s end point, stylistically speaking. Where do you take a model from there, without erasing the retro charm that wooed buyers in the late 1990s? Maybe it was time for the model to die. Not surprisingly, reports arose last year claiming the Beetle had a date with the chopping block.
And yet, that rumor never really went anywhere. The model remains, its official future still in limbo. However, it seems Volkswagen brass is coming around to the idea that the Beetle deserves a permanent place in the company’s lineup, though not in the layout we’ve grown accustomed to.
Any new New Beetle will be rear-wheel drive, says VW chairman Herbert Diess.
After an extended battle with his family, Ferdinand Piëch has finally acquiesced to resign from the board of Porsche Automobil Holding SE and sell off his remaining shares. At 80 years of age, leaving VW Group’s parent company was probably long overdue for Piëch, but you can’t help but wonder if the manner in which his retirement unfolded hasn’t left him bitter.
Still, with his 14.7 percent stake rumored to be worth over a billion euros, he’ll have the means to stage the most elaborate revenge any of us could possibly imagine — assuming that’s what he intends. One certainly could make the case that he’d have valid reasons for doing it.
A familiar German visage greets the casual onlooker. “Ah yes, this is a Vanagon,” the American viewer thinks to himself. But once the eyes have scanned beyond the upright frontage and to the side of this white rectangle, a problem comes to light. Those eyes dart to and fro in disbelief. What should be there — the rest of the Vanagon — isn’t.
That’s because this is a Doka, and it’s the verboten manual diesel van-truck of your dreams.
On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it had approved a fix for the remaining 38,000 Volkswagen Group vehicles equipped with emissions-cheating 3.0-liter diesel engines. That’s potentially very good news for Volkswagen, as it’s a decision that could save the company a truckload of cash.
In May, VW agreed to spend over $1.22 billion to repair or buy back nearly 80,000 vehicles with 3.0-liter engines as part of its “dieselgate” settlement. The manufacturer was also obliged to pay owners of fixed units between $8,500 and $17,000. However, there was an additional fine of $4.04 billion if the EPA and California Air Resources Board were unwilling to approve repairs on all 3.0-liter vehicles.
With a fix now in place for 38,000 Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen Touareg, and Audi Q7 SUVs, the company may have just saved itself a over a billion dollars.
It’s clear what Volkswagen is trying to do with the Dune trim level of its Beetle two-door.
The company claims the Dune is inspired by classic Beetles that were modified into “dune buggies.” Which is fine, but all it really is is a current Beetle with a raised suspension, black exterior cladding, rear spoiler, bumpers unique to its trim, unique air intakes, 18-inch wheels, LED taillights, special interior stitching, and cloth/leatherette seats.
Other than that, little sets it apart from its Beetle brethren. It’s powered by the same 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder found in most Beetles (the R-Line has a 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder) and mates to a six-speed automatic transmission.
A small, relatively lightweight (it’s still a tick over 3,000 pounds) compact coupe like the Beetle should be fun to drive, even if it’s raised, like the Dune is. But “should be” and “is” are two different things.
Back in July, German authorities became concerned that the country’s manufacturers had been operating one of the largest automotive cartels in history. With many auto executives still under the microscope for diesel emission manipulation, combined with inter-familial strife between the Piech and Porsche clans, Germany’s auto industry was starting to resemble a PG version of the film Goodfellas — with a dash of Dallas, for flavor.
Despite some rather serious accusations, nothing really came of the cartel investigation. We were beginning to wonder if it was much ado about nothing. But Germany’s antitrust officials hadn’t forgotten — they were simply biding their time during preliminary investigations into corporate collusion and price-fixing. Earlier this week, they made their big move and raided BMW’s headquarters.
Volkswagen’s 2019 Jetta will be revealed this winter at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. From the get-go, the Jetta will be available with a manual transmission, reports VWVortex. The Jetta GLI that follows one year later will almost certainly be marketed with the manual transmission Volkswagen killed off with the 2018 model year, Motor Authority says.
These and other details are becoming increasingly clear as Volkswagen’s North American CEO Hinrich Woebcken begins to release a great many details about Volkswagen’s next few years of product launches.
This is what we know so far.
This commercial is not a circa 1970 follow-up to 1969’s infamous Woodstock Music & Art Fair. It’s not a the result of marketers in the 1980s looking back 10 or 15 years. It’s not Volkswagen’s late-to-the-party retro take on counterculture. No, this is Volkswagen’s People First Warranty commercial from 2017. Today.
It is a wholehearted embrace of Volkswagen’s history. The Microbus. An original Beetle. Hippies.
“I think what’s powerful about it,” Volkswagen of America’s marketing director Greg Tebbutt says, “is we’ve got a heritage story that is unique to us and only we can tell.”
But there’s something conspicuously absent from the 60-second “Rain” spot.
For the 2018 model year, Volkswagen of America is adopting an entirely different approach to its sports sedan transmission lineup than Honda and Subaru.
Unlike the Honda Civic Si, which is available exclusively with a manual transmission, and unlike the Subaru WRX, which is available with a manual transmission or a continuously variable automatic, the 2018 Volkswagen Jetta GLI will drop the manual transmission option.
Having already dropped itself into an ocean of electric car R&D, Volkswagen is now making plans to develop battery-powered commercial vehicles aimed at servicing urban areas where public officials are having night terrors about air quality.
Jürgen Stackmann, VW’s board member responsible for sales and marketing, promised the company would be at “full steam” on EV production and development by 2020. That includes a battery-only option for “all styles and body types” by 2030, according to Stackmann. But the brand wants to have something similar on the table for trucks and buses before then.
Volkswagen Truck & Bus is investing 1.4 billion euros ($1.7 billion) into new electric drivetrains for use in both medium and heavy-duty distribution transport and city buses. While that development will go toward European vehicles initially, VW and strategic partner Navistar will use the “e-drivetrain” platform on U.S.-based electric trucks from 2019 onwards.
Today’s Rare Ride is a nearly-new example of the very limited production Volkswagen XL1. Equal parts efficiency and rarity, this is the first Volkswagen product featured in our Rare Rides series, and probably the most efficient vehicle we’ll ever see here.
Come check out what 260 miles per gallon looks like.
The Volkswagen Scirocco has reached the end of the line as the death bed for the third-generation model receives its patient after a prolonged but largely unsuccessful decade.
Closely related to the Mk5 Volkswagen Golf — not the Mk6 or Mk7 that were introduced during its tenure — the Scirocco always faced headwinds in the form of Volkswagen’s own more practical Golf GTI.
Although earlier iterations of the Volkswagen Scirocco and its Corrado successor were marketed in America, the latest Scirocco never made it across the Atlantic.
“That’s a piece of the lineup that I would dearly love to see here,” then Volkswagen of America CEO Jonathan Browning said four years into the Scirroco’s tenure. The concerns, of course, were related to the fact that the Scirocco would cannibalize the GTI, and vice versa.
And for that very reason — the fact that the Scirocco couldn’t succeed alongside the Golf — the Scirocco’s European experiment is ending before a rumored fourth-gen model could ever dream of making it in America.
Keen to improve its image after its diesel emissions fiasco, Volkswagen has decided to provide 2018’s lineup with some of the juiciest, most delectable extended warranties available from an automaker. Better still is that the warranty is transferrable to subsequent owners.
While most manufacturers provide the typical three-year/36,000 mile basic warranty with separate five-year/60,000 mile powertrain warranty on their cars, Volkswagen is tossing 6-year/72,000 mile bumper-to-bumper coverage on practically everything coming out next year. The only exception is the battery-driven e-Golf, which will persist with the industry standard.
At launch, the lone Volkswagen Atlas available in the United States was the more powerful 3.6-liter V6, a Tennessee-built $34,425 three-row crossover with 276 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is an $1,800 option. The Atlas was rated at 18 miles per gallon in the city; 25 on the highway. City fuel economy for AWD models dropped by a single mpg; highway mpg fell to 23.
Now we know how much money you can save by purchasing the front-wheel-drive-only Volkswagen Atlas 2.0T, which suffers a loss of 41 horsepower but generates very nearly as much torque as the V6 (258 lb-ft) and does so 1,150-rpm closer to idle.
Not surprisingly, a small, modern, turbocharged engine is barely more efficient than the larger, naturally aspirated V6.
No, America Can't Have a Volkswagen T-Roc, But VW Is Tripling Production Before Production Even Begins
America can’t have the Volkswagen T-Roc. Canada can’t have the Volkswagen T-Roc. As far as we know at this point, Australia can’t have the T-Roc even though the segment in which it competes owns a hefty one-tenth of the Australian market.
Volkswagen nevertheless sees huge global potential for the brand’s new subcompact crossover, all the more so since actually unveiling the new model in late August.
The Volkswagen T-Roc’s Portugal assembly plant will therefore not build a modest 70,000 annual units. Though sales aren’t yet underway, Volkswagen board member Jürgen Stackmann says the automaker has already determined it’s necessary to triple annual production, according to CarAdvice.
Dozens of recalled Volkswagen diesels have vanished from the Silverdome parking lot in Pontiac, Michigan, over past last week. The stadium was once home to the Detroit Lions and monster truck rallies. Now defunct, it has been converted into a makeshift purgatory for thousands of emission-cheating VW and Audi-branded autos waiting to be fixed and resold.
Michigan authorities are working with out-of-state police to track down over 60 stolen vehicles. Roughly a dozen of the missing cars were located at an auction lot in Clarksville, Indiana, last Friday. Those recovered units have laid the groundwork for how the police are handling the investigation.
Not long ago, I wrote glowingly about the new Honda Civic Type R. Part of my praise was based on the fact that the Type R is bargain-priced compared to its competition.
Yeah, I liked the Type R. A lot. Even took a little crap in the comments for it (fair enough). But again, a big reason for my praise was the price. If the Type R was stickered the same as its three main competitors – the Ford Focus RS, Subaru WRX STI, and Volkswagen Golf R – would it still be “all that?”
On its own merits, sure. It’s very, very good. Great, even. But a strong argument can be made that all things being equal, the Golf R is even better. And I’m about to make it.
Volkswagen debuted a more realistic version of its I.D. Crozz concept vehicle at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week. While still a fantasy model, the physical representation that appeared at the trade event (and VW’s latest round of stylized images) hint at what the production vehicle will actually look like.
While it doesn’t have the conservative and understatedly handsome appearance of a typical VW, the Crozz is more or less on par with the styling of its I.D. sub-brand. It’s also is rumored to be the first of the I.D. vehicles offered for sale in the North American market. Anyone hoping for a pod-like electrified Tiguan ought to be chuffed by the prospect as they prepare their checkbooks.
Evidence Exhibit #127 In the Case of Market V. Small Cars: Volkswagen Considering Pulling the Up City Car From Europe
The global auto industry is not a place in which small car production is as straightforward as it was a decade or two ago.
Brought closer to home, Americans are buying roughly 30-percent fewer subcompact cars now than they were just three years ago. With next to no fuel economy advantages; limited payment upside; and less refinement, power, and space, why would a car buyer choose a subcompact over a compact sibling? Most buyers don’t. In the United States, compact car sales are five times stronger than subcompact sales. August’s top three compacts (Civic, Corolla, Cruze) outsold their subcompact brethren (Fit, Yaris, Sonic) by more than seven-to-one.
Many automakers don’t even bother selling their smallest cars in North America. Mazda’s latest 2 never saw U.S. import. FCA has left the compact market, having long since left the subcompact sector to rivals. Subaru doesn’t dive below the Impreza platform. And Volkswagen stops at the Golf, leaving the subcompact Polo for more small-car-friendly countries.
But how keen on small cars are those other countries? In some instances, not keen enough. Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess tells Autocar, “Selling small cars is not easy.” And he’s clearly not just talking about F-150-loving America. “It’s a very European problem,” says Diess. As a result, the Volkswagen Up city car, a Lupo successor, may pull out of Europe in favor of emerging markets only.
If it’s not Obama’s fault, then it’s probably Brexit’s.
Volkswagen’s sixth-generation Golf is destined to mark the end of the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet run. The Mk7 Golf didn’t spawn a droptop variant and the United Kingdom’s shrinking car market has reportedly caused Volkswagen to cease development of the eighth-generation Golf’s cabriolet.
Of course, Volkswagen hasn’t sold a topless Golf in the United States since the 2002 model year, when an Mk3 Golf essentially wore the Mk4 Golf’s face. That’s a 15-year gap for topdown Golf motoring, a timespan which saw Golf Cabriolets disappear in other markets, as well. But five years after launching the Volkswagen Eos — a Golf-related convertible with a power retractable hardtop — Volkswagen brought the Golf Cabriolet back from the grave for the Mk6 generation. There was even a GTI.
With the Eos’s death, it appeared likely that the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet would be redeveloped yet again. But with a soft UK car market — a bizarrely convertible-hungry market, by the by — since Britons voted to sever ties with the European Union, Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess told Autocar, “We wanted to do a convertible now, but with the relatively weak UK market and the uncertainty about what will happen, we had to think against it.”
So, Beetle Convertible it is.
Forget Volkswagen's '800,000 Sales by 2018' Goal - VW's New Goal Is 5 Percent U.S. Market Share by 2020
In 2009, during the depths of a global financial crisis the likes of which generations had never seen, Volkswagen of America set forth on a nine-year plan that would more than triple sales to 800,000 units in 2018.
Stuff happened. A crisis (or two) got in the way. An overly Americanized product lineup lacking in utility vehicles underachieved. Volkswagen lost its right to sell diesel models in America. Volkswagen will struggle to sell 400,000 new vehicles in the United States in 2018.
Although at first it seemed possible — Volkswagen sales grew far faster than the market as a whole exiting the recession — the 800,000-unit sales goal has long since been abandoned. By 2014, before the diesel emissions scandal even broke, now-departed Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn was questioning the timing of the 800,000-sales goal.
As the summer of 2017 approaches a close, however, Volkswagen’s global boss Herbert Diess has a new, seemingly unrealistic goal for the brand’s U.S. operations, Bloomberg reports. With a stronger SUV lineup, Volkswagen wants to grow its U.S. market share to 5 percent in 2020.
Volkswagen’s market share in 2017? Less than 2 percent.
It took Volkswagen forever. But finally, in 2008, more than a decade after the compact SUV craze began, the first-generation Tiguan landed on U.S. shores. The Tiguan was more premium-priced than it deserved to be and smaller than it needed to be, but with a potent powerplant and fun-loving on-road behavior, those who could afford it and fit in it were happy.
It took Volkswagen forever. But finally, in the summer of 2017, nearly a decade after the first Tiguan arrived and eventually watched the release of two new Honda CR-Vs, two new Hyundai Tucsons, countless rival redesigns, and a bevy of new competitors, the second-generation Tiguan landed on U.S. shores.
The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan is now competitively priced. It’s properly sized — marginally larger than many rivals rather than distinctly smaller. This time, however, because of extra weight and an intransigent powertrain, the Tiguan doesn’t feel quite so punchy off the line. And in place of a dynamic repertoire vaguely reminiscent of an Mk5 Golf GTI — lively steering, quick turn-in, grippy cornering — the 2018 Tiguan is comfort-focused, keen on absorbing and mollifying and coddling.
Bigger, more comfortable, and arguably more attractive? The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan finally sounds like a Tiguan American crossover buyers might actually want.
Unlike Mercedes-AMG, Volkswagen’s R performance division isn’t much of a sub-brand. While the VW Golf R remains the industry’s quintessential hot hatch, there’s no shortage of rivals ready and willing to usurp its position as a segment leader. Also, one model does not a sub-brand make.
Down the road from VW’s Wolfsburg, Germany, headquarters, the executives in Stuttgart can’t AMG-ify Mercedes-Benz products fast enough. SUVs, “coupe” variants of SUVs, sedans, and legit coupes are all going under the knife, emerging with taut suspension, improved driving dynamics, and an all-important shot of horsepower — traditionally in “strong” and “extra strong” doses. Not only does it improve an automaker’s image, it also helps sell high-profit utility vehicles.
Volkswagen requires some of Mercedes-AMG’s medicine. Now, according to a recent report, it may have the cure it’s looking for.
Not only is Volkswagen’s recently unveiled T-Roc subcompact crossover destined to avoid U.S. shores, Volkswagen’s Canadian dealers won’t be offering the T-Roc, either.
Revealed last week, we had always assumed the T-Roc was the logical next step for a Volkswagen brand that had suffered long and hard from a limited, delayed, premium SUV strategy in North America.
But it turns out Volkswagen of America will skip the T-Roc, likely in favor of a different small utility vehicle. So we asked Volkswagen Canada whether the T-Roc would arrive for the 2018 model year, the 2019 model year, or never at all.
Volkswagen’s response is the third option. “At least for now,” company spokesperson Thomas Tetzlaff tells TTAC.
Surely small-car-loving Canada — where the Honda Civic has been Canada’s top-selling car for 19 consecutive years and subcompact cars hold 19 percent more market share than they do in the U.S. — wants another subcompact crossover? Nah, not so much. Like Americans, Canadians haven’t fully latched onto the subcompact crossover, either. Not yet.
Volkswagen is perpetually late to the SUV party. That much we knew already. The Volkswagen Touareg came late, and was improperly positioned. The Volkswagen Tiguan was much later, and it too was overpriced and undersized. The Volkswagen Atlas, the brand’s first three-row crossover, only arrived in America this spring.
The Volkswagen T-Roc was clearly not the first guest to arrive, either. The Nissan Juke, Mini Countryman, Subaru Crosstrek, Buick Encore, Chevrolet Trax, Jeep Renegade, Fiat 500X, Honda HR-V, and Mazda CX-3 have been collecting U.S. sales for years. But it’s not as though Volkswagen was the only major automaker late to the party. Ford’s EcoSport still isn’t here, the Hyundai Kona and Kia Stonic were unveiled only recently, and Toyota’s C-HR is a fresh release that lacks an all-wheel-drive option.
But the Volkswagen T-Roc, revealed last week, will be more than just late to the party. In the United States, the Volkswagen T-Roc has returned its invitation by ticking the wrong box. Regret to decline.
Volkswagen of America has confirmed to TTAC that the Volkswagen T-Roc will not come to the United States, probably not ever.
A former Volkswagen engineer who helped federal investigators after being linked to the diesel emissions scandal will cool his heels in an American prison.
U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox sentenced James Liang, 63, to a 40-month term today, tacking on a $200,000 fine for his involvement in the automaker’s diesel deception. Liang is the first Volkswagen employee prosecuted for having a role in the conspiracy.
German media is reporting that former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn, who resigned shortly after the diesel emissions scandal erupted in September 2015, was informed about the company’s emissions cheating in late July of that year — a month before the automaker claims its executive board learned of the issue.
Several media outlets are reporting that a former senior VW quality officer told Winterkorn on July 27, 2015 that the company “cheated,” Reuters reports.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the manufacturer currently at the center of rampant speculation over a possible Chinese buyout and a spin-off of its Italian luxury brands, is reportedly in early talks with Volkswagen over the joint production of certain light utility vehicles.
Volkswagen, which has made crystal clear it wants nothing to do with a merger, might have products the Italian-American automaker could find beneficial. Despite the awkward back-and-forth between FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne and VW Group chief Matthias Müller earlier this year, the German automaker didn’t rule out discussions with FCA.
According to a source close to the issue, the discussions include future versions of VW’s small commercial van and, interestingly, a midsize pickup truck.
Opening with a query as to whether or not the audience was, “Ready to Roc” or not, Volkswagen showcased the production version of the T-Roc today in Italy. However, the model that arrived on stage didn’t quite resemble the compact crossover concept vehicle we’ve grown accustomed to.
While shorter in appearance than a traditional baby SUV, the T-Roc isn’t the coupe-adjacent vehicle we were led to believe it might be. True to form, VW played it safe.
There are some notable exceptions, however. The bi-color design allows the roofline to be mismatched with the bodywork and the interior has some fun color options — both in its lighting and trim. But it lacks the swept-back roofline and lowered stance of the prototype. The upside to this is superior interior volume and more traditional SUV characteristics that the public will be less likely to shy away from. Volkswagen wants volume, after all.
“I don’t know why we are late.”
– Frank Welsch, head of development for Volkswagen, ahead of T-Roc launch
It’s been less than one week since TTAC’s B&B had its collective say on the subject of Volkswagen’s SUV delays. But in an interview with Autocar, Volkswagen’s head of development, Frank Welsch, certainly isn’t denying the problem.
“I don’t know why we are late,” Welsch says, speaking not only of utility vehicles such as the T-Roc, but Euro-MPVs as well. “With the Touran we were late, the Sharan we were late. I cannot explain why, here we are.”
“I’m happy to have this car now.”
As if stepping out of a rehab program for automakers addicted to ignoring obvious trends, Volkswagen has finally completed the first step: recognizing the problem. The T-Roc will be unveiled this afternoon, August 23, 2017, years after the Nissan Juke, Mini Countryman, Subaru Crosstrek, Buick Encore, Chevrolet Trax, Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V, and Mazda CX-3 took control of the subcompact crossover segment.
2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Limited Priced From $22,895; Old New Tiguan Costs $3,350 Less Than New New Tiguan
The old new Volkswagen Tiguan will cost $3,350 less than the new new 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan.
Known now as the Tiguan Limited, a basic 2017 model rides on 16-inch steel wheels with no cargo cover, front-wheel drive, and the premium-fuel-swilling 200-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo four-cylinder.
Priced from $22,895 including a $900 destination charge, the 2017 Volkswagen Tiguan Limited undercuts the second-generation Tiguan by $3,350 and the non-Limited 2017 Tiguan by $2,965.
Volkswagen of America confirmed last evening via email the alteration of the Passat and Beetle engine lineups for the 2018 model year.
In examining updated EPA mpg figures for the 2018 model year — as one does — we noticed a curious change. The 2018 Volkswagen Beetle Dune achieves slightly better highway fuel economy, 34 mpg, than the non-Dune 33-mpg 2018 Volkswagen Beetle.
By the by, after posing a handful of questions to Volkswagen of America spokesperson Mark Gillies, TTAC learned that the 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder that served as the base engine in the Volkswagen Passat and Volkswagen Beetle from 2014-2017 is out. It gives way in the 2018 Passat and Beetle to the second-generation Tiguan’s EA888 Gen3B 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.
The result? Better fuel economy and more torque.
The Nissan Juke and Mini Countryman arrived in the United States in 2010. The Subaru Crosstrek appeared two years later.
Buick’s Encore appeared at U.S. dealers in 2013; its Chevrolet Trax partner the following year. 2015 saw the arrival of the Fiat 500X, Jeep Renegade, Honda HR-V, and Mazda CX-3. The (FWD-only) Toyota C-HR landed in April 2017. The Hyundai Kona was unveiled in June 2017 and will show up in U.S. Hyundai stores this coming winter.
And on August 23, 2017, Volkswagen will unveil the T-Roc, which isn’t likely to go on sale in the United States until 2019. That’s nine years late.
Will the T-Roc’s tardiness cause the subcompact Volkswagen crossover to suffer the marketplace consequences just as its overdue siblings always have?
Eight Consecutive Months of Volkswagen Sales Improvement Ends in July 2017 - Crossover Volume Still Very Low
After steady declines even prior to the diesel emissions scandal of nearly two years ago, Volkswagen of America took another serious hit in 2016 — the best year on record for the auto industry. Compared with 2012, Volkswagen volume sank by 85,000 sales last year.
But by the end of 2016, Volkswagen’s U.S. sales volume was beginning to rise again. True, that rise was in comparison with a true low — Volkswagen sales in the final one-sixth of 2016 were up 22 percent year-over-year but were 17-percent lower than in the same period of 2012 — but Volkswagen was bouncing back.
The bounce back continued through the first half of 2017, with Volkswagen sales through June up 8 percent despite the market’s 2-percent downturn.
Perhaps July was just a blip on the radar. But Volkswagen’s eight-month streak of improvement screeched to a halt last month as the U.S. auto industry reported its most significant losses of the year, and as Volkswagen’s new SUV lineup continues to dip its toes in American waters.
It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for. No, not the unveiling of Fiat Chrysler’s pavement-incinerating Dodge Demon, nor Tesla’s world — no, universe-saving Model 3.
No, the hottest thing in the land is the crossover, and no crossover breaks with staid utility vehicle norms quite like Volkswagen’s radical, two-door, pillarless, targa-top creation, the compact T-Roc. Hold on, that was the concept. Scratch that. The four-door, fixed-roof, happily pillared product of the concept’s metamorphosis will soon get its time in the spotlight, having been green-lit for production by a profit-focused VW.
The T-Roc, which kept the 2014 concept’s name despite dropping its ready-for-the-beach bodystyle, gets its big reveal on August 23rd, ahead of a global premiere at next month’s Frankfurt Auto Show. Can you handle it?
Nearly two years after the mother of all automotive scandals yanked nine years’ worth of Volkswagens out of the “law-abiding citizen” category and into the environmental slammer, U.S. regulators have approved a fix for older VW 2.0-liter diesel cars.
The fix, which many believed would never happen, received an official thumbs up from the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board today. The move means potential salvation for 326,000 otherwise doomed VW and Audi vehicles in the United States.
June 2017 was only the Volkswagen Atlas’s first full month on sale in the United States, but the Atlas, still ramping up inventory, already accounts for more than half of Volkswagen’s U.S. utility vehicle sales. In fact, the only Volkswagens that sold more often than the Atlas in June were the Jetta, Passat, and (if you count all variants together) the Golf.
2,413 units is not a terribly impressive number, although it’s stronger than what the Mitsubishi Outlander, Ford Flex, Mazda CX-9, and Volkswagen’s two other utility vehicles managed last month. But the rate at which Volkswagen is building the Atlas at the company’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, assembly plant suggests dealers are only beginning to see just how many copies of the Atlas they’ll soon have to sell.
Will there be buyers?
As Volkswagen progresses toward electrification and bolsters is court-mandated greener image, concerns arose that enthusiasts might be left to fend for themselves.
Those fears appear to have been entirely unnecessary. With Ford upping the ante with its hot-hatch Focus variants and newcomers like Hyundai’s attractive i30 N planning to enter the market with a minimum of 246 horsepower, VW knew it had to bring more to the table with its Golf. News from Germany indicates Volkswagen’s world-famous hatchback will lose some weight for its eighth generation and gain beefed-up powertrains.
An inconsequential 1,630 copies of the Volkswagen Touareg were sold in the United States during the first half of 2017.
It’s therefore unlikely you’ll notice the Volkswagen luxury SUV’s absence now that Volkswagen has decided to eliminate the Touareg from its 2018 U.S. lineup.
Initially reported by Motor Trend yesterday, Volkswagen’s decision to discontinue the Touareg was confirmed to TTAC by Volkswagen of America spokesperson Jessica Anderson today. “Our focus for the 2018 model year is the all-new Atlas and redesigned Tiguan.”
So is the Touareg done, or just done for now? Volkswagen of America won’t say.
Throughout the entirety of Volkswagen’s diesel emission scandal, the automaker has changed its tune on several occasions. After evading scrutiny from regulators for years, it finally admitted to installing illegal defeat devices designed to fool U.S. emission testing in late 2015. However, it assured the public that no high-ranking executive had complete knowledge of the misdeed until news of the scandal broke to outraged consumers.
Obviously, that was a lie. But no damning evidence came out indicating anyone above mid-level management had prior knowledge of the devices or any idea they would be so harmful to the company. But now a Volkswagen manager arrested earlier this year claims the automaker’s former chief executive and other top managers had been told the carmaker’s diesel emissions violations could cost up to $18.5 billion, well before the September 2015 announcement.
Humpback. Tailback. Silverback.
Paperback. Greenback. Kickback.
Payback. Setback. Buyback.
Notchback. Liftback. Hatchback.
Elmar-Marius Licharz, the director of mid and large car model lines at Volkswagen, makes it very clear that the 2018 Volkswagen Arteon, a successor to the Volkswagen CC, is not a hatchback.
One month ago, former Hyundai Motor America sales vice president Derrick Hatami departed Hyundai and ended up in a similar role at Volkswagen of America: executive vice president for sales and marketing.
Hatami moved into his new office on June 12, 2017. Less than two months from now, and two years after Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal erupted in September 2015, Hatami’s new boss will move into his new office. Imported from Skoda, Werner Eichhorn moves to Volkswagen’s North American region as the chief sales and marketing officer.
Together with Hinrich Woebcken, who became CEO of Volkswagen in North America in April 2016, seven months after #dieselgate broke, Hatami and Werner Eichhorn form the nucleus of an all-new sales team at Volkswagen of America.
And not a moment too soon.
There’s nothing like the antics automakers get up to when fierce rivalry or falling sales forces an emergency pressing of the desperation button. Just last year, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles found itself in quite a bit of hot water after its long-running sales-recording practices came under the federal microscope. Mounting pressure eventually forced the company to dial back its monthly figures, shattering some advertisement-friendly sales streaks.
Across the pond, Volkswagen now finds itself with egg (quiche?) on its face following a report by its internal auditors. According to German publication Der Spiegel, the automaker plumped up its French sales tallies for years — to the tune of at least 800,000 vehicles.
The details of this latest case of sales fudging, which apparently went undiscovered for seven years, seem particularly brazen.
Volkswagen Group is continuing to clean house and has made plans to eliminate a significant number of its management staff using the same “early retirement” tactics offered to its longstanding labor force. It’s another obvious attempt on VW’s part to remake itself into a younger, forward-thinking automaker following the diesel emissions scandal — and save itself some money in the process.
While the layoffs aren’t explicitly targeted at Germany, the majority of outgoing managers will certainly come from its European workforce. Volkswagen has declined to comment on the exact number of hangers-on potentially affected by the plan.
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- Lorenzo A union in itself doesn't mean failure, collective bargaining would mean failure.
- Ajla Why did pedestrian fatalities hit their nadir in 2009 and overall road fatalities hit their lowest since 1949 in 2011? Sedans were more popular back then but a lot of 300hp trucks and SUVs were on the road starting around 2000. And the sedans weren't getting smaller and slower either. The correlation between the the size and power of the fleet with more road deaths seems to be a more recent occurrence.
- Jeff_M It's either a three on the tree OR it's an automatic. It ain't both.
- Lorenzo I'm all in favor of using software and automation to BUILD cars, but keep that junk off my instrument panel, especially the software enabled interactive junk. Just give me the knobs and switches so I can control the vehicle, with no interconnectivity of any kind.
- MaintenanceCosts Modern cars detach people from their speed too much. The combination of tall ride height, super-effective sound insulation, massive power, and electronic aids makes people quite unaware of just how much kinetic energy is nominally under their control while they watch a movie on their phone with one hand and eat a Quarter Pounder with the other. I think that is the primary reason we are seeing an uptick in speed-related fatalities, especially among people NOT in cars.With that said, I don't think Americans have proven responsible enough to have unlimited speed in cars. Although I'd hate it, I still would support limiters that kick in at 10 over in the city and 20 over on the freeway, because I think they would save more than enough lives to be worth the pain.