With regulatory bodies the world over forcing the automotive sector to prioritize efficiency over mightiness, industry rhetoric has gradually shifted away from the powertrain. While every brand still wants to squeeze out all available power from ubiquitous four-cylinder motors, providing excess is only a priority in a handful of cases catering directly to enthusiasts.
The idea of a big, brutish luxury car with a monstrous engine still exists, but it’s being supplanted by technology-driven features catering to tech-focused minds and the green movement. Modern luxury is based in connectivity, applications, and distancing one from the experience of driving altogether — or at least that’s what the automotive industry now seems to believe.
And they may have a point. While we’re well aware those advocating “mobility” desperately want it so that they can tap into your data (to enhance revenue using the same grimy business tactics favored by big tech firms), carmakers also need something shiny to dangle in front of consumers so we’ll buy the latest and greatest product. The tech sector is also booming right now, and the industry’s dying to get investors back on its side after seeing the Wall Street performance of EV companies — especially Tesla Motors.
Even the traditionalists at Toyota are buying into it, announcing an important push into software development as they attempt to craft the next industry-standard operating system for cars. It’s also the song Volkswagen Group has sung ever since Dieselgate. Meanwhile, Audi recently explained its own commitment to software after its parent company (VW) tasked it with ensuring the botched launches of the ID.3 and Mk8 Golf don’t become commonplace.
Volkswagen of America used model names that didn’t match up to those of its European counterparts for much of the 1970s and 1980s. The Golf was the Rabbit through 1984 and the Passat started out as the Dasher and then became the Quantum over here. I find the occasional Dasher or Quantum during my junkyard voyages, but nearly all of the Quantums that have survived into our current century will be gasoline-burning Syncro Wagons. Diesels? After the Oldsmobile Diesel 350 debacle of the late 1970s and early 1980s, few Americans had the guts to buy a new oil-burner.
Volkswagen Group plans to transfer software development leadership to its Audi division following an embarrassingly high number of technical glitches on some of its upcoming products.
With the industry committed to making sure tomorrow’s cars more closely resemble today’s phones, some automakers have decided to do the brunt of their coding in-house. VW decided to increase the share of its software it’s responsible for — targeting 60 percent of all the code that goes into its products by 2025 — but problems cropped up en route to its destination.
Following the triumph that was Audi’s all-electric e-tron utility (the automaker doesn’t believe in uppercase letters), the brand developed a Sportback version for 2020 that sacrificed interior volume for a fastback roofline. The manufacturer describes it as “coiled yet poised, the stylized potential of the e-tron Sportback is clear from any angle — it’s designed to attract, electrify and generate envy of ownership,” making us cringe at the sheer magnitude of its pomposity. Based on the sales record of e-tron models, we may not be alone in feeling that way.
While plenty of outlets praised the model for its luxurious ride and upscale interior with lavish technical inclusions, we’ve come down hard on its production troubles and lackluster range. That’s likely the result of us mistakenly thinking cars should be broadly useful, especially SUVs and crossovers. But we’re also hyper-critical grumps and Audi also failed to deliver on the one item that set these cars apart from their internal combustion counterparts — the battery. Our hope was that the formula would be improved for the brand’s next EV, and that does seem to have happened.
Audi just debuted the Q4 Sportback e-tron Concept to complement the Q4 EV that appeared at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show.
On Tuesday, Audi announced Volkswagen Group is prepared to buy out minority shareholders. VW announced the plan earlier in the year, setting aside funds to procure the 0.36 percent of Audi it didn’t already own.
“Volkswagen AG announced and specified that it has set the cash settlement to be paid to the minority shareholders in return for the transfer of their shares at 1,551.53 euros per Audi AG share,” the Ingolstadt-based manufacture said in a statement.
Mercedes-Benz got out in front of BMW while automotive sales languish in the gutter, though neither company finds itself resting comfortably upon a bed of roses. The global pandemic has made sure of that; no segment has gone unaffected by social distancing measures, but it may be the luxury divisions that have it the hardest moving forward.
Up until recently, premium nameplates had done rather well — scooping up an increasing share of the total auto market for years. While the Great Recession momentarily suppressed their ascension in 2008 and 2009, it was a temporary setback.
Luxury brands have had a good decade overall, with any rough years being offset by expansions in their lineup (chiefly crossover vehicles). Now they’re trying to move downmarket to capitalize on younger customers with a bit more pocket money. It might have been a good strategy, were it not for the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent economic downturn.
Like most legacy automakers, Volkswagen is casually walking back promises of electrification. As with self-driving cars, the technology behind new-energy vehicles is taking longer to mature than the industry would like. Meanwhile, the market — skewed as it is toward larger models — has been about as cooperative as a sugared-up child come bedtime.
Despite governments around the world incentivizing the sale of EVs, they’re still but a fraction of whole.
With the pandemic undoubtedly discouraging consumers from purchasing big-ticket items, electric vehicle sales aren’t presumed to make a lot of headway in 2020, either. We recently learned that some of the promises made by Ford and General Motors in regard to electrification were overblown by corporate messaging. In truth, they both plan on remaining heavily dependent upon truck and crossover sales for several more years.
However, Volkswagen seemed to be betting everything it had on battery technology. In the wake of its 2015 diesel emission scandal, VW was one of the first companies to promise widespread electrification by suggesting it would build one million EVs by 2023 — with 70 new green models introduced by 2029. The past year has seen the automaker issue qualifying remarks that leave us feeling dubious about its end goal.
With reports of factory shutdowns now being the norm, Volkswagen and Toyota have predictably decided to idle facilities in Europe to mitigate the negative influence of the novel coronavirus. VW Group had already made plans to temporarily close assembly lines in Italy, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain. But said that the entirety of Europe will probably be affected this month.
Toyota was singing a similar song on Tuesday morning, saying it would suspend production in France and Portugal this week. Considering the sameness of these virus-related cancelations, we’ll not bore you with any recaps — you know how we got here. Instead, here’s the gist of the manufacturers’ respective strategies:
Audi has reportedly paused assembly of its all-electric e-Tron to address production issues that include battery supply bottlenecks. It’s not uncharted territory for the model. Audi had to delay the model’s launch over claimed software changes in 2018, though it was known that corporate parent Volkswagen Group was having trouble with battery supplier LG Chem at the time. Since then, the crossover’s short life has been a well-publicized series of victories and failures.
Outselling rivals like the Jaguar I-Pace by a margin of almost two to one, Audi delivered 5,369 e-Trons in the United States in 2019 despite it not being available for the full year. Competition was closer in Europe, with the Audi still moving in larger volumes. The model also received favorable crash test ratings and was awarded with the IIHS’ Top Safety Pick+ designation.
However, supply problems never really abated. Every few months brought a new rumor that Audi was suffering from battery shortages, possibly forcing it to idle production. A battery fire scare prompted the factory to voluntarily recall the first batch. While the impact of these issues was rarely as serious as feared, their persistent nature caused many to wonder how ready the industry actually is for the transition to EVs.
Audi engaged in a publicity stunt this week to prove electric vehicles can be legitimate workhorses, capable of towing sizable items long distances without issue. While most EVs aren’t actually rated to tow anything, Audi’s e-Tron is supposedly able to haul a few thousand pounds worth of whatever behind it.
Audi Tulsa and Audi ONE, Audi of America’s Herndon-based electrification strategy team, supported the all-volunteer Oklahoma Chapter of the Electric Auto Association in testing that theory by taking one from Tulsa, Oklahoma, to the Fully Charged Live electric-car event at Circuit of the Americas in Texas.
Under idyllic circumstances, the 500-mile journey should have depleted the crossover’s 95-kWh battery pack twice. However, Audi’s press release seems to indicate using an EV to tow a trailer is anything but ideal, and the resulting figures prove it.
Today’s Rare Ride was a relative revolution at the time of its introduction. With smooth, aerodynamic styling and a rotary engine, NSU’s Ro 80 made big promises. Years later, one man decided he’d create the convertible that was missing from the Ro 80 lineup. Let’s check out this one-of-two NSU.
With Cadillac torpedoing any hope we had that the touchscreen trend might come to swift end, we started digging around to see the latest and greatest interior screen experiences automakers are hoping to push onto the market. The worst offenders cropped up in concept vehicles, though most automakers aspire to equip future models with more screen space than you’ll know what do with — see China’s Byton for an example.
As for less speculative specimens, Audi had us covered. The brand’s MMI Touch Response infotainment system sacrifices physical controls for three rather large interactive displays. Limited to higher-end models (A6, A7, A8, and Q8), MMI groups a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, 10.3-inch central console, and a smaller 8.6-inch display for controlling the HVAC system. Apparently, that’s the interior Audi wants to run with for all future vehicles while it works up something new.
Volkswagen Group can’t seem to escape the rippling effects of its 2015 emissions cheating scandal. It wasn’t long ago that the automaker was subjected to surprise raids from German prosecutors, still investigating its regulatory malfeasance. On Monday, Canada threw its hat into the ring — charging the company with importing roughly 128,000 vehicles into the country in direct violation of its environmental laws.
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) announced VW is facing 60 counts of breaching the Canadian Environmental Protection Act by selling automobiles that fell outside the prescribed emission standards. Broken down, that includes 58 counts of contravening the law between 2008 and 2015 with two counts of providing misleading information.
Like parent Volkswagen, premium auto brand Audi is embarking on an electrified journey and, like VW, it would prefer to see the route paved with profits. A difficult task, given the expense of developing such powertrains and the currently limited public demand for the vehicles they power.
Still, Audi is determined to see it through, hoping that one day, perhaps at the mid-point of the coming decade, it will be able to turn a healthy profit off of EVs in a marketplace that’s more receptive of the technology. To get to that promised land, the company will need to free up cash, and it plans to find that dough in its labor costs.
Expect cuts, the company claims.
Roger Penske, the business magnate whose Penske Automotive Group operates more than 150 dealers across the U.S., isn’t very excited about electric vehicles, as he’s seen how easily they sell.
Which is to say, he’s seen how difficult it can be to unload an EV.
While Tesla chooses to go its own way in the retailing space, established OEMs with a strong dealer presence must consider other financial realities in deciding how they offer a new EV. Unlike Tesla, these new EVs often look like the ICE-powered vehicles they share a stable with. However, their price might not have much in common with similar-sized vehicles sitting just across the showroom or lot.
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- Ajla GM didn't do this even when Corvette sales and cocaine use were at their peak.
- Dwford How many more wealthy performance car buyers does Chevy think they can drag into their showroom full of middle of the road crossovers? I guess they will find out
- SCE to AUX It's been done before, with varied success:Ford --> LincolnHyundai --> GenesisGM --> XLR (Cadillac), ELR (Cadillac)VW Touareg --> Porsche CayenneI suspect GM is trying to avoid the Mustang fiasco (which is working for Ford, BTW), by not making the Corvette name a sub-brand - only its hardware.(In the Mustang's case, YTD 46% of "Mustang" branded vehicles are the Mach-E, but they share no hardware. GM's plan is much different and less controversial.)Back to the sub-brand: the XLR and ELR experiments were total duds, borrowing hardware from the Corvette and Volt respectively. Both sullied Cadillac's name - not Chevy's.
- Art Vandelay I don’t care what they do with the brand. But I do want to see how a mid engined platform spawns a 4 door and a crossover
- Varezhka If they’re going to do this, might as well go all the way and make it a standalone brand instead of a Chevy sub-brand. They already have a unique emblem, after all. Shouldn’t there be enough empty former Hummer, Saab, or Cadillac dealer showrooms to house them?