VW Board Prepares to Decide Jailed Audi CEO's Fate

Volkswagen’s supervisory board will meet on Monday to map out the future of Rupert Stadler, the suspended chief executive of its Audi brand. German outlet Der Spiegel reported on Friday that VW intends to decide whether or not Stadler, who has been in police custody since mid-June as part of a broader probe into the company’s diesel cheating fiasco, should resign his post.

Officially, the automaker’s position on the matter is that the CEO is innocent until convicted of criminal wrongdoing. But having him in the crosshairs of the media and investigators isn’t great PR for the company.

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Ace of Base, Euro Edition: 2019 Audi A1 Sportback

There’s plenty of tasty European machinery available to customers on that side of the pond that isn’t currently (or was not) available in these parts. VW Scirocco R, Audi RS6 Avant, Citroën DS3 Racing … if you’ll excuse me, I need to lie down.

Not all the forbidden fruit is worth plucking off the tree, though. Think you’d ever see a modern Audi in this day and age with a plastic block-off plate where the radio is supposed to be? Well, you have now.

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Audi R8 to Be Reborn As EV Hypercar by 2022: Report

Unverified industry rumors claim Audi has no intention of bringing back the R8 for a third generation. The problem is deeply rooted in stagnating sales and further exacerbated by tightening emissions standards and Volkswagen Group’s new role as an environmentally conscious manufacturer. However, new reports indicate the brand’s flagship supercar will see new life as a cutting-edge electronic menace. A real Max Headroom, if you’ll forgive the incredibly dated reference.

The R8 has already done some time as an EV. Back in 2015, the German brand launched an e-tron variant that swapped the model’s stellar V10 for an all-electric drivetrain. But the project was short lived. After years of teasing and endless production headaches, the million-dollar R8 e-tron quickly died. Audi pulled the plug after less than two years of production, leaving fewer than 100 examples to tend to its legacy.

While that might cast a rather long shadow on the new model, Audi is keeping electrification in mind from Day One this time around.

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Electrified in Monterey: Audi's PB 18 E-tron Concept Is Phenomenal

Concept vehicles have been a bit of a snoozefest for enthusiasts lately. Despite the fact that automakers are still plenty capable of bringing out gorgeous designs, the autonomous angle has become so pervasive that it’s overridden the idea of having fun.

Then, during this week’s Monterey Car Week festivities, Audi dropped the PB 18 e-tron concept at Laguna Seca and fun slapped us across the face. This is the kind of car you have on your bedroom wall as a child and work your entire life to put into a garage as an adult.

With three electric motors (one driving the front axle and two out back) providing a combined output of 671 horsepower and 612 lb-ft of torque, the PB 18 should already be a menace. However, it can also temporarily bump itself up to 764 hp using stored energy via a kinetic energy recovery system. As a result, Audi claims the car is capable of a 0-to-62 mph rush in just over 2 seconds.

Combine that with an ultra-modern design that’s within the boundaries of what’s currently possible and several scoops of driver-focused tech, and you have one of best concept vehicles we’ve seen in years. The PB 18 expertly rides the line between fanciful and plausible.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: Checking Out German Strippers From 2002

German cars in North America are not immediately associated with base, no-option models or economical motoring. But that didn’t stop Adam Tonge from suggesting today’s trio. Which vehicle gets the Buy when you’re shopping at the bottom of the German luxury barrel in 2002?

Ladies and gentlemen, select your strippers.

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As Court Rejects Ex-Audi CEO's Prison Appeal, Automaker Chooses Its Future Boss: Report

Rupert Stadler, whose reign as CEO of Audi came to an end after his June arrest, won’t walk out the front doors of his Bavarian jail anytime soon. A Munich court has rejected the former auto executive’s appeal for release.

The appeal came nearly a month ago, around the same time Stadler — suspected of fraud in the diesel emissions scandal — stopped talking to prosecutors. The reason for the court’s decision is the same reason why a judge remanded Stadler in custody back in June. Worries remain that he might tamper with evidence if freed.

Meanwhile, there’s change brewing at the top of Audi’s corporate hierarchy.

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A New Headache for Automakers: Train Robberies

Let’s face it: there’s few things more romantic than trains, and robberies of said trains have formed the backbone of great novels and films for over a century. The modern reality is not quite Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, however. It’s impoverished and not quite moral bandits piling rocks onto tracks in a bid to derail a train, then making off with whatever they can sell. No dynamite and bank vaults here.

In Mexico, the rising popularity of such robberies is proving an expensive headache for automakers shipping cars from Mexican assembly plants.

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2019 Audi Q3 Teased Ahead of Official Reveal

The new Audi Q3 is en route for a launch later this week, but Audi gave us a sneak preview of the model in a teaser video. As the smallest crossover the brand has ever sold in the United States, the Q3 is in a hot segment right now. However, it hasn’t managed to outpace the more expensive Q5 in terms of overall sales. With 20,633 deliveries in 2017, the crossover sells well enough, but pales in comparison to the units moved by its larger sibling.

It does look to be on schedule to surpass the A3 in terms of sales by the end of the year, though. The fact that crossovers are killing the smaller to midsize car segment isn’t much of a secret anymore. But it’s as true for Audi as it is most other brands, which is why the Q3 needs to be a success. You can see the brand going the extra mile — even in this little teaser.

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Ex-Audi CEO Clams Up, Wants Out of the Clink

Former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler’s “How I spent My Summer Vacation” story isn’t likely to make any of us jealous. The one-time top dog at the German luxury automaker has cooled his heels in a Bavarian jail ever since German authorities arrested him on suspicion of fraud back in June. Stadler’s arrest served as a shocking escalation in Germany’s investigation into Volkswagen Group’s diesel emissions scandal.

It seems like time behind bars is getting to Stadler. As the suspended executive attempts to gain his release from prison, new details have emerged over the reasons for his arrest.

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Rare Rides: NSU's New Way to Wankel - the Spider From 1965 (Part IV)

Part III of this Rare Rides series explored how NSU readied itself to re-enter the car market and end its longstanding production tie-up with Fiat. Shortly after the painful divorce from the Italians, NSU’s first rotary-powered car was ready.

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Rare Rides: NSU's New Way to Wankel - the Spider From 1965 (Part III)

Part II of the NSU story gave some color to the company’s first bout of financial trouble, and how it passed on a Ferdinand Porsche design that would go on to become the Volkswagen Beetle a few years later.

As we left off last time, NSU and Fiat were locked in a longstanding disagreement about who could brand which cars in which way.

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Rare Rides: NSU's New Way to Wankel, the Spider From 1965 (Part II)

In Part I of this four-part NSU Rare Rides series, we covered the beginning of the NSU brand and its initial product offerings — which included knitting machines. The company moved into bikes and motorcycles, as well as a three-wheeler considered a midpoint between motorcycle and car.

The engineers were certainly busy, but all was not well over at the bank.

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Rare Rides: NSU's New Way to Wankel - the Spider From 1965 (Part I)

Back in the 1960s, a little German car company decided to spend a lot of money to create a new-to-them type of engine. The car company in question was NSU, and the engine that cost them so much money was a Wankel.

In a first-ever for the Rare Rides series, this will be a four-part entry. Come along as we explore the NSU brand and the Spider; a tiny roadster which ended up almost entirely responsible for the demise of its parent company.

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Junkyard Find: 2002 Audi A4 1.8T Wagon
Here in Denver 15 or so years ago, the Subaru Legacy Outback wagon was king among car shoppers looking for a vehicle suited for their dog-owning, ski-slope-visiting, REI-shopping lifestyles (that is, most of the population). But what about those who wanted an all-wheel-drive wagon that was a bit less… stolid?While you could get the Outback with a manual transmission or a six-cylinder engine (sorry, one or the other) back then, only the most rabid Subaru fanatics would describe the driving experience of the Outback as fun. That’s where the second-generation Audi A4 wagon came in, and they sold very well here. Here’s one that looked to be in pretty good condition when it got rear-ended, spotted in a yard just south of town.
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Ghost Refresh: 2019 Audi A4 Sedan Sees Some Wildly Subtle Changes

Despite the pervasive nature of crossover vehicles, Audi has done alright with the A4 sedan. Sales have remained reasonably consistent over the past few years in both the North American market and abroad.

While it doesn’t appear to be gaining any ground, it also isn’t losing much. Still, Audi knows you have to update the recipe every so often to tempt consumers, so it’s updating the A4 sedan and A4 Avant wagon for the 2019 model year — subtly, and in the typical German fashion.

You would be hard-pressed to spot the differences under any kind of pressure. As mid-cycle refreshes go, this one has to be one of the least obvious we’ve ever encountered.

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  • HotRod It took longer than it should have, but I respect VW for openly acknowledging the system's numerous flaws. Hearing that they intend to bring back physical controls for commonly used features, and that they wish to standardize them across their lineup was the biggest surprise in VW's announcement. It's just so sensible. Rather than using completely different configurations of physical buttons, capacitive controls and touchscreens for every single model, Hyundai/Kia/Genesis would be wise to consider a similar strategy.
  • Zerofoo Ugh - a MKIV VW. Heavy, slow and terrible interior durability to boot. The 1.8t in these things had awful lag, and was made worse by owners swapping K03 for K04 turbos.No Thanks.
  • Oberkanone I'm into it. An occasional trip on the WABAC machine is of interest to me.Thinking of Nissan I have to suspect being an underachiever is their goal. Not since the SE-R has the Sentra been class leading. "Most likely to be a rental" is as appropriate in Nissans yearbook in 2022 as it was 2012.
  • EBFlex Quality though? Was never on the table at Ford.
  • Oberkanone Prefer Trail Duster on rarity basis. Here is a nice one. 1979 Plymouth Trail Duster Sport 4x4 for sale on BaT Auctions - closed on May 14, 2020 (Lot #31,407) | Bring a Trailer