One of the handful of Volkswagen Group executives that have been forced to appear in front of a judge over the company’s widespread emission scandal, Oliver Schmidt, has exclaimed he was misused by his employer after issuing a guilty plea. Unless the charges are revised prior to sentencing, the former VW employee has copped to conspiracy to defraud the federal government and violating the Clean Air Act. A third charge of aiding and abetting wire fraud was rolled into the conspiracy charge.
The admission to corporate wrongdoing was made in August. However the claim that the company had taken advantage of him came later via a letter to U.S. judge Sean Cox.
Porsche is considering an electrified variant of the iconic 911, which isn’t all that surprising, considering Volkswagen Group wants a battery-enhanced version of every model it builds. But changing the 911 is tantamount to sacrilege among some circles and is likely to receive some mixed responses.
That said, it’s not as if the model remained unchanged since 1963. Porsche has implemented loads of electronic aids over the last decade and even chucked in a turbocharger. Besides, Ruf Automobile already built an all-electric 911 — which it called the eRuf Model A — way back in 2008. The foundation has been set. But we’re not convinced Porsche will walk that path.
Much more likely is that the company will use electric motors to supplement a semi-traditional internal combustion unit, or perhaps utilize a 48-volt mild hybrid system.
When we were told the electric revolution was on its way, most of us probably assumed at least some of that vehicular renaissance would take place outside of China. But Asia is where all the hot EV action lives, so that’s where the money goes.
Volkswagen, now promising one of the industry’s most ambitious pushes into electrification, plans to invest $11.8 billion through 2025 to develop and manufacture all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in China, as the nation’s emission mandates become progressively more stringent.
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.
Audi is recalling around 5,000 European A8s after discovering they were releasing excessive nitrogen oxide emissions. The vehicles in question appear to be holdovers from Volkswagen Group’s dieselgate, even though no one has said so officially. But the modus operandi seems to fit here.
It’s the same NOx gas that got VW into trouble back in 2015, it involves the vehicle’s software, and Audi went out of its way to report the cars to Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority before saying it was concerned about the “possible illegal manipulation of emission levels.”
Following an earlier raid at BMW, Daimler AG and Volkswagen Group were also searched by antitrust officials from the European Union Commission and German government this week. Despite claiming whistleblower status, Daimler is still subject to investigation — though it’s less likely to incur the same financial penalties if the collusion charges go to court.
Over the summer, investigators from the EU stated there would be an investigation into several German carmakers after allegations surfaced that companies conspired to fix prices on various automotive technologies over several decades. But it wasn’t until Monday that officials searched Daimler’s corporate offices and collected documents from Volkswagen’s headquarters in Wolfsburg and at Audi’s home base in Ingolstadt.
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.
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.
Porsche is apparently seeking 200 million euros — or $234 million — in damages from its Audi stablemate over the costs associated with using its emissions cheating diesel engines. According to reports, Porsche has already issued its claim to Audi and the wheels of justice have been set in motion.
With no verified sources or official word from either automaker, the news is more than just a little strange considering both manufacturers are part of Volkswagen Group. However, Audi did supply both Porsche and Volkswagen with defeat device-equipped 3.0-liter V6s for use in various models. One of those models was Porsche’s Cayenne, and sales of the TDI variant were shelved as the scandal raged.
Did you hear the news? Every automaker worth its salt will switch to electrified, fully autonomous vehicles yesterday.
Bored yet? Very likely so, but the people laying out money for cars still have a say in what vehicles automakers produce, and for high-end buyers, prestige doesn’t necessarily come wrapped in the latest technology from the pages of Wired. Big-money buyers want big power and, while that increasingly means the latest in twin-turbocharged, downsized wonderengines, it isn’t always so.
Audi can’t wait to challenge Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Jaguar in the premium electric car race, but there’s no way its customers would agree to the disappearance of a proper eight-cylinder gasoline engine, claims the brand’s technical development chief.
After throwing down the gauntlet earlier this summer, Bugatti has begun making good on its promise to smash every automotive speed record it can with its new Chiron hypercar. In June, Bugatti CEO Wolfgang Durheimer told the press that the successor to the brand’s Veyron Super Sport would embark on a 12-month mission to ensure dominance, but admitted he wasn’t entirely sure how much quicker the Chiron would actually be.
However, helped out by silicon carbide brakes with titanium pistons, it turned out to be fast enough to go from a dead stop to 249 mph — and back to zero again — in a staggeringly short 41.96 seconds. Considering that there aren’t many cars that can even go that fast, the record-winning run does feel like a bit of a cheat. The feat is undoubtedly impressive but, since the Chiron has so few contemporaries, the record almost seems engineered to ensure Bugatti a victory.
According to a report in Autocar, the rise through Volkswagen Group ranks accomplished by Audi Sport CEO Stephan Winkelmann will continue in 2018.
Formerly a Fiat employee, the 52-year-old Winkelmann became famous in the auto industry during his decade-long run as president and CEO of Lamborghini. Winkelmann then took over at Audi’s Quattro performance division in March 2016 before changing its name to Audi Sport. But the Rome native’s tenure at Audi Sport will reportedly be cut short by Volkswagen Group’s need to fill the lead position at its flagship brand, Bugatti.
If Autocar’s sources are right, look for Winkelmann to take over at Bentley in 2019, as well. Makes you wonder: Winkelmann has climbed from Fiat to Lamborghini to Audi Sport to Bugatti and Bentley. What’s next?
Audi announced a rather high-level reorganization of management on Monday as it continues grappling with life after Volkswagen Group’s diesel-emissions scandal.
The automaker is still on the receiving end of numerous criminal investigations and vehicle recalls, as well as criticism from unions. But four of its board members aren’t coming along for the ride. Audi AG is replacing CFO Axel Strotbek, production chief Hubert Waltl, human resources head Thomas Sigi and sales chief Dietmar Voggenreiter, effective at the end of this month.
Financial analysts and industry experts have been expecting Volkswagen to begin selling assets to help cope with the cost of its diesel emissions cheating scandal. The penalty for its deception may have already reached $24.2 billion, and German lawsuits could tack on another $8 billion.
However, Europe’s largest automaker says it’s not interested in selling off properties to recoup losses associated with the scandal. It has another plan to rake in the cash.
With Paris, Madrid, Athens, and Mexico City all pledging to ban diesel vehicles from entry within the next few years, the fuel’s future doesn’t look particularly bright. While citywide bans like these are becoming increasingly popular in Europe, diesel vehicles still account for almost half of the continent’s registered vehicles.
Germany, which has been speedily moving away from the fuel since Volkswagen’s emissions fiasco, provided more than its fair share of those diesel-powered models. It’s been mulling over how to handle it’s own regulatory matters pertaining to the fuel and the rest of the European Union’s intense pressure doesn’t seem to have fazed it.
Instead of enacting the same transportation ban on diesel vehicles as seen in Paris, Germany has decided to furnish its automakers with the opportunity to clean up their act. Industry officials and politicians have agreed to implement software updates on existing vehicles specifically to keep them eligible for operation within major metropolitan areas. Considering Mercedes-Benz just offered to “voluntarily” recall 3 million Euro-spec cars fitted with diesel engines, that’s incredibly good timing. Likewise, Volkswagen Group claims it will update 850,000 Porsche and Audi vehicles equipped with larger diesel motors.
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