As Volkswagen Group embarks on its quest to build and disseminate The People’s Propulsion across the globe, rumblings of an ultra-cheap electric car from the automaker have come into focus.
We began hearing of such a vehicle last year, when reports emerged that VW was planning an EV with an MSRP below 20,000 euros (roughly $22,400 USD). That’s below the expected price floor of even the lowliest MEB-platform I.D. model — the I.D. Neo, which starts production in Europe late this year.
Now, the automaker has revealed where it sees this vehicle fitting into VW Group’s vast lineup, and when it might appear.
Ultra-rare automobiles have a tendency to be scooped up by speculators hoping to turn a buck. Manufacturers hate this, as they see none of that sweet, secondhand scratch — plus, the vehicles frequently end up as garage queens tucked away from the public eye. While a bit of a grimy move, it’s easy to understand why someone might be willing to fall from a manufacturer’s good graces so they can flip an already expensive automobile for several times what they paid.
Automakers have come up with interesting ways to circumvent the problem, often establishing hard limits on when a customer can resell a particularly in-demand model, but it never manages to stop it from happening entirely. However, Porsche CEO Oliver Blume thinks he has a novel solution — one that we’re a bit torn on.
Hoping to minimize development costs, Volkswagen Group and Ford Motor Co. recently forged an automotive alliance. Collaborative projects officially include commercial vans and pickup trucks, though the duo are also said to be working together on electric and autonomous vehicle development. Unfortunately, trouble in pinning down the details has slightly soured the relationship.
Through the alliance, Ford could make use of VW’s MEB platform, aiding its plan to roll out a myriad of electric cars in the coming years, while Volkswagen would have access to the Blue Oval’s autonomous unit, Argo AI. But the Germans reportedly aren’t interested in paying what Ford’s asking.
Following its diesel emissions scandal, Volkswagen leaned hard into electrification. The automaker needed to look environmentally conscious after being caught cheating on emissions tests, and promising a glut of electric vehicles seemed like a good way to accomplish that goal. Of course, building EVs also allows companies to offset fleet-wide emissions — protecting the existence of highly profitable crossovers using the internal combustion engines that most people still prefer.
However, Volkswagen isn’t talking about chucking in a few zero-emission vehicles under its I.D. sub-brand. Back in 2017, the automaker promised $84 billion for EV development after announcing an initial investment of $10 billion. VW Group subsidiaries like Audi and Porsche are busy readying electrics of their own. While incredibly ambitious, the swift change in direction means Volkswagen is effectively gambling with its future.
Having already spruced up the standard TT over the summer, Audi is now ready to unveil lightly refreshed versions of the TT RS and TT RS Roadster. The brand basically needs to tide its customers over until the model undergoes a more comprehensive update or is replaced by something else.
That’s not all bad. While a bit expensive, the standard TT is an excellent driver’s car that’s also practical enough to live with as an everyday runabout if you’re flexible enough. That’s doubly true for the RS version, but its 400-hp 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine ought to button up any complaints one might associate with owning something approaching supercar levels of performance.
Volkswagen is currently on a quest to prove electrification is the true path forward for automobiles. However, it’s not doing this by releasing production plug-ins with robust battery ranges. Instead, it’s taking its electric racer to the Nordschleife this summer after achieving total victory at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb last June.
The automaker wants to showcase the might of electric vehicles before it begins releasing them en mass from 2020 onwards. It’s even calling its ID R racer “the sporty ambassador” for an upcoming range of planned EVs.
“After the record on Pikes Peak, the fastest time for electric cars on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife is the next big challenge for the ID R,” said Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. “A lap record on the Nordschleife is a great accolade for any car, whether a race car or a production car.”
IAV GmbH, the German engineering company co-owned by Volkswagen Group, plead guilty to a felony count of conspiracy in a U.S. District Court on Friday, to the surprise of absolutely no one. Last month, authorities said the firm had already agreed to a guilty plea and multi-million-dollar fine for its role in helping Volkswagen Group develop software that could effectively help cars falsify emissions test results.
That makes the courtroom officiation little more than a formality. While the court wants to conducts a probationary investigation, effectively delaying sentencing until May 22nd, there is little doubt what the final penalty will be — $35 million and two years of operation under the supervision of a court-appointed monitor.
It’s a brand showcased in countless music videos over the past two decades, but that doesn’t mean it features very highly in owner Volkswagen Group’s good books.
British ultra-luxury marque Bentley was just given a dressing down by its strict German guardians, told to shape up and start making money or face the consequences. The stern ultimatum came from the Piech and Porsche families, the auto group’s majority shareholders.
While the parents of the parent group didn’t spell out what would happen if Bentley doesn’t turn over a new leaf in the next one to two years, it’s looking like the brand could find itself in a basket on the front steps of an orphanage.
Having already set a lap record for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this year, Volkswagen’s I.D. R has served the company well. Intended to showcase the brand’s might in electrification, the blisteringly fast R is as much a purpose-built track car as it is a marketing tool, and its long-term plans involve setting more records.
For 2019, VW wants to set a new lap record at the Nürburgring. Officially, the German automaker is only interested in defeating the Nio EP9’s record for electric vehicles. But we know that the I.D. R is a forced to be reckoned with. An overall victory would not be beyond the realm of possibilities and Volkswagen knows it.
Porsche unveiled the 992 Series of the 911 at the LA Auto Show this past week, providing a model that ought to keep the brand’s most-ardent with little to complain about. The 2020 model year hasn’t reinvented the 911 so much as it has refined it — adding power to the pre-existing 3.0-liter flat six via a new intercooler, turbochargers, and other upgraded components, while also injecting premium features like pop-out door handles and a larger center touchscreen.
Porsche even left room for an electric motor in PDK-equipped variants but a hybrid model 911 was nowhere to be seen in Los Angeles. That’s because the manufacturer doesn’t seem sold on the idea of such a vehicle — a little odd considering they developed the 922 Series specifically to allow for hybrid implementation. Then again, sometimes it pays to hedge your bets.
After some healthy automotive foreplay, Audi finally took the wraps off its new e-tron GT Concept at the LA Auto Show. Offering the best elements of the brand’s design language, the vehicle previews a production model that’s scheduled to appear late in 2020, as well as Porsche’s upcoming Taycan EV — which will share the Audi’s drivetrain and platform.
Relatively handsome, if you like Audi sedans and oversized grilles on electric cars, the GT avoids getting overly ambitious with the futuristic styling we see on a lot of mainstream EVs. We’d call this “extremely modern” rather than some truly visionary design you’d expect from a concept car. It’s safe but not so safe that anyone should be left fretting.
However, it’s not quite the Tesla destroyer the media is eternally hunting for. Despite boasting some impressive specifications, the e-tron is roughly on par with the Model S when viewed broadly. But it should still make for healthy competition while encouraging the American brand to step up its game.
Audi has confirmed its design team has finished applying the finishing touches on the company’s first-ever Q4. Its job will be to tackle the increasingly popular subcompact luxury crossover segment populated by the likes of the Range Rover Evoque and Mercedes-Benz GLA. As such, the German brand will provide its customers with a vehicle that’ll assuredly be marketed as an adventure-ready SUV while still being a luxury-focused tech buffet that handles like a sports car and looks phenomenal.
It’s an interesting situation. Despite the industry’s fierce determination to make premium sedans and SUVs ever more “coupe-like,” nobody seems to be selling legitimate coupes anymore. You don’t see that much with other products. Sporks exist because companies didn’t want to pay to stock twice as many eating utensils, not because people were clamoring for a fork-like spoon.
That might not be a fair comparison, though. While everyone hates the spork, only a small subset of jaded automotive journalists and driving purists feel like crossover vehicles are an unfair compromise. The rest of the population seems to adore them, at least according to the sales statistics, and Audi is trying to tap into everything that’s hot right now with the Q4.
While Volkswagen’s diesel emission fiasco has died down in the United States, costing the automaker billions before going achieving dormancy, the legal fires burn brightly in Europe. On November 14th, a German court ruled that VW must reimburse the owner of a Golf the full price of the vehicle from when it was purchased in 2012. The decision sets a new precedent, possibly opening the firm to additional expenses via buybacks.
However, Volkswagen AG has claimed around 9,000 judgements have already been made relating to the diesel emissions scandal — most of which resulted in customer complaints being unsupported by district and higher courts. “In our opinion, there is no legal basis for customer complaints [in Europe]. Customers have suffered neither losses nor damages. The vehicles are safe and roadworthy,” VW said.
Lamborghini has talked a lot about electrification over the last few years, remaining careful never to commit to anything. While meager production rates seriously limit the environmental impact of its vehicles, the Italian automaker is nonetheless subject to the same pressure to go green as larger brands. Almost a decade ago, the brand vowed to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of its vehicles by roughly one third while simultaneously covering the factory roof with solar panels. It later hinted it might implement widespread turbocharging, much like Ferrari, or go the electrification route.
The greenwashing trend continues today, likely encouraged by Lamborghini’s suddenly eco-conscious parent, Volkswagen. Facing an important crossroad, and surrounded by regulatory and environmental pressures, the company has chosen its path. While Lamborghini’s Stefano Domenicali still seems gently apprehensive, the CEO claims plug-in hybrids will be the best way forward for the brand.
Volkswagen Group has been hyping its upcoming all-electric lineup for a while, with the Type 2-inspired Buzz Concept serving as an impromptu mascot for the company’s new I.D. brand. However, we had hoped VW would rename some of the concepts once production models hit the scene, maybe even tapping into its heritage. While the I.D. Buzz, Crozz, and Vizzion provide a cohesive naming strategy, we’ve heard better automotive handles before.
It seems as if the automaker is inclined to agree. Unfortunately, rather than come up with a new set of names, Volkswagen appears to be trademarking a series of alphanumeric titles. We’re not going to pretend that VW has the best-named lineup in the industry but it would have been nice to see them try something new, rather than fall into the same trap nearly every other premium nameplate and EV manufacturer has.
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