By on March 29, 2021

Volkswagen is either hellbent on destroying its brand appeal or we appear to be on the receiving end of an early April Fools’ prank because there’s a rumor going around that the automaker is going to be changing its name to “Voltswagen” to better encapsulate what an absolute cringe festival it has become.

Known best for offering unassuming but exceptionally nice to drive automobiles with styling that ages rather well, Volkswagen has been bending over backward to present itself as an EV manufacturer that’s chasing down all the latest trends. But your author is convinced that the initial feedback will be so overwhelmingly negative, VW will ultimately make some excuse and fall back to highlighting its more traditional aspects.  (Read More…)

By on March 26, 2021

VW Microbus I.D. Buzz Concept

Remember the all-electric Microbus successor Volkswagen was chirping about a few years ago? If you don’t, you can be forgiven. Despite the model receiving loads of press after the automaker acknowledged it would indeed be coming to North America, reports on its progress started becoming incredibly rare by 2019. With #VanLife trending inside the United States, VW would be an absolute fool not to start offering something trendy to fit the bill and the horribly named I.D. Buzz seems an ideal candidate. However, it feels as though the company has forgotten our market while it preps the model for Europe.

There’s reportedly no reason to worry. Volkswagen has confirmed that the model will be showing up on our shores in 2023 after it’s made a splash across the pond. But there will be a few stipulations.  (Read More…)

By on March 22, 2021

Despite Volkswagen having snatched away MEB development duties planned for SEAT, it’s apparently happy to give the Spanish brand an opportunity to head projects for the MEB-Lite platform for the majority of VW Group. The resulting vehicles should all be compact battery electric or hybrid cars, and potentially very low in fat, sugar, or carbs based on the agreed-upon naming conventions.

Better still, Volkswagen has claimed these vehicles should begin arriving by 2025 yielding MSRPs below €20,000 — which is roughly $24,000 USD. We’re not willing to rule anything out for our market, especially given the segment is relatively new. But North America isn’t prone to receiving exceptionally small European imports, so don’t hold you’re breath if you happen to be living within the region and eager to buy an EV smaller than the I.D.4.

(Read More…)

By on March 15, 2021

As much as we’ve criticized American luxury brands for emulating the Germans, we’ve failed to do the same for Volkswagen Group’s pathetic attempts at copying Tesla. That changes with Monday’s announcement that VW will assemble six “gigafactories” in Europe by 2030. Shared on “Power Day” — the company’s bastardized version of Tesla’s Battery Day — the plan is supposed to result in a production capacity of 240 GWh annually when completed and help VW reduce battery costs while also securing access.

It’s not a half-bad plan for a company entirely devoted to electrification, which is probably why Tesla follows a similar model using nearly identical terminology. Though, considering the absolute mess Volkswagen seems to have made of its EV transmission thus far, some might find it difficult to blame the automaker for looking at the competition and breaking out the notepad.

Others will be less sympathetic while acknowledging this is probably VW’s best play if it’s serious about EVs.  (Read More…)

By on March 10, 2021

Volkswagen’s strategy chief since 2015, Michael Jost (59), has announced that he will be departing after more than a decade with the company. While the cynics among us will undoubtedly jump to conclusions about the botched launches of VW Group’s new EVs and the all-important Mk8 Golf, the man himself claimed that his primary reason for leaving is to ensure the wellbeing of his family.

Jost confessed via his website that he’s only been spending weekends with his kindred since 1996 and would ideally like to make that a full-time position. A year under COVID restrictions apparently made the man reassess his life, resulting in his decision to abandon his demanding role at VW.

(Read More…)

By on November 5, 2020

As the U.S. election devolves into deciding which political party committed the most fraud, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said a victory by Democrat Joe Biden would be the ideal outcome for any German automakers seeking to mass-produce electric cars. Hardly surprising, considering the Biden-Harris campaign website says it would regulate the dickens out of fossil fuels, moving aggressively toward alternative energy sources and electrification while pressing other nations to do the same.

“A Democratic program probably would be more aligned with our worldwide strategy, which is really to fight climate change, to become electric,” the CEO told Bloomberg on Thursday.

(Read More…)

By on September 30, 2020

Volkswagen Group, the largest automotive manufacturer in the world, is reexamining its relationship with high-performance subsidiaries as it continues pouring money into electrification. Burned by a diesel emissions scandal of its own making half a decade ago, VW leadership now views electric cars as the only path forward  especially in regard to its more mainstream brands. While they aren’t getting identical treatments, VW, Audi, Seat, and Skoda are all presumed to be adding EVs to their production lines over the next few years.

Porsche’s long-term strategy also seems heavily dependent on battery power, but the road ahead is much less clear for ultra-premium brands like Lamborghini and Bugatti. With volumes and lineups order of magnitudes smaller than the core brands, Volkswagen would be incurring a gigantic expense to develop upper-echelon performance EVs that might not appeal to their existing fans. The same goes for upscale motorcycle brand Ducati as the two-wheeled world has become divided on electric and gas-powered bikes. Volkswagen’s management board and directors have decided the situation calls for an all-hands meeting in November to decide what should be done and how to remain financially prudent in a period of economic strife.

(Read More…)

By on September 17, 2020

Bugatti Chiron speed attempt

Croatian supercar firm Rimac Automobili is reportedly in the process of acquiring Bugatti from Volkswagen. While rumors had been swirling that VW might offload a few of its brands in a bid to focus on electrification and emissions compliance, this is is the first time we’ve heard credible rumblings about real action being taken.

Considering the space Rimac occupies, adding the formerly French Bugatti brand also makes some amount of sense. We’d be a lot more skeptical if founder Mate Rimac was alleged to be making a move on SEAT because he suddenly found a passion for designing economy cars. But the prospective tie-up is more complicated than it seems at first blush. Volkswagen Group’s Porsche actually owns a 15-percent stake in Rimac so it can tap into some of its sweetest technical equipment for the purpose of building EVs.

(Read More…)

By on August 13, 2020

We don’t have to tell you that organizations will frequently go to great lengths to protect themselves, sometimes pursuing unseemly tactics. German investigators are now checking to see if that extends to instances of murder after the body of a suspended Volkswagen employee was found in a burned-out automobile on Monday.

Prosecutors in Braunschweig announced Wednesday that they are looking into the matter, hoping to determine whether or not links exist to a dispute between VW Group and Bosnian supplier Prevent. Volkswagen claimed it was “the victim of an illegal eavesdropping attack” after someone recorded its plans to end its relationship with the parts supplier. Dozens of covert recordings, believed to have been taken by a male staffer, chronicled the process between 2017 and the start of 2018.

Authorities now worry the person found in the burned vehicle may have been their man. (Read More…)

By on July 15, 2020

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. (Read More…)

By on July 7, 2020

Volkswagen Group appears to have completed the terms laid out by the U.S. Department of Justice after it decided the automaker required some oversight in the wake of the 2015 emissions fiasco (colloquially known as Dieselgate). VW was found guilty of equipping certain models with emissions-cheating software that would allow the car to run cleaner under testing conditions (passing regulations) and dirtier, with better performance, the rest of the time.

The con was brilliant and allowed VW to fool regulators for years until it all blew up in its face. Getting caught in the United States kicked off a chain reaction that cost the automaker a fortune globally. In May, VW estimated it had spent €31.3 billion ($34.40 billion USD) in fines and settlements and fines globally — adding that it expects to bleed another €4.1 billion through 2021. But the company was certainly happy to announce on Monday that it had adhered to settlement deal it reached with the Department of Justice and California’s Attorney General.  (Read More…)

By on June 16, 2020

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.  (Read More…)

By on June 4, 2020

Volkswagen Group is moving Porsche CEO Oliver Blume over to the core brand, necessitating a broader employment shift within the company to ensure other nameplates aren’t left without leadership. German outlet Auto Motor und Sport indicated earlier in the week that a management shakeup was afoot that would see Blume take over the VW brand in order for group head Herbert Diess to focus on managing the bigger picture.

Blume is rumored to have been tapped to help the company address rampant issues with its upcoming electric vehicles. If you’ll recall, VW has struggled with software issues and production holdups for some time. Last we checked, VW’s plan was to launch the ID.3 with less-than-ideal computer code that it intends to fix later.

Sounds like a bad one.  (Read More…)

By on April 15, 2020

Image: Porsche AG

Now that Porsche has committed to Volkswagen Group’s plan for widespread electrification and manufactured its first purpose-built EV, many are starting to make comparisons with Tesla. Like it or not, Porsche’s Taycan is probably the closest competition the Tesla Model S has.

Porsche’s R&D boss, Michael Steiner, doesn’t like the comparison, saying any direct juxtapositions are apples to oranges — even if Tesla’s recent attempts to call out Porsche’s newest model seem contrary to this. (Read More…)

By on April 10, 2020

Chattanooga Factory Volkswagen Neighborhood Talent Pipeline

Volkswagen is furloughing around 1,500 assembly workers in Chattanooga, TN. Production is being idled on account of the coronavirus, making VW just one of many brands enacting a temporary shutdown. While the number of employees affected varies between reports, VW-Chattanooga spokeswoman Amanda Plecas said around 2,500 employees will be furloughed on April 11th. The downtime is expected to last roughly four weeks.

“Our primary objective is to protect the financial health of Volkswagen for the benefit of our team as we address the emerging and ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak on our industry,” Tom du Plessis, president and CEO of Volkswagen Chattanooga, said in a statement. “Right now we have limited visibility on when we will be able to resume production, but we are committed to doing everything we can to preserve jobs. During this time we will be intensely focused on preparing to reopen in a responsible way, ensuring our team has the opportunity to return to work safely and as quickly as practicable.” (Read More…)

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