By on December 2, 2020

Do you ever get the feeling that everything even remotely fun and interesting is being thrown on the pyre of progress so we can collectively live safer, duller lives? Case in point, Volkswagen is dismantling its racing operations so the 169 people it employed can be reincorporated. Responsible for the all-electric Volkswagen ID.R racer that showcased some of the performance advantages of EVs to attentive audiences around the globe, the team will now be responsible for building ID models intended for mass consumption.

While we’re sure spreading their engineering prowess around will benefit VW’s core brand, it’s unfortunate that it came at the expense of the brand’s motorsport activities — modest as they might have been in 2020.

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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.

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By on October 30, 2020

With so many automotive issues being “solved” with a software update and a wink of late, its nice to see a recall that harks back to the days where someone forgot to tighten a few bolts or had a delivery truck pull up to the factory with sub-optimal fasteners. According to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Volkswagen has found itself in just such a pickle and will need to recall 218,192 Jetta sedans from the 2016-2018 model years.

The problem? Improperly torqued fuel rail bolts. The solution? Obvious.

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By on October 8, 2020

With Porsche having secured itself an all-electric vehicle, the laws of trickle-down manufacturing dictate that Audi is the next on Volkswagen Group’s docket for performance-focused electrification. Using the J1 performance platform that underpins Porsche’s Taycan, the Ingolstadt-based automaker has reported that its own E-Tron GT is nearing completion  assuring us that it’ll will meet the bar in terms of “quality and progressiveness” in a handful of announcements on Thursday.

Probably the most important of these was that Audi would be ready to commence production at the end of this year at Böllinger Höfe, near Neckarsulm, alongside the R8. However the company leaked a few additional details, including that the E-Tron (which the brand stylizes in all lower-case letters, bleh) will come in an RS variant. (Read More…)

By on October 1, 2020

Pope Lamborghini

More evidence has surfaced that Volkswagen Group may be on the cusp of relieving itself of some of its less-profitable subsidiaries. Following news of a November board meeting that would help decide the fate of numerous ultra-premium brands, rumor has it that VW is currently working out ways to give Lamborghini more autonomy and open the door for supply deals that could foreshadow it being listed on the stock market.

Additionally, the automaker’s supervisory board has already reportedly met to discuss the future of Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, and its Ducati motorcycle arm. Discussions were said to include how to electrify the more sporting nameplates via industrial partnerships and procuring investment dollars. Some of these deals are already in the early stages, according to Reuters, with a possible IPO for the Italian supercar brand alleged to be moving forward at the time of this writing.

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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.

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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.

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By on August 27, 2020

vw

While North America isn’t receiving Volkswagen’s ID.3, it might have been for the best. The car launched with software glitches that made certain tech functions inoperable and probably wasn’t suited for our market, anyway, according to the manufacturer. But the ID.4 (formerly ID Crozz) crossover is coming here, and promises to deliver a pleasant electric-driving experience and a range of up to 310 miles — assuming you bought the right package and are familiar with the European WLTP cycle.

Volkswagen also wants to use the model to test its new customer experience initiative, which allows shoppers to make reservations online. While the pandemic has encouraged the industry to do more of its business over the internet, the reservation trend was becoming popular ever since carmakers learned that such fees for in-demand models could preemptively line their pockets with cash.

Originally, this was done to ensure customers were serious about buying models produced in limited supplies, or as a way to help startups fund their production efforts ahead of time. It’s now become fairly common, as everyone seems to understand the scam program. In a virtual press conference Thursday, Volkswagen said it would allow parties to reserve the ID.4 next month for a $100 deposit. Duncan Movassaghi, vice president of VW Sales and Marketing, claimed it was the best solution for dealers — and was in line with how people have to live their lives during COVID-19. (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 August 6, 2020

On Thursday, Munich-based prosecutors announced the indictment of four more ex-Audi managers in relation to Volkswagen Group’s infamous diesel emission scandal. This follows the charges brought against former CEO Rupert Stadler and a handful of Audi staffers in 2018.

The latest indictment involves three former board members and one department head who has since retired. Prosecutors stated the alleged crimes relate to 434,420 cars manufactured by VW Group brands which we already know where sold with trick software designed to circumvent emissions testing, according to Reuters and German outlet Handelsblatt. However, the grand total of vehicles suspected to be in violation of regulatory law are suggested to be closer to 11 million globally.

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By on July 31, 2020

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.

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By on July 21, 2020

A legal dispute between South Korean battery manufacturers could force Volkswagen Group and Ford Motor Co. to deal with surprise supply shortages, according to documents filed with the U.S. International Trade Commission.

The industrial duo had hoped to see SK Innovation produce batteries at a planned factory site in Georgia to supply the deluge of electric vehicles both have planned. However, courtroom drama between SK Innovation and LG Chem has complicated the matter.

The South Korean battery firms are currently involved in a bitter legal battle. SKI is being sued by LG over claims of industrial espionage in the United States, with the plaintiff demanding SK Innovation not be allowed to manufacturer equipment there. This isn’t the first time the duo have butted heads, either. They seem to really hate each other, and each appears willing to do whatever it takes to gain an advantage over the other. Ford and VW have warned that the situation puts them both at risk of supply shortages during a period where reliable battery supplies are already difficult to come by.  (Read More…)

By on July 17, 2020

Fisker Inc.

Henrik Fisker, CEO of Fisker Inc., has announced a deal reached with Volkswagen that allows him to use the German company’s MEB architecture to build the all-electric Ocean crossover. While it seems like the platform is going to turn up everywhere before long, the deal hasn’t actually been made official.

Neither Fisker nor VW feels comfortable saying the arrangement had been finalized.

But that couldn’t contain Henrik’s excitement. The Fisker Inc. founder was on social media this week proclaiming the upcoming Ocean would start at just $29,999. Mathematicians will notice this is less than $30,000 and actually pretty damn cheap for an electric crossover, especially one that’s supposed to contain so much luxury and sustainability (the latest in a long line of empty terms used by the industry). The series of 9s at the end of Fisker’s proposed pricing should have tipped you off that there might be some light shenanigans afoot.  (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 8, 2020

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.

(Read More…)

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