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…)

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 July 1, 2020

German prosecutors have incorporated Continental into a probe aimed at determining whether Volkswagen Group cheated on emissions testing. While confessing to the crime in the United States years earlier is a fairly good indication of corporate guilt, Germany wants to make extra sure VW was in the wrong and has branched out its investigation to include suppliers that may have played a role.

On Wednesday, the automaker acknowledged it had been subjected to yet another probe after investigators arrived to comb through its offices. The same treatment was given to supplier Continental, which is suspected of having some sort of involvement in a scandal the automotive industry can’t quite seem to move on from.  (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 May 26, 2020

Volkswagen’s emission-related malfeasance was promptly identified and dealt with in the United States. The company was accused of using suspect software to game testing scores on diesel-equipped models in 2015. By October of 2016, VW was on the hook for a $15.6 billion financial penalty, in addition to mandatory fixes or buybacks on affected vehicles.

Things progressed differently on the European front. Germany has subjected the manufacturer to numerous investigations, ultimately deciding to fine the firm $1.18 billion in 2018 and enact widespread recalls. Civil suits have largely focused on VW’s legal representatives denying the software had any ill intent, claiming it was simply code that mistakenly allowed the cars to become non-compliant with regulatory limits. This didn’t fly, however, with a gigantic UK lawsuit finding the automaker guilty of intentionally misleading customers in April.

This week, VW lost another important legal battle in Germany when the Bundesgerichtshof found it guilty of cheating on emissions testing years earlier. The Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe decided disenfranchised diesel van owner Herbert Gilbert was entitled to a €28,000 payday, setting a precedent for thousands of other claimants seeking revenge.  (Read More…)

By on April 28, 2020

A laundry list of options from the Porsche 911 Turbo S have trickled down to the rest of the 992 Series, plus a few new inclusions aimed at making daily commutes more livable.

The biggest get has to be the expanded availability of the seven-speed manual, but that’s thus far reserved for European customers who still prefer be-clutched vehicles in greater numbers than we do. Still, don’t panic just yet. Porsche hinted in the past that the U.S.-spec Carrera S and 4S models would also be made available with manual options later on.

If it works out like it’s supposed to in Europe, optioning your prospective 911 with the Sport Chrono package opens it up to the no-cost option of choosing either the PDK dual-clutch or seven-speed stick. You’ll also get the associated track goodies, plus a new tire temperature display and some updated ambient lighting options.  (Read More…)

By on April 22, 2020

Running a little behind in its electric vehicle program, Volkswagen plans to resume production of its battery-powered ID.3 hatchback this Thursday. This is part of its revised strategy aimed at helping the company endure the bleak outlook created by coronavirus countermeasures that upended the global economy.

Like most automakers, VW will be on the hook for sizable fines in Europe if it fails to improve fleet-wide emissions this year, and it’s now losing cash as factories remain shuttered and consumers hone their social distancing skills.

With the latter problem almost completely out of its grasp, Volkswagen is focusing on making sure the ID.3 lands on the market this summer — even if that means rushing it out the door in a less-than-ideal state. Back in February, it was reported that the model suffered from a glut of software issues (an oddly common issue with the brand’s pre-production EVs) that could force VW to delay the ID.3’s launch. That apparently won’t be an issue, as it’s just going to run with whatever code it has at the ready.  (Read More…)

By on April 22, 2020

Volkswagen may be a mainstream brand, but it’s difficult to criticize when it comes to the polish of its products. Regardless of how long their individual components actually last under sustained usage, climbing into a VW model frequently gives the impression that you’ve found yourself inside a quality item. If that’s all it took to make a great car, VW would be king of the scrap heap every year. Yet people tend to demand a lot from their vehicle, including performance, and that’s an area where the automaker often falters.

Going up in trim on a Volkswagen rarely includes a burlier powertrain. The brand is all about rightsizing the basics in the U.S., leaving the options list for technological enhancements and all-wheel drive. There’s also an expansive R-Line trim, but its upgrades are mostly cosmetic, offering the style of a performance trim with nothing to back it up. If you want real thrills from the manufacturer, you’d best select a Golf model with the GTI or R suffix.

What if you don’t want a modestly sized hatchback, though? It’s not like there will ever be a compact crossover equivalent, as VW promised the GTI name would remain exclusive to small, peppy economy cars back in 2017. Could an automaker go back on its word? Provided there’s sufficient time between promises made, of course it can.  (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 6, 2020

Like most legacy automakers, Volkswagen is casually walking back promises of electrification. As with self-driving cars, the technology behind new-energy vehicles is taking longer to mature than the industry would like. Meanwhile, the market — skewed as it is toward larger models — has been about as cooperative as a sugared-up child come bedtime.

Despite governments around the world incentivizing the sale of EVs, they’re still but a fraction of whole.

With the pandemic undoubtedly discouraging consumers from purchasing big-ticket items, electric vehicle sales aren’t presumed to make a lot of headway in 2020, either. We recently learned that some of the promises made by Ford and General Motors in regard to electrification were overblown by corporate messaging. In truth, they both plan on remaining heavily dependent upon truck and crossover sales for several more years.

However, Volkswagen seemed to be betting everything it had on battery technology. In the wake of its 2015 diesel emission scandal, VW was one of the first companies to promise widespread electrification by suggesting it would build one million EVs by 2023 — with 70 new green models introduced by 2029. The past year has seen the automaker issue qualifying remarks that leave us feeling dubious about its end goal.   (Read More…)

By on March 17, 2020

With reports of factory shutdowns now being the norm, Volkswagen and Toyota have predictably decided to idle facilities in Europe to mitigate the negative influence of the novel coronavirus. VW Group had already made plans to temporarily close assembly lines in Italy, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain. But said that the entirety of Europe will probably be affected this month.

Toyota was singing a similar song on Tuesday morning, saying it would suspend production in France and Portugal this week. Considering the sameness of these virus-related cancelations, we’ll not bore you with any recaps — you know how we got here. Instead, here’s the gist of the manufacturers’ respective strategies:  (Read More…)

By on March 16, 2020

Volkswagen Group’s transition toward electric vehicles has been no secret. Since getting busted with software designed to defeat emissions testing five years ago, the manufacturer has trumpeted the merits of electrification at every opportunity. Still, some continue to wonder how an EV-dominant world will work, expressing concerns that peak charging hours could stress national energy grids past the breaking point.

One proposed solution is to use the connectivity available in modern cars to take power from the grid only when surplus energy is available, while feeding electricity back into it during peak draw hours. Michael Jost, VW’s head of product strategy, said this was something the automaker has been working on.  (Read More…)

By on February 28, 2020

German consumer group VZBV has reached an agreement in its class-action lawsuit against Volkswagen over the use of illegal software intended to cheat emissions testing. The settlement amounts to 830 million euros (roughly $912 million USD). While not nearly as sizable as what U.S. customers received in their settlement, it’s what VW believes its European customers deserved. Citing a breakdown in negotiations with VZBV earlier this year, the automaker said it was willing to offer €830 million and wasn’t interested in shelling out any extra for litigation attorneys who allegedly wanted €50 million for handling the case.

The manufacturer seems to have gotten its way, though we doubt VW considers shelling out another billion to handle a five-year-old scandal a major victory. (Read More…)

By on February 27, 2020

Volkswagen gave the 2021 Golf GTI some uninterrupted time in the spotlight by debuting it ahead of the Geneva International Motor Show. While VW kept plenty of details under wraps, the important items were on display. Pay close attention, as this may be one of the few Golf models we receive in the United States and Canada.

Around these parts, the take rate for VW’s performance hatchbacks (GTI and Golf R) is far greater than that of the economy model, and it seems the manufacturer finally took notice. The manufacturer has yet to confirm anything at this point, but all signs point to GTI becoming the base trim inside the U.S.

In Euro-spec form, that means 245 horsepower and 273 pound-feet coming out of a predictable 2.0-liter turbo. That’s a sizable bump over last year’s 228 hp and 258 lb-ft and, assuming the GTI hasn’t packed on the pounds for the 2021 model year, it should yield noticeable performance gains.  (Read More…)

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