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 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.

(Read More…)

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.

(Read More…)

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…)

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…)

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