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  1. Since Volkswagen and Ford announced a new partnership back in the summer, there have been rumors flying around if it could expand into other areas. The two said it would primarily focus commercial vehicles, but they were open to other opportunities. As we reported last week, the two are discussing the possibility of expanding into autonomous tech and electric vehicles. Recently, Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess gave an interview to Automotive News. He reiterated that the focus of the partnership is for commercial vehicles, but could expand. “There’s nothing signed yet with Ford. We are in talks. Most of the talks have been centered around our light-duty vehicles — our small commercial vehicles business in Europe, where we found huge synergies. We are both relatively small in size against our peers, so what we’re talking about is sharing a few platforms and manufacturing sites there, which makes sense. And within the dialogue, we are also touching other options, but this will be the main focus if we come to a conclusion,” said Diess. One example Diess brought up is using the Ford Ranger as a replacement for the Volkswagen Amarok. The current truck has been on sale since 2010 with a range of diesel engines to compete against the likes of the Ranger, Toyota HiLux, and Nissan Navara. Developing a new model would cost a fair amount of cash that Volkswagen would like to use elsewhere. This is where Ford could in and allow Volkswagen to use the Ranger as a basis for a next-generation Amarok. This may allow Volkswagen to sell the Amarok in the U.S. Of course, there is also the Atlas Tanoak concept shown at the New York Auto Show earlier this year that Volkswagen is considering sending into production. “If the Ford relationship works out well, we would have an Amarok successor, which would be then appropriate for sales worldwide — potentially as well for the United States. The other option is a unibody pickup, which is something for America, which is probably still a bit risky,” said Diess. This is one of many decision that Volkswagen might make in the near future. Another is allowing Ford to use their MEB toolkit for electric vehicles. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  2. A new report from the German publication Handelsblatt says that Ford and Volkswagen are considering expanding their partnership "that stands to change the German industry.” The two are reportedly looking into working together on autonomous tech and electric vehicle development. There are a number of ideas under consideration between two. One example is for Volkswagem's Moia self-driving subsidiary to take a 50 percent stake into Ford’s Autonomous Vehicles LLC. In return, Volkswagen could share their MEB toolkit with Ford on electric vehicles. The expansion in the partnership could also see Volkswagen buying combustion engines from Ford in an effort to reduce investments into diesel engines. Why are the two considering this expansion? For one, it would allow the two companies to pool their efforts to catch up with various competitors such as Tesla and Waymo, while saving cash. It is also being seen as a survival tactic in certain markets. Ford is struggling in Europe and South America, while Volkswagen is having issues in North America. Volkswagen's supervisory board will be holding a meeting later this month to consider whether or not it will expand this partnership. Source: Handelsblatt Global
  3. When we drove the Volkswagen Atlas back in the summer, we liked the base turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder for the most part. Aside from noticeable turbo-lag, the engine provided decent oomph. But for 2019, Volkswagen is quietly reducing the number of models you can order with the turbo 2.0L. CarsDirect recently obtained the order guide for the 2019 Atlas and reports that the base S trim will be the only model available with the 2.0T. Previously, the SE and SEL could be ordered with the 2.0T. Volkswagen has also decided to drop V6 FWD configuration for the S. This means the mid-level SE is now the cheapest way to get the V6 FWD configuration - $36,490 vs. $35,090 for the S V6 AWD. Why is Volkswagen doing this? The most likely reason comes down to the four-cylinder version of the Atlas not really being available at dealers. If you wanted one, you had to order it straight from the factory. Source: CarsDirect
  4. Scott Keogh, Audi of America's president will soon have a new job come November 1st. He will become CEO of Volkswagen Group's North American operations, taking over Hinrich Woebcken who held the position since April 2016. This is a big deal since Keogh will be the first American to hold the top position for Volkswagen's North America branch in 25 years. Keogh has an impressive track record at Audi when he joined in 2006 as their chief marking officer. He would play a key role in boosting the awareness of the brand. In 2012, he was named president and would preside over one of the longest sales streaks that continues to this day. His new assignment is going to be tough. As Automotive News points out, Volkswagen dealers have the " lowest profit margins of any brand in the U.S." A number of Volkswagen dealers also struggle with customer service. Keogh has worked on both at Audi, helping dealers improve profits and boosting customer satisfaction - vaulting itself into the top three. “Hinrich J. Woebcken has brought the Volkswagen brand back on track for success in the U.S. and the North American region. Considering the challenging conditions, these achievements deserve my dedicated recognition. After the successful comeback of the Volkswagen brand, Scott Keogh, who led Audi to excellence in the U.S., will build upon the momentum and implement the next stage in the growth strategy as we continue to develop Volkswagen into a more relevant player in North America,“ said Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen AG in a statement. Woebcken will be sticking around Volkswagen as an adviser. Keogh's replacement at Audi will be Mark Del Rosso, currently the head of Bentley's Aamerican division. Source: Volkswagen, Automotive News (Subscription Required) SCOTT KEOGH NAMED HEAD OF VOLKSWAGEN GROUP OF AMERICA Hinrich J. Woebcken remains available to the company as an adviser Mark Del Rosso, head of Bentley Motors Inc., Americas, named president of Audi of America HERNDON, Va. (October 10, 2018) – Scott Keogh, head of Audi of America, was named president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America as well as head of the Volkswagen brand for the North American region. Keogh, who joined Audi in 2006, will succeed Hinrich J. Woebcken, who led the successful transformation of Volkswagen in North America. Woebcken will remain with the company as an adviser. Keogh’s successor is Mark Del Rosso, president and CEO of Bentley Motors, Inc., Americas, and former chief operating officer of Audi of America. Keogh and Woebcken's new roles are effective Nov. 1. Del Rosso joins Audi Dec. 1. A replacement for Del Rosso will be named later. Keogh, 49, joined Audi as chief marketing officer, where he led the revival of the Audi brand with innovative marketing tactics that lead to record awareness and brand strength. In 2012, he was appointed president, building on the momentum to help reach record customer satisfaction levels and double sales from 2010 to 2015. Woebcken, 58, an industrial engineer by training, was named CEO of the newly created North America region of the Volkswagen brand in January 2016 and then president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. He began his career with Krauss-Maffei in 1985. After holding positions in sales and marketing, he became managing director responsible for sales, marketing and after-sales with Dürr AG in 1997, before joining BMW as head of technical purchasing in 2004. Before joining VW, he was BMW's senior vice president, driving dynamics, and a member of the board of management at Knorr-Bremse AG. He will continue to be available to the company in the North American region as senior executive strategy adviser. “Hinrich J. Woebcken has brought the Volkswagen brand back on track for success in the U.S. and the North American region. Considering the challenging conditions, these achievements deserve my dedicated recognition," said Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen AG. "After the successful comeback of the Volkswagen brand, Scott Keogh, who led Audi to excellence in the U.S., will build upon the momentum and implement the next stage in the growth strategy as we continue to develop Volkswagen into a more relevant player in North America.“ Del Rosso, 54, is a graduate of the University of Southern California and an experienced marketing and sales executive with extensive expertise in the premium sector. He started his career with Toyota Motor Sales in 1991, holding various senior corporate and regional positions throughout the U.S. for Lexus and Toyota. In 2008, he became executive vice president, COO of Audi of America and was appointed president and CEO of Bentley Motors, Inc., Americas in 2017.
  5. Volkswagen was originally planning to roll out the Arteon in the U.S. towards the end of this year. But complications stemming from the European Union's Worldwide Harmonized Light-Duty Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) has caused the German automaker to push back the launch to early 2019. Automotive News reports that the first hint of the delay came when Volkswagen cancelled a media drive event in California that was scheduled for next month. A spokesman told the outlet the delay comes down to delays in the certification process caused by a backlog in meeting [new] WLTP worldwide emissions testing." Beginning this month, all new vehicles sold in the European Union must meet the new WLTP emissions parameters. But long delays in testing have meant that automakers only started receiving certification recently. This in turn has meant automakers are under immense pressure to keep an adequate supply of WLTP-compliant vehicles to dealers. The Arteon is one of those models and Volkswagen has made the decision to prioritize production for Europe for the time being. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)
  6. About a year ago, European antitrust regulators became very suspicious that BMW, Daimler, and Volkswagen were involved in a longstanding automotive cartel that colluded on restricting certain emissions control devices for the market. Raids were carried out at various facilities, but nothing came out. That changed yesterday as the European Commission has opened a formal investigation. "The Commission is investigating whether BMW, Daimler and VW agreed not to compete against each other on the development and roll-out of important systems to reduce harmful emissions from petrol and diesel passenger cars," said Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, head of competition policy for the European Commission in a statement. "These technologies aim at making passenger cars less damaging to the environment. If proven, this collusion may have denied consumers the opportunity to buy less polluting cars, despite the technology being available to the manufacturers." The technologies in question include selective catalytic reduction systems that reduce the amount of nitrogen oxides from diesel cars, and "Otto" particulate filters that capture particulate emissions from gas vehicles. The commission also revealed the group discussed common requirements for car parts and testing procedures, though there isn't evidence to say if they were illegal or not. It is also mentioned that there was no evidence that the automakers coordinated in the use of defeat devices. Daimler and Volkswagen told Reuters they were cooperating with the commission. BMW said it would continue to support the authority of the commission. Source: Reuters, European Commission Antitrust: Commission opens formal investigation into possible collusion between BMW, Daimler and the VW group on clean emission technology Brussels, 18 September 2018 The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether BMW, Daimler and VW (Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche) colluded, in breach of EU antitrust rules, to avoid competition on the development and roll-out of technology to clean the emissions of petrol and diesel passenger cars. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: "The Commission is investigating whether BMW, Daimler and VW agreed not to compete against each other on the development and roll-out of important systems to reduce harmful emissions from petrol and diesel passenger cars. These technologies aim at making passenger cars less damaging to the environment. If proven, this collusion may have denied consumers the opportunity to buy less polluting cars, despite the technology being available to the manufacturers." In October 2017, the Commission carried out inspections at the premises of BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen and Audi in Germany as part of its initial inquiries into possible collusion between car manufacturers on the technological development of passenger cars. The Commission's in-depth investigation focusses on information indicating that BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche, also called the "circle of five", participated in meetings where they discussed inter alia the development and deployment of technologies to limit harmful car exhaust emissions. In particular, the Commission is assessing whether the companies colluded to limit the development and roll-out of certain emissions control systems for cars sold in the European Economic Area, namely: selective catalytic reduction ('SCR') systems to reduce harmful nitrogen oxides emissions from passenger cars with diesel engines; and 'Otto' particulate filters ('OPF') to reduce harmful particulate matter emissions from passenger cars with petrol engines. The in-depth investigation will aim to establish whether the conduct of BMW, Daimler and VW may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices, including agreements to limit or control technical development (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union). At this stage, the Commission has no indications that the parties coordinated with each other in relation to the use of illegal defeat devices to cheat regulatory testing. The Commission will carry out its in-depth investigation as a matter of priority. The opening of a formal investigation does not prejudge its outcome. Other topics discussed by the companies The Commission's formal investigation concerns solely the emissions control systems identified above. These were only some of the issues discussed by the "circle of five". Numerous other technical topics were discussed, including common quality requirements for car parts, common quality testing procedures or exchanges concerning their own car models that were already on the market. The "circle of five" also had discussions on the maximum speed at which the roofs of convertible cars can open or close, and at which the cruise control will work. Cooperation also extended to the area of crash tests and crash test dummies where the car companies pooled technical expertise and development efforts to improve testing procedures for car safety. At this stage the Commission does not have sufficient indications that these discussions between the "circle of five" constituted anti-competitive conduct that would merit further investigation. EU antitrust rules leave room for technical cooperation aimed at improving product quality. The Commission's in-depth investigation in this case concerns specific cooperation that is suspected to have aimed at limiting the technical development or preventing the roll-out of technical devices.
  7. The end of the Volkswagen Beetle is coming. Volkswagen announced last week that production of the iconic coupe and convertible will end next July at the company's Puebla, Mexico. Before the final curtain call, Volkswagen will be building a Final Edition version. Available as a either a coupe or convertible, the Final Edition will be available with two exclusive colors - Safari Uni and Stonewashed Blue. You can also get it in white, black, or grey if the exclusive colors don't interest you. Convertibles aside from those painted in Safari Uni will get a light brown top. A set of multi-spoke 17-inch wheels are standard on the SE, while 18-inch retro styled wheels come on the SEL. For the interior, the Final Edition comes with seats that have pleating. SE models come upholstered in a combination of leatherette and cloth, while the SEL makes do with leather. Power comes from the same 2.0L turbo-four found in other Beetles. It produces 174 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a six-speed automatic. Pricing for the 2019 Beetle Final Edition is as followed, SE Coupe: $23,940 SEL Coupe: $26,890 SE Convertible: $28,190 SEL Convertible: $30,890 Prices include a $895 destination charge. Source: Volkswagen Volkswagen Announces Beetle Final Edition Special models celebrate Beetle’s rich heritage as third-generation is set to end production in 2019 Herndon, VA (September 13, 2018) — Volkswagen of America, Inc. announced today that it will end production of the iconic Beetle in 2019. To celebrate the Beetle’s rich heritage, two special models will join the lineup for its last model year—Final Edition SE and Final Edition SEL. “The loss of the Beetle after three generations, over nearly seven decades, will evoke a host of emotions from the Beetle’s many devoted fans,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. “As we move to being a full-line, family-focused automaker in the U.S. and ramp up our electrification strategy with the MEB platform, there are no immediate plans to replace it. But as we have seen with the I.D. BUZZ—which is the modern and practical interpretation of the legendary Bus—I would also say, ‘Never say never.’ We’re excited to kick off a year of celebrating one of the true icons of the automotive world, with a series of events that will culminate in the end of production in Puebla in July 2019.” Available in coupe and convertible body styles, the Final Edition models include exclusive equipment and unique upscale décor elements designed to send the Beetle off in style. Models also draw inspiration from the first-generation Beetle’s final run in Mexico, where the vehicle is assembled. The 2003 Última Edición (last edition) models were only available in two colors—beige and light blue. Today’s Final Edition models will feature two unique colors: Safari Uni—a reinvention of Harvest Moon Beige, a color from the New Beetle—and Stonewashed Blue, a nod to the 1970 Jeans Bug and most recently seen on the 2016 Beetle Denim. Final Edition models are also available in Pure White, Deep Black Pearl, and Platinum Grey. Convertible Final Edition SEL models in every exterior color except Safari Uni are available with a unique Brown soft top. Final Edition coupe models feature standard chrome treatments like the Última Edición models, in addition to body-color side mirrors, heated washer nozzles (all standard features across the Beetle Convertible lineup), as well as a sunroof. Final Edition SEL models are equipped with Bi-Xenon® headlights with LED Daytime Running Lights (DRLs), LED taillights, and fog lights. All Final Edition models replace the typical “Turbo” badge on the tailgate with a “Beetle” badge. Unique wheels complete the exterior transformation of Beetle Final Edition models. Final Edition SE models feature 17-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with a 15-spoke design. Final Edition SEL models are shod with 18-inch white aluminum-alloy wheels in a disc design that is reminiscent of the Última Edición’s body-colored steel wheels fitted with chrome hubcaps and whitewall tires. Inside, all Final Edition models are equipped with standard KESSY® keyless access with push-button start, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel with unique “Beetle” clip, stainless steel pedal caps, Climatronic® automatic climate control, gloss black center console, a unique Safari Uni color dashpad with the classic kaeferfach glovebox or “Beetle bin” that harkens to the color-matched interior treatments in the Última Edición, and three-color ambient lighting. Final Edition SE models feature cloth and leatherette rhombus-pattern seats, while SEL models offer standard diamond-stitched leather seating surfaces. Final Edition SE models feature a Composition Media infotainment unit with a 6.3-inch capacitive touchscreen display, Bluetooth® technology for compatible devices, USB multimedia port, SiriusXM® radio (three-month trial subscription), Voice Control, and Volkswagen Car-Net® App-Connect smartphone integration. Final Edition SEL models upgrade to Discover Media infotainment with navigation, Car-Net Security & Service, and Guide & Inform, as well as Fender® Premium Audio. All 2019 Beetle models, both convertible and coupe, are powered a 2.0 liter TSI® engine that puts out 174 horsepower and 184 lb-ft of torque. All models are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and the EPA-estimated fuel economy rating is 26 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 29 mpg combined. To meet the demands of American drivers, all Beetle Final Edition models offer driver-assistance technology. SE models include standard Blind Spot Monitor Rear Traffic Alert. Final Edition SEL models add standard front and rear Park Distance Control. Pricing for the 2019 Beetle Final Edition coupe starts at $23,045 for SE models and $25,995 for SEL models. Beetle Convertible Final Edition pricing starts at $27,295 for SE models and $29,995 for SEL models. The destination charge for all Beetle models is an additional $895.
  8. Volkswagen put forth an ambitious plan to offer an electric version of each model it sells. The automaker set aside about 20 billion euros ($23 billion), but that will not be enough according CEO Herbert Diess. “The burden for our company, such as the cost of bringing to market electric cars, will be higher than expected,” Diess said in a interview with Volkswagen's internal newsletter, obtained by Bloomberg. “This is particularly so since some of our competitors have been making more progress.” Diess didn't give a new figure in the interview, but did say the company needs to "reduce expenses more to be able to invest in future technology and weather crises". Volkswagen has been working on improving its profitability since a 2016 labor pact and massive reorganization of its 12 brands. The Volkswagen brand has seen its profitability increase from 1.8 to 4.1 percent last year. But Diess said they need higher profits. “We need higher profits to finance our future. Four percent is a minimum, 5 percent to 6 percent allow for some future investments and with 7 percent to 8 percent we’re crisis-ready.” Source: Bloomberg (Subscription Required)
  9. A few weeks ago, I wrote a comparison test between the 2018 Mazda CX-9 and Volkswagen Atlas. It was a close fight, but the Atlas ended up being the victor as it proved to be the better all-around three-row crossover. I find myself comparing these two brands once again, this time with their compact crossovers. Like their larger brethren, the two models take different approaches. The Mazda CX-5 goes for something that provides a premium feel and exciting drive, while the Volkswagen Tiguan uses space and comfort as its guide. Which one of these crossovers Which one of these crossovers is right for you? Exterior Mazda’s design team believed evolution would be the right approach for the second-generation CX-5’s design and we have to agree. Taking the first-generation model, designers added more curves to the body, widened the front grille, and angled the front LED headlights. In what is becoming a very crowded class, the CX-5 stands tall, especially when wearing the optional Soul Red paint. Like the Atlas, the Volkswagen Tiguan’s shape can be explained as “looking like a bit of a square, but a posh square.” Little details such as the three-bar grille, LED daytime-running lights, and slightly bulging fenders help give the Tiguan a touch of class. The optional Habanero Orange Metallic paint color on my test vehicle does show Volkswagen is willing to step outside of its comfort zone. In terms of dimensions, the Tiguan is six inches longer in overall length and rides on a wheelbase that is 3.6-inches longer than the CX-5. Interior The Tiguan’s interior follows Volkswagen’s ethos of keeping it functional in terms of the design. It features simple dash and design touches such as a silver finish for various trim pieces. Volkswagen does make up for the boring design with an excellent layout of controls. For example, the climate control system is slightly angled upward to not only make it easier to reach, but also make it less of a hassle to look down and see the current settings. Material quality is average for this type of vehicle with a mix of hard and soft plastics. The front seats in the Tiguan SE offer a power recline and manual adjustments for fore/aft and height. I really liked the seats in the Tiguan as they provided excellent comfort and firmness for any trip distance. But the Tiguan really surprises in the back seat with head and legroom similar to what you’ll find on a full-size SUV. Passengers sitting back here can also move the seats back and forth, and recline to make themselves more comfortable. The long length of the Tiguan allows for a third-row seat. The seat is standard on front-wheel drive models and optional for all-wheel drive variants. The third-row should only be used for small kids as there is a minuscule amount of legroom. Another downside to the third-row is cargo space. The third-row causes a significant reduction in cargo space. With the third-row folded, it offers 4.6 cubic feet less than the two-row variant (33 vs. 37.6). Fold the second-row and the reduction becomes larger - 7.8 cubic feet. I would recommend skipping the third-row option if you opt for an AWD Tiguan. Like the exterior, the CX-5’s interior stands out. The dash shows Mazda’s effort on trying to make their interiors feel more like a luxury vehicle with sculpted contours, brushed aluminum, soft-touch plastics with a grain texture, and stitching on certain trim pieces. Compared to the Tiguan, the CX-5’s control layout is more spread out, making it somewhat difficult to find and reach certain controls. The Grand Touring tester featured power adjustments for both front seats. The seats will feel a bit too firm for some passengers, but I found them to be just right. It would have been awesome if Mazda provided ventilation for the front seats to bolster their premium ambitions. The CX-5’s back seat offers a decent amount of headroom for those under six-feet. Legroom is somewhat lacking when put against the competition. I found that my knees were almost touching the back side of the front seat. Cargo space is right in the middle with 30.9 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 59.6 when folded. Infotainment A seven-inch touchscreen featuring the Mazda Connect infotainment system and a rotary knob controller is standard on all CX-5s. Grand Touring models get navigation as standard, while the Touring gets it as an option. Mazda Connect is a mixed bag. The interface is beginning to look somewhat old due to the use of dark colors and a dull screen. Also, trying to figure out which parts of the system are touch-enabled becomes quite tedious as there is no way to tell except through trial and error. There is no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility, but I’m hoping the 2019 model will get it. For the Tiguan, Volkswagen offers three different infotainment systems ranging from 6.5 to 8-inches. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility come standard. The current Volkswagen infotainment system is one of the best thanks in part to snappy performance and a simple interface. You can do various smartphone gestures such as swiping to move around the system. One disappointment is the lack of any sort of haptic feedback when touching any of the shortcut buttons sitting on either side of the screen. We would also recommend keeping a cloth in the Tiguan as the glass surface for the infotainment system becomes littered with fingerprints. Like in the Atlas I reviewed a few weeks ago, the Tiguan experienced an issue with Apple CarPlay. Applications such as Google Music or Spotify running in CarPlay would freeze up. I could exit out to the CarPlay interface, but was unable to unfreeze the applications unless I restarted the vehicle. Resetting my iPhone solved this issue. Powertrain Under the CX-5’s hood is a 2.5L four-cylinder producing 187 horsepower and 186 pound-feet (up one from the 2017 model). Mazda has added cylinder deactivation for the 2018 model that allows the engine to run on just two cylinders to improve fuel efficiency. This is paired with a six-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. For the Tiguan, Volkswagen has dropped in a turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder engine producing 184 horsepower and 221 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive complete the package. With a higher torque figure and being available between 1,600 to 4,300 rpm, the Tiguan should leave the CX-5 in the dust. But at the stoplight drag race, the CX-5 bests the Tiguan thanks to a sharper throttle response and a steady stream of power. The Tiguan’s turbo-four gets hit with a double-whammy of turbo-lag and a somewhat confused eight-speed automatic transmission, making it feel anything but eager to get off the line. As speeds climb, the story changes. The Tiguan’s engine feels more willing to get moving whenever you need to make a pass or merge onto a freeway. The CX-5’s engine runs out of steam and you’ll need to really work it to get up to speed at a decent rate. Fuel Economy The EPA says the 2018 Mazda CX-5 AWD will return 24 City/30 Highway/26 Combined, while the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan AWD returns 21 City/27 Highway/23 Combined. Both models returned high fuel economy averages; the CX-5 return 28.5 while the Tiguan got 27.3 mpg during my week-long test. Both models were driven on mix of 60 percent city and 40 percent highway. Ride & Handling When I reviewed the 2017 Mazda CX-5, I said that it carried on the mantle of being a fun-to-drive crossover set by the first-generation. Driving on some of the back roads around Detroit, the CX-5 felt very agile and showed little body roll. The steering provides sharp responses and excellent weighting. The sporting edge does mean a firm ride, allowing some road imperfections to come inside. Not much road or wind noise comes inside. Volkswagen took a different approach with the Tiguan’s ride and handling characteristics. On rough roads, the Tiguan provides a very cushioned ride on some of the roughest payment. This soft ride does hurt the Tiguan when cornering as there is slightly more body roll. But that doesn’t make the Tiguan a bad driving crossover. The chassis feels very willing when pushed and the steering provides a direct feel. Value The 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan SE AWD begins at $30,230. This particular tester came to $31,575 with the optional Habanero Orange Metallic and fog lights. But the 2018 Mazda CX-5 Touring comes with more equipment such as radar cruise control, lane departure warning, 19-inch wheels, LED headlights, and power adjustments for the driver for only $2,175 less than the Tiguan SE’s base price. You can add navigation, Bose audio system, and sunroof as part of $1,200 Preferred Equipment package. When it comes to the midlevel, it is no contest as the CX-5 walks away. The script flips however when you put the 2018 CX-5 Grand Touring under the microscope. The AWD version begins at $30,945 and with a few options such as the Soul Red paint and Premium package, the vehicle seen here comes to $34,685. But you can get into the Tiguan SEL AWD that adds adaptive cruise control, power liftgate, and navigation for only $2,295 less than our as-tested CX-5. While the CX-5 does offer more of a premium interior, the larger interior and slightly better infotainment system give the Tiguan a slight edge. Verdict It feels weird to describe the verdict between the two compact crossovers as a decision to satisfy your desires or needs. The 2018 Mazda CX-5 falls into the former as it boasts a handsome look that very few models can match, luxurious interior, and handling characteristics that make you feel like you’re driving a sports car. As for the Tiguan, it falls in the latter camp by offering a spacious interior, smooth ride, and a better infotainment system. I consider these two to be the best-in-class. But deciding which one is better will ultimately come down to deciding whether to give into your wants or needs. Disclaimer: Mazda and Volkswagen Provided the vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Mazda Model: CX-5 Trim: Grand Touring AWD Engine: 2.5L DOHC 16-Valve Inline-Four Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 187 @ 6,000 Torque @ RPM: 186 @4,000 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 24/30/26 Curb Weight: N/A Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $30,945 As Tested Price: $34,685 (Includes $975.00 Destination Charge) Options: Premium Package - $1,395.00 Soul Red Crystal Paint - $595.00 Illuminated Door Sill Plates - $400.00 Retractable Cover Cover - $250.00 Rear Bumper Guard - $125.00 Year: 2018 Make: Volkswagen Model: Tiguan Trim: SE 4Motion Engine: 2.0L Turbocharged 16-Valve DOHC TSI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 184 @ 4,400 Torque @ RPM: 221 @ 1,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/27/23 Curb Weight: 3,858 lbs Location of Manufacture: Puebla, Mexico Base Price: $30,230 As Tested Price: $31,575 (Includes $900.00 Destination Charge) Options: Habanero Orange Metallic - $295.00 Front Fog Lights - $150.00
  10. If you're planning on picking up a 2019 Volkswagen Passat, then you might be disappointed by the limited amount on configurations on offer. The Car Connection reports that Volkswagen will be cutting down the 2019 Passat lineup to just two models - the Wolfsburg Edition and SE R-Line. Wolfsburg Edition: 17-inch alloy wheels, push-button start, automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring as standard. A sunroof and 18-inch wheels are optional. SE R-Line: LED lighting, adaptive cruise control, parking sensors, lane keep assist, navigation, and Fender audio system. Along with the drop in trims, the 280 horsepower V6 will be going away in 2019. This leaves the turbo 2.0L four-cylinder and six-speed automatic as the sole powertrain choice. We're not sure as to why Volkswagen is slicing up the Passat lineup. Our two possible guesses is the declining sales of midsize sedans or Volkswagen readying a next-generation Passat that could arrive as early as 2020. No word on pricing or on-sale date. Source: The Car Connection
  11. For 2019, Volkswagen is swapping engines on certain Golf models to help boost fuel economy. The Car Connection reports that the Golf and Golf SportWagen will swap the turbocharged 1.8L four for the Jetta's turbo 1.4. The smaller engine produces 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Volkswagen is also adding more gears to the transmissions - six-speeds for the manual and eight for the automatic. EPA fuel economy estimates are not available at the moment. All-wheel drive variants (Golf SportWagen S AWD and Alltrack) will keep the turbo 1.8. Its unclear from TCC's story whether it will get the updated transmissions - Alltrack already gets the six-speed manual. There's also some feature changes for the 2019 Golf, Golf: Base S models add automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring as standard. SE models will now come equipped with adaptive cruise control, active lane control, and automatic high-beam headlights. Golf SportWagen: Mirrors the Golf, along with the top-line SEL model being dropped. Golf Alltrack: S models get automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring. SE adds LED headlights as an option. SEL models get a six-speed manual as an option. Source: The Car Connection
  12. The three-row full-size crossover has taken the place of large SUVs as the vehicle of choice for growing families. Crossovers offer the tall ride height and large space, but not at the cost of fuel economy and ride quality. Recently, I spent a week in the 2018 Mazda CX-9 and Volkswagen Atlas. These two models could not be any different; one is focused on providing driving enjoyment, while the other is concerned about providing enough space for cargo and passengers. Trying to determine which one was the best would prove to be a difficult task. Exterior There is no contest between these two when it comes to design as the CX-9 blows the Atlas out of the water. The overall look balances aggressive and elegance traits. For the front, Mazda has angled the clip to give off a sporting profile while a large grille and a set of slim headlights accentuate this. Move around to the side and you’ll notice the CX-9 has quite a long front end and the rear roof pillars are angled slightly forward. These design cues help make the CX-9 look slightly smaller than it actually is. Someone once described a Volkswagen vehicle as “looking like a bit of a square, but a posh square.” That’s how I would sum up the Atlas’ design; it is basically a box on wheels. There are some nice touches such as the LED headlights that come standard on all models and chunky fenders. The 18-inch alloy wheels that come with the SE w/Technology look somewhat small on the Atlas, but that is likely due to the large size of the vehicle. Interior The Atlas’ interior very much follows the ideals of the exterior, which are uncomplicated and utilitarian. While it does fall flat when compared to the CX-9’s luxury design, Volkswagen nails the ergonomics. Most of the controls are within easy reach of driver and passenger. One touch that I really like is the climate control slightly angled upward. Not only does this make it easier to reach, but you can quickly glance down to see the current settings. There is only a small amount of soft-touch material used throughout the Atlas’ interior, the rest being made up of hard plastics. While that is slightly disappointing as other crossovers are adding more soft-touch materials, Volkswagen knows that kids are quite rough to vehicles. If there is one benefit to Volkswagen’s plain styling on the outside, it is the massive interior. I haven’t been in such a spacious three-row crossover since the last GM Lambda I drove. Beginning with the third-row, I found that my 5’9” frame actually fit with only my knees just touching the rear of the second-row. Moving the second row slightly forward allows for a little more legroom. Getting in and out of the third-row is very easy as the second-row tilts and moves forward, providing a wide space. This particular tester came with a second-row bench seat. A set of captain chairs are available as an option on SE and above. Sitting back here felt like I was in a limousine with abundant head and legroom. The seats slide and recline which allows passengers to find that right position. The only downside to both rear rows is there isn’t enough padding for long trips. For the front seat, the driver gets a ten-way power seat while the passenger makes do with only a power recline and manual adjustments. No complaints about comfort as the Atlas’ front seats had the right amount of padding and firmness for any trip length. The cargo area is quite huge. With all seats up, the Atlas offers 20.6 cubic feet of space. This increases to 55.5 cubic feet when the third-row is folded and 96.8 cubic feet with both rows folded. Only the new Chevrolet Traverse beats the Atlas with measurements of 23, 58.1, and 98.2 cubic feet. As a way to differentiate itself from other automakers, Mazda is trying to become more premium. This is clearly evident in the CX-9’s interior. The dash is beautiful with contouring used throughout, and a mixture of brushed aluminum and soft-touch plastics with a grain texture. If I were to cover up the Mazda badge on the steering wheel and ask you to identify the brand, you might think it was from a German automaker. Ergonomics aren’t quite as good as the Atlas as you have to reach for certain controls like those for the climate system. The CX-9’s front seats don’t feel quite as spacious when compared to the Atlas with a narrow cockpit and the rakish exterior are to blame. Still, most drivers should be able to find a position that works. The seats themselves have a sporting edge with increased side bolstering and firm cushions. I found the seats to be quite comfortable and didn’t have issues of not having enough support. Moving to the second row, Mazda only offers a bench seat configuration. This is disappointing considering all of the CX-9’s competitors offer captain chairs as an option. There is more than enough legroom for most passengers, but those six-feet and above will find headroom to be a bit tight. Getting into the third-row is slightly tough. Like the Atlas, the CX-9’s second row slides and tilts to allow access. But space is noticeably smaller and does require some gymnastics to pass through. Once seated, I found it to be quite cramped with little head and legroom. This is best reserved for small kids. Cargo area is another weak point to the CX-9. With both back seats up, there is only 14.4 cubic feet. This puts it behind most of the competition aside from the GMC Acadia which has 12.8. It doesn’t get any better when the seats are folded. With the third-row down, the CX-9 has 38.2 cubic feet. Fold down the second-row and it expands to 71.2 cubic feet. To use the GMC Acadia again, it offers 41.7 cubic feet when the third-row is folded and rises to 79 with both rows. Keep in mind, the Acadia is about six inches shorter than the CX-9. Infotainment All CX-9’s come equipped with the Mazda Connect infotainment system. The base Sport comes with a 7-inch touchscreen, while the Touring and above use a larger 8-inch screen. A rotary knob and set of redundant buttons on the center console control the system. Using Mazda Connect is a bit of a mixed bag. The interface is beginning to look a bit dated with the use of dark colors and a dull screen. Trying to use the touchscreen is an exercise in frustration as it is not easy to tell which parts are touch-enabled and not. On the upside, moving around Mazda Connect is a breeze when using the knob and buttons. Currently, Mazda doesn’t offer Apple CarPlay or Android Auto compatibility. Thankfully, this is being remedied with the 2019 model as Touring models and above will come with both. For the Atlas, Volkswagen offers three different systems. A 6.5-inch touchscreen is standard on the S. Moving up to either the SE, SE w/Technology, or SEL nets you an 8-inch screen. The top line SEL Premium adds navigation to the 8-inch system. All of the systems feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. The current Volkswagen system is one of the easiest to use thanks in part to intuitive menu structure and quick responses. Moving through menus or presets is easy as the system reacts to the swiping gesture like you would do on your smartphone. There are a couple of downsides to the Volkswagen system. One is there is no haptic feedback when pressing the shortcut buttons on either side of the screen. Also, the glass surface becomes littered with fingerprints very quickly. I did have an issue with the system when trying to use Apple CarPlay. At times, applications such as Spotify would freeze up. I could exit out to the CarPlay interface, but was unable to get the apps unfrozen until I shut the vehicle off. After resetting my iPhone, this problem went away. This leaves me wondering how much of this problem was with my phone and not the infotainment system. Powertrain Both of these crossovers are equipped with turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The CX-9 has a 2.5L producing either 227 or 250 (on premium fuel) horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. The Atlas has a 2.0L producing 235 horsepower and 258 pound-feet. An optional 3.6L V6 with 276 horsepower is available for the Atlas. For the Mazda, power is routed to a six-speed automatic and the choice of front or all-wheel drive. The Volkswagen makes do with an eight-speed automatic and front-wheel drive only. If you want AWD, you need the V6. Thanks to its higher torque figure, the CX-9 leaves the Atlas in the dust. There is barely any lag coming from the turbo-four. Instead, it delivers a linear throttle response and a steady stream of power. NVH levels are noticeably quieter than the Atlas’ turbo-four. The six-speed automatic delivers seamless shifts and is quick to downshift when you need extra power such as merging. The turbo-four in the Atlas seems slightly overwhelmed at first. When leaving a stop, I found that there was a fair amount of turbo-lag. This is only exacerbated if the stop-start system is turned on. Once the turbo was spooling, the four-cylinder did a surprising job of moving the 4,222 pound Atlas with no issue. Stab the throttle and the engine comes into life, delivering a smooth and constant stream of power. The eight-speed automatic provided quick and smooth shifts, although it was sometimes hesitant to downshift when more power was called for. Fuel Economy Both of these models are close in fuel economy. EPA says the CX-9 AWD should return 20 City/26 Highway/23 Combined, while the Atlas 2.0T will get 22/26/24. During the week, the CX-9 returned 22.5 mpg in mostly city driving and the Atlas got 27.3 mpg with a 60/40 mix of highway and city driving. The eight-speed transmission in the Atlas makes a huge difference. Ride & Handling The CX-9 is clearly the driver’s choice. On a winding road, the crossover feels quite nimble thanks to a well-tuned suspension. There is a slight amount of body roll due to the tall ride height, but nothing that will sway your confidence. Steering has some heft when turning and feels quite responsive. Despite the firm suspension, the CX-9’s ride is supple enough to iron out most bumps. Only large imperfections and bumps would make their way inside. Barely any wind and road noise made it inside the cabin. The Atlas isn’t far behind in handling. Volkswagen’s suspension turning helps keep body roll in check and makes the crossover feel smaller than it actually is. The only weak point is the steering which feels somewhat light when turning. Ride quality is slightly better than the CX-9 as Atlas feels like riding on a magic carpet when driving on bumpy roads. Some of this can be attributed to smaller wheels. There is slightly more wind noise coming inside the cabin. Value It would be unfair to directly compare these two crossovers due to the large gap in price. Instead, I will be comparing them with the other’s similar trim. The 2018 Volkswagen Atlas SE with Technology begins at $35,690 for the 2.0T FWD. With destination, my test car came to $36,615, The Technology adds a lot of desirable features such as three-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring with rear-cross traffic alert, forward collision warning, and lane departure alert. The Mazda CX-9 Touring is slightly less expensive at $35,995 with destination and matches the Atlas on standard features, including all of the safety kit. But we’re giving the Atlas the slight edge as you do get more space for not that much more money. Over at the CX-9, the Grand Touring AWD begins at $42,270. With a couple of options including the Soul Red paint, the as-tested price came to $43,905. The comparable Atlas V6 SEL with 4Motion is only $30 more expensive when you factor in destination. Both come closely matched in terms of equipment with the only differences being the Grand Touring has navigation, while the SEL comes with a panoramic sunroof. This one is a draw as it will come down whether space or luxury is more important to you. Verdict Coming in second is the Mazda CX-9. It may have the sharpest exterior in the class, a premium interior that could embarrass some luxury cars, and pleasing driving characteristics. But ultimately, the CX-9 falls down on the key thing buyers want; space. It trails most everyone in passenger and cargo space. That is ultimately the price you pay for all of the positives listed. For a first attempt, Volkswagen knocked it out of the park with the Atlas. It is a bit sluggish when leaving a stop and doesn’t have as luxurious of an interior as the CX-9. But Volkswagen gave the Atlas one of the largest interiors of the class, a chassis that balances a smooth ride with excellent body control, impressive fuel economy, and a price that won’t break the bank. Both of these crossovers are impressive and worthy of being at the top of the consideration list. But at the end of the day, the Atlas does the three-row crossover better than the CX-9. Disclaimer: Mazda and Volkswagen Provided the Vehicles, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas Year: 2018 Make: Mazda Model: CX-9 Trim: Grand Touring AWD Engine: Turbocharged 2.5L Skyactiv-G Four-Cylinder Driveline: Six-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 227 @ 5,000 (Regular), 250 @ 5,000 (Premium) Torque @ RPM: 310 @ 2,000 rpm Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 20/26/23 Curb Weight: 4,361 lbs Location of Manufacture: Hiroshima, Japan Base Price: $42,470 As Tested Price: $43,905 (Includes $940.00 Destination Charge) Options: Soul Red Metallic - $595.00 Cargo Mat - $100.00 Year: 2018 Make: Volkswagen Model: Atlas Trim: 2.0T SE w/Technology Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve TSI Four-Cylinder Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Front-Wheel Drive Horsepower @ RPM: 235 @ 4,500 Torque @ RPM: 258 @ 1,600 Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 22/26/24 Curb Weight: 4,222 lbs Location of Manufacture: Chattanooga, TN Base Price: $35,690 As Tested Price: $36,615 (Includes $925.00 Destination Charge) Options: N/A
  13. In a month's time, Europe will be switching from much maligned New European Drive Cycle (NEDC) to the Worldwide Harmonized Light Duty Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP). Automakers are scrambling to get models certified under this new procedure. This presents a big problem for Volkswagen as they don't have enough engineers to make sure their vehicles to meet the new standards. According to Reuters, Volkswagen lost a number of engineers that specialized in engine calibration ever since the company revealed they were using illegal software on their diesel vehicles to cheat emission tests. “Engine development expertise has been lost,” said Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess. It is so bad, that Volkswagen believes it will affect their financial results for the second half of this year as they might not be able to get a number of vehicles out on the road. The company said there would a bottleneck of certain model variants between now and October. Volkswagen is working hard to try and overcome this problem. They have plucked BMW engine development expert Markus Duesmann last week to try and get through this mess. Source: Reuters
  14. Volkswagen's Chattanooga, TN plant will soon have two more vehicles rolling off the line. Hinrich Woebcken, VW's North American CEO told Autocar that the upcoming I.D. Buzz and Crozz EVs for the region will be built at Chattanooga. “For strong product momentum, they need to be produced in the USA. It’s not possible to come into a high-volume scenario with imported cars. We want to localise electric mobility in the US,” said Woebcken. Woebcken also revealed that the models would be 'Americanized'. Source: Autocar
  15. We know that the current Volkswagen Beetle will soon be heading off to the great parking lot in the sky sometime next year, and that a direct replacement will not happen. But there is talk about bringing back the Beetle as an electric vehicle. Volkswagen's design chief Klaus Bischoff revealed to Autocar that he has already made a sketch of a possible Beetle EV, but it will be some time before the automaker makes a decision whether to move forward with this or not. Some of this comes down Volkswagen wanting to get the bigger-selling electric cars into production first (see I.D. hatchback and I.D. Crozz) before moving onto the 'emotional' models. “Our duty is to get the volume [ID] models under way. These cars have super-complicated technology and if you do too much, it’s an overload. Then we [can] move into more exotic cars and the field of emotion,” said Bischoff. If Volkswagen does give the green light for a Beetle EV, what could it look like? According to Autocar, the model could grow in size and get two extra doors. “The Beetle of today is a very attractive two-door coupé or convertible, but it is limited in the amount of cars that it can sell because it’s a niche. If you look at MEB, the shortest wheelbase [possible] is the ID [hatchback]. If you took that and did the Beetle on it, you have plenty of room so there’s no compromise in functionality any more. So it could be a very attractive car,” explained Bischoff. We know there is a fan of an electric Beetle, Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess. “We could [build an electric Beetle], because it is rear-wheel drive, no grille. If we wanted to do a Beetle electrically, it would be much better than the current car. Much closer to the history of the Beetle," Diess told Car and Driver back in October. Source: Autocar
  16. We're coming up on three years since the Volkswagen diesel scandal came to light. It caused the German automaker to spiral downward with various fines, lawsuits, people either stepping down or being arrested, and sales tanking. By now, you would think that the pain is done and over. But you would be wrong. Reuters reports today that prosecutors in Germany have fined Volkswagen a billion euros ($1.18 billion) over diesel emission cheating. In a statement, Volkswagen will accept the fine, therefore admitting responsibility for the cheating. "Following thorough examination, Volkswagen AG accepted the fine and it will not lodge an appeal against it. Volkswagen AG, by doing so, admits its responsibility for the diesel crisis and considers this as a further major step towards the latter being overcome," the company said. By accepting the fine, Volkswagen hopes "the active regulatory offence proceedings" being conducted will come to an end. It will unlikely end the various criminal cases that German prosecutors are working on against various Volkswagen executives. Source: Reuters
  17. Since 2014, there have been numerous rumors about Apple's self-driving project known as Titan. At one time, the project had a 1,000 workers with the goal of designing and building a self-driving electric vehicle. But numerous issues and changes in vision has caused the project to be majorly behind scheduled. A new report from the New York Times shines a light at the current circumstances. According to sources with knowledge of the project, Apple signed a deal with Volkswagen late last year that would see the automaker provide less than two dozen of T6 Transporter vans to the technology company. Apple will equip the vans with their self-driving tech and be used as shuttles around their Cupertino base. The sources say the vans are "consuming nearly all of the Apple car team’s attention". A number of former Apple employees added that the project "lacked a clear plan beyond the vans, including any near-term commercial goals." Volkswagen wasn't Apple's first choice for an automaker partner. BMW and Mercedes-Benz were the tech company's first and second choices. Various discussions would be held with both German automakers, but would ultimately go no-where as they balked at Apple's request "to hand over control of the data and design." Other automakers were spoken to, but wouldn't go far as automakers were not ready to give up control or Apple wanted " a more attractive partner." Volkswagen, however, jumped at the chance, as it was seen as a way to help improve their reputation after the diesel emission mess. It's unclear whether this deal will only be for the vans or extend further. Source: New York Times
  18. Automakers have been bailing out of various auto shows for the past few years. Case in point, a number of German automakers pulling out of the Detroit show for 2019. Volkswagen is the latest one to announce that it will not be showing up to a major auto show. Reuters reports that the German automaker will be skipping this year's Paris Motor Show. “The Volkswagen brand is continually reviewing its participation in international motor shows,” the company said in a statement. Instead, Volkswagen could host “various communications activities” in the city, including test drives. Volkswagen joins other automakers including Ford, Mazda, Nissan, Opel, and Volvo that are skipping Paris. Part of Volkswagen's decision comes down to cost-cutting due to the fallout of the diesel emission scandal. But the move is part of a larger trend of Automakers being more considerate of how they spend their marketing budgets. Declining numbers of attendees and competing shows such as CES in Las Vegas are the key reasons for this. Volkswagen's other divisions such as Audi, Seat, and Skoda will be appearing in Paris according to a spokesman for Volkswagen's French operations. Source: Reuters
  19. Yesterday, we reported that Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess got a safe-passage deal from the U.S. Justice Department. This type of deal is very unusual and it was speculated that U.S. wasn't planning to charge Diess over the diesel emission scandal, or that he provided some sort of testimony. We might have an answer to how Diess got this deal. German tabloid Bild reports that Diess traveled to the U.S. last week to testify about the diesel emission scandal. Representatives from the FBI and Justice Department were present, as was Larry Thompson, the U.S. monitor appointed last year to oversee reforms at the company. Unfortunately, Bild doesn't mention any sources. Reuters did some investigating and got conflicting stories. One source told the news service that Diess and Thompson recently traveled to the U.S. recently with "relevant authorities", without going into further detail. Another source denied that a meeting took place last week, saying Diess met with spoke with authorities a few months ago. Volkswagen declined to comment. Our guess is that Diess was given a safe-passage deal from the U.S. Justice Department if he would provide testimony on the diesel emission scandal. We'll keep you posted if anything breaks on this story. Source: Bild (Subscription Required), Reuters
  20. Back in March, prosecutors in the U.S. filed sealed charges against former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn. But during that same time, Volkswagen's current CEO got a rare safe-passage deal from the U.S. Bloomberg has learned from a couple of sources that the Justice Department has given Herbert Diess a safe-passage deal - basically allows him to travel without the worry of being arrested in connection to the diesel emission scandal. Diess also got a spoken assurance that he would be notified if prosecutors seek to charge him in the diesel emission mess. Being the CEO of a major automaker, Diess needs to travel to various events around the world. By giving him this deal, Diess will be able to travel without the fear of being detained. According to former prosecutors and criminal defense lawyers, the safe-passage deal for Diess is very unusual. They could only think of two reasons as to why Diess was given this deal - U.S. doesn't believe it will charge Diess or he is proving key information into the investigation. That doesn't mean Diess is free from the scandal. He is still under investigation in Germany for possible market manipulation. Source: Bloomberg (Subscription Required)
  21. Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn has been indicted for his involvement in the diesel emission scandal. The indictment, which was filed under seal at the U.S. District Court in Detroit back in March, was unsealed yesterday. U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said in court filings the reason for unsealing is "because there is no longer a belief that unsealing these documents will compromise an ongoing investigation." Winterkorn has been charged with four felony counts, including wire fraud and violating the clean air act. In the indictment, it is alleged that Winterkorn was told about the efforts to manipulate U.S. emission tests with their TDI vehicles in May 2014 and July 2015. Winterkorn has previously stated that he only found out about the cheating in August 2015. The indictment also mentions a meeting that took place on July 27, 2015 at Volkswagen's Wolfsburg headquarters. It is reported that a Powerpoint presentation was shown to various executives, including Winterkorn, that laid out the process of deception that Volkswagen was doing to regulators. Allegedly at the meeting, Volkswagen employees recommended that the company work on getting the approval of 2016 model year diesel vehicles without revealing the existence of the cheat software. Various executives including Winterkorn agreed to the plan. "If you try to deceive the United States, then you will pay a heavy price," said U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a statement. So, when should expect Winterkorn to appear in a U.S. courtroom? The answer is never and Automotive News explains why, Emphasis mine. A source told Reuters that Winterkorn is in Germany and will be staying there. He is likely aware of what happened Oliver Schmidt, who pleaded guilty for his participation in the scandal. Schmidt was arrested in late 2016 when he was traveling in the U.S. German prosecutors will continue their investigation into Winterkorn's involvement in the diesel emission scandal. "Our investigation strategy does not change just because the Americans have filed charges against Winterkorn," said a spokesman for the Lower Saxony prosecutors' office. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), 2, Reuters
  22. Ford's decision to drop most of their passenger car lineup last week is still sending shockwaves, and likely causing various automakers to have discussions about if they should follow in their footsteps. One automaker that will not be following Ford is Volkswagen. “We are intending to be a full line car manufacturer,” said Volkswagen of America CEO Hinrich Woebcken. The reason as to why? Electric Vehicles. “The question of whether electric mobility will favor sedans or SUVs hasn’t been answered yet. When you’re talking about electric cars, sedans have more advantages. The shape and the [drag coefficient] has a high effect on range. Therefore, we’ll maybe see a higher sedan share on full electric cars than with conventional cars,” said Woebcken. Aside from EVs, Volkswagen still sees sedans as an important key to their U.S. plans. The new Jetta and Arteon will be arriving in dealers very soon, and a new Passat is expected to debut next year. That said, Woebcken says crossovers will become a big part of Volkswagen's U.S. Current plans have the automaker launching at least two new crossovers over the next few years. “The shift from sedans to SUVs is a permanent one. In former times, when gas prices went up people moved back to sedans. We believe this will not happen anymore for two reasons. First, the difference in fuel economy between SUVs and sedans is not so big anymore. Second, customers do not want to give up the high seating position. I believe that trend will not reverse.” Source: Digital Trends
  23. Volkswagen has made their plans clear of introducing a number of full electric vehicles beginning with the I.D. next year. But the company is also planning to electrify a number of models beginning with the next-generation Golf. This week at the International Vienna Motor Symposium, Volkswagen unveiled a 48-volt mild hybrid system currently under development for the Mk. 8 Golf. The system is comprised of a 48-volt belt-integrated starter generator and a 48-volt battery. This will allow for an enhanced stop-start system, brake regeneration, and engine-off coasting. Volkswagen made specific mention of the last feature as it would save 0.3 liters of gas over 100 kilometers - not a lot, but every little bit helps. “Electrifying conventional drives will enable us to further reduce consumption and emissions while also increasing dynamics and convenience. We are starting this extensive electrification campaign with Volkswagen’s best-selling vehicle to date – the Golf. Our newly developed, cost-effective 48-V mild hybrid will pave the way for introducing this type of technology to the mainstream,” said Volkswagen's Member of the Board of Management for VW Passenger Cars, Dr. Frank Welsch. It is expected that Volkswagen will reveal the Mk.8 Golf sometime next year. Source: Volkswagen Volkswagen to offer electrified versions of its models Extensive hybrid programme for the next Golf is the starting point for the comprehensive electrification of conventional drives New 48-V mild hybrid is the first step into the world of efficient electrified models 48-V starter generator is a versatile all-rounder Volkswagen is to launch an electric version of its globally best-selling vehicle – the Volkswagen Golf, offering a sustainable, efficient and powerful alternative. The introduction of innovative, new hybrid systems in the eighth generation of Golf vehicles marks a new era for the brand with regard to drive technology. In the future, Volkswagen will gradually electrify almost every vehicle in its range of models. The company is offering a first look at the future of electrified drive systems as part of the International Vienna Motor Symposium – one of the world’s most important congresses on the automotive technology of today and the future. “Electrifying conventional drives will enable us to further reduce consumption and emissions while also increasing dynamics and convenience”, says Dr Frank Welsch, Member of the Board of Management for Volkswagen Passenger Cars with responsibility for Technical Development. Welsch continues: “We are starting this extensive electrification campaign with Volkswagen’s best-selling vehicle to date – the Golf. Our newly developed, cost-effective 48-V mild hybrid will pave the way for introducing this type of technology to the mainstream”. Volkswagen will combine the combustion engine with a 48-V belt-integrated starter generator and a 48-V battery. This sustainable combination represents the gateway to the future of Volkswagen hybrid models. The 48-V mild hybrid makes it possible to “coast” with the combustion engine completely switched off, thereby saving up to 0.3 litres of fuel over 100 kilometres. Moreover, this mild-hybrid solution offers much improved dynamics and convenience as a result of providing an electric boost upon start-up. The science behind 48-V technology 48-V technology represents a new chapter in engine design, enabling drives to be electrified in a cost-efficient manner. The 48-V system will be used in vehicles in addition to the well-known 12-V system. In the case of very small wire cross-sections and a lightweight wiring harness, the 48-V system enables a considerably higher amount of energy to be saved than the 12-V system, e.g. via recuperation when the vehicle brakes. This high level of voltage enables a number of operations, including the actuation of the 48-V belt-integrated starter generator. The starter-generator is a true all-rounder. On the one hand, the generator performs the role of alternator and starter. At the same time, it functions as a small, lightweight electric motor that immediately increases drive torque upon start-up by means of an electric boost. The power of the generator is transferred via a belt. The generator also starts the combustion engine – which is switched off as much as possible while the vehicle is moving – in a barely perceptible way. Another versatile element is the 48-V lithium-ion battery. The battery is supplied with energy during a number of operations, including recuperation – i.e. when the vehicle slows down. The starter generator receives the necessary voltage via the battery and the 12-V power supply receives the required voltage via the “DC/DC converter”. Welsch continues: “The basic interaction of different energy sources – electricity, petrol, diesel and natural gas – represents a paradigm shift at Volkswagen. For the first time, the company will simultaneously offer product lines such as the Golf with conventional, electrically assisted drives as well as product lines such as the I.D. with purely electrical drives in the future”. This will result in the product lines diverging into two branches which are nevertheless equal. This new product strategy will come into play for the first time from 2019 onwards with the launch of the next generation of the Golf and the first I.D. – two compact Volkswagen vehicles with completely separate technical concepts as well as clearly different design make-ups. With these two product lines, Volkswagen is seizing the opportunity to democratise the electrification of vehicles.
  24. The Volkswagen emblem is easily one of the most recognizable emblems in the auto world, next to Chevrolet's bowtie and Mercedes-Benz's three-pointed star. But the German automaker is planning to make some tweaks for a new future. At a press briefing in Berlin, Volkswagen's chief marketing officer Jochen Sengpiehl said the new logo would debut next year. Details about what the emblem will look like are being kept close to the chest, but Sengpiehl did say it would be updated to look good on their vehicles and smartphone screens. “The brand is not in good shape compared to previous years,” as the marque lost some of its emotional appeal by trying to be “too German. It’s not only because of the diesel scandal,” said Sengpiehl. The goal is to try to and make Volkswagen more approachable and less stiff consumers and "highlight innovations to justify a higher price tag" on their vehicles. Sengpiehl is also planning to change up the company's marketing. To this end, Volkswagen is inviting advertising agencies to pitch ideas in the coming months. Volkswagen is also planning on setting up 'marketing hubs' in key markets that will tailor messages to their respective markets. Source: Bloomberg
  25. Yesterday, Volkswagen's supervisory board showed current CEO Matthias Müller the door and announced that Dr. Herbert Diess, the current head of the Volkswagen brand will take his place. This confirms reports earlier this week about a change in leadership. In a statement, Volkswagen said the decision of Müller's departure was “mutual” and will be effective immediately. “Matthias Müller has done outstanding work for the Volkswagen Group. He assumed the chairmanship of the Board of Management in the fall of 2015 when the Company faced the greatest challenge in its history. Not only did he safely navigate Volkswagen through that time; together with his team, he also fundamentally realigned the Group’s strategy, initiated cultural change and, with great personal commitment, made sure that the Volkswagen Group not just stayed on track but is now more robust than ever before. For that, he is due the thanks of the entire Company,” said Hans Dieter Pötsch, chairman of the supervisory board. Diess' rise to CEO is surprising considering he joined Volkswagen from BMW in 2015 - just a few months before the diesel emission scandal came to light. He has made great strides in improving Volkswagen's tendency to spend money like its going out of style. This was important during the aftermath of diesel emission scandal. “The Volkswagen Group is a union of strong brands with great potential. Matthias Müller has laid the groundwork for our transformation. My most important task will now be to join with our management team and our Group workforce in consistently pursuing and pushing forward our evolution into a profitable, world-leading provider of sustainable mobility. In a phase of profound upheaval in the automotive industry, it is vital for Volkswagen to pick up speed and make an unmistakable mark in e-mobility, the digitalization of the automobile and transportation as well as new mobility services,” Diess said in a statement. This wasn't the only change made by Volkswagen's supervisory board yesterday. The company will reorganize their passenger car brands into three groups. Volume: Seat, Skoda, and Volkswagen Premium: Audi Super Premium: Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, and Porsche Volkswagen's truck division will go into their own separate unit. Diess is also planning a review of all the companies under the Volkswagen group umbrella (Ducati motorcycles and Renk, a transmission maker) to see whether it makes sense to keep them. "We've lost a great deal of trust with customers. It will be a long, rough road to gain it back," said Diess. Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required), 2, Reuters, Volkswagen EXTENSIVE REVISION OF VOLKSWAGEN GROUP MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE DECIDED Apr 12, 2018 Board of Management and Supervisory Board pave the way for more efficient Group management Group will be organized into six business areas and the China region Dr. Herbert Diess follows Matthias Müller as Chairman of the Group’s Board of Management Supervisory Board thanks Matthias Müller for outstanding service New head of Human Resources and Organization – Gunnar Kilian to follow Karlheinz Blessing Dr. Garcia Sanz leaves the Company at his own request Porsche CEO Oliver Blume appointed to Group Board of Management WOLFSBURG, April 12, 2018 – The Board of Management and Supervisory Board of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft have resolved to extensively revise the Group’s management structure. Volkswagen is thus systematically continuing to transform its business and establishing even more efficient Group management in a phase of highly dynamic change in the Company and the entire automotive industry. In order to sustainably implement the new structure, there will be a number of changes on the Board of Management. Matthias Müller steps down as Chairman of the Board of Management by mutual agreement, effective immediately. At its meeting on Thursday, the Supervisory Board appointed Dr. Herbert Diess as his successor. Chairman of the Supervisory Board Hans Dieter Pötsch expressly thanked Müller for his dedication: “Matthias Müller has done outstanding work for the Volkswagen Group. He assumed the chairmanship of the Board of Management in the fall of 2015 when the Company faced the greatest challenge in its history. Not only did he safely navigate Volkswagen through that time; together with his team, he also fundamentally realigned the Group’s strategy, initiated cultural change and, with great personal commitment, made sure that the Volkswagen Group not just stayed on track but is now more robust than ever before. For that, he is due the thanks of the entire Company.” The introduction of the brand groups Volume, Premium and Super Premium, along with the planned preparation for capital market readiness of Truck & Bus, create the basis for a more subsidiary leadership of the Group. The Chairmen of the Board of Management responsible for the brand groups will be taking on additional Group management roles. Following this reorganization, Herbert Diess will be responsible for Group Development and Research, Rupert Stadler for Group Sales, and Oliver Blume for Group Production. Additional Group functions will be allocated according to the same principle. Due to the special significance of vehicle connectivity, Vehicle IT will be led by Herbert Diess himself; Company IT will be headed by Frank Witter. Procurement and Components are to be combined into one unit going forward. The new structure streamlines Group management, systematically leverages synergies in the individual operating units and speeds up decision-making. “The Volkswagen Group’s goal is and remains to align the Company and its brands with future needs, to safeguard its position among the leaders of the international automotive industry with innovativeness and profitability and to be instrumental in shaping tomorrow’s personal mobility with the strength of our Group brands. Herbert Diess is the right manager to do that. In realigning the Volkswagen brand, he has demonstrated to impressive effect the speed and rigor with which he can implement radical transformation processes. This accomplishment makes him predestined to fully implement our Strategy 2025 in the decisive years that are now to follow,” Pötsch says. “The Volkswagen Group is a union of strong brands with great potential. Matthias Müller has laid the groundwork for our transformation. My most important task will now be to join with our management team and our Group workforce in consistently pursuing and pushing forward our evolution into a profitable, world-leading provider of sustainable mobility. In a phase of profound upheaval in the automotive industry, it is vital for Volkswagen to pick up speed and make an unmistakable mark in e-mobility, the digitalization of the automobile and transportation as well as new mobility services,” Diess says. At its meeting today, the Supervisory Board also decided on two new appointments to the Group Board of Management. Dr. Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Board of Management at Porsche, will belong to the Group’s top governing body going forward. In addition, Gunnar Kilian, who until now has served as Secretary-General of the Volkswagen Group Works Council, has been appointed the new member of the Group Board of Management for Human Resources. He takes over the post from Dr. Karlheinz Blessing, who served in the role from the beginning of 2016. Dr. Blessing will be leaving the Board of Management by mutual agreement, but remains available to the Company in a consultative capacity for the remaining duration of his employment contract. Pötsch thanked Blessing for his service: “Dr. Blessing has been instrumental in realigning the Group during the past two years. He also contributed with great dedication to the evolution of the VW brand as part of the Volkswagen brand’s Future Pact. Dr. Francisco Javier Garcia Sanz, head of Procurement, leaves the Company at his own request. “During the past two decades, Dr. Garcia Sanz has built up a cutting-edge Procurement department. His leadership of the diesel task force was instrumental in overcoming the diesel crisis. As Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the SEAT brand, he also made a significant contribution to reinforcing the brand,” said Pötsch in gratitude. Ralf Brandstätter, Board of Management member responsible for Procurement for the VW brand, will take on this additional role provisionally.

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