Wednesday, November 30, 2016

VW Joins German Automakers to Build Massive European Charging Network


By: Sebastien Bell
Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche are joining Daimler, the BMW Group, and Ford to create the highest-powered charging network in Europe. The network will establish a standard charging system for the brands and help speed up charging times.
Using the Combined Charging System, all of the automakers’ battery electric vehicles will be able to charge at an initially planned 400 sites across Europe. The charging points, capable of power levels of up to 350 kW, will charge Battery Electric Vehicles faster than today’s most powerful charging points.
“There are two decisive aspects for us: ultra-fast charging and placing the charging stations at the right positions”, said Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche, in a statementTogether, these two factors enable us to travel in an all-electrically powered car as in a conventional combustion engine vehicle.”
Volkswagen and its compatriots plan to start construction in 2017, and expect thousands of high-power charging points to dot Europe’s major roads by 2020.
“We intend to create a network that allows our customers on long-distance trips to use a coffee break for recharging”, said Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI. “Reliable fast charging services are a key factor for drivers to choose an electric vehicle. With this cooperation we want to boost a broader market adoption of e-mobility and speed up the shift towards emission-free driving.”


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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Take Your First Look at Volkswagen’s Next Top Model


By: Sebastien Bell

Volkswagen wants you to keep calm and Arteon, with its new “top model,” the Arteon. The manufacturer has revealed design sketches of the new premium fast back ahead of the Geneva Motor Show, where it will debut.
The Arteon is positioned above the Passat in the VW range and its name is designed to place it alongside the Phideon, Volkswagen’s premium sedan for the Chinese market.

Likely to replace the CC, assembly of which has now reportedly stopped, this new model looks awfully similar to the Sport Coupe GTE concept that was unveiled in Geneva in 2015.
The Sport Coupe GTE was based on the MQB platform and powered by a 3.0-liter V6 engine supplemented by two electric motors, kicking out a combined 374 hp.
VW_Sport_Coupe_Concept_GTE_head
Just how the Arteon will produce its power remains to be seen, but a plug-in hybrid would jive perfectly with Volkswagen’s post-TDI scandal plans and luckily for us, VW expressed a desire to bring the car based on the Sport Coupe GTE concept to America.
The Arteon is expected to launch in the summer of 2017.


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Monday, November 28, 2016

VW Still Wants to Go Racing


By: Sebastien Bell

Although the Volkswagen Group has shut down two of its major racing teams, marketing boss Juergen Stackman says the brand is still open to going racing.
That racing will likely come in the form of electric motorsport, though. Audi has already established that it will invest itself more heavily in Formula E, but the Volkswagen brand has yet to make a commitment to any racing series.
“We will see in the next years how we evolve, but I think there are some interesting aspects in electric motorsport,” Stackmann told carscoops. “It’s a young scene, which might show opportunities in the years to come, but it is way too early to make a call on that one.”

Earlier in the year, though, the brand called on rallycross championships (the FIA World RX and Red Bull GRC) to establish an electric racing series, as the short, intense blasts of the series are perfectly suited to current battery technology.
Since then that American Red Bull Global Rallycross Championship has announced that it will include an electric class in 2018.
With Volkswagen the current champions of the Red Bull GRC, and with no indication that they’re looking to divest themselves of involvement in the series, an electric rallycross car would make sense.
Whatever the case, it looks like Volkswagen Motorsport will, like Dylan, be going electric.


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Sunday, November 27, 2016

Review: 2017 Volkswagen Touareg


By: Sebastien Bell

The Touareg is a Volkswagen like no other, and that comes with its pluses and its minuses. Given its aspirational subtitle, the “People’s Premium SUV,” not sharing its interior parts with its economy brethren actually suits it.
For the 2017 model year, not much changes on the Touareg. With the exception of more standard driver aids, in fact, it’s almost exactly the same as the 2016 model. The big, soft 2017 Touareg, then, isn’t a terribly exciting car, but it is still a good one.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The first thing someone like me (who drives Volkswagens almost exclusively) notices when he climbs into the driver’s seat is that almost none of the buttons, switches, or toggles are the same in the Touareg as they are in any other Volkswagen. For this premium SUV, Volkswagen has raided the parts bin of its higher end subordinates and so there are a bunch of buttons inside and they’re placed strangely.
I’m told by people who cover a wider range of vehicles than me, though, that this is very much a Porsche thing, which makes sense, given how much this car shares in common with the Cayenne. There are few Audi touches, too, like the third stalk attached to the steering columnthat controls the cruise control. Again, that makes sense given the Touareg’s close relation to the Q7. The buttons are clearly marked, easy to find, and close at hand. As a result, the infotainment actually works well.
2017_touareg_6451
Speaking of interiors, the Touareg’s ain’t bad. With seating for five and up to 64 cu. ft. of cargo capacity with the seats down, it will easily haul big, oddly shaped things, like, say, the windshield from a 1970s Chrysler Conquerer that your buddy is restoring. And thanks to seats that fold easily, you can get them out of the way in a hurry as the person who’s helping you load/selling you the windshield holds it. That keeps you from being embarrassed as they wait for you to leave their property. Unfortunately, with the windshield in, you pretty much won’t have access to any of the passenger seats, making the ride home a little lonely. You may want to wait for the seven-seat Atlas or jump up market to the Audi Q7 if you plan on carrying around sport boat windshields a lot, but if you only plan on doing it occasionally, the Touareg is great.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
If you eventually plan on towing said Chrysler Conquerer, you shouldn’t have any problems, thanks to the Touareg’s 7,715 lbs of towing capacity (for braked trailers). Getting back up the boat launch shouldn’t be a problem either, because the Touareg has some off-road chops. It will conquer approaches and departures of up to 26 degrees, and has a breakover angle of 21 degrees. Whatever that means. I’m deeply ill equipped to report on whether or not this is a capable off-roader, and given its shiny paint, leathery seats, lofty as tested price of $65,460 I’d be surprised if many buyers were going to do honest to god off-roading with it, but it does have the feel of a capable off-roader. There’s a big chunky “Off-Road” button that teases you, calling into question your masculinity with every passing moment that it stays in on-road mode, and in the center of the dash it gives you off-roady information like your steering angle, so you can definitely impress your buddies at the dirt trail nearest your house. And for all my not taking this seriously, the Touareg does have a stable confidence when you drive down silty dirt roads.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
When you get it back on the road, its VR6 engine with 280 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque sounds, as ever, lovely, but doesn’t really get you moving in any particular hurry. It’s not like the Touareg can’t keep up with traffic—it certainly can—it’s just that acceleration comes in more of a lazy wave than a brutal, kick-you-into-your-seat assault. Which is okay. It kind of suits the mood, and anyway I’m so over “performance” SUVs. Vehicles carrying around that much weight (a curb weight 4,696 lbs in this particular case) should be honest about what they are. You do feel the weight at the gas station. With combined EPA fuel economy of just 19 mpg, the Touareg doesn’t exactly sip fuel. A big gas tank means that you aren’t constantly looking for gas stations, but also that when you need one it will leave a dent in your wallet.
Ultimately, this is a reasonably pretty, reasonably luxurious, and reasonably capable off-roader. Despite it’s faults I did actually come to like the Touareg for its honest lack of pretensions. It feels capable of delivering everything it promises and doing so at a competitive price.


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Saturday, November 26, 2016

VW Could Legally Profit from One Part of the TDI Settlement


By: Sebastien Bell


When it agreed to the TDI settlement with US regulators, Volkswagen agreed to spend $2 billion on zero-emission vehicle projects across the land, but nothing in the agreement  says that VW can’t profit from that investment.
While regulators get to make sure that the money is being spent properly, VW drawing profit from its investments is considered okay.
“The ZEV investment requirement will be a business investment made by Volkswagen,” writes Cynthia Giles, EPA enforcement chief, in a letter to Automotive News. “VW may see a benefit from mandatory ZEV investments, and that would not be inconsistent with the [consent decree.] Volkswagen could have decided to make these investments even without this enforcement case, but now it is required to do so.”
The provision will be reviewed by republican leaders in the US House Energy and Commerce Committee, but as it stands that $2 billion part of the settlement may be more than just a cost.
Despite that, VW can’t actually gain an advantage in the ZEV market from the investments. So it still can’t create, say, a VAG-exclusive charging network.
Making money from the investment in ZEV may still be difficult, though, as VW is required, under the rules of the provision, to seek project input from states, municipalities, tribes, and federal agencies before it spends money on any projects.


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Friday, November 25, 2016

Volkswagen Will Likely Stop Selling Diesel Cars in the US


By: Stephen Elmer

It sounds like Volkswagen plans to pull all of its diesel models out of the U.S. market. 
“At the moment we assume that we will offer no new diesel vehicles in the U.S.,” VW brand chief Herbert Diess told Handelsblatt.
While that isn’t an entirely definitive answer, it seems like VW won’t be back in the U.S. with any TDI models. Instead, the German automaker has announced its “TRANSFORM 2025+” plans, outlining its future direction, which includes a big push into electric vehicles and larger sport utility vehicles.
Its goals are big, too. By 2020, Volkswagen plans to have 19 SUV models on sale, up from the current two, while electric vehicle sales are targeting one million units by 2025. To pay for development of these new models, Volkswagen has already announced a new labor deal that will see 30,000 jobs dropped through attrition. The brand also says it will discontinue certain low-volume models and model variants.
960-cover-gte-active
“From 2020, we will be launching our major e-mobility offensive. As a volume manufacturer, we intend to play a key role in the breakthrough of the electric car,” said Diess. “We are not aiming for niche products but for the heart of the automobile market. By 2025, we want to sell a million electric cars per year and to be the world market leader in e-mobility,” said the brand CEO.
VW isn’t just going to sell electric cars in the U.S. either, with plans to begin producing EVs in American starting in 2021. Besides electrification, Volkswagen also wants to be a leader in connectivity, planning to have 80 million active users of its connected services by 2025.
The decision to drop diesels in the U.S., which made up one quarter of all VW sales here, is a result of the diesel emissions scandal, which saw VW installing software into its TDI diesel vehicles to trick emissions tests and then emit up to 40 times the permitted amount of pollutants into the air. In America alone, the scandal cost VW $14.7 billlion.
As part of the plan, a goal has been set by VW to grow its profit margin to 4 percent by 2020 and 6 percent by 2025. VW will invest €4.5 billion each year over the next few years, with the goal of bringing a positive impact on earnings of €3.7 billion per year by 2020.


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