Volkswagen to launch redesigned Chattanooga-made Passat in 2019
New Jetta, SUVs and peek at future cars at Detroit auto show
Volkswagen plans to launch an all-new Chattanooga-made Passat next year in the first full remake of the sedan since the automaker began U.S. production of the car in 2011 as it tries to power up sales.
Also, VW is spending $3.3 billion in North America over the next three years, including $1.2 billion aimed at projects in the U.S., the company revealed at an auto show Monday.
“This market is a touchstone for our success. At long last, we want to get it right,” said Herbert Diess, chief executive of the VW brand globally.
Diess on Monday unveiled Volks-wagen’s redesigned 2019 Jetta compact sedan, which is larger than its predecessor but less expensive.
By the numbers
› $3.3 billion: Amount VW plans to spend in North America over the next three years
› 339,700: Number of VW brand vehicles sold in U.S. last year
› 6.23 million: VW brand vehicles sold worldwide in 2017
The model will have a sales price starting at $18,545 when it hits dealers later this year.
“We’re putting the pedal to the metal in the U.S. market with the best Jetta of all time,” Diess said about the vehicle that is the VW brand’s best-selling single product in the U.S.
With a new design, added technology and safety features, and VW’s transferable, six-year/72,000-mile new vehicle warranty, he expects the Jetta will make “a huge splash in the compact market.”
Also Monday at the North American International Auto Show, VW officials rolled out its new 2018 Passat GT aimed at bringing more sportiness to the sedan built at its Enterprise South industrial park assembly plant that employs about 3,450 people.
Hinrich J. Woebcken, CEO of VW’s North American region, said the vehicle “brings real excitement” to the automaker’s sedan lineup.
He said the Passat GT, priced at just over $29,000, was designed and engineered in the U.S. That includes input from the company’s engineering and planning hub in Chattanooga.
“It’s the first production vehicle designed and engineered for the market from our local team in America,” Woebcken said.
A totally redesigned Passat that will be unfurled next year is expected to help inject new life into an aging platform, said Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Kelley Blue Book.
“You need a sedan to be a player,” he said. “It’s an additional component to the SUVs.”
As Americans have turned to buying more SUVs and trucks, Passat sales have dropped. Sales of the sedan fell 16.8 percent to 60,722 units in 2017, according to the automaker.
The Passat’s slide occurred while VW last year introduced the Atlas SUV, also assembled in Chattanooga, which had its best month in December with sales of 6,070 units.
VW to invest $3.3 billion in North America, unveils Jetta
Diess has said it’s “highly likely” the automaker will bring a five-seat derivative of the Atlas SUV to the market.
“By 2020, we will offer at least two new [Volkswagen] U.S. models annually, covering key segments in the United States,” Diess said.
Woebcken said Monday the Atlas is aimed “right at the heart of the SUV market” with the size, features and comfort Americans expect.
“With a competitive price and … the best bumper-to-bumper warranty, sales of the Atlas are continuing to build,” he said. “In order to grow, we needed to reach the heart of the market and offer a fresh lineup of SUVs.”
According to VW, the first of a family of full battery electric vehicles will be added starting in 2020. The first model to go on sale in America will be an SUV.
Woebcken said the automaker made “significant progress towards the comeback of the Volkswagen brand in the U.S. in 2017.”
The U.S. contributed to the overall delivery record of the Volkswagen brand in 2017 with around 339,700, up 5.2 percent, the company reported.
Worldwide, 6.23 million Volkswagen passenger cars were delivered to customers in 2017, 250,000 vehicles more than in the previous year.
The VW Group also sells Audi, Porsche and other brands in the U.S. and worldwide.
Diess acknowledged the diesel emission scandal that hit sales and shook trust in the brand.
“We disappointed many people,” he said. “But we must and will make up for it. We’re working hard on it.”
Contact staff writer Mike Pare at email@example.com or 423-757-6318.
The all-new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta made its debut at the Detroit Auto Show with a new look, an upgraded interior, and a suite of advanced technologies. The Jetta was first introduced in 1979, and since then, VW has sold 16 million Jettas worldwide, 3.2 million in the U.S. alone.
“The Jetta has long been Volkswagen’s best-selling vehicle in the United States,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, CEO of the North American Region for Volkswagen. “We expect that this all-new car will continue to resonate with buyers in the compact sedan class. With its combination of great technology, fuel-efficient drivetrains, sporty styling, upscale interior and amenities, and fun-to-drive nature, we expect that the Jetta will make a huge splash in the compact sedan market when it goes on sale.”
This year’s Jetta is longer, wider, and taller than the outgoing model, making more room for passengers. The extra height combined with a sloping roofline make this sedan look sporty and more like a coupe without cutting into rear-seat headroom. There’s a large front grille, sharper lines, and more chrome than before along with standard LED lighting to give it a more upscale, modern look.
The interior is fully redesigned to combine the high-tech features today’s customers demand along with top-quality materials and plenty of soft-touch surfaces. There are new fabric colors and new designs for the seats and door trim, as well as available 10-color customizable ambient lighting to create just the right mood.
The Jetta will offer heated and ventilated front seats, a power driver’s seat with memory, leather seating surfaces, and dual-zone automatic climate control to keep everyone comfortable. There’s also a redesigned center storage cubby that holds 5 liters, which is enough to fit a standard iPad.
The Volkswagen Digital Cockpit display, which is standard on the SEL and SEL Premium trims, lets drivers reconfigure the display to suit their unique preferences. This includes allowing navigation to display front and center so it’s easier to follow the route. There’s also Volkswagen Car-Net, which provides connected vehicle services including a wide range of standard apps with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and MirrorLink.
The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta is also the first Volkswagen with an available 400-watt BeatsAudio system.Volkswagen put the focus on the driver starting with an infotainment screen that’s higher in the dashboard to make it easier to reach. There’s also Driver Personalization standard across the lineup. Depending on the trim, it allows drivers to customize various settings, including driver’s seat memory, driver assistance system preferences, temperature, Volkswagen Digital Cockpit arrangement, ambient lighting color, radio presets, and navigation.
Advanced safety features are also upgraded with available forward-collision warning and autonomous emergency braking, blind-spot monitor with rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, high beam control, and lane departure warning. The Jetta includes active and passive safety systems that exceed current regulations, including an automatic post-collision braking system.
Power for the Jetta continues to be a 1.4-liter turbocharged and direct-injected 4-cylinder engine with 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired to either a new standard six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic that becomes standard on higher trims. Models with an automatic transmission also feature start/stop technology for improved fuel efficiency.
The Jetta includes the People First Warranty with the best bumper-to-bumper warranty in America. It provides vehicle coverage for six years or 72,000 miles, whichever comes first. That warranty is also transferable to new owners through the entirety of the warranty period.
The 2019 Volkswagen Jetta will be available in S, SE, SEL, and SEL Premium trim levels. Those looking for a sportier vibe will also have the option of going with the R-Line with its more aggressive styling, unique interior and exterior design elements, R-Line badging, and electronic differential.
Expect to see the all-new 2019 Volkswagen Jetta in dealerships beginning in the second quarter of this year.
Meet Sales Representative, Josh Sinnard! He was ranked the highest in customer satisfaction for the year of 2017 at Crown Volkswagen! Congrats, Josh! Keep it up!
The hookups between the software whiz kids and the folks with the factories are especially hot and heavy. In 2016, General Motors bought startup Cruise. Last year Ford invested $1 billion in Argo AI, and industry supplier Delphi went home with MIT spinoff Nutonomy. Now one of the last significant startups without a manufacturer to call its own has found its beloved.
Two beloveds, actually. Pittsburgh-based Aurora Innovation announced today it has signed deals with both Volkswagen and Hyundai to get its self-driving software into commercial service.
“Our mission is to deliver self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly. And to do that, we needed to find automotive partners that had global scale,” says cofounder and CEO Chris Urmson.
The startup, launched in 2017, is certainly a catch for the automakers, mostly because each of its three founders comes with an impressive LinkedIn page. Urmson was a founding member and longtime technical leader of Google’s self-driving effort. Sterling Anderson used to run Tesla’s Autopilot program. Drew Bagnell was a leader on Uber’s autonomy team (and worked with Urmson on Carnegie Mellon’s entry into the Darpa Grand Challenges).
That sweet C-suite, apparently, makes up for Aurora’s youth. As self-driving cars move toward reality, they face questions like how to rein in sensor costs and power consumption, how to wrangle with regulators and insurers, and what to do in the inevitable event of a crash. Having leaders who have spent the past 10 years or more thinking about those problems, and making real progress, is the sort of thing that can woo a risk-averse automaker.
The company’s relative newness even offers an advantage, Urmson says: Starting fresh allowed Aurora’s engineers to rely on and build around the most modern machine learning techniques from the beginning. That’s not to say more experienced efforts are stuck with out-of-date tools, but the VW and Hyundai deals indicate Aurora has something going for it, even if it has kept a low profile and remains small.
Aurora hasn’t disclosed how many vehicles it’s using to test its system (it uses a fleet of Lincoln sedans; expect these deals to change that). Urmson wouldn’t even say how many people work for him in Mountain View and Pittsburgh. More than 60 LinkedIn users list Aurora as their employer, and even if that’s not everybody, it’s a small outfit compared to the hundreds of engineers at Uber, and the 1,100 people Cruise intends to hire in the coming years.
By getting hitched to Volkswagen, Aurora will be able to bring “mobility as a service” to urban areas, Urmson says, meaning an Uber-like service, minus the Uber human drivers. That’s a common move: Alphabet’s Waymo says it will start the same way. So do Uber, Ford, and GM. But that’s just a start: The deal with VW could expand to put Aurora software into other vehicles (delivery vans, trucks, shuttles), and use cases (urban and long haul shipping, micro-transit). The Hyundai agreement will put Aurora’s software into the Korean automaker’s cars, including some custom-developed rides that will roam cities all on their own.
The specifics of these deals are sparse, but the basic impetus is clear: Aurora can make cars drive themselves, but it can’t make cars. And while VW has worked on various automation schemes since the late 1980s, it hasn’t shown much progress on fully driverless vehicles. Hyundai has also been lagging, and a partner like Aurora should help bring it toward the front of the pack. Like most similar pairings, these deals are neither monogamous nor permanent, but hey, it’s the 21st century.
Then there’s the all-important question the parents of all newlyweds have to ask: When are the offspring arriving, and when will they be ready to drive us around town? Urmson offers the standard industry response: As quickly as possible, but not before the tech is good and ready.
Good morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.
We are two days away from another holiday weekend! And as you might expect, there is very little cars, as everyone in the world is currently trying to do as little as possible. With that in mind, let’s see if we can scrape up some gears.
1st Gear: VW May Have Nailed The Future
You’d have to be deeply cynical and sad not to like the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz concept on some level. People have been asking for a new Microbus for decades now, and this one’s apparently greenlit for production featuring VW’s new all-electric powertrain. It looks good, too!
But it’s more than just a throwback, argues a guest columnist for Automotive News. By being essentially a flatbed battery (or skateboard) on wheels, the I.D. Buzz—more specifically the platform it rides on—is incredibly modular and flexible. That lets VW potentially build it into a variety of different vehicles at a reduced overall cost.
Scalable platforms have been all the rage among automakers over the past decade, but EV powertrains can take that idea to the next level:
The vehicles could also last longer than cars and trucks today; a battery should run for 10 years (and can be used by utilities for storage afterward); fewer moving parts mean it could run well past 200,000 miles. Someday, a million miles might be possible. Given the growing prevalence of ride-sharing, miles will become much more important to users than years on the road.
The economic disruption from modular cars could be enormous for everyone — auto manufacturers, suppliers, even home builders; garages might have to be built larger to accommodate unused modules.
For auto makers, part of what’s attractive about modular is if they can get more vehicles off of a single platform or architecture, then it drives down their amortized cost per unit, which helps improve their capital return on investment.
For VW, because it’s trying to shrink their numbered platforms globally, modular also fits into its plans well, as they can have this one larger platform, on which they can stick a box, or a truck, or a passenger vehicle on top. (Tesla Inc., unsurprisingly, perhaps, also is working on a modular minibus.)
When you aren’t bound by where you’re going to put an engine, you can do a lot more. If nothing else, the electric revolution has a lot of potential in terms of car design.
2nd Gear: The Lincoln McConaissance Continues With The Navigator
I’m really not sure what Ford’s long-term plan is with its Lincoln luxury brand, but its sales are up slightly amid the 2017 downturn on the strength of SUV and crossovers. Good for them. Also, the guy who was in the one good season of True Detective is back for more TV commercials, reports The Detroit Free Press:
“Perfect rhythm refers to the feeling you get in those situations when everything comes together,” said John Emmert, Lincoln group marketing manager.
The ad opens with McConaughey driving through a vast landscape, pulling up to a railroad crossing and stopping with no train in sight.
“This piece is all about energy,” said Emmert. “You see Matthew in control. He starts a rhythm and it builds, and he becomes the master of his experience. We’ve overlaid a complex sound design as a freight train enters the scene and rumbles by. There’s this wonderful crescendo of light and sound that builds and then ends as suddenly as it begins.”
The mood of the piece is designed to highlight the power and energy of the Navigator.
I told you it was a slow news day!
3rd Gear: Entertainment Executives Are Serious About In-Car Movies And Ads
In-car ads and television—like those annoying videos that play on loop in New York taxi cabs, but worse—seem like a nightmarish thing to implement alongside autonomous vehicles, where we’ll mostly just wait instead of actually drive. But don’t think for a second that Hollywood isn’t serious about making it happen. This column in The Detroit News posits cars could really become “the entertainment centers of the future.”
Roads around Los Angeles are increasingly so crowded it’s not much fun driving there anymore, so the prospect of turning cars into rolling movie theaters is a welcome idea with entertainment and automotive executives both. Warner Brothers’ chief digital officer Thomas Gewecke said at the LA show that a boring commute could become a trip through Gotham City or Hogwarts, and called the coming of autonomous cars as the “Biggest expansion of time for entertainment that we’ve seen in a very long while.”
Intel’s Krzanich said Warner Brothers would create “immersive experiences” inside robotic cars by projecting movies and games on the inside of car windows as passengers travel.
“I’d love to have my car in the Lego movie, because it would show anything is possible,” said Krzanich. “Last year I said that data is the next oil, in how it’s going to change the world. That was last year.”
This year, he said, blending the data of the environment surrounding an autonomous car with movie characters and scenes may change the world of entertainment, as well as other messaging: Intel’s press release of the partnership also mentioned that the insides of autonomous car windows could also be filled with advertising.
It ends by saying, “In the future, I’m thinking, the fun won’t come from driving, but riding inside an entertainment capsule.”
Again, we maintain fully autonomous consumer cars across the board are decades away instead of years away, but if this is the future, I’ll be in an ‘80s BMW if anyone needs me.
4th Gear: What Happens To All The Cars The Boomers Scooped Up?
Baby Boomers—the generation whose parents saved the world from fascism and an economic collapse, so in return they gave us credit default swaps and the Pontiac Aztek—love collecting old cars. That demographic tends to dominate the car collections and auctions, owing to all the money a small portion of them hoarded at everyone else’s expense. Good for them.
But the younger generations are riddled with debt and are expected to live broker, shittier, worse-off lives than their parents did. So what happens to the car collections and expensive car auctions? That’s what Automotive News asks:
The boomers in the U.S. outnumber my generation — which has lived in their self-obsessed shadow for 50 years, but I digress — by about 10 million people, so there’s probably not enough of us to buy all those collectible cars the boomers have covered in their garages.
Yes, the millennial generation, those born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, is larger demographically than the remaining baby boomers, but it’s also swallowed in debt. Those demographics hardly paint a rosy outlook for a long-term expansion of collecting cars.
Still, unlike porcelain figurines, decorative glass and Beanie Babies — which have all dropped significantly in value in recent years — the vast majority of collectible cars are at least somewhat useful. A 1964½ Ford Mustang or a 1932 Chrysler roadster, in addition to being rolling pieces of art, can still get their owner from one point to another, just as their modern, noncollectible automotive successors can. But even that might be temporary.
I think by now we’ve pretty solidly debunked the “young people aren’t into cars” myth, and shown that car enthusiasm among younger people just looks different than it does with older generations. Count all the imported Nissan Skylines at the Jalopnik Auto Show we did in Newark, if you don’t believe me.
But this is an interesting question: millennials are a generation not expected to be as wealthy as the ones that came before. What happens to all those huge car collections? Will the rich kids of the world be able to take them on, or will a ton of them be left to rot or get sold for cheap? Perhaps none of this matters, since the future will be The Road or The Terminator anyway.
5th Gear: Might As Well Lease
Here’s another downside to financing a new car at one of those outrageous seven- or eight- (or more) year loan terms: by the time the car is paid off, if it ever is, it’ll be close to obsolete with how fast vehicle technology moves these days. This may be another reason to just lease, an analyst tells The Detroit News:
The leasing trend in U.S. autos to continue, if not accelerate, as consumers want to avoid locking into long-term ownership of a vehicle that could experience a devaluation during a time of rapid improvement in vehicle connectivity, electrification and active safety/accident avoidance technology.
I have become increasingly convinced that financing a new or used car is a scam.
Reverse: Florence Lawrence!
She was awesome.
The Volkswagen Atlas is the biggest SUV the company builds on its versatile MQB platform, and although it’s only been on sale in the US for a mere seven months, the German auto giant is already planning a whole family of models based on it. Over the last month, Volkswagen sold 5,154 units of the Atlas in America, which is way ahead of competitors such as the Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot full-size SUVs. It’s also on a par with similar models from luxury brands, including the BMW X5, Acura MDX and the Cadillac XT5.
During a recent event for the new generation of the Jetta sedan, which is still VW’s biggest-selling vehicle in the US, the Group’s North American CEO, Hinrich Woebcken, admitted he wants an “Atlas family” to include an entry in the high-volume B-segment of the market.
The next model in the soon-to-be expanding Atlas family is likely to be a smaller five-seat model, but with a sportier or even a more off-road focused personality than the large, family-orientated Atlas. Woebcken told the media at the New York Auto Show earlier this year the company already had a five-seat SUV in development, to be built at its Chattanooga, Tennessee plant. It appears the VW Group is looking to establish the VW brand as a firmly family-friendly automaker, and one that’s well-placed to satisfy America’s incredible hunger for all things crossover and SUV right now.
Only last month, VW was reported to have applied to trademark the names “Atlas Cross Sport” and “Atlas Allsport,” which may give a strong hint of what it has in mind for two future models. The company has also applied to trademark the name “Apollo,” which it has used in the past in Brazil for a small- two-door sedan, and could be the name for the new small crossover Woebcken has spoken of.