What scandal? Volkswagen tops Toyota to become world’s biggest carmaker

Written By: Jethro Mullen
Source: http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/30/news/volkswagen-toyota-global-auto-sales/


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(Image source: http://autoguide.com.vsassets.com/blog/wp-content/gallery/2015-toyota-corolla-vs-volkswagen-golf/2015-vw-golf-vs-toyota-corolla.jpg)

“Volkswagen’s huge emissions scandal is still unfolding, but it hasn’t stopped the German company from dethroning Toyota as the world’s biggest selling automaker.

Toyota (TM) announced Monday that its global sales last year inched up 0.2% to 10.2 million vehicles. That leaves it behind the 10.3 million that VW (VLKAY) delivered over the same period.

The Japanese giant had held on to the top spot for four years in a row after recapturing it from General Motors in 2012. Toyota lost out in 2011 following the disruption caused by the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March of that year.

GM (GM), which came in third for 2015, said it will announce its annual sales figures on Feb. 7.

Toyota managed to fend off a challenge from VW in 2015, when the German company became embroiled in the diesel emissions scandal. But VW is recovering from that heavy setback, even though investigations are continuing.

It posted strong increases in China and Europe last year, although deliveries plunged 34% in Brazil and slipped nearly 3% in the U.S.

Toyota also suffered in the key U.S. market last year, with a 2% decline in sales, according to Autodata.

Toyota could face a tricky 2017 in the U.S. after coming under fire from President Trump earlier this month over its plans to build a plant in Mexico.

Like other big auto firms, it faces uncertainty over whether Trump will follow through on threats of a “big border tax” over the Mexican plant.

VW and GM, meanwhile, are likely to find this year tougher going in the Chinese market, which accounts for a big chunk of their sales. Chinese authorities have reduced a tax break on cars below a certain engine size, which had helped spur strong sales growth in 2016.”

Volkswagen Passat 1.8T review: Team Germany’s bread-and-butter

Volkswagen’s midsize Passat sedan was refreshed for the 2016, including every body panel from the A-pillar forward. Can’t tell? That’s to be expected: Volkswagen is into subtle, conservative updates like these, especially when it comes to its staid sedans. The rear fascia also received sharper bodywork, though we probably won’t see VW enthusiasts going nuts over the bland design. After all, that’s not who the Passat is aimed at.

I spent a week in the refreshed 1.8T model equipped with one of two gasoline engines on the menu now that the TDI diesel is gone and not coming back — and found it a very solid and capable effort that benefitted from the updates inside and out; some interior bits even reminded me of the first-gen Audi A8 that I once owned.

The 1.8T here pumps out 170 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque but it feels like more. Even though the engine can be persuaded to rev, it’s more often polite, and the six-speed automatic transmission works through the gears efficiently and generally keeps things very buttoned down, like the rest of the Passat.

The Passat feels the same rolling along at 20 mph as it does at autobahn speeds; there is very little change in terms of engine, road, tire and wind noise; that’s almost as impressive as the 38 mpg highway this sedan serves up on paper. I managed to get a few mpg more when not in a hurry, a pretty impressive statistic that makes the departed TDI model almost moot. The more powerful VR6 engine, by the way, is rated at 28 mpg on the highway compared to this inline four.

When pressed on back roads the Passat delivers, offering surefooted handling with moderate body roll, staying well-controlled in the twisties. This is not a car that likes being pushed to its limit, unlike a Golf, but it doesn’t serve up scary results if you give it a workout.

2016 VW Passat 1.8T SEL rear

The Passat has gained sharper creases but kept its conservative looks.PHOTO BY AUTOWEEK

The changes on the inside aren’t as noticeable — the interior is still a sea of black plastics, though none of them feel cheap or excessively hard. VW has updated the MIB II infotainment system which still feels a bit dated, though it is easy to get used to with familiar smartphone pinching and swiping motions. If all you really need is Sirius XM and navigation in those instances when you’re in an unfamiliar area, it works just fine.

If I had to spend my own money on a new midsize sedan the Passat would be near the top of the list thanks to its road manners. The version that I drove was optioned up to $31,315 and a lot of the basic goodies were already included in that reasonable price. For those who need something larger and less emotional than the Golf, the Passat isn’t a bad way to go

Read more: http://autoweek.com/article/drive-reviews/2016-vw-passat-18t-review-team-germanys-bread-and-butter#ixzz4Wzuj0o6z

2017 Volkswagen Jetta review: Forget the diesel, get ready for Jetta’s 1.4-liter turbo

Model year 2017 changes:

  • The base S trim now has 16-inch steel wheels as standard, along with a rearview camera, LED daytime running lights, and two-tone cloth seats. It offers optional 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels and a cold weather package.
  • Midline SE adds Volkswagen Car-Net® App-Connect connectivity and connected services, a sunroof, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels, keyless access, push-button start and leatherette seats with rear pass-through functionality.
  • SEL trim gains: a 1.8-liter, 170-hp TSI engine, power driver’s seat, exterior chrome accents, automatic dual-zone climate control, a navigation system, rain-sensing wipers, front foglights, forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.

Editor’s note December 22, 2016: This review was written based on an evaluation of the 2016 Volkswagen Jetta. See the changes for the 2017 model year above.

With its diesel emissions cheating, Volkswagen lost the trust of the American people, which is a shame because its gasoline-engine cars are still quite good.

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The spry little 1.4-liter turbo engine.

Josh Miller/CNET

Take the 2016 Jetta SE. Powered by a peppy, gasoline-burning engine, it’s one of the most affordable compact sedans available. It’s a blast to drive, has more interior space than its competitors, and it’s got a fair amount of tech in the cabin.

Small but mighty

A 1.4-liter turbocharged engine powers the Jetta SE, with available upgrades to a 1.8-liter turbo and a hybrid. The Jetta GLI, the most powerful in the model range, comes with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, producing 210 horsepower.

Don’t discount the base engine, however, as this zippy little four-cylinder puts out 150 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. A standard five-speed manual transmission gets the power to the front wheels, although our test vehicle arrived with the six-speed automatic, offered with no extra charge.

The turbocharger helps that tiny engine put out more power by forcing more air into the cylinders, but turbos notoriously take a little time to spool up, causing turbo lag, or a dead spot when you hit the gas.

Fortunately, the Jetta’s turbo spools up quickly and there is not much noticeable lag.

The engine runs up to the redline with ease, making it a spry little four-cylinder indeed. The six-speed automatic can be shifted manually from the stick, but honestly the transmission does a fine job on its own. It’s nice to have a manual mode at certain times, like powering up or down a mountain pass, but 95 percent of the time folks will find themselves ceding control to the computer.

The Jetta does a nice job of smoothing out the rough city streets, and the speed-sensitive electric power steering offers quick inputs and a nice weight at speed. The Jetta SE rides on 16-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires, which should do most buyers just fine.

At the end of my week with the Jetta, I averaged 27.5 miles per gallon over a combined route of city traffic and highway stretches, much less than the expected EPA fuel rating of 32 miles per gallon combined (28 city/39 highway). However, my heavy right foot may have had something to do with that.

If you stick with the five-speed manual, Volkswagen claims an EPA fuel rating of 28 miles per gallon in the city, 40 on the highway, and 33 combined.

Safely use your smartphone

The Jetta SE comes standard with a 5-inch color touchscreen, although our test model showed up with the optional larger 6.3-inch color touchscreen. Now running the second-generation Modular Infotainment Platform (MIB II), the Jetta’s infotainment system features faster processing and better graphics than in previous years. Volkswagen’s Car-Net interface now offers smartphone integration through Volkswagen’s App Connect.

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Apple CarPlay puts your home screen right on your dashboard.

Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and MirrorLink put your smartphone home screen directly on the car’s touchscreen. It’s great to have many of your smart phone apps like messaging and navigation right on the Jetta’s dashboard, but be warned that many aftermarket USB cables are not compliant. I had to raid my colleagues’ stash before I found one that would work.

Once my iPhone was connected I could access apps through the touchscreen, steering wheel controls, or Siri. I was able to easily play my podcasts, make phone calls, and reply to any text messages. If you’re a fan of Google maps, however, you won’t be able to access them via CarPlay. Only Android Auto gets to use Google maps. We iPhone users are stuck with Apple maps.

Article Courtesy of: https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/auto/2017-volkswagen-jetta/review/2/

GTI’s all-electric future – What lies ahead for VW’s hot hatch?

Source: http://www.evo.co.uk/volkswagen/golf-gti/18747/gti-s-all-electric-future-what-lies-ahead-for-vw-s-hot-hatch
By: Will Beaumont


VW has revealed that it plans to expand its range of future electric vehicles to include sportier models. These performance-orientated cars will be part of the brand’s all-electric ‘ID’ line-up, but may carry VW’s legendary GTI badge. Until now the GTI badge has been synonymous with petrol-powered hot hatches. Other sporty Golfs, with either diesel or electric power, have been labelled GTD or GTE respectively. But the GTI concept as we know it looks set to change as VW moves towards electric drivetrains.

The ID range was launched at 2016’s Paris motor show with the ID Concept, a Golf-sized hatchback with an all-electric drivetrain and autonomous driving capabilities. VW declared the ID Concept’s aesthetics would set the style for its future electric cars. This year another electric concept was revealed in the form of the ID Buzz, an electric people carrier with more than a hint of VW’s old camper van about it. Both of these ID concepts are expected to make production by 2020.

The ID range will continue to expand, eventually including the aforementioned sportier models. When speaking to evo’s sister magazine, Auto Express, Jürgen Stackmann, head of sales and marketing at Volkswagen, said: ‘I think the formula of GTI will change – it will not be the same formula that took us here. But to have an exhilarating, fun-to-own, fun-to-drive car.’

The GTI badge first appeared in 1974 on the Mk1 Golf and has been around ever since. Some of VW’s most accomplished drivers’ cars have been GTIs and the badge brings with it an almost unrivaled reputation for combining fun with everyday usability.

The latest car to be adorned with the famous three letters is one of VW’s greatest, the Golf GTI Clubsport S. It’s a car that oozes quality and impressed us so much it came second in our 2016 Car of the Year test, finishing ahead of the McLaren 570S, Lamborghini Huracán LP580-2 and BMW M4 GTS.

VW believes it can replicate the typical GTI attributes with an electric car, and that could even result in a four-wheel-drive GTI. Christian Senger, Volkswagen’s vice president of product line, also speaking to Auto Express, said: ‘We can start with a rational approach, the car performing quite well every day. But then we can scale up. More range, more acceleration, more charging points for the money and maybe also four-wheel drive.’

We expect the ID range to grow to the extent that it will mirror VW’s current line-up of petrol and diesel cars. That will mean SUVs and crossovers, but also an electric coupe to match the Scirocco.”

Review: the hybrid VW Passat Estate

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Volkswagen’s Passat Estate GTE has few real rivals. Mainstream saloons and hatches such as the Ford Mondeo and Mazda 6 don’t come in equivalent petrol-electric hybrid form, while the BMW 330e hybrid exec is smaller and more costly.

The GTE is powered by a refined, punchy-feeling 1.4-litre TSI turbo teamed with an electric motor and a six-speed dual-clutch gearbox. It can travel up to 31 miles in pure electric mode, although once it reverts to petrol power its economy drops significantly. As with all hybrids, this can dent real-world efficiency.

Driving

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The extra weight of the Passat GTE’s batteries and motor does reflect in the ride, but standard-fit adaptive dampers still manage to keep things comfortable, if not quite as smooth as in the conventional model. The regenerative-braking system takes a little getting used to as well.

On the upside, hybrid power makes this the most potent model in the otherwise diesel-only Passat range, and it has a progressive throttle response and smooth transition between electric and petrol power, too.

Handling of this front-wheel-drive GTE isn’t the best, but the steering weighting is precise and the grip confidence inspiring. The overall feeling is one of composure and satisfaction in most situations. Refinement is very impressive. The standard Passat is already one of the quietest saloons in its class, and the hybrid is even more so.

Cabin layout

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Driver comfort in the Passat Estate GTE is excellent, with electric seat adjustment and adjustable lumbar support on the broad, comfortable seats, plus good visibility out, especially at night thanks to LED headlights. Standard-fit parking sensors are a boon.

The dash is classier than that of the Mondeo and other rivals, with fabulous build quality, plenty of soft-touch materials and smart styling. A logically laid-out, easy-to-use 6.5in colour touchscreen is fitted as standard, and infotainment features include great Bluetooth and DAB connectivity plus sat-nav. The full-size 8.0in touchscreen comes as part of the extra-cost GTE Advance trim.

Space and practicality

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The Passat GTE is available as a saloon as well as an estate. There is plenty of space in both for four leggy adults, and the additional hybrid gubbins don’t infringe on load space – although they do mean you can no longer carry a spare tyre under the boot floor.

While the saloon’s smaller boot can be easily extended by folding the rear seats, this does leave a bit of a step in the floor and the narrow boot opening restricts loading ability. Meanwhile, the Passat Estate is one of the biggest and best family load-carriers in this market, with a large opening and square boot – and for not that much more money than the saloon.

Costs and verdict

The Passat GTE saloon starts at £34,025 (including the Government’s £2500 plug-in car grant), and the estate is an extra £3,655. This makes the GTE more expensive than its standard diesel stablemates, and means the model makes sense only if your mileage, lifestyle and usage allow plenty of electric-only running and thus mean adequate fuel savings to justify the extra initial cost.

Paying monthly? PCP finance costs are higher, too, and make sure you factor in those real-world petrol costs if you plan on doing plenty of internal-combustion motoring. On test, we returned 37.4mpg.

Low CO2 emissions mean company car drivers benefit from lower monthly tax payments than for the diesels, but contract hire is more expensive, which may put off fleet providers who lease their vehicles.

You get a lot of standard-fit kit for your money: three-zone climate control, adaptive cruise control, full connectivity, emergency automatic braking plus auto lights, wipers and parking sensors are all included. A three-year, 60,000-mile warranty is standard and can be extended for a reasonable sum.

Article Courtesy of: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/motoring/review-the-hybrid-vw-passat-estate-a7536671.html

Volkswagen to offer Amazon’s Alexa voice service

Written By: Christiaan Hetzner
Source: http://autoweek.com/article/car-news/volkswagen-offer-amazons-alexa-voice-service


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LAS VEGAS — Volkswagen will offer the first embedded application of Amazon’s Alexa voice service in a vehicle, as the growing focus on network-connected appliances and other home devices inspires collaborations between automakers and technical service providers.

While other automakers including Ford, BMW and Hyundai are introducing Alexa, their applications work only with via a smartphone app connected to the car’s infotainment system.

VW says it is the first to have directly integrated the feature into the car’s own system without an intermediary as interface.

Thanks to the new feature, drivers will be able to instruct their connected smart home to do things such as turn on the heating while on a long ride back just in time to arrive to a comfortable temperature.

VW showed a Tiguan SUV at this month’s Consumer Electronics Show here with a voice command system that reacts to the keywords such as ‘Hey Volkswagen.'”

“We have several that we programmed that customers can choose from,” said Volkmar Tanneberger, VW’s head of electronics development. “So you can say for example ‘Hey Buddy, ask Alexa how warm is it at home?’ and then it channels the command through to Alexa and Alexa reports back that it’s 20 degrees.”

Alternatively, parents taking their children to a football game in the morning could inquire about the status of the car before leaving the house with phrases such as “Alexa, ask Volkswagen how much fuel is left in the tank.”

The system uses next-generation voice recognition software. Through artificial intelligence, VW said the system becomes increasingly familiar with a user and his or her preferences over time, and utilizes this knowledge for personalized route suggestions.

“Volkswagen and Amazon share a common vision around voice as the future, it’s a safe and natural way for us to interact with the vehicle,” John Scumniotales, general manager for Amazon Alexa Automotive, said.

VW joins Ford, BMW to offer Amazon’s ‘Alexa’ voice service” originally appeared on Automotive News on 1/20/17.

Read more: http://autoweek.com/article/car-news/volkswagen-offer-amazons-alexa-voice-service#ixzz4WL2hFf9a

VOLKSWAGEN IS RANKED HIGHEST NON-PREMIUM NAMEPLATE IN J.D. POWER 2016 APEAL STUDY

Article Source: http://media.vw.com/release/1230/
Written By: Mark Gilliesvolkswagen-emblem
(Image source: http://s3.amazonaws.com/digitaltrends-uploads-prod/2016/04/volkswagen-emblem.jpg)

“Herndon, VA  —  Volkswagen of America, Inc., today announced that the brand has been ranked the highest non-premium nameplate in the  J.D. Power 2016 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study. This is the first time that Volkswagen has led the non-premium sector since 2001: the brand ranked 12th overall in the study, out of a total of 33 nameplates. Volkswagen performs better than the industry average score of 801 points (out of 1000), with a total of 809 points. This was also 15 points better than the non-premium nameplate average.

“The J.D. Power APEAL Study is a great proof point of a brand’s appeal to new car buyers,” said Hinrich J. Woebcken, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. “It’s very encouraging for everyone in the company that Volkswagen heads up the non-premium nameplates for the first time since 2001.”

The APEAL study examines how rewarding a new vehicle is to own and drive, based on owner evaluations of 77 vehicle attributes. The 2016 APEAL study is based on responses gathered between February and May of 2016 from more than 80,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2016 model-year cars and trucks who were surveyed after the first 90 days of ownership.”