Volkswagen’s Electric Microbus Is Retro But It Could Actually Be The Future Of Cars


Volkswagen’s Electric Microbus Is Retro But It Could Actually Be The Future Of Cars

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.


Volkswagen has big plans for more Atlas models


Volkswagen has big plans for more Atlas models

AFP Relax News
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Volkswagen Atlas

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.

2019 Jetta Sketches Show VW Face With Audi Booty


2019 Jetta Sketches Show VW Face With Audi Booty

2019 Volkswagen Jetta

Manufacturer image

CARS.COM — Volkswagen released four sketches of the next-generation Jetta, slated to debut in full as a 2019-model-year redesign during January’s 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. If the sketches are any indication, the new Jetta combines a buttoned-down face — albeit with a taller, hexagonal grille instead of the current two-bar unit — with a tail that recalls the Audi A4 or A5.

That’s to be expected, as the soup comes from the same kitchen (or the knockwurst comes from the same metzger, as it were) since Audi is a Volkswagen Group brand. Inside, a single interior sketch signals a progression from the wraparound dashboard in the current-generation Golf, which shares the new Jetta’s MQB platform, to a split-level design with a bit more layering. The gauge hood still extends high over the multimedia display — as opposed to the smaller hoods and pop-up displays in vogue these days — and the display itself appears to be a more integrated take on Volkswagen’s current (and excellent) touchscreen.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta

Manufacturer image

Physical volume and tuning knobs are present — unless Volkswagen’s artists played a cruel trick on us. The sketched gauges appear virtual, a sign that the new Jetta may also offer Volkswagen’s Digital Cockpit instruments.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta

Manufacturer image

We know the 2019 Jetta’s primary engine is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder, which served well in the outgoing generation. An eight-speed automatic replaces the prior six-speed unit, and it performed well in our drive of camouflaged preproduction cars. Stay tuned for more details when the Jetta shows up at the Detroit auto show; press days are Jan. 14-16.

2019 Volkswagen Jetta

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Crown Receives the Diamond Pin Award

This weekend was very exciting for Crown Automotive. Our owner, Miles Schnaer, had the honor of traveling to Wolfsburg, Germany to accept the prestigious Diamond Pin Award! Crown Automotive was selected, as well as only a handful of other candidates from the U.S. to receive this award. It is only given to those dealerships that have shown outstanding customer service in both service and sales. Miles, and the rest of Crown Automotive, are all so proud to have received this award, and would like to thank all of our wonderful customers for helping us along the way! We certainly could NOT have done it without you!



Volkswagen plans $40 billion investment in EVs over next five years, will introduce 15 new cars worldwide


Volkswagen plans $40 billion investment in EVs over next five years, will introduce 15 new cars worldwide

Volkswagen I.D. Buzz Concept Front Right

Volkswagen plans to invest approximately $40 billion for the next five years, and aims to produce a million electric-powered vehicles by 2025.

Volkswagen wants you to stop thinking about dirty diesel when you think of their cars. Instead, start thinking about clean and powerful electric vehicles, because it intends to become the world’s foremost producer of EV mobility.

According to press reports out of the company’s global headquarters in Wolfsburg, the plan would see the automaker invest approximately $40 billion for the next five years in electric innovation and autonomous technology, culminating in the production of 1 million electric-powered vehicles by 2025. For U.S. consumers, that may also mean expanded investment in their Chattanooga production facility.

The expectation, according to Bloomberg News, is that VW will sell 100,000 hybrid and all-electric vehicles globally in three years, with its sights set on eventually overtaking Tesla as king of electric hill. On that score, Volkswagen has some catching up to do, as Tesla has pointed to 2020 as the year it will sell a million vehicles.

The I.D. Crozz Concept SUV previews an anticipated EV production model due for sale in the U.S. by 2020.

VW isn’t worried: As Hinrich J. Woebcken, head of Volkswagen Group of America said in a statement, the automaker has the global production capability and scale to quickly catch up. “In order to make EVs cost competitive, electric vehicles have to be built at scale, and Volkswagen has the potential to deliver global scale in EVs quickly,” said Woebcken. “We stand for making electric cars affordable; as we like to say, we build cars for millions, not millionaires.”

Volkswagen is making a strong start with the development of its I.D. branded vehicle range. As seen at the 2017 L.A. Auto Show, the lineup includes at least three models based on the same modular electric chassis, one that VW says is designed to handle mainstream electric vehicle requirements such as maximum range and power. While 15 total electric/hybrid vehicles are promised worldwide, for now the U.S. will see their first from the I.D brand in 2020. That’s the I.D. Crozz SUV, with the I.D. Buzz following in 2022. The original I.D. hatchback concept revealed last year will be sold in Europe.

As an all-wheel-drive SUV, the I.D. Crozz previews the next-gen VW electric vehicle approach, with an anticipated EV driving range of up to 300 miles and featuring the automaker’s I.D. Pilot self-driving system concept (planned for production in 2025).

The I.D. Buzz Concept has a production date of 2022, and a design that looks like the Type 2 Microbus.

The concept boasts two electric motors that deliver an anticipated 302 horsepower; VW says that the battery pack will be placed in the floor of the vehicle for optimum weight balance. They also claim that said battery pack will recharge to 80 percent in 30 minutes, when using a 150 kWh charger.

It’s not as if VW has ever rolled out a Bus concept to tease enthusiasts, right? This time, it’s the real deal, as there seems to be a strategic plan behind reinvigorating the happy days of flower power. Originally debuted at the Detroit Auto Show, the I.D. Buzz Concept has a production date of 2022 and a design that looks like the Type 2 Microbus.

From there things get modern quite quickly, with LED headlights, 22-inch wheels, and mechanical features similar to the I.D. Crozz such as I.D. Pilot, and two electric motors that produce 369 horsepower and a range of nearly 300 miles. Both vehicles are slated for sale in the U.S., Canada, Europe and China.

Daily Drive-Thru: Volkswagen Tiguan gets R-Line package; Audi’s pre sense side system and more


Daily Drive-Thru: Volkswagen Tiguan gets R-Line package; Audi’s pre sense side system and more


Volkswagen announces R-Line Appearance Package for 2018 Tiguan

2018 Volkswagen Tiguan R-Line Front Quarter
Powering the 2018 Tiguan R-Line is the same turbocharged four-cylinder engine, producing 184 horsepower and 221 lb-ft of torque.IMAGE BY: VOLKSWAGEN

If getting a much needed redesign wasn’t enough to make the Tiguan an enticing proposition, Volkswagen gives the crossover some sporty flair with a newly available package debuting for 2018.

Volkswagen’s R-Line ™ Appearance Package makes its way into the 2018 Tiguan, giving it R-Line accents, trims, and dressings both inside and out. Unfortunately, none of these sporty finishes translates to improved powertrain performance (something this SUV needs). If you want to give your Tiguan crossover more aggressive styling, it can be had for the SEL and SEL Premium trims.

Click here to find out more about the Tiguan’s R-Line Package.

Video: 2019 Audi A8 lifts suspension if it detects side crash

In an impending lateral collision at more than 15.5 mph, the Audi AI active suspension raises the body on the side exposed to the danger by up to 3.1 inches.
In an impending lateral collision at more than 15.5 mph, the Audi AI active suspension raises the body on the side exposed to the danger by up to 3.1 inches.

All the autonomous braking, lane-keep assist and traffic jam pilot systems in the world may work as intended, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll prevent every single possible accident.

Prepared for the inevitable when it arrives, Audi’s new 2019 A8 has a new pre sense side technology, which lifts the suspension on the side of the car in less than a second before getting T-boned. This helps to divert impact from the door and cabin to the frame of the car, preventing injury to those inside.

Learn about the 2019 Audi A8’s new safety feature here.


First Drive: 2018 BMW X3 xDrive30i

Flared nostrils, squinty-eyed LED headlamps and stretched wheelbase notwithstanding, the best view provided by the 2018 BMW X3 is out the windshield on a curvy piece of road.IMAGE BY: RON SESSIONS

When it comes to sporty, luxury SUVs, BMW has the segment covered on all fronts thanks to the introduction of its newest crop of crossovers. One of those getting a major redo is the X3 midsize crossover, which is derived from the 3 series platform.

Daily News Autos contributing writer Ron Sessions finds out how well the top-selling 3 series’ parts translate to more bulging dimensions in the X3 xDrive30i. Does that turbo four-pot sing as sweet a song?

He writes that while this Bimmer certainly looks the part, it’s definitely priced like one too. All those enticing add-ons tick the price up fast and completely blow your budget before you can say “Efficient Dynamics.”

Volkswagen Is Going to Start Making Electric Cars in the U.S.

By Geoffrey Smith

5:58 AM EST
Volkswagen (VLKAY, -2.10%) will likely start making electric vehicles in the U.S. by 2023, according to plan unveiled Thursday.

Herbert Diess, head of the VW brand, told a press conference Thursday that although the company hadn’t yet taken a formal decision, “Chattanooga is our first choice” for making EVs destined for the North American market.

Chattanooga is home to VW’s only U.S. plant and has been earmarked for a wholesale expansion since the company’s diesel emissions scandal erupted in 2015.

ReadVW Has an $82 Billion Plan to Be a Leader in Electric Cars

Last month, Volkswagen’s board approved plans to invest some 34 billion euros ($41 billion) over the next five years in electric mobility and autonomous driving capabilities, with the intention of being the world’s biggest electric carmaker by 2025. The group, which also owns the Audi, Porsche, Bentley and Skoda brands, aims to be making 1 million electric cars a year by 2025.

VW’s shares have been on a tear this year due to rocketing growth in China and the growing confidence that the company has put the worst of Dieselgate behind it (even if related charges still wiped out its operating profit in the first three quarters of this year, and further charges from civil actions in Europe seem likely).

In November, its stock climbed above the pre-Dieselgate level for the first time. Central to that performance is improving profitability at the VW brand. On Thursday, Diess said the brand’s operating margin would rise to between 4% and 5% in the medium-term, more than double what it has been in recent years, and a nudge up from its previous target of 4%.

ReadVolkswagen Executive Pleads Guilty in Diesel Emissions Scandal

In part, that’s due to cost cuts that the company has only been able to push through since the Dieselgate scandal. It has shed 3,800 jobs this year and aims to lose 23,000 by natural attrition by 2020. But it’s also been helped by a rising proportion of higher-margin vehicles such as the Atlas SUV. Dies said the company will also bring a redesigned Touareg and an all-new T-Cross to market next year.

“With SUVs, we are earning the money we need to fund the shift towards electric mobility,” Diess said, although he cautioned: “We have completed the first five kilometers of a marathon. We are all aware of the challenges that lie ahead of us.”