Volkswagen Sales in U.S. Rebound After Diesel Scandal

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/01/business/volkswagen-sales-diesel.html

LANSING, Mich. — There were times last year when Jeff Williams wondered how his Volkswagen dealership was going to bounce back from the diesel-emissions scandal that had rocked the German automaker and badly tarnished its image in the United States.

After Volkswagen admitted that it had used illegal software to cheat on emissions tests, and the company was hit with a federal investigation and lawsuits from customers and dealers, many American consumers turned their backs on the brand.

“We literally had weeks when no one came in looking to buy — nobody,” Mr. Williams recalled. “I had four salespeople. I had to cut down to two.”

But now it seems Volkswagen has turned the corner in reconnecting with customers. October figures released Wednesday showed that sales of VW-brand vehicles leapt 12 percent from a year earlier, to 27,732 vehicles, even as overall new-car sales fell 1.3 percent to 1.354 million cars and light trucks.

The Road Back

Volkswagen’s sales have been rising over the last year, largely recovering from the 2015 disclosure of its diesel-emission deception.

OCTOBER

2016 24,779

2017 27,732

+12%
SEPTEMBER

2016 24,112

2017 32,112

+33%

Volkswagen has now reported a year-over-year sales increase in 11 of the last 12 months. So far this year, its sales are up 9.4 percent — more than any other nonluxury auto brand, according to the research firm Autodata.

VW sales have still not returned to the level achieved before the diesel scandal erupted two years ago, when American dealers were selling more than 30,000 cars a month. But the resurgence is striking in a year when car sales nationwide are declining.

Mr. Williams’s dealership, in Lansing, sold 20 new VW cars last month, up from just nine in October 2016. “I’m back to three salespeople, and I’m about to add another,” he said. “We are on people’s shopping lists again.”

Volkswagen’s Audi luxury brand also continues to grow. Its sales climbed 9.6 percent in October from a year earlier, to 19,425 vehicles, and were up 6 percent in the first 10 months the year.

Although its United States sales are rising again, Volkswagen is still working through the impact of the diesel scandal. It has agreed to pay $22 billion in settlements and fines in connection with the matter, including $4.3 billion to settle a case that was brought by the Justice Department. It also agreed to compensate American customers and buy back or fix the diesel models equipped with the illegal software.

All told, Volkswagen used the illegal software in some 11 million cars worldwide, including about 600,000 sold in the United States. Affected models included the diesel-powered versions of some of the VW brand’s most popular cars, such as the Golf, Jetta, Beetle and Passat. Certain vehicles sold by Volkswagen’s Audi and Porsche brands were also equipped with the illegal software.

As of August, Volkswagen had repurchased or modified more than 308,000 vehicles in the United States equipped with 2.0-liter diesel engines, at a cost of $6.4 billion, according to an independent auditor monitoring the process. Roughly 200,000 claims for buybacks remain to be processed. The company had also repurchased about 35,000 vehicles with 3.0-liter engines, out of a total of 53,000 claims filed.

Photo

An advertisement for the 2018 Volkswagen Tiguan above older Tiguans at Mr. Wiliams’s dealership.CreditRachel Woolf for The New York Times

While reporting a drop in earnings last week — a decline largely due to diesel settlements — Volkswagen acknowledged that the damage from the scandal was “nowhere near an end.” Diesel cars have been a bigger part of the company’s product mix in Europe than in United States, handicapping a worldwide recovery.

In one good sign on Wednesday, Volkswagen shares climbed to 167.85 euros on the Frankfurt stock exchange, finally exceeding the price at which they were trading before the diesel scandal.

Volkswagen isn’t the only automaker facing challenges. General Motors shares slumped this week after Goldman Sachs analysts downgraded the stock and gave it a “sell” rating over concerns about the company’s prospects in 2018. The investment bank said it now favored shares of Ford Motor stock over G.M.’s.

Volkswagen’s revival in the United States is being driven by two new sport-utility vehicles that arrived in showrooms this year. Even before the diesel problems, VW’s United States sales had been declining since 2012 as consumers, spurred by low gasoline prices, flocked to S.U.V.s and turned away from sedans and compact cars. VW, like other automakers, was caught off guard and scrambled to beef up its S.U.V. offerings.

One of the new S.U.V.s, the Atlas, is a full-size model that enables VW to compete with big sellers like the Ford Explorer and Honda Pilot. The 2018 Tiguan is redesign of an existing model. It comes with extra roominess to appeal to American car buyers.

“We can now target the heart of the S.U.V. market,” Hinrich J. Woebcken, president and chief executive of Volkswagen Group of America, told reporters last month. “We are at a fundamental turning point for the brand and our strategy for our American customers.”

Jessica Caldwell, an analyst at Edmunds.com, an auto information website, said VW “is not completely out of the woods,” but noted that American consumers had a history of forgiving automakers who had erred. G.M. faced heavy criticism and investigation after it was slow to recall faulty ignition switches that were eventually linked to fatal crashes.

“Americans follow something for a certain amount of time, but won’t turn their backs on a brand like VW for life,” Ms. Caldwell said. “Eventually they forget or forgive.”

For Volkswagen, keeping up the growth in the United States won’t be easy. The VW brand still lacks a compact S.U.V. for the American market, and the next two new models are sedans, the kind of cars fewer and fewer consumers are buying. One is a redesign of the Jetta compact, and the other a new full-size car called the Arteon. Both are due next year.

The slowdown in overall car sales may also pose a headwind. The industry is likely to report a decline this year after seven years of growth and record sales of 15.5 million cars and light trucks in 2016.

To help lure customers, VW has extended the warranty it offers on its 2018 model to six years or 72,000 miles, double what it previously offered.

“This country always loves the comeback story, right?” Mr. Woebcken said. “That’s what American people love, and they love to give people a second chance.”

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VW, Google announce quantum computing partnership

Source: https://www.cnet.com/roadshow/news/vw-google-announce-quantum-computing-partnership/

Volkswagen and Google are teaming up on quantum computing, with the goal of creating smarter cars and better infrastructure. The two goliaths plan to focus on three areas of research: traffic optimization, machine learning processes and the development of new materials and structures with an eye toward improved electric car batteries.

The German automaker is having workers at its IT labs in San Francisco and Munich partner with Google scientists to develop new simulations and algorithms on Google’s universal quantum computing platform. Such computers execute calculations at much higher rates of speed than traditional binary digital systems.

In one such project, VW and Google plan to use quantum computing to augment existing research on traffic optimization by incorporating new variables, all in the name of shortening vehicle travel times. In a statement, VW pointed to factors like available EV chargers, empty parking spaces and urban traffic guidance systems as factors that could be used to cut commute times when calculating drive routes.

Such research will likely focus not only on supporting individual drivers, but also urban traffic planning as a whole.

VW and Google aim to develop better EV batteries with quantum computing.

Volkswagen

VW and Google will also draw on quantum computing power to expedite research in artificial intelligence and machine learning, both of which are seen as key to developing connected and fully autonomous vehicles. AI research has many uses, and could also be used to develop smarter infrastructure or even new in-vehicle features such as Alexa-like digital assistants.

 

VW is already familiar with quantum computing power — in fact, it claims to be the first automaker in the world to work in this field. In March, VW announced that it had completed a research project using quantum computing to study the optimal traffic flow for 10,000 Beijing taxi cabs.

Which SUV Has the Best Third Row?

Source: https://www.cars.com/articles/which-suv-has-the-best-third-row-1420697648656/

Which SUV Has the Best Third Row?

49-volkswagen-atlas-2018-backseat-interior-third row.jpg
2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

CARS.COM — For popular three-row SUVs, a reason for being is the third row that provides extra seats for a big family, carpooling or the ability to take a bigger group in just one vehicle. So you’d think that automakers would create real seats for real people back there and not just for kids, but that’s often not the case.

The 2017 Three-Row SUV Challenge
Results | Cargo Space | Third Row | Mobile Devices | Video

Our 2017 Three-Row SUV Challenge compared the new 2018 Volkswagen Atlas, the redesigned 2018 Chevrolet Traverse, the refreshed 2017 Toyota Highlander and the 2017 Honda Pilot (winner of Cars.com’s last Three-Row SUV Challenge), all priced less than $46,000 with destination fees. While doing that overall evaluation, we specifically put these SUVs’ third rows to the test to see which was best.

We evaluated each SUV’s third-row access, seat comfort, visibility, Cars.com Car Seat Check scores, and whether it had places for your stuff and power for your devices. Climate controls weren’t rated because these all have tri-zone climate control and vents for the third row.

Note: In evaluating comfort, we had one of three Cars.com editors, all in the neighborhood of 6 feet tall, in each of the three rows — because no one ends up in the back unless the better seats are occupied and third-row comfort can be relative to the compromise you reach with the person adjusting their seat in the second row.

Here’s how the third rows rated:

Access

The Traverse and Atlas have longer wheelbases (120.9 and 117.3 inches, respectively) than the Pilot (111) and Highlander (109.8), and that made the biggest single difference for the entry space between the door pillar and second-row seat, allowing bigger rear doors and less rear-wheel intrusion. All four have second-row seats that slide forward for access to the third row, with Atlas seats sliding about 8 inches. The Atlas’ and Traverse’s second-row seats also tilt up and slide for easier access, even with a forward-facing child-safety seat installed. But the Traverse’s second row does that only on the passenger side.

Winner: The Atlas pockets a win in this category.

Comfort

The big Atlas and Traverse beat the Pilot for overall room in the back, though the Atlas is equipped for just two occupants, while the Traverse and Pilot offer seat belts for three passengers (though the three would have to be much narrower in their jeans than any of the Cars.com editors). All three overshadow the smaller Highlander — which has a more “occasional” back row (though it, too, is optimistically fitted with three sets of seat belts) — and are better choices for your last stop before a minivan.

47-chevrolet-traverse-2018-interior-second row.jpg
2018 Chevrolet Traverse

Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

For seat-cushion comfort and seating height, the Atlas and Traverse finished in a draw, though the Pilot was close on comfort; the Highlander was knees-in-the-air lowest on the seating-height front. The high-roofed Pilot offered the most headroom for adults back there; the Atlas’ and Traverse’s squared-off rear rooflines give them adequate headroom. Those two SUVs also had equally good available legroom for an adult, edging out the Pilot, though the VW test vehicle’s second-row bench meant less flexibility for legroom compromises with third-row occupants than the Chevy’s captain’s chairs (captain’s chairs are offered in the Atlas). The Highlander had the least room for legs, a problem compounded by also having the least space to slide your toes under the seat ahead. The Traverse, meanwhile, had the most extra toe space.

With the Atlas and Traverse close on leading space and seat comfort, the tiebreaker became the unfortunate design of the Atlas’ head restraints. The Atlas, and also the Highlander, use a simpler (and likely cheaper) “clamshell” design for head restraints that push down over the seatback for visibility when the seat is not in use. The Traverse, as well as Pilot, restraints flip down for better rear visibility; we also found them to be more comfortable when in use. The clamshell head restraints must be positioned forward to fit over the seatback when down, but that means that in use, depending on your height, they can push your head uncomfortably forward.

It’s less of a problem in the Highlander because the third-row seats recline a little, which also helps with headroom, but it leaves a tall person’s head uneasily close to the rear glass. The Atlas, however, compounds the problem with much bigger clamshell head restraints that not only push your head forward, but the head restraint’s lower edge pokes some people in the back depending on their height.

Winner: It’s a close call, but the Traverse pulls away with this category, tilted by its better-designed head restraints.

Visibility

With the current fashion for high beltlines, none of these SUVs felt airy in the back. That said, the Atlas and Pilot have relatively smaller pillars behind the rear doors and more glass thanks to an additional fixed panel behind the rear door window. The Atlas and the Traverse, meanwhile, offer extra light from above via moonroofs over the second row, a panoramic moonroof in the Atlas and a second moonroof panel in the Traverse. The Pilot and Highlander had traditional rectangles over the front row.

Winner: The Atlas lets the light into the third row with its panoramic moonroof and additional window panels.

54-volkswagen-atlas-2018-cupholders-interior-third row.jpg
2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry

Car Seat Check

Cars.com Car Seat Checks tested the third rows for ease of access and good fit for a forward-facing convertible child seat and a booster seat, grading on an A to F scale. The Atlas got straight A’s for access and for fitting the two types of car seats; that put it on this year’s Car Seat Check Honor Roll as one of only 10 vehicles with all A’s out of 65 tested vehicles from the 2017 and 2018 model years. The Pilot earned a B for third-row access, but A’s for forward-facing convertible seat fit and its set of third-row Latch anchors (the only one among these four) as well as a B for booster seat fit. The Highlander got B’s except for a C with the third-row booster seat. The Traverse’s third row, however, “needs work,” according to our Car Seat Check installation team, which gave the SUV a B for third-row access, a B for forward-facing convertible seat fit and a C for booster seat fit issues. See full car seat details on each here.

Winner: The Atlas makes the grade with its top ratings in Cars.com’s Car Seat Check.

Storage

In three-row SUVs, the passengers relegated to the wayback need places to store their stuff. The Highlander, Pilot and Traverse all have multi-use double cupholders for keeping clutter somewhat controlled. The Atlas also has third-row dual cupholders, but it also has three open cubbies for smaller items.

Winner: Any additional spaces for keeping third-row clutter under control is a win. The Atlas tucks this win into its cubbies.

Power

The Chevy laps the field with a pair of USB charging ports — one on each side of the third row — plus access to a 12-volt outlet in the cargo area, which offers power for various uses, including USB charging with an adaptor; the Traverse was the only one with USB ports in the third row. The VW and Honda also have a 12-volt outlet access. Toyota passengers must make friends with the second row.

Winner: The Traverse is plugged in when it comes to providing charging access in the third row.

Best Overall

The Volkswagen Atlas takes the crown, with the most category wins in this test, and also ranking top in our expert judges’ scoring of third-row comfort in the Three-Row SUV Challenge. But Chevy’s Traverse was a close second in most of these categories, and it edged the VW on comfort and device charging power.

First introduced on the Atlas and Tiguan, new warranty now extends to most 2018 models.

First introduced on the Atlas and Tiguan, new warranty now extends to most 2018 models.

Hoping to win American customers back, Volkswagen is now offering a six-year or 72,000-mile limited warranty on every 2018 model year vehicle in its lineup – minus the e-Golf. A similar offer was first introducedon the the VW Atlas and Tiguan CUVs, but has been rebranded the “People First Warranty” to reflect its broadened appeal. Hinrich J. Woebcken, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America said he thinks this will help increase VW’s U.S. sales numbers.

“We want to grow from a niche player to a volume player in the auto industry,” Woebcken said. “Rather than charging a premium for our product, our new vehicles are now more competitively priced in key segments”

The People First bumper-to-bumper warranty includes powertrain coverage for engines, transmissions, and VW’s 4Motion all-wheel-drive system. Compared to most of its mainstream competitors, VW offers coverage for longer and for higher mileage. For reference, Toyota and Ford both only offer a three-year or 36,000 mile basic warranty and five-year or 60,000 mile powertrain warranty. Hyundai and Kia plans offer more time and mileage on their powertrain warranties, but aren’t transferable to a second owner like VW’s. Assuming the car is resold before the warranty expires (six years or 72,000 miles), a second owner can still benefit from the VW warranty, depending on the vehicle’s original sale date.

Although Woebcken admits dealer morale was lacking when he came on board in 2016 (just after the discovery of cheating devices on VW diesel vehicles), he said the corporate-dealer relationship is now “in a really good place.”

“We want to show that we are taking American customers seriously,” Woebcken said. “The dealers are the ones looking into the eyes of our customers, and I want will do my utmost to keep that positive momentum with the dealer body.”

Woebcken also said this new warranty is part of the brand’s plan to “decentralize from Germany and allow more autonomy in the North American region.” One primary example he referenced was the VW Atlas’ name – which was changed to better appeal to the American market.

“What’s so great about this country is that everybody loves a great comeback story,” Woebcken said. “We feel like we are on a very good path in this regard, and if you look at recent sales numbers, it’s kind of proving it.”

The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta GLI’s manual transmission bites the dust

Source: https://www.yahoo.com/news/2018-volkswagen-jetta-glis-manual-transmission-bites-dust-185000976.html

The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta GLI’s manual transmission bites the dust

Joel Feder

,

MotorAuthority
The 2018 Volkswagen Jetta GLI's manual transmission bites the dust
Motor Authority

We hope you weren’t planning to #GiveAShift in a shiny new 2018 Volkswagen Jetta GLI. Because you can’t.

VW has largely carried over its sportiest Jetta into the 2018 model year, albeit with one important change: you can’t order it with three pedals. That’s right, no manual transmission is offered.

Sure, GLI gets new two-tone Anthracite 18-inch “Bathhurst” aluminum wheels, and there are LED headlights and taillights for 2018, but the loss of the manual transmission on VW’s sportiest sedan stings.

Inside, the lovely sport seats with red stitching still come standard, and a 6.3-inch capacitive touchscreen infotainment system is available with navigation.

Under the hood is the same 16-valve 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4 producing 210 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque as last year. What’s different is that power is sent to the front wheels through only a 6-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission.

While VW hasn’t released official 2018 model year information yet for the Golf GTI, the automaker confirmed it will retain its manual transmission option.

In good news, Honda will be happy to sell you a Civic SI sedan with three pedals and a turbocharged inline-4 with about the same power output as the GLI.

A VW spokesman told Motor Authority that, due to the short 2018 model year of the Jetta GLI, it didn’t make business sense to offer the manual transmission for 2018. A new Jetta is around the corner for the 2019 model year and will go on sale next calendar year.

Eds. note – The Jetta pictured is a 2016 GLI as VW hasn’t released photos of the 2018 model yet.

VW to Develop Electric Trucks in $1.7 Billion Technology Drive

Source: https://money.usnews.com/investing/news/articles/2017-10-11/vw-to-develop-electric-trucks-in-17-billion-technology-drive?src=usn_tw

Oct. 11, 2017, at 10:04 a.m.

VW to Develop Electric Trucks in $1.7 Billion Technology Drive
Reuters

A Volkswagen logo is seen at Serramonte Volkswagen in Colma, California, U.S., October 3, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Lam Reuters

HAMBURG (Reuters) – Volkswagen AG will invest 1.4 billion euros ($1.7 billion) in new technologies including electric trucks and buses by 2022, VW’s trucks chief Andreas Renschler said.

The money will go toward electric drives, autonomous vehicles and cloud-based systems, he said on the sidelines of a company event on Wednesday.

He also said a spin-off of VW’s trucks business remained an option.

Commercial truck makers are investing in electrification as regulators and policy makers step up pressure to curtail or eliminate pollution in big cities.

Navistar International Corp and Volkswagen Truck & Bus announced plans last month to collaborate on electric vehicles, saying they would launch an electric medium-duty truck in North America by late 2019.

VW’s German rival Daimler last month delivered the first of a smaller range of electric delivery trucks to customers in New York.

Renschler earlier told news agency Bloomberg he expected electric trucks for local deliveries to exceed a 5 percent market share by 2025.

(Reporting by Jan Schwartz; Writing by Maria Sheahan; Editing by Mark Potter)

Copyright 2017 Thomson Reuters.

VW Brand September Sales Hit Record on Strong Demand in China, Americas

Source: https://money.usnews.com/investing/news/articles/2017-10-06/vw-brand-september-sales-hit-record-on-strong-demand-in-china-americas?src=usn_tw
Reuters

FILE PHOTO: A man uses phone under a Volkswagen logo at the Shanghai Auto Show, in Shanghai, China April 20, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo Reuters

BERLIN (Reuters) – Volkswagen on Friday reported the highest-ever September sales result for its core namesake brand, with global registrations up 8 percent year-on-year to 593,700 vehicles.

 

Nine-month deliveries of VW’s largest division by sales and revenue rose 2.7 percent to 4.49 million autos, with gains in China and the Americas offsetting a decline in western Europe, the carmaker said.

 

“There are also clear signs of an upturn in the home market of Germany, current orders are well above the previous month,” sales chief Juergen Stackmann said, without being more specific.

 

(Reporting by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Douglas Busvine)

 

Copyright 2017 Thomson Reuters.