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Get ready to Camino-ize your fourth-generation VW Jetta with this kit

08/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Sedans/Saloons, Trucks/Pickups, Volkswagen

Volkswagen Jetta Ute

Inexpensive, small pickup trucks used to be everywhere in the US, whether they were from Japanese brands like Datsun or Toyota, the truly weird Subaru Brat or even from Europe with the Volkswagen Caddy based on the Golf. These days that market has completely disappeared, but if you're willing to pick up some tools to build your own, there's a company out there bringing the Caddy back as a kit for the Jetta.

Mark Smith knows a thing about building a vehicle at home. He has over two decades in the DIY-car business as a co-founder of Local Motors and the company that became Factory Five Racing. His latest venture is Smyth Performance and already offers a mid-engine, VW-based kit called the G3F. His new product, though, started as a fluke. "I just wanted a shop truck," said Smith to Autoblog. He already had a Ford F-450 but found that he was driving around with the bed empty most of the time. The result was a pickup truck based on the fourth-generation Jetta that he dubbed the Ute.

The kit retails for $3,500 and ships in three, big boxes, and it's designed to be built and painted in a weekend. Buyers get fiberglass exterior panels, a fiberglass rear window surround, sliding rear window, an aluminum reinforced bed with a tubular steel subframe, taillights, a fully functional steel tailgate, and other parts. In the end, you get a vehicle with a six-foot bed and a payload of around 700-750 pounds. The Ute maintains all of the factory suspension, fuel tank and emissions equipment and requires just a few cuts in the body to complete. "We did a modern Caddy," admits Smith.

Sales are already progressing well for the Ute with "hundreds, not thousands" moved so far, Smith said. You can learn more about this reborn compact pickup at the Smyth Performance website.

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VW production boss Macht quits amidst MQB platform problems

08/04/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Hirings/Firings, Volkswagen

Volkswagen AG Presents Financial Results For 2010

Volkswagen Group has sacked - well, he left "by mutual agreement," at any rate - its production chief, Michael Macht, marking the second executive dispatched by the automaker in the last week. Macht, pictured above, left, with VW Group Chairman Martin Winterkorn, was the man responsible for overseeing the introduction of VW's extremely important MQB platform, which will underpin a huge array of vehicles in the coming years.

However, the introduction has not gone to plan. One of the most important MQB cars, the new Golf, has faced delays at VW's Wolfsburg factory, according to Automotive News Europe. Those delays have led to some pricey overtime, which was apparently the straw that broke the camel's back for VW's supreme boss. According to ANE, sources inside the company said Winterkorn was "unhappy" with the MQB rollout.

Macht originally joined Porsche in 1990, and ran the sports car manufacturer up until 2010, when he was plucked from the position in favor of Matthias Mueller. Thomas Ulbrich, head of production for the VW brand, will take over for Macht on an interim basis.

Scroll down for the official announcement from Volkswagen.

Continue reading VW production boss Macht quits amidst MQB platform problems

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VW's Winterkorn tells 20,000 staffers of big cost-cutting plans

07/25/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Volkswagen, Earnings/Financials

Germany Earns Volkswagen

During a gathering of 20,000 Volkswagen Group employees at company headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany on Wednesday, CEO Martin Winterkorn dropped a bombshell. The boss stated that the automaker isn't operating efficiently enough and admitted the company needs to radically start cutting back to raise its profit margins. To right the ship, Winterkorn has proposed killing off less profitable models and spending less on research and development.

According to Reuters, Winterkorn wants to raise the VW brand's profit margin from about 2.9 percent in 2013 to a target of 6 percent. To make that possible, his plan amounts to increasing cost cutting until Volkswagen reaches about 5 billion euros ($6.7 billion) per year to get things back in order. "Over the short-term, we urgently need more efficiency and higher profit," the CEO said during his speech, according to Reuters.

However, Winterkorn can't make these decisions unilaterally. Volkswagen's works council also has a seat on the supervisory board to represent laborers, and it isn't likely to take the proposed cuts sitting down.

Winterkorn's plan is especially interesting because the Volkswagen Group is going gangbusters worldwide, even if it's not meeting expectations here in North America. In the first quarter, it posted the equivalent of over $3 billion in global profits after taxes, and the group is aiming to meet its 10-million vehicle sales goal in 2014, four years early. Contrast that to the problems of the VW brand that saw its Q1 operating profits fall to around 440 million euro ($592 million), compared to about 590 million euro ($794 million) in the same quarter for the previous year. At the time, the automaker attributed the lower figure to falling sales, like in North and South America, poor exchange rates and higher investments in technology.

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The cars that won't live to see 2015 [w/video] [UPDATE]

07/24/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Acura, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Infiniti, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Nissan, Scion, Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo

Acura TL

Every year in the fast-paced automotive industry brings new models, but it also spells the end for some that have been less successful. This year will be no exception.

Japan's automakers make up the bulk of the list of discontinued models for the 2015 model year: Acura is replacing the TL and TSX with the new TLX sedan, Honda is bidding farewell to the Fit EV as the new Fit hatchback takes its place, and Nissan is saying goodbye to both the Cube and Murano CrossCabriolet. Both the Nissan Maxima and Mazda2 exit stage left before their upcoming replacements arrive, while Toyota is terminating the RAV4 EV and FJ Cruiser as well as the Scion xD, and Lexus IS C and IS F that are being effectively replaced by the new RC.

From our own domestic automakers, Cadillac discontinues the CTS-V sedan and wagon as the new CTS rolls in, Chevy is canceling the mild-hybrid Eco versions of the Malibu and Impala sedans, and Chrysler is killing off the 200 convertible as the new 200 sedan arrives.

German automakers are also well represented on the list, with BMW splitting the 1 Series coupe and convertible into the new 2 Series line, Mercedes reintegrates the CL-Class coupe into the S-Class family, and Volkswagen is finally killing off the Chrysler-made Routan. Elsewhere in Europe, the long-serving Gallardo is being replaced by the Huracán in the Lamborghini lineup, while Volvo ends production of the XC90 in advance of the new model's arrival.

It's a long list to wrap your head around, but our compatriots over at The Car Connection have summed it all up in the video below, and we've assembled the slideshow above with photos of each. The question is, which of these models will you miss the most? Share your thoughts in Comments.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story stated that Infiniti is discontinuing the G37 that was already replaced by the Q50. While that's technically true, as we reported earlier this year, the G37 as we know it will continue to live on, and has been renamed Q40 for the 2015 model year.

Continue reading The cars that won't live to see 2015 [w/video] [UPDATE]

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The cars that won't live to see 2015 [w/video]

07/24/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Acura, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Infiniti, Lamborghini, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Nissan, Scion, Toyota, Volkswagen, Volvo

Acura TL

Every year in the fast-paced automotive industry brings new models, but it also spells the end for some that have been less successful. This year will be no exception.

Japan's automakers make up the bulk of the list of discontinued models for the 2015 model year: Acura is replacing the TL and TSX with the new TLX sedan, Honda is bidding farewell to the Fit EV as the new Fit hatchback takes its place, and Nissan is saying goodbye to both the Cube and Murano CrossCabriolet. Both the Nissan Maxima and Mazda2 exit stage left before their upcoming replacements arrive, while Toyota is terminating the RAV4 EV and FJ Cruiser as well as the Scion xD, and Lexus IS C and IS F that are being effectively replaced by the new RC. Meanwhile Infiniti is finally discontinuing the G37 that was already replaced by the newer Q50.

From our own domestic automakers, Cadillac discontinues the CTS-V sedan and wagon as the new CTS rolls in, Chevy is canceling the mild-hybrid Eco versions of the Malibu and Impala sedans, and Chrysler is killing off the 200 convertible as the new 200 sedan arrives.

German automakers are also well represented on the list, with BMW splitting the 1 Series coupe and convertible into the new 2 Series line, Mercedes reintegrates the CL-Class coupe into the S-Class family, and Volkswagen is finally killing off the Chrysler-made Routan. Elsewhere in Europe, the long-serving Gallardo is being replaced by the Huracán in the Lamborghini lineup, while Volvo ends production of the XC90 in advance of the new model's arrival.

It's a long list to wrap your head around, but our compatriots over at The Car Connection have summed it all up in the video below, and we've assembled the slideshow above with photos of each. The question is, which of these models will you miss the most? Share your thoughts in Comments.

Continue reading The cars that won't live to see 2015 [w/video]

Read more..

Volkswagen says goodbye to Eos, Routan in 2015 updates

07/23/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Convertibles, Minivans/MPVs, Volkswagen

2015 Volkswagen Eos

Usually automakers announce changes to their lineup individually on a vehicle-by-vehicle basis, but sometimes it all comes at once - especially when the changes are ones we either expected or might not otherwise notice. That's the path Volkswagen has gone with changes to its US lineup for 2015.

The biggest change is what we already knew: that the new Golf arrives for the 2015 model year, bringing with it the new GTI, Golf R, e-Golf and Golf SportWagen (to replace the previous Jetta wagon). But there are some new details as well.

For starters, Volkswagen has finally confirmed that both the Eos and the Routan - both long rumored to be on their way out - will be exiting this year. The Eos hardtop convertible, pictured above, will linger for one last year, its Sport trim replaced by a new Final Edition with 18-inch wheels, two-tone leather interior and enhanced equipment.

Meanwhile the Routan, which hasn't actually been built in over a year, is finally dead, as VW confirms it has dropped the Chrysler-built minivan from its lineup for 2015 altogether. The German automaker has also confirmed that the Touareg is getting a facelift early in the new year, which we expect will closely follow the revisions revealed a few months ago ahead of the Beijing Motor Show.

Finally VW has announced an upgrade to its 2.0-liter TDI. Fitted to the Golf, Jetta, Passat and Beetle, the updated diesel gets 10 more horsepower with output now up to 150 hp and 236 pound-feet of torque. Scope out the full list of announcements in the press release below.

Continue reading Volkswagen says goodbye to Eos, Routan in 2015 updates

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Trio of cheesy classic VW buses stolen, recovered

07/20/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Time Warp, Minivans/MPVs, Etc., Government/Legal, Marketing/Advertising, Volkswagen

Cheese Vans Stolen

Three customized Volkswagen Buses (pictured above) made to look like blocks of Tillamook cheddar cheese are safe again after being stolen on July 12, and two men are in police custody for the alleged theft.

The cheesy cadre of VWs, their custom trailer and a Ford F-350 to haul them were on a promotional tour when they were stolen from a hotel parking lot in Manteca, Oregon. Police began searching for them, and the group of bright orange Volkswagens wasn't too hard to sniff out. The three vans with an estimated value of $100,000 each were recovered undamaged on July 14 from a storage center in California about 50 miles away from where they were taken, according to Oregon Live. It reports that one of the men arrested rented a space there.

Unfortunately, the trailer and pickup used to haul the classic VWs weren't so lucky. Prior to finding the vans, police discovered the other vehicles burned out. It appears the alleged thieves tried to turn them into grilled cheese...

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VW, Fiat deny merger talks

07/18/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Volkswagen, Earnings/Financials, FIAT

Volkswagen badge

Fiat badgeAll parties involved are actively denying a potentially Earth-shattering shakeup in the automotive universe, as a German business publication claimed that Volkswagen and Fiat have been discussing the possibility of a merger.

The magazine, Manager Magazin, claimed that Fiat was looking to ditch its volume automotive business in order to focus even more heavily on Ferrari, according to Automotive News Europe. The report claims that the merger would allow Chrysler to help bolster the Volkswagen brand in the United States.

Not surprisingly, Volkswagen, Fiat and the Agnelli family (which owns a 30-percent stake in FCA) have all denied this report. VW has said it's focusing on efficiency within its own group, and isn't looking at any takeover plans, according to AN. The Agnelli family, meanwhile, has also denied talks, while Fiat officials say are unaware of any talks.

That hasn't stopped some analysts from speculating that a merger between the two companies might not be a horrible idea, although any potential deal likely wouldn't be a full-scale merger, so much as a piecemeal plundering.

"Volkswagen has an urge to become the number one global automaker, and an acquisition of that size would bring them to their target immediately," Juergen Pieper, an analyst with Frankfurt-based Bankhaus Metzler, told AN. Pieper cautioned, however, that due to Fiat's troubles in Europe and the potential for antitrust woes in South America that a full-scale merger would be "rather unrealistic."

As for the Manager Magazin report, Chrysler might not be able to help VW quite as much as the German publication thinks.

VW's issues "are more image and pricing problems and not so much problems of distribution and manufacturing," an unnamed auto analyst told AN. "Buying Chrysler would not really help VW."

Of course, should we hear anything else on this fascinating rumor, we'll be sure to check it out. Stay tuned.

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Autoblog Podcast #389

07/17/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Podcasts, Etc., Hirings/Firings, BMW, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Hyundai, Subaru, Volkswagen

Autoblog Podcast logo

Episode #389 of the Autoblog podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Chris Paukert, and Mark Pereira from Autoblog Canada talk about Johan deNysschen's move to Cadillac, rumors of more BMW nomenclature changes, a second generation for the Subaru BRZ, and cars from 2004 that we miss. We start with what's in the garage and finish up with some of your questions, and for those of you who hung with us live on our UStream channel, thanks for taking the time. Check out the new rundown below with times for topics, and you can follow along down below with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!

Autoblog Podcast #389:

Topics:

  • Johan de Nysschen moves to Cadillac
  • BMW model designations changing even more
  • Subaru BRZ getting second generation
  • Cars We Miss

In the Autoblog Garage:

  • 2014 Ducati 899 Panigale
  • 2015 Hyundai Sonata
  • 2015 Volkswagen GTI
  • 2015 Chevrolet Silverato 2500 Diesel

Hosts: Dan Roth, Chris Paukert, Mark Pereira

Runtime: 01:59:10

Rundown:

  • Intro and Garage - 00:00
  • Johan deNysschen - 36:12
  • BMW Nomenclature - 53:58
  • BRZ - 56:27
  • Cars We Miss - 01:05:07
  • Q&A - 01:30:09

Get the podcast:

[UStream] Listen live on Mondays at 10 PM Eastern at UStream

[iTunes] Subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes

[RSS] Add the Autoblog Podcast feed to your RSS aggregator

[MP3] Download the MP3 directly

Feedback:

Email: Podcast at Autoblog dot com

Review the show in iTunes

Continue reading Autoblog Podcast #389

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VW confirms SUV for Chattanooga; will add 2,000 jobs including new R&D center

07/14/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Crossovers/CUVs, Volkswagen

Broadcasting from its "Mobile Life Campus" in Wolfsburg, Germany (and crowing about Germany's World Cup win last night), Volkswagen has just announced that its new "Midsize SUV" will be built at the company's Chattanooga, TN manufacturing facility. Further, the company says it will establish a new "National Research & Development and Planning Center" at the Tennessee campus.

Without divulging new details about the vehicle, VW Chairman Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn confirms that the seven-passenger utility vehicle, previewed by the CrossBlue Concept, will be coming to Chattanooga. Winterkorn called the upcoming family hauler a "true American car ... built by real Americans."

In total, VW expects to create some 2,000 jobs by way of its announced efforts, with more than $7 billion invested in the US and Mexico.

Certainly, the CrossBlue's progeny has been designed with the US customer in mind, a high-capacity crossover (despite VW's insistence in calling it an "SUV") built on the versatile MQB architecture that underpins all of the company's newest products.

A diesel-electric hybrid in concept form, there's still no word on what powertrains the production version might offer - save for VW hinting that the platform is versatile enough to take hybrid, 2.0T, V6 or some combination of power therein.

Production on the utility vehicle will commence at the end of 2016. By then, some $900 million will have been invested in the project, with some 538,000 square feet of floor space added to the production facility.

As for the new R&D center, Winterkorn explains that its primary function will be to speed up the response time in bringing relevant product to US costumers. More than 200 new engineers will call VW Chatttanooga home, helping to integrate customer feedback "expeditiously" into currently built models, as well as planned vehicles.

In total, VW expects to create some 2,000 jobs by way of its announced efforts, with more than $7 billion invested in the US and Mexico from 2014 through 2018. (Actually, Dr. Winterkorn said "7 billion euros" in his live speech, contrary to the $7 billion figure noted in the VW press release; we're reaching out to the company for clarification.)

Finally, with a nod to some of the labor struggles VW, the United Auto Workers and political forces within the state of Tennessee have undergone over the last year, the company has announced that Chairman of the Group Works Council, Bernd Osterloh, will be joining the board of directors for VW America. Osterloh vows to "uphold the interests of Volkswagen employees in Chattanooga."

Scroll down to read the full VW press release.

Continue reading VW confirms SUV for Chattanooga; will add 2,000 jobs including new R&D center

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