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Anti-union group files lawsuit against VW and UAW

Fri, 14 Mar 2014 15:47:00 EST

The fight for unionization at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, TN, factory isn't letting up. Yesterday, the National Labor Relations Board decided to allow anti-United Auto Workers employees at the plant the right to defend voting down the measure. Now, a group called the National Right to Work Foundation has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of five workers against VW and the UAW for allegedly working together to organize.
The group says in a release that it wants "to block further collusion between the company and the United Auto Workers." It alleges that VW forced workers to attend "mandatory pro-union meetings" and prevented managers from opposing. In a rebuttal on its website, the UAW called the claims "baseless" and said its actions were entirely legal.
One possible problem faces the carmaker in regards to the lawsuit. According to the Detroit Free Press, a recent US Court of Appeals ruling found that neutrality agreements like the one the business had with the UAW could be illegal if the company provided "things of value" to the union. The newspaper also claims that VW held a mandatory employee meeting concerning the election, but workers were free to leave during the UAW's presentation.

UAW angered over VW workers getting right to defend anti-union vote

Thu, 13 Mar 2014 13:02:00 EST

The United Auto Workers have called a decision by the National Labor Relations Board allowing anti-UAW employees at the Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga the right to defend voting down unionization at the plant "an outrage."
You'll recall that the union was defeated by a vote of 712 to 626 in a contentious February election. The UAW claims the outcome was unfairly swayed by pro-business, anti-union forces, including Senator Bob Corker and political advocate Grover Norquist.
This new decision by the NLRB essentially gives workers backed by the anti-UAW National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and Southern Momentum a formal voice in the impending hearing on the UAW's appeal of the vote.

Volkswagen throws a Polo-palooza with four new or upgraded models

Wed, 05 Mar 2014 17:41:00 EST

Volkswagen unveiled a parade of new and upgraded Polo models at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show, including the Polo TSI BlueMotion, Polo TDI BlueMotion, Polo BlueGT and CrossPolo (pictured above). While they will likely never make an appearance this side of the pond, it is fun to see what European subcompact drivers will be driving later this year.
The new BlueMotion models represent the most efficient petrol and diesel options in their class, according to VW. The BlueMotion TDI offers just 73 horsepower from its diesel engine but gives the equivalent of 76 miles per gallon (US) in the EU test. The BlueMotion TSI brings a little more power with its 88-hp petrol engine and has a combined rating of 57 mpg (US) in the EU cycle.
The Polo BlueGT provides a balance of performance and economy, and for the 2014 model, it gains a 9-horsepower boost to its 1.4-liter turbocharged to give drivers 147 hp at the press of the accelerator. This year's car also has an optional Sport Select suspension with electronically controlled dampers to improve handling a bit. It's still fitted with active cylinder management to use as little gas as possible when cruising.

Volkswagen Multivan Alltrack Concept takes the luxury van life off road

Wed, 05 Mar 2014 13:22:00 EST

Volkswagen dug into its commercial vehicle fleet for its latest Geneva Motor Show concept, blending the versatile body of the T5 MultiVan with a luxuriously appointed interior, 4Motion all-wheel drive and a thrifty diesel powertrain.
That 177-horsepower diesel engine routes its power to the AWD system through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. Based on that alone, we'd expect the Multivan Alltrack's behind-the-wheel experience to be somewhat familiar. That all-wheel-drive system and van body contribute to the 21-degree approach and 15-degree departure angles of this soft-roading MultiVan.
What wouldn't be familiar is its exquisite cabin. Volkswagen opted for a nautical theme for the concept's interior, featuring grey-blue leather seats from Poltrona Frau and a floor finished in real wood. The dark wood trim can also be found throughout the interior, running below the windows and on the dash.

Bentley considering diesel engine for new SUV

Wed, 05 Mar 2014 08:30:00 EST

Turns out, in case you didn't know, the rich are just like regular people. They too are concerned about the environment, even when tooling around town in their super-luxurious Bentleys. So the automaker is weighing the idea of offering a diesel engine in its SUV offering, which could help satisfy customers' demands for more fuel-efficient engines.
Chairman and CEO Wolfgang Schreiber told Autoblog in a roundtable interview at the Geneva Auto Show that the automaker is researching whether or not a diesel engine makes sense for the brand. Bentley, owned by the Volkswagen Group, could in theory use a diesel engine from anywhere in the Volkswagen Group family. We at Autoblog have hopes they'll revive the V10 TDI used in the VW Touareg until 2010, but ever-stricter emissions laws would likely make that problematic.
But rich people aren't so much like us that they'll be worried about petty things like pricing. Schreiber admitted the diesel engine could be a $15,000 option, which he said customers would probably find "acceptable." Given that the cheapest Bentley today starts at $177,000, typical customers probably won't be diddling around worrying about an extra 15 grand.

VW budget sub-brand stuck in limbo over VW standards, costs

Sat, 01 Mar 2014 09:01:00 EST

Reports in October 2012 claimed Volkswagen had begun investigating the creation of its own budget brand. This came after having failed to purchase Malaysian car company Proton or produce a meaningful partnership with Suzuki, and after watching Renault-Nissan make piles of euro on Dacia and plot the return of Datsun.
For VW, more important than the question of what to call it was how to build it profitably and in a way that didn't damage the VW brand. According to a report in Autocar, a satisfactory answer still hasn't been found. The hurdle is how to hit "'necessary' quality and safety levels" at the price points needed to make the venture worthwhile. At the time of the 2012 report, German outlet Der Spiegel said VW was trying to get prices down to 6,000 to 8,000 euro ($7,784 to $10,379 US), about two thousand to four thousand euro under the price of the VW Up and in line with the cost of a 6,790-euro Dacia Sandero in Germany.
In March 2013, VW announced, "We want to bring a true budget car to the market in China in the foreseeable future," the most concrete move in that direction after years of planning to make a decision. Working with local Chinese maker FAW, it was predicted that the vehicle in question would appear around 2016, but as of November last year a final vote on it needed to wait until this year because "We are still working on the cost side" and profit possibilities for a car that "has to be durable, it has to be precise, it has to be safe."

VW makes $9.2B offer for rest of truckmaker Scania

Sun, 23 Feb 2014 09:02:00 EST

Volkswagen owns or has controlling interests in three commercial truck operations: besides its own, VW began buying shares in Sweden's Scania in 2000 and now controls 89.2 percent of its shares and 62.6 percent of its capital, then bought into Germany's Man in 2006 - in order to prevent Man from trying to take over Scania - and now owns 75 percent of it. The car company has managed to work out 200 million euros in savings, but believes it can unlock a total of 650 million euros in savings if it takes outright control of Scania and can spread more common parts among the three divisions.
It has proposed a 6.7-billion-euro ($9.2 billion) buyout, but according to a Bloomberg report, Scania's minority investors don't appear inclined to the deal. Although effectively controlled by VW, Scania is an independently-listed Swedish company, and a profitable one at that: in the January-September 2013 period its operating profit was 9.4 percent compared to Man's 0.4 percent. Some of the other shareholders believe that Scania is better off on its own and will not approve the deal, some have asked an auditor to look into the potential conflict of interest between VW and Man, while some are willing to examine the deal and "make an evaluation based on what a long-term owner finds is good," which might not be just "the stock market price plus a few percent." The buyout will only be official assuming VW can reach the 90-percent share threshold that Swedish law mandates for a squeeze-out.
Many of the arguments against boil down to investors believing that Scania's Swedishness and unique offerings are what keep it profitable, and ownership by the German car company will kill that. (Have we heard that somewhere before?) If Volkswagen can buy that additional 0.8-percent share in Scania, perhaps its buyout wrangling with Man will give it an idea of what it's in for: "dozens" of minority investors in the German truckmaker have filed cases against VW, seeking higher prices for their shares. It is likely only to delay the inevitable, though. If VW is really going to compete with Daimler and Volvo in the truck market, it has to get the size, clout and savings to do so.

VW updates Scirocco with revised styling, new engines

Sun, 16 Feb 2014 14:58:00 EST

The Scirocco is undoubtedly one of the better-looking models in the Volkswagen lineup, but introduced back in 2008, it's now been on the market - some markets, anyway - for the better part of six years. VW is said to have an all-new replacement in the works, but before that arrives, the German automaker has announced a facelifted version with revised styling and a new engine lineup.
Set to be revealed at the Geneva Motor Show next month, the new Scirocco benefits from updated styling front and rear, high-tech exterior lighting, a revised cabin space with some throwback retro touches, some new technologies and, of course, an array of fresh wheel options ranging from 17 to 19 inches.
The updated Scirocco will be offered with a wide array of engines right from the get-go, including four gasoline options and two diesels, spanning from 125 horsepower all the way up to the 280-hp Scirocco R. The 2014 model hits European showrooms in August, but unfortunately isn't any more likely to make the transatlantic voyage Stateside than the version it replaces. Still interested? There's plenty to see in the high-res image gallery above and details in the press release below.

TN politicians may push to end VW incentives if plant goes union

Tue, 11 Feb 2014 10:45:00 EST

Volkswagen's Chattanooga Assembly Plant is scheduled to vote on whether to unionize in the coming days, but Tennessee state lawmakers are threatening to deny future tax subsidies to the factory, if the vote is successful. The factory is currently the only Volkswagen plant worldwide that is not unionized.
The states's Republican lawmakers have been particularly vocal against the union vote. Tennessee state senator Bo Watson said during a press conference that VW would have a "very tough time" with future incentives if the vote were successful, according to Automotive News. Tennessee House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick said the "heavy hand" of the UAW is not welcome there. VW has drawn criticism from both sides because it has allowed both pro- and anti-union groups to speak to workers and hand out leaflets.
Roughly 1,500 factory employees will vote on whether to unionize from February 12-14. If successful, the Chattanooga factory would be the first in the US organized under a German-style works council system where white- and blue-collar workers directly negotiate factory issues with the company's management.

Porsche board members facing another 1.8B lawsuit over VW takeover bid

Mon, 03 Feb 2014 15:44:00 EST

Back in 2008, Porsche got the bright idea that it could take over Volkswagen in the midst of the worst economic slump since the Great Depression. Ignoring that this was a catastrophic move for the Stuttgart sports car manufacturer that that eventually resulted in it nearly going bankrupt and eventually being taken over by the same company it sought to control, the aftermath has left Porsche Chairman Wolfgang Porsche and board member Ferdinand Piëch in the crosshairs of seven hedge funds that lost out during the takeover and are now seeking €1.8 billion - $2.43 billion US - in damages from the two execs, according to the BBC.
See, investors bet on Volkswagen's share price going down, partially because Porsche said it wasn't going to attempt a takeover. But Porsche was attempting to take over VW, having bought up nearly 75-percent of VW's publicly traded shares. When word broke that Porsche owned nearly three-quarters of VW (which indicated an imminent takeover attempt), rather than go down like the hedge funds bet it would, VW's share price skyrocketed to over 1,000 euros per share, according to Reuters.
Naturally, when you bet that a company's share price is going to drop and it in turn (temporarily) becomes the world's most valuable company, you lose a lot of money, unless you're able to buy up shares before prices jump too much. This led to a squeeze on the stock, which the hedge funds accuse Porsche and Piëch (who are both members of the Porsche family and supervisory board) of organizing.