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Last VW bus ever made arrives at final destination

Fri, 31 Jan 2014 09:00:00 EST

A Brazilian politician tried to save it, unsuccessfully, so the final Last Edition Volkswagen Type 2 Kombi was produced on December 20, 2013 and now resides in a vintage museum at Volkswagen's Commercial Vehicles HQ in Hanover, Germany.
The Volkswagen Microbus was built for 56 years, starting in September 1957. Brazil was the last country still assembling it, but new safety regulations in the country requiring airbags and ABS on all cars spelled the end. When that politician introduced a bill that would pardon only the 'Bus from a death sentence, it couldn't garner the required number of votes for passage. The South American country takes the Kombi production title, though, with 1.5 million of the 3.5 million total made in the home of Copacabana beach and the girl from Ipanema.
The VW Bus is dead. Now perhaps we can turn our attentions to the still-not-totally-settled matter of the Bulli...

Autoblog Podcast #366

Tue, 28 Jan 2014 16:45:00 EST

Episode #366 of the Autoblog podcast is here, and this week, Dan Roth, Jeff Ross and George Kennedy of Boldride.com talk about the 2015 Lincoln Navigator, Volkswagen's US market woes, and the drama at the Rolex 24 hours of Daytona. 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 after the jump with our Q&A. Thanks for listening!
Autoblog Podcast #366:
Topics:

Submit your questions for Autoblog Podcast #366 LIVE!

Mon, 27 Jan 2014 17:30:00 EST

We're set to record Autoblog Podcast #366 tonight, and you can check out the topics below, drop us your questions and comments via our Q&A module, and don't forget to subscribe to the Autoblog Podcast in iTunes if you haven't already done so. To take it all in live, tune in to our UStream (audio only) channel at 10:00 PM Eastern tonight.
Discussion Topics for Autoblog Podcast Episode #366
2015 Lincoln Navigator

VW exec calls US ops a 'disaster'

Thu, 23 Jan 2014 16:29:00 EST

Today in the Tell Us How You Really Feel file we have Bernd Osterloh, head of Volkswagen AG's Group Works Councils and member of the company's supervisory board, labeling the company's US operations "a disaster." Why? Because Osterloh believes VW of America doesn't have the models it needs to be competitive here, hasn't been decisive enough about its plans and German higher-ups still don't understand the US market.
In truth, the top labor rep at the German conglomerate is echoing sentiments we've heard from VWoA executives for years, and there's been the same commentary from dealers: Germany doesn't pay enough attention to what the US market really wants. Even ex-VWoA CEO Stefan Jacoby, who preceded the recently departed Jonathan Browning, said early in his tenure that one of his tasks was to get his German bosses to start delivering what the US market demanded. New CEO Michael Horn is saying much the same thing seven years later, telling Sky News that it has to increase "the speed at which we bring new models to the market and innovation to the market."
Osterloh wants to get "more models" here, including a pickup truck, but we'd wonder if the economics have changed from when Jacoby said they'd need to sell 100,000 per year to make money. Osterloh also wants a decision on where the CrossBlue will be built. Although it looked as if the Chatanooga, TN plant would get the call, the Puebla, Mexico plant is still in the running because of lower operating costs. No matter what happens right now, Osterloh thinks the situation won't get better for another two years when revamped models arrive, but at least the company can start taking the steps for a better US future.

Volkswagen Golf R Evo may debut at Beijing Motor Show

Thu, 23 Jan 2014 11:01:00 EST

If a report in Auto Express is correct, a lighter, faster brother to the Volkswagen Golf R will be shown to the world at the Beijing Motor Show in April. Said to be called the Golf R Evo, the even harder hot hatch would be unveiled as one of those concepts that's practically a de facto presentation of the genuine thing. The Evo in its name will come from having a carbon fiber roof and CF in the bodywork, lighter wheels, thinner bucket seats up front and a roll cage instead of rear seats.
If there's a power increase, it's been described as "a small bump." However, as the report mentions, if the Jenny Craig regimen can drop 100 kilograms (220 pounds) from the the 3,247-pound weight of the European Golf R, then the Golf R Evo will do about the same damage on the scales as the Golf but have at least 50 more horsepower and 44 more pound-feet of torque.
Since we still don't have the current Golf, this isn't something that should keep you awake even if the 'concept' does become a production model. But it is good to know that the Golf R is really going to start pushing its boundaries.

Andretti Autosport partners with Volkswagen for Global Rallycross season

Tue, 14 Jan 2014 19:15:00 EST

Michael Andretti and Volkswagen have both been involved in Global Rallycross for a couple of years, but not together. Andretti Motorsports Marketing organized the final round of the 2012 GRC series in Las Vegas, and there were rumors then that Andretti was going to get in. Around the same time there were news reports that Volkswagen was preparing a 600-hp Polo Mk5 to race in the SuperCar class; the photo above is racer Anton Marklund in his privateer Marklund Motorsports Polo at the 2013 X-Games round in Los Angeles.
Now it's official: Andretti Autosport will campaign the 2014 GRC season with VWs. That's all that's been said for now, Andretti being busy at the moment launching four entries for IndyCar, two for Indy Lights and two for Pro Mazda. We have a feeling we'll be seeing the MkVII Golf involved, but the cars and the driver lineup will be presented at the Chicago Auto Show on February 6.

VW promises 7-seat CUV for America in 2016

Mon, 13 Jan 2014 08:58:00 EST

On the eve of the Detroit Auto Show, Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn has confirmed the imminent arrival of a new crossover. The model, previewed at the same show last year by the CrossBlue concept pictured here, will be unique to the North American market when it arrives here in 2016. The new three-row, seven-seat crossover is part of an ambitious expansion plan on the part of Volkswagen and Audi in North America, where the two brands aim to sell a million vehicles by 2018.
That's a mighty big increase over the 600,000 vehicles which the Volkswagen Group sold here last year, but it's moving in the right direction: That number is already a 100-percent increase of what it sold here just five years ago. At that rate, VW should have little trouble meeting its goals, particularly with the arrival of the new crossover and the introduction of Golf production at its assembly plant in Puebla, Mexico. Read the full statement below for more.

VW midsize crossover production headed for Chattanooga

Fri, 10 Jan 2014 18:01:00 EST

Potential labor woes aside, it looks like Volkswagen's Chattanooga, TN factory must have done something that impressed the bosses in Germany, because it sounds like the three-year-old factory is set to score a second model.
The factory currently builds the Passat, and has been in the running alongside VW's Puebla, Mexico factory to build a new crossover vehicle, likely based on the CrossBlue Concept. According to Bloomberg, a pair of unnamed sources have confirmed that Chattanooga is the favorite ahead of an official announcement.
When last we heard about the CrossBlue Concept, word was that a production decision had been delayed over concerns about the three-row CUV's business case. That August 2013 story claimed that a decision regarding the CrossBlue would be pushed back until early in 2014, which means we're ripe for some sort of news, whether good or bad.

VW Jetta TDI Value Edition drops price of diesel ownership to $21,295*

Wed, 08 Jan 2014 11:21:00 EST

Getting a new diesel-powered car just got a bit easier. Volkswagen has announced a new Jetta TDI Value Edition for 2014 that trims over $2,000 off the starting price of a Jetta TDI, making the most affordable diesel-powered car in America even more so. Prices start at $21,295 (*plus $820 for destination) for a Value Edition with a six-speed manual transmission, while a six-speed dual-clutch automatic adds $1,100 to the price. For that money, owners will get 140 horsepower, 236 pound-feet of torque and 42 miles per gallon on the freeway.
Despite the lower price and being down on content versus the previous base Jetta TDI, the Value Edition does come quite well equipped, with standard heated cloth seats, a six-speaker stereo with a Media Device Interface, satellite radio, and one-touch, up-down power windows on all four doors. Customers will be giving up some notable stuff though, including tilt/telescopic steering, Bluetooth streaming audio, power seats and a multi-function steering wheel.
Still, if you're aching to get your hands on a new TDI, this is now the most affordable way to do it. We suspect having the lower MSRP will help the German manufacturer make even further diesel-powered inroads here in the States, a land where they cleared their decks of over 100,000 TDI models in 2013.

Brazil contemplates safety exemption for VW Kombi as it goes out of production today [w/poll]

Tue, 31 Dec 2013 09:45:00 EST

Brazil: the country of carnivals, indescribable beauty adjacent to abject poverty, Ayrton Senna and old Volkswagen models. Only they're not old - they're new, they're just based on old designs. The original Beetle continued production there long after it had been phased out elsewhere, but the original Kombi van has lasted much longer. That ends today, however, with the iconic VW Microbus ambling out of production on the last day of 2013.
VW kept making the van in Brazil with the original air-cooled 1.2-liter boxer four until 2005, after which the original design was updated with a 1.4-liter water-cooled engine. Today, however, it ultimately falls prey to safety regulations that mandate that all vehicles - no matter how old their design - need to have airbags and ABS, forcing Volkswagen do Brasil to cease production of the Microbus after a 56-year production run. But the latest word is that the Kombi (as it's presently known) could get a stay of execution - or at least a resurrection in short order.
According to reports, the Brazilian government is looking into granting the Type 2 Microbus an exemption from said safety regulations, reasoning that the van was designed long before the advent of airbags and ABS. If the measure goes through, the Kombi Last Edition (pictured above) could prove not to be the last at all. So what do you think, should the Microbus get an exemption from Brazilian safety regulations for nostalgia's sake? Vote in our poll below, then have your say in Comments.