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Touring the Volkswagen Museum in Wolfsburg

Mon, 23 Sep 2013 11:29:00 EST

Forgive the ribbon up top - this isn't so much of a Read This as a Look At This. Ran When Parked took a tour of the sprawling Volkswagen Museum in Wolfsburg, and while there's a spot of text about the different and unique vehicles on display in the rotating exhibits, it's largely the collection of pictures of odd, one-off VW-badged cars and vans that excites. If you're a fan of the weird and wild, this is a post you'll want to look at.
As RWP points out, this is the larger, but less busy, museum targeted purely at Volkswagen products. The smaller AutoStadt museum, meanwhile, covers a much broader swath, with products from other Volkswagen Group members. Click on over to view the extensive gallery of high-quality images from Ran When Parked.

VW going turbo-only in 3 to 4 years

Wed, 18 Sep 2013 14:31:00 EST

This really was a matter of when, rather than if. Volkswagen will apparently be the first manufacturer to phase out naturally aspirated engines in favor of turbocharging its full slate. VW is kind of responsible for ushering in this push towards small-displacement, turbocharged engines that's taken the industry by storm. When it dropped its direct-injection, 2.0-liter turbo in the 2005 GTI it demonstrated that strapping an iron long to an engine can enhance the powertrain as a whole. VW made fuel economy gains, while also giving a linear, non-laggy turbo experience that it has replicated, model-after-model, to this day.
Speaking with The Detroit News, Volkswagen's executive Vice President of Group Quality, Marc Trahan, told the paper that, "We only have one normally aspirated gas engine, and when we go to the next generation vehicle that it's in, it will be replaced. So three, four years maximum."
Really, it's hard to get teary-eyed about either of these engines going away. VW has access to smaller powerplants that could easily match the performance of the 2.5 five-cylinder and the 3.6 V6, while gobbling up less fuel and providing a better driving experience. What we are sad about is that a similar statement about the extinction of NA engines came from the Vice President of Powertrain Engineering at Ford, Joe Bakaj. We'd certainly get teary-eyed over a world without Ford's excellent 5.0-liter V8.

VW redoes A-ha's 'Take On Me' music video

Wed, 18 Sep 2013 12:30:00 EST

Volkswagen has been responsible for its fair share of witty, clever commercials. "Tiny Vader" might be the most popular, but somehow, we think this newest spot will find a big audience. VW delivers not so much a cover, but a reimagining, of 1980s Norwegian pop band A-ha's famous music video for "Take On Me."
The original opens with an animated motorcycle race, which is revealed to be part of a comic book. VW's version replaces the motorcycle with a Passat, which strikes us as an oddly sober choice when there are cars like the GTI and Beetle in VW's portfolio. But never mind that - take a look down below for the entire 46-second spot. For reference, we've also included the original music video. And if you aren't a fan of the musical stylings of A-ha, just think, VW's choice of 1980s music could have been much worse.

VW Golf Sportsvan succeeds Golf Plus in Frankfurt

Sun, 08 Sep 2013 04:00:00 EST


Just ahead of this week's Frankfurt Motor Show, Volkswagen has announced the world premiere of its Golf Sportsvan, a near-production concept that succeeds its Golf Plus. VW describes this compact family car as "one of the most versatile vehicles of the compact class," noting that it offers a mix of hatchback and minivan features in a sporty package.
That sportiness comes from the Sportsvan's styling (perhaps more sleek wagon than minivan) and performance features it shares with the Golf GTI - including the XDS+ electronic differential lock, which is integrated into the Electronic Stability Control system to improve agility. At the same time, the Sportsvan's six engine options, which include a turbodiesel, are up to 19-percent more fuel-efficient than their predecessors.

VW investigating Golf water leak discovered by car magazine

Sat, 07 Sep 2013 17:02:00 EST

Volkswagen is in a spat with German magazine Auto Bild over claims that its new, seventh-generation Golf may already need a recall. The German weekly reports that new Golfs can leak water into front-passenger footwells due to a faulty drainage tube in their air conditioning systems.
And while the fix itself doesn't sound too terrible, because Volkswagen bases so many cars off the same platform as the Golf, Auto Bild is claiming that 300,000 models could be affected, including the Audi A3 and Seat Leon. That's a very bold claim. For its part, VW is vehemently denying that number, according to Reuters, saying it's aware of the problem and claiming only 46 Golfs need fixing. In addition, it denies that any Audi or Seat models are affected by the issue.
Either way, regardless of how pervasive this leak issue is, North American buyers should rest easy knowing that the problems ought to get fixed by the time the Mk VII Golf finaly reaches our dealerships.

Happy 60th to the VW Karmann Ghia

Tue, 20 Aug 2013 17:41:00 EST

Volkswagen's product portfolio may be as extensive these days as any other carmaker in the business. But if you still think of the original Beetle as synonymous with the brand, that's probably because a) you're old and b) the Beetle was the company's only product until the mid-50s.
Sixty years ago Wilhelm Karmann (founder of the eponymous coachbuilder) was in Paris for the auto salon and met up with Luigi Segre and his team from Carrozzeria Ghia who showed him what was essentially a "Beetle in a sports coat." A month later they showed it to Volkswagen chief Heinrich Nordhoff who, setting aside his conservative tastes, approved it for production. And so the Volkswagen Karmann Ghia was born, giving the German marque a second product line. It still used Beetle mechanicals and was built at the same Karmann factory in Onsabrück that was already assembling the Beetle Cabriolet.
It took another couple of years to put the design into production, but from 1955 to 1974, Volkswagen and Karmann built 362,601 coupes and 80,881 of the subsequent convertible that arrived in 1957. Today the Onsabrück factory is part of the VW Group, handling production of the Golf Cabriolet, XL1 and Porsche Boxster and Cayman, and with that original Karmann Ghia prototype as part of its factory collection.

BMW, Ferrari, VW cars use tungsten mined by terrorists

Thu, 08 Aug 2013 13:31:00 EST

Bloomberg Markets is reporting that BMW, Volkswagen and Ferrari have been using tungsten ore sourced from Columbia's FARC rebel terrorists. The extensive story focuses on Columbia's illegal mining trade and calls into question the provenance of the rare ore that is used not only in crankshaft parts production, but is also found in the world's computing and telecommunications industry for use in screens.
The ore is mined by the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, or Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People's Army), and exported to Pennsylvania, where it is refined. The refined ore is then sent over to Austria, where a company called Plansee turns it into a finished product. Now, it's important to note that we aren't talking about the world's supply of tungsten here. In 2012, Plansee's American refinery purchased 93.2 metric tons of tungsten, valued at $1.8 million. That's peanuts, with the entire Colombian tungsten mining industry producing just one percent of the world's supplies.
That doesn't make indirectly supporting FARC any more acceptable, though. BMW, VW and Ferrari are all committed to not accepting mineral supplies from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is also in the grips of a guerrilla insurrection funded, in part, by illegal mining. The same commitment would figure to extend to Colombian mining, but as BMW points out, it's difficult for a multi-national manufacturer to know where every item in its supply chain comes from. A company spokesperson says as much, telling Bloomberg, "These few grams out of the billions of tons of raw materials passing through the BMW supply chain are of no practical relevance."

VW, Suzuki mulling rekindling relationship in face of legal battle

Sat, 27 Jul 2013 11:02:00 EST

Volkswagen and Suzuki have been undergoing marriage counseling in a bid to avoid finalizing their nasty divorce. The blissful union has been troubled for some time, with Volkswagen claiming that it could affect operational decisions at Suzuki, and the Japanese brand's sniping and constant flirting with a certain Italian temptress causing rifts.
The matter first went to court in 2012, when Suzuki demanded VW get out, and leave its 19.9-percent stake in the Japanese brand in a box to the left. Now, Automotive News is reporting that the company will give the relationship one last shot, according to closed-door dealings between the two in London.
Still, it's understood that VW and Suzuki recognize the benefit of their alliance, and that it'd be in the best interests of the kids both parties to make things work. Spokespeople declined to comment to AN, but the newsmagazine spoke with Frank Biller, an analyst for LBBW in Stuttgart, who said, "Both companies stand to benefit if they can overcome the disagreements over leadership claims."

Skoda Octavia vRS is just the thing for your pumped-up neighborhood

Fri, 26 Jul 2013 19:29:00 EST

Skoda, oh Skoda. You're just so cool. Maybe it's the fact that it's a brand that we don't get in these United States, but Skoda's rebadged Volkswagens, in particular the new Octavia vRS shown here, are just different enough from the hum-drum VWs on our shores that the Czech brand seems strangely desirable. Maybe we're just craving forbidden fruit.
This short, minute-long spot covers the new vRS in a world of excess, where strollers ride on 26-inch wheels, lawnmowers feature V8 engines and ice cream cones are the size of toddlers. As things often go in these ads, the Octavia vRS draws the eyes of passerby that are seemingly use to things far more ridiculous than a reasonably priced Czech sedan. In reality, the Octavia should be fairly familiar to American buyers. It uses the same 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-pot found in the Volkswagen GTI and Jetta GLI, with 217 horsepower, and sits on the same platform as the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf. Take a look at the full spot, below.

Updated J.D. Power APEAL study shines on VW Group, Chevy

Wed, 24 Jul 2013 14:31:00 EST

J.D. Power has just revealed the results of its 2013 APEAL Study, which looks at which brands have the most appealing cars based on sales figures, dealer inventory, brand loyalty, transaction and trade-in prices. The study was revamped for 2013, and places a larger focus on the new tech and infotainment options available to customers. All told, study participants gauged their vehicles on 77 different attributes, delivering a score out of a 1,000 points.
The Volkswagen Group had the greatest success of any corporation, topping the APEAL rankings with the Audi Allroad, Porsche Boxster, Porsche Cayenne, VW GTI and Passat. Chevrolet had the highest number of awards for a single brand, though, with the Avalanche, Sonic and Volt all taking home a prize.
The best brand overall was Porsche, which scored 884 out of a possible 1,000 points. The top Japanese brand was Lexus with a score of 847, while the top American brand was Cadillac, at 841. The best mainstream brand was Ram, which received a very respectable 817. The industry average for this year's study was 795, with 16 brands, all of which were mainstream, falling below the average.