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Auto blogThu, 13 Nov 2014 12:44:00 EST
As I scoured auction sites and classified ads for the perfect vehicle to take into battle with Autoblog Associate Editor Brandon Turkus, I knew I needed to find something unique. You see, I'm currently 0-2 at winning a round of This or That, in which two of our editors agree on a category, choose a side, and argue it out over a (mostly) friendly chain of emails.
The first time we did this, my chosen Fiat 500 Abarth took about a third of the popular vote in our reader poll. The second time, my lovely 1980 Oldsmobile 442 did just a little bit better against a 1989 BMW 635 CSi. Despite holding the opinion that my automotive choices, though perhaps a little bit more... obscure than my fellow editors, are still better, an outright win would go a long way toward boosting my vehicular self worth a few notches upward.
With all of that out of the way, even if three isn't my lucky number after all, I go into battle against Brandon knowing full well that I've made the perfect choice: A 1987 Volkswagen Vanagon Syncro. My rough-and-tumble van/'ute has a formidable opponent in the form of a 1987 Land Rover Defender, which, truth be told, is exactly what I was expecting from Turkus, a self-proclaimed Rover aficionado.
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.
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."