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Auto blogThu, 23 Jan 2014
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.
After months of fighting from both sides, it looks like the Volkswagen factory in Chattanooga, TN, might unionize under the United Auto Workers after all. According to a letter acquired by The Associated Press, VW and the UAW reportedly struck a deal last spring where the union agreed to stop its challenge of the organization vote with the National Labor Relations Board to help clear the way for the CrossBlue to be produced in Tennessee. In exchange, the automaker would recognize the UAW at the plant. Leaders of the Local 42 at the facility reportedly signed the letter.
It seems that such an agreement would clear the way for the factory to unionize after months of dispute. According to The Detroit News, under Tennessee law, workers aren't required to join the organization. Although, that might not be a problem. As of a few months ago, Local 42 already claimed to have signed around 700 of the plant's roughly 1,500 workers.
Controversy has constantly swirled around the possible unionization at the Chattanooga plant. The UAW held its official decision in February and lost 712 to 626. However, there were allegations of intense political pressure to make sure the ballot failed. A later report also found that VW was offered $300 million in incentives well before the vote to make sure things progressed to the "satisfaction of the State of Tennessee," but the deal was later retracted. In July, the UAW opened Local 42 on the campus in hopes of signing up a majority of the workforce by volunteering to be a part of it.
Way back in 1973, Volkswagen decided it was high time to take the loveable air-cooled Bug racing. No, it wasn't painted in Herbie colors - Volkswagen called its sport-tuned machine the Beetle GSR, "Gelb Schwarzer Renner" or "Yellow Black Racer." Hence, the somewhat shocking paint scheme.
VW is bringing its sporty black and yellow Beetle back for 2014, and you can see live photos of it above. It's got a 210-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine under the hood (that'd be the hood up front, unlike the car's forebear), and a six-speed manual or DSG automatic transmission sends those ponies to the front wheels. Note that this car's output is up 10 horses on other turbo VWs, and the Jetta GLI and Beetle Turbo for 2013. The 0-60 run takes 6.6 seconds, and top speed is limited to 130 miles per hour.
Besides the in-your-face black and yellow paint, the GSR is outfitted with a large rear spoiler and 19-inch wheels shod with 235/40 tires. The bee-like hue carries over inside, with yellow stitching on black leather. Only 3,500 will be produced, each with its own unique plaque. Pricing has not yet been announced, but you're free to read through the press release below all the same.