Byron, Minnesota, United States
The redesigned Volkswagen Passat has been a decent seller since its debut in 2011, but sales have apparently dropped off enough that the automaker is trimming some of the employees from its Chattanooga, TN assembly plant. According to Automotive News, Volkswagen will be cutting shifts and laying off 500 contracted workers in response to slowing sales.
Currently, the plant has three teams running 10-hour shifts Monday through Saturday, but starting May 13, this will be reduced down to two teams running 10-hour shifts Monday through Thursday. This will be done to reduce dealer inventory (the article says that VW dealers, on average, have a 97-day supply of Passats) and production capacity (currently running at an annual pace of 170,000 units, which is more than the 150,000 annual units the plant was planned to produce).
This, of course, isn't saying that the Passat has been a failure since VW added 200 full-time employees to the plant in February 2012 to keep up with increased demand. The AN article says that automakers frequently overstaff plants during the launch of a new product - or in this case, a new product and a new plant - but eventually reduce the workers as things run smoother and more efficiently.
Sat, 22 Jun 2013 09:00:00 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.
Volkswagen has petitioned the FIA to hold on to the current specifications for cars in the World Rally Championship, according to Autosport.com. The move is evidently an effort to keep as many competitors in the sport as possible, despite the fact that using the current spec racers may actually hurt Volkswagen's chances at winning. The three factory teams currently competing in the WRC are at the end of a three-year homologation cycle at the end of 2013, and new cars are expected to bow next year. But developing new racers could cost as much as $4.7 million.
That price tag would put M-Sport (which fields Ford racers) out of the WRC game for 2014 and would put Citroën participation in question as well. VW has already begun work on the next iteration of its Polo R WRC, and the hatch has nabbed four wins in six rounds this season. Now it appears that car won't bow until at least 2015. The FIA has officially agreed to freeze homologation of new WRC cars until the end of next season.