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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Volkswagen‘s Chattanooga manufacturing plant has become the first and only automotive manufacturing facility in the world to receive a Platinum certification from the US Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). From the onset, Volkswagen had designed their Chattanooga plant, where their popular Passat is produced, to be as green as possible and now they have something to show for it.
From the ground up, VW integrated various energy-saving technology into the plant, with its ultra-clean paint shop saving 50-million gallons of water in ten years. Other features of the plant include superior insulation provided by six-inches of mineral rock wool that results in saving 720,000-kilowatts per year; green power from the local hydroelectric dam; LED lighting on the exterior results in 68-percent less energy used; rainwater is collected and reused to flush toilets and cool welding machines; the plant’s white roof membrane is highly reflective and helps minimize heat island effect by up to 50-degrees Fahrenheit; natural flowing creeks capture heavy rains and restore a natural habitat; low-flow water fixtures and no-touch sensors throughout the plant reduce water usage by 30-percent; and lastly, the plant was built on brownfield property with no destruction of untouched nature.
Volkswagen has its redesigned Passat to thank as the brand as a whole posted a 41-percent increase in November sales compared to last year’s November. But it’s not all just Passat sales, as other popular VW models enjoyed success compared to last year.
Volkswagen’s Jetta sales rose 16-percent from November 2010 to the tune of 12,891 vehicles while Beetle sales were at 1,656 units compared to 487 last year. The biggest and most impressive increase is in the Passat’s sales however, having sold just 313 last November and an astonishing 6,018 this year. The US-built Passat went on sale in mid-September of this year.
VW sales as a year are on the rise compared to last year, having hit 291,899 year-to-date sales, a 25-percent increase from last year’s figure.
[Source: Automotive News]
As expected, Volkswagen debuted the Passat Alltrack at the Tokyo Motor Show and it was pretty much everything we expected it to be – a high-riding variant of the Passat wagon that’s offered in Europe. We have to admit we found it a little peculiar that VW would debut the Passat Alltrack in Japan but nonetheless, it got some attention on the show floor.
Featuring Volkswagen’s 4MOTION all-wheel-drive system, the Passat Alltrack will be introduced to the European market with two choices of 2.0L TDI powerplants. The exterior features flared fenders with a stainless-steel looking front bumper garnish and some matte-chrome accents. And for those wondering just how high-riding this Passat Alltrack is, its ground clearance has increase from 5.3-inches to 6.5-inches from the standard Passat wagon.
Take it as Volkswagen trying to mix a little of station wagon with SUV versatility, or something like that. It’s also worth mentioning that the Alltrack has the same off-road driving program seen on VW’s Touareg and Tiguan, which revises the vehicle’s ABS, electronic differential lock, throttle control and shift points to maximize traction. Hill descent is automatically turned on when grades are steeper than 10-percent.
Americans will probably never see the Alltrack stateside since VW wholeheartedly believes we’d choose an SUV over a wagon any day of the week. Guess they’re pretty spot on there.
GALLERY: Volkswagen Passat Alltrack
Consumer Reports has made allegations against Volkswagen that the company provided press vehicles that were built to a higher standard than versions sold to consumers.
Stories of “ringer” press vehicles are legend in the automotive world – most recently, Ferrari was accused of providing press cars that performed far better than customer cars. Now, the venerable consumer mag, which has made a name for itself by purchasing its own vehicles for road tests, has published photos and descriptions of a few key differences between the 2012 Passat they purchased, and the versions provided by Volkswagen by their press fleet.
The accusations hinge (no pun intended) on two plastic covers for the trunk hinge mechanism (pictured above). A VW press car had the covers installed to hide the bare metal hinges and wiring loom used on the Passat, but the customer cars purchased by CR didn’t have those. As CR’s Jon Linkov notes, if VW was willing to go the extra mile for a set of hinges, other crucial areas, like sound deadening, suspension tuning or engine performance could have been altered as well. Consumer Reports said that they’ve experienced these things before, and that it raises larger issues of impropriety.
While Volkswagen was displaying their “new” Beetle R “concept” and freshened 2012 VW CC at the Los Angeles Auto Show, there was also a new Passat sitting there which we have seen even more than the other two cars. Old news we were thinking… until Angus MacKenzie from Motor Trend stepped on stage.
Taking most of the assembled media members aback, Angus announced that the 2012 Passat had been chosen as this year’s Car Of The Year. From the largest field ever in the award’s 60-odd years of existence, the guys at MT picked the Passat. If we challenged you to name the 35 or so cars that were in the running this year, chances are you might have forgotten the Passat. But as Mr. MacKenzie pointed out, the new Passat was the best at meeting the magazine’s six judging criteria. We don’t have anything against the Passat, mind you, but we have to say that this selection was a big surprise.
Last year, Volkswagen stirred up some excitement by introducing the 2010 Polo GTI at the 2010 Geneva Auto Show, and this year they’re following it up with an announcement of two R-Line packages for the Polo in addition to an Exclusive Edition for the Passat.
The pair of R-Line packages will be available as an option for the Polo Comfortline and the Polo Highline model, with one of the packages concentrating on the exterior while the other outfits the interior with upgrades.
The exterior R-Line package comes with 16- or 17-inch wheels with wider 215-tires, black gloss finish for the front grille, model-specific front and rear bumpers (based on Comfortline or Highline), a rear diffuser, chrome exhaust tips, a roof spoiler, pair of side skirts, fog lamps and LED license plate illumination. For the Comfortline the exterior R-Line package runs around $2,000 based on today’s conversion rates while the Highline will cost a little less than $1,400.
The interior R-Line package costs a tad over $1,175 for the Polo Comfortline and $620 for the Highline and with it comes a pair of sport seats up front – with Alcantara or leather option – black roof lining, sport leather steering wheel, glossy black dashboard trim and aluminum pedals and door sills.
For the Passat, Volkswagen will be offering an Exclusive Edition based on the Highline trim for the sedan at $44,700 and as a station wagon Variant for $46,300. The Exclusive Edition will outfit the Passat with a set of 18-inch wheels while it sits 0.6-inch lower thanks to sportier suspension. On the inside, where most of the changes are, VW accents the Passat with Nappa leather seats in a chocolate brown shade with contrast-colored stitching in Pepper White. The door panels and steering wheel also benefits from leather while special floor mats and a combination of wood and aluminum trim round off the accents.
At any rate, hopefully the R-Line package is just a teaser for the upcoming Polo R model that VW should be adding to its lineup next year.
GALLERY: Polo R-Line and Passat Exclusive Edition
Volkswagen‘s new Chattanooga, Tennessee plant built its first car destined for a customer Wednesday, a dark Blue Passat 2.5L equipped with an automatic transmission.
The plant should reach full capacity in 2012, at which point it will produce 150,000 Passats annually. Volkswagen says that the plant will generate $12 billion in economic growth for the region, and 9,500 jobs related to the plant. Speaking to an assembled crowd, Volkswagen Chattanooga CEO Frank Fischer said “It has been an exciting challenge for all of us to build a new vehicle and a new plant at the same time, all while establishing new suppliers; but our team members have overcome those hurdles with a passion for details that has produced automotive excellence.”
Volkswagen could barely sell one generation of the Passat here in the United States, but over in China, VW is selling no less than 4 different Passats, from the mid-1990′s B5 chassis car to the all-new, “Made for America” Passat that will be sold here.
The New Passat, as the current car is dubbed, will signal an upmarket shift for the Passat in China, where it has traditionally been a more mainstream product. The new car will cost between $33,000 and $47,000.
A long-wheelbase variant of the previous generation B7 Passat will also be offered for Chinese customers who seem to favor mid-size luxury sedans with some extra rear legroom. The now antiquated B6 and B5 Passats will continue to be sold, ostensibly as downmarket sedans, as the Passat Magotan and Passat Lingyu, with the B2 Passat from the mid 1980s is still sold as the wildly popular Santana.
[Source: The Truth About Cars]
With its target of 800,000 sales still firmly in mind, Volkswagen is taking its next step towards achieving their goal, and the company is looking to their dealers for help, as they continue to roll out all new vehicles designed with American consumers in mind.
With the new Passat and Beetle set to be launched by year’s end, Volkswagen’s CEO, Jonathan Browning, is focusing on the dealer network as a means of helping boost sales. Browning noted in an interview with Ward’s Auto that the existing dealer network was capable of handling as many as 500,000 sales per year, but said that more franchises will be needed and “radical change” will be implemented. After all, the brand’s peak sales of 582,000 cars came in 1970.
Browning declined to elaborate on the exact number of dealers that needed to come into the fold, or the exact changes he was looking for, but noted that Volkswagen’s internal projections did not anticipate “pre-crisis” sales levels. On the product front, Browning said that diesels, which account for some 20 percent of VW sales, will be expanded through other product lines, but not every vehicle will be offered with that option. A 7-seater vehicle is also in the cards, and could be based off the Bulli concept shown at this years Geneva Auto Show, or the Touraeg SUV.
[Source: Wards Auto]
With two new major debuts in 2011, Volkswagen is hoping to raise their profile in the United States with a coupe Super Bowl commercials that show off their new Passat and give a hint at what the 2012 Beetle will look like when it bows at the end of the year.
The Passat spot evokes some iconic music from Star Wars, as well as a cute youngster running around in a Darth Vader get-up, attempting to use “The Force” on a variety of household objects. Unsuccessful, he tries his luck with the family car, a 2012 Passat, only to find out he’s in for a surprise.
The ad for the Beetle is a little more literal, showing a CGI-rendered beetle (as in, the insect) tearing through a dirt path. Ostensibly, this is supposed to mimic the sportier Beetle due in time for 2012.
Hit the jump to see Volkswagen’s commercials for the Superbowl
Volkswagen broke ground on a new engine plant in Puebla, Mexico, which is expected to come online in 2013. The $550 million plant is expected to supply engines to vehicles built at Volkswagen facilities in Mexico and Chattanooga, Tennesse.
An estimated 700 jobs will be created at the plant, along with auxiliary jobs for parts suppliers. With 435,000 vehicles made in Mexico in 2010, the country will be integral to Volkswagen’s goal of selling 1 million cars in the United States by 2018.
[Source: Left Lane News]
The NMS, like its smaller sibling, was designed with the North American market in mind, and will compete head-to-head with the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. This has caused concern for loyal Volkswagen fans, but the company cites the move to a larger, more American-like vehicle as necessary if Volkswagen is to increase volume in the United States.
Volkswagen will also build the car at its new facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Pricing is expected to start at around $20,000, and both gasoline and diesel powertrains will be offered.
[Source: Automotive News]
AutoGuide’s 2011 Detroit Auto Show coverage starts January 10th. Until then, see our complete Detroit Auto Show preview here.
The cars of North Korea (affectionately known as The Hermit Kingdom) have aroused a lot of interest over the years. Kim Jong-Il, North Korea’s dictator, is apparently a big fan of Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedans, and the state owned industry even made some knock-off Mercedes 190Es for a time.
But recent photos have surfaced, showing dignitaries from Myanmar’s government (another brutal, authoritarian regime) paying a visit to North Korea. In the pictures, a fleet of identical white Volkswagen Passats can be seen, bearing North Korean number plates, while an older, 1970′s era Mercedes sedan is visible in the background of one photo.
What relevance does this have on your life? Not too much. But we find dictators to be fascinating, and in a country where having a private car is like having a Gulfstream G550 jet, it’s cool to see just how prestigious a steel-wheel wearing Passat painted white – also known as a ‘base model’ here- is revered by the North Korean peasantry.
[Source: NK Econ Watch]
Volkswagen‘s New Midsize Sedan, the car designed and built in America, for American consumers, has been revealed in a series of spy photos that show the car undisguised.
Not surprisingly, the car looks like a 2011 Jetta with bigger proportions, trading the Passat’s distinctive styling for something as generic as a badgeless car in an auto insurance commercial. Clearly, Volkswagen is hoping to sell 800,000 units by taking the most anonymous and lowest-common-denominator route possible.
Following the news of Google’s self-driving car, there’s news that the German’s have been working on a pretty cool idea – an autonomous car controlled by an iPad.
This latest addition to the market, brought to you by the AutoNOMOS Labs project at Germany’s Freire University, combines a modified Volkswagen Passat that is equipped with sensors, GPS, radar and scanners, along with an iPad app that relays coordinates and other user information to the car. The test vehicle in question is a taxi – no word on why this type of technology is being used on a taxi service, but it is an interesting concept.
Watch the video after the jump.
The Chinese market has a series of peculiar tastes, the most well-known being their love of stretched mid-size sedans. While China gets cars like the BMW 7-Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class and other full-size luxury cars, stretched versions of everything from the BMW 5-Series to the Skoda Superb come in long-wheelbase versions, ostensibly for budding executives who can afford a driver, but not the biggest luxury car.
Volkswagen has previously offered an LWB Passat and is planning to sell a stretched variant of their newest sedan, which will also be built in China. The stretched car will be 4.7 inches longer than the standard Passat, giving it a larger rear seat area, with legroom highlighted as the key dimension. We’re not getting either variant of this car, so stay tuned to Autoguide for the closest possible look at this Sino-Germanic oddity.
[Source: China Car Times]
Volkswagen‘s Passat was unvieled in advance of the Paris Auto Show today, and for the first time in years, North America won’t be getting it. Instead, we’ll be receiving a an all new car designed to compete with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. The rest of the world gets the Passat seen here.
Underneath the non-descript bodywork, the Passat gets a whole range of engines, from a 105 horsepower gasoline engine to a 3.6L 6-cylinder making 300 horsepower. Diesels, of course, will be on offer for Europe’s taxi drivers.
Details are still scarce, but if you’re interested in a cut-rate Phaeton and live outside North America, you could scarcely do better. Check back for our Paris Auto Show coverage and the launch of the new VW Passat.
Gallery: 2011 Volkswagen Passat
Volkswagen‘s Passat will disappear after the 2010 model year to make way for the upcoming New Midsize Sedan (NMS) that is positioned against the Toyota Camry rather than continue with the Passat’s European-derived engineering.
The Passat always developed a cult following among a certain group of buyers,, but never developed widespread acceptance among mid-size buyers. Rather than keep it, Volkswagen decided to stop importing it, as they felt that the Jetta and NMS covered all the bases.
The NMS will debut at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show with sales starting early in the 2011 calender year.
[Source: LeftLane News]
Volkswagen is looking at producing a small car (similar to the Polo pictured above) at its Chattanooga, Tennessee plant alongside the upcoming New Midsize Sedan, set to replace the Passat when it debuts in 2011. The Chattanooga facility could also host a new engine plant as well.
The new U.S. plant is a vital factor in VW’s goal to move close to 1 million units in North America by 2018, as it will help significantly reduce the costs of producing vehicles for sale in North America. Volkswagen’s New Midsize Sedan will be cheaper and more suited to American tastes than the Passat. The Passat currently retails for about$27,000 while a comparable Accord can be had for under $20,000, thanks to an unfavorable euro-dollar exchange rate.
A new small car or SUV would help expand the product lineup, enabling VW to continue to move units while saving money on importing vehicles from Mexico or Europe.
Volkswagen‘s all new Passat has been revealed in a rendering obtained by Auto Express, one the allegedly came from a German dealer brochure. The new car clearly adopts the “corporate face” that Volkswagen is instituting, similar to the front fascias of both the new Polo, Golf and Touran.
Auto Express reports that motivation will come from 1.4L and 1.8L direct injection turbo units, as well as a pair of diesels. At some point, a 270-horsepower Passat R is expected to join the range, ostensibly with all-wheel drive. Of course, the new Passat won’t make it over here, as Volkswagen is developing an all new sedan, built for North American tastes, as a replace the outgoing Passat.
[Source: Auto Express]
It’s always been a goal of mine to learn how to slide into a parking spot, similar to how all the cool guys do it in Hollywood blockbusters. It’s a totally frivolous thing to master, and the chances of ever being able to use it are negligible. In any case, it looks like it will become a totally obsolete party trick now that robots can do it too.
Yes, that’s right. Robots. Stanford University and Volkswagen have had a long partnership in developing autonomous vehicles, fancy speak for cars that drives themselves. As the video explains, making a car go straight on its own isn’t too difficult, but turning is a little bit tougher. Sliding the car is a whole other operation in itself, as the handling characteristics are vastly more unpredictable. Evidently, the Stanford researchers have found a way around this, and have put together a couple neat videos to explain the process in layman’s terms.
Video after the jump
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Yes, the above video features a car parking itself. “What’s the big deal,” you ask, seeing as certain Lexus models can already park themselves?
This Passat is different. The car, nick named Junior 2 (Junior being the autonomous Audi TT-S), has been modified by the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Laboratory at Stanford University to valet park itself. The system uses a night vision camera, cruise control radar, and two tiny laser sensors to both navigate through a parking lot, find an empty space, and park. And besides, the Lexus doesn’t entirely part itself, it still requires a driver in the car to operate the pedals – and to push the auto-park button.
After the jump we’ve embedded a second video, taken from the back seat as all of this is taking place. And yes, it’s controlled via an iPhone app. Color us impressed when the system learns how to find us cheap parking…