Automotive News Europe blogs

A peek inside's VW's secret fortress

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, Aug. 10
blogs
A VW researcher uses virtual reality to test the handover of control of a self-driving car in Chinese traffic.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  It takes about a half hour driving north from Wolfsburg along a lonely stretch of route A300 to reach Ehra-Lessien, Germany. It's a speck on the map. There's nothing around for miles. Well, almost nothing. After passing through a dense forest, a clearing opens to reveal Volkswagen's secretive proving grounds. Signs at the front gate tells visitors "radio transmissions are monitored" and warns abo ...
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German diesel summit must succeed in restoring confidence in fuel

Posted 5:25 am U.S. ET, Aug. 1
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Christiaan Hetzner is Germany correspondent at Automotive News Europe.
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  What Volkswagen Group's emissions fraud failed to achieve, Stuttgart Mayor Fritz Kuhn may accomplish: turn Germans against their diesel cars. Kuhn’s plan to ban most cars powered by diesel engines from entering the city – the cradle of Germany's auto industry – has grabbed headlines in Germany and paved the way for other cities to do likewise. Stuttgart’s municipal author ...
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German industry fears image blow over cartel probe

Posted 4:16 am U.S. ET, July 25
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Christiaan Hetzner is Germany correspondent at Automotive News Europe.
:  Germany's auto industry fears its image will suffer another severe blow after EU antitrust authorities said they would investigate claims that BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen Group operated a cartel for parts such as emissions treatment systems and convertible roofs. The industry already is suffering damage to its reputation because of VW Group's emissions-cheating scandal. News of the cartel prompte ...
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Audi copies Silicon Valley risk-taking culture with self-driving A8

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, July 24
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Stadler speaks to 2,000 media representatives and 'influencers' at the A8 unveil in Barcelona.
NICK GIBBS :  Audi CEO Rupert Stadler has been studying Silicon Valley’s risk-taking culture and with the brand’s new A8 self-driving flagship sedan, he is putting into practice what he has learned. At the 2015 Frankfurt auto show, Stadler admiringly described the difference in business culture between companies in Silicon Valley and Europe. “In Europe everything is forbidden until it is allo ...
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How the iPhone has changed our industry

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, July 14
blogs

KRISHNAN M. ANANTHARAMAN :  We were happy to let the tech press gush over the 10th anniversary of the iPhone last month. Like doting parents, they continue to regard each milestone in the iPhone's brief life as a cause for celebration, apparently ignorant of the engineering miracles required to design and build a modern motor vehicle. Nonetheless, on this occasion at least, we ought to acknowledge the profound influence the ...
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Bentley Bentayga plug-in taps VW Group parts bin

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, July 13
blogs
A Bentley Bentayga on display in March at the Geneva auto show (BLOOMBERG)
JAY RAMEY:  After the debut of the diesel Bentayga, packing a triple-charged 4.0-liter V-8 engine generating 429 hp, there was really only one unexplored powertrain option for Bentley's luxury tank: a hybrid. A plug-in hybrid Bentayga is indeed in the works, and prototypes have been spotted testing in the UK, Auto Express reports. Yes, ultimately this means the Bentayga will be able to take advantage of diam ...
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Dissecting Europe's automotive numbers

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, July 12
blogs Luca Ciferri is associate publisher and editor of Automotive News Europe.
 
Luxembourg has the youngest car parc in Europe while Poland has the oldest. Germany has the highest number of people directly employed in vehicle manufacturing in Europe but Spain has the highest output per worker. Turkey is the largest vehicle exporter to the EU in term of units, but Japan accounts for the highest import value of cars to the region. Europe's diesel penetration is down, but electr ...
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Renault design boss knows which line matters most

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, July 11
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Laurens van den Acker, pictured with the current Clio subcompact. He says the success of the car gave him "a bit of breathing room.”
PETER SIGAL:  PARIS -- When discussing automotive design, the word “line” gets used often. We talk about a vehicle’s beltline, roofline and the sightlines from the driver’s seat. Attractive cars have “nice lines.” Renault design chief Laurens van den Acker has his own take on the word. “There’s an expression, ‘The most beautiful line is the line of a risin ...
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Volvo sends message to suppliers

Posted 8:40 am U.S. ET, July 5
blogs Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe
 
Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson says that the automaker's decision to electrify all its future powertrains provides a clear message to suppliers. "They can count on Volvo as a customer," he said, adding that he hopes the Swedish automaker's commitment to electrified powertrains will lure more suppliers to the sector. "I think we need new players. We need more competition," he said during a press conf ...
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Ghosn knows what it means to be No. 1

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, July 5
blogs
 
Carlos Ghosn recently told Nissan's shareholders that the alliance of auto companies and brands he has forged — Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi, Samsung, AvtoVAZ — expects this year to become the world's biggest-volume auto group. That would be an amazing feat, but if it happens, it might warrant a cautionary observation: Beware of being the king. Consider what General Motors, Toyota and ...
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Continental's speaker-less solution slashes weight, satisfies the ear

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, June 30
blogs
Continental's solution replaces conventional loudspeakers with actuators that create sound by vibrating certain surfaces in the vehicle. The A-pillar is suited for high frequencies, the door panels for medium frequencies and the roof lining for low frequencies, Conti said.
DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC :  Continental's speaker-less in-car audio solution reduces weight by up to 90 percent compared with today's sound systems. However, even the head of  advanced development at the supplier's interiors division says he was “extremely skeptical” about going speaker-less. “I didn't even want to hear it,” said Karsten Michels, who was reluctant because the quality of the soun ...
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Britain's unofficial auto show is a classy affair

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, June 28
blogs
Goodwood stands are becoming more elaborate. Pictured is Ford's stand in 2014.
NICK GIBBS :  Forget auto shows held in huge trade fair grounds in cities such as Frankfurt, Paris and Beijing, the UK's must-attend automotive event is a much more refined event. The Goodwood Festival of Speed, held in the grounds of a sprawling aristocratic estate in southern England, has now grown in importance to the point it’s become the unofficial replacement for the British International Motor Sho ...
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Porsche and Toyota patriarchs cement friendship at Le Mans

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, June 28
blogs
Friendly rivals: Porsche Le Mans chief Fritz Enzinger (fourth from left) with Toyota executives (from left) Pascal Vasselon, Shigeki Tomoyama, Rob Leupen, Takeshi Uchiyamada and Toshio Sato. (Christiaan Hetzner)
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  In Porsche's hospitality suite not far from the race track, Toyota executives gathered around the meter-high trophy handed to the victor of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Porsche had won the race for the third year in a row on Sunday after early favorites Toyota, who had set a new lap record in qualifying, suffered one disaster after the other. In an attempt to stack the deck, the Japanese carmaker sen ...
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Volvo's Ingenlath achieves rare feat

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, June 21
blogs
New Polestar CEO Thomas Ingenlath.
DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC :  Volvo's Thomas Ingenlath is among few designers who have been tapped to lead a brand. Ingenlath is the new CEO of Volvo's Polestar unit, which the automaker is turning into a global stand-alone for electrified cars to challenge Tesla Motors and BMW's i subbrand. Other designers that rose to become brand bosses have had mixed results. Bryan Nesbitt's appointment as head of Cadillac was unprecede ...
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Chinese carmakers declare war on foreign rivals

Posted 7:59 am U.S. ET, June 19
blogs
Yang Jian is managing editor of Automotive News China.
YANG JIAN :  Until recently, Chinese automakers were widely considered to be cheap, low-quality marques that were too weak to compete with global giants. But in the past two years, several Chinese brands have snatched market share from foreign rivals. Chinese brands accounted for 44.4 percent of light-vehicle sales in China in the first five months of the year, up 6 percentage points from 2014. Leading the ...
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Why VW will not sell Polo in the U.S.

Posted 10:36 am U.S. ET, June 16
blogs
The new Polo, shown, is wider and longer than the current model.
:  Volkswagen brand's global sales boss, Juergen Stackmann, says the automaker has no plans to add its new Polo subcompact hatchback to a U.S. lineup dominated by SUVs and sedans. The price level of the segment in America is "ridiculously low," Stackmann told me on the sidelines of the Polo's unveiling in Berlin on Friday. "It doesn't make too much sense for us to bring a car like this, which has t ...
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China's EV market: Something for everybody

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, June 16
blogs
Yang Jian is managing editor of Automotive News China.
YANG JIAN :  How should foreign automakers enter China's fast-growing EV market -- with pricey luxury cars, or no-frills models for the mass market? The answer appears to be both. To meet Beijing's tough fuel economy targets, Volkswagen Group and Daimler each has adopted a twofold strategy, and other foreign automakers are likely to follow suit. The two German automakers recently signed agreements with Chin ...
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How engine gurus cope with the EV's rise

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, June 15
blogs Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
 
Engine gurus at powertrain components provider BorgWarner have some interesting views on the rise of electric vehicles. Stefan Demmerle, who is president of BorgWarner’s PowerDrive Systems unit, said that since some of the first cars ever made were electrically powered it could be argued that EVs are making a comeback. When asked whether he is disheartened about the future of the internal ...
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Would you buy a car from Amazon?

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, June 14
blogs
Amazon sells easily shipped commodities but brand loyalty and person-to-person contact is more important in car retailing. (Bloomberg)
CHRIS BRYANT AND ANDREA FELSTED:  You don't need a brain like Amazon chief Jeff Bezos to figure out why he began selling books online and not cars. Books are a cheap and easily-shipped commodity product. By contrast, people rarely buy a car without driving it first, while vehicles are bulky and customization options abound. There's more: new cars are typically bought on credit. Manufacturers and dealers tend to have tight-knit re ...
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Data: Gold mine or land mine?

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, June 4
blogs Luca Ciferri is associate publisher and editor of Automotive News Europe.
 
Fully autonomous vehicles are coming, maybe not in 2020 but they will be here between 2025 and 2030. This will require massive investments today to deliver big returns tomorrow, but a zero-accident, zero-fatality mobility is a truly fantastic target. The number of road deaths remains at an unacceptable level, about 1.25 million a year, according to the World Health Organization. In addition to sa ...
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Geely, a winner in China, faces uphill battle establishing itself overseas

Posted 4:01 am U.S. ET, June 2
blogs
Yang Jian is managing editor of Automotive News China.
YANG JIAN :  Geely Holding Group has emerged as the largest domestic carmaker in China this year. It is poised to defend its growing market share with a wave of models under its newly created Lynk & CO brand. But the private Chinese company still has a long way to go before becoming a truly global player, one that international brands have to reckon with. For many years, it was hard to tell which domesti ...
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Piech isolated at family gathering

Posted 7:16 am U.S. ET, May 30
blogs
Piech sat down on the stage at Porsche SE's annual meeting ahead of other family members. (Christiaan Hetzner)
CHRISTIAAN HETZNER :  Ferdinand Piech made what may be the last appearance at his family's holding company that controls a majority stake in Volkswagen Group. The industry patriarch, who turned 80 last month, attended Porsche Automobil Holding SE's annual meeting for the first time since he fell out with the rest of the Porsche-Piech clan, a dispute that led to his ouster as VW Group's chairman. Piech looked stoic as ...
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After Fields, is anyone safe?

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, May 29
blogs
 
DETROIT -- A Harvard education. Global experience. Mentored by a charismatic predecessor. And a clean elevation to CEO for a company not exactly known for seamless transitions. Mark Fields was supposed to be the poster child for a new Ford. Only he wasn't. And that reality, unleashed in the dead of the night last week, may have said more about the state of the industry than the fate of Mark Fie ...
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Lotus can thrive under Geely

Posted 5:47 am U.S. ET, May 24
blogs Nick Gibbs is UK Correspondent at Automotive News Europe.
 
The decision by China's Geely to take a majority stake in Lotus Cars is great news for the unprofitable British sports-car maker. Geely is already making positive noises about revitalizing the underfunded company, saying in a statement that it "aimed to unleash the full potential of Lotus Cars and bring it into a new phase of development by expanding and accelerating the rolling out of new produc ...
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How Renault plans to keep the Captur ahead of rivals

Posted 12:01 am U.S. ET, May 19
blogs
The Captur gets a tweaked radiator grille to bring it more into line with the brand's crossover family. Also added are a chrome strip and skid plates.
PETER SIGAL:  In his play about the English king, Henry IV, Shakespeare had the troubled monarch say: "Uneasy lies a head that wears the crown." I was reminded of that Shakespeare quote (Henry IV, Part 2) on a recent test drive of Renault’s updated Captur in Denmark by a sign for Helsingor, the Danish seaport better known as Elsinore, where Hamlet brooded in his castle. Introduced in 2013, the Captur ha ...
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