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VW set to replace Müller as CEO

Volkswagen has seen its reputation battered in recent years by the scandal

Volkswagen is set to replace its chief executive, Matthias Müller, due to the diesel emissions scandal that has cost the car manufacturer billions of dollars, led to the imprisonment of two executives, and ruined the German carmaker’s reputation.

Two people with knowledge of the situation told the New York Times that Herbert Diess, who is in charge of the company’s flagship Volkswagen brand, was likely to succeed Müller. The company said earlier on Tuesday that it was considering a leadership change, and a final decision was expected by the end of the week.

In the statement, Volkswagen said it was considering “a further development of the management structure of the group,” which could “include a change in the position of the chairman of the board of management,” referring to Müller.

Political leaders are currently pressing the German carmaker to compensate diesel owners who bought cars that turned out to be dirtier than advertised, which could add to the already huge cost of the scandal.

Müller, 64, took over Volkswagen days after it admitted in September 2015 that it had cheated on diesel emissions tests, installing illegal software in 11 million vehicles.

He succeeded in preventing a collapse of sales and profits. But Müller, who has spent his entire career at Volkswagen or its subsidiaries, struggled to deliver on his promise to remake the company’s solid foundation.

However, the carmaker has continued to suffer blows to its reputation, including revelations in January that it had financed tests on monkeys in an attempt to show that diesel exhaust was not as dangerous as it once was.

“This is a chance for Volkswagen to make a change,” said Christian Strenger, the former chief executive of Deutsche Bank’s wealth management division, who is suing Volkswagen because he said it violated its duty to shareholders by failing to be forthcoming about the emissions scandal. 

Diess has led Volkswagen’s push to mass produce electric cars, which are seen as essential to the company’s ability to defend itself against challengers like Tesla, Uber and Google that are trying to upend the auto industry.

German prosecutors have not charged anyone in the Volkswagen case, but they expect to complete their investigation this year.

Two former Volkswagen executives are currently serving prison sentences in the US after pleading guilty to charges including conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act.

Müller was a high-ranking executive involved in product development at the same time that the company was developing the illegal software and deploying it in vehicles, however he has insisted he was ignorant of any wrongdoing, but he has faced the accusation that he was part of a system that allowed it to take place.

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VW settles emission lawsuit in US

Volkswagen has seen its reputation battered in recent years by the scandal

Volkswagen has settled a lawsuit brought by a North Carolina man whose car was equipped with software that concealed excess diesel emissions right before the case was set to go to trial.

The trial could have featured testimony from current and former VW executives and would likely have caused a spate of bad press for the automaker regarding the Dieselgate scandal.

Before the settlement on Friday, Virginia state court judge, Bruce D. White, rejected a request by the German automaker to delay the trial because of “inflammatory” comments made by a lawyer representing the affected car owners.

David Doar bought a 2014 diesel Jetta for $23,700 and had rejected a settlement offer from a 2016 class-action agreement that would have reimbursed him for the value of the vehicle. He had sought $725,000 plus lawyers’ fees in legal filings.

Volkswagen said early this month that its case has been prejudiced by recent publicity about how the company financed research, in which monkeys were exposed to diesel exhaust.

Nearly all American owners of affected cars agreed to take part in a $25 billion settlement in 2016 that addressed claims from them, environmental regulators, states and dealers. The settlement included buyback offers and additional compensation for about 500,000 owners.

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VW PR chief takes the blame

Thomas Steg – Volkswagen’s head of external relations and sustainability

Automaker Volkswagen’s head of external relations and sustainability has stepped aside from his duties after the recent controversy over experiments in which humans and monkeys were exposed to diesel exhaust.

Matthias Mueller – chief executive of Volkswagen

 “We are currently in the process of investigating the work of the EUGT, which was dissolved in 2017, and drawing all the necessary consequences. Mr. Steg has declared that he will assume full responsibility. I respect his decision,” said the CEO of Volkswagen, Matthias Müller.

Ms. Merkel, through her spokesman, was among the political leaders and auto industry executives who in recent days condemned the experiments at a lab in Albuquerque, in which monkeys were exposed to diesel exhaust.

The project was financed by German carmakers, who wanted to show that diesel cars were less of a threat to human health than groups such as the World Health Organization have claimed.

A separate project also financed by the carmakers subjected human volunteers in Germany to doses of nitrogen dioxide, one of diesel’s most noxious by-products.

Environmental groups and other critics of Volkswagen said the suspension of Mr. Steg, whose formal title at Volkswagen is head of external relations and sustainability, made him a sacrificial lamb meant to insulate the company’s top managers from consequences.

These critics drew parallels with the Volkswagen emissions scandal, in which the company initially said that a small number of rogue engineers were responsible for installing software intended to dupe regulators. German prosecutors have since identified dozens of suspects.

“They are again playing the game where the subordinates were the culprits,” said Christian Strenger, a former member of a commission that wrote Germany’s rules on corporate governance. Mr. Strenger is among the people suing Volkswagen for violating its legal obligations to shareholders.

The experiments that preceded Mr. Steg’s suspension were conducted at a laboratory in Albuquerque for the European Research Group on Environment and Health in the Transport Sector, known by its German initials, E.U.G.T.

The organisation was financed entirely by Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW. (Bosch, a major German auto parts supplier, had been a member but dropped out in 2013.)

In recent days, the three carmakers have repudiated the work of the group, even though all three were represented on the organisation’s five-person board of directors, and all three contributed money to the group.

Matthias Müller, Volkswagen’s chief executive, said in a statement Tuesday that the company is conducting a thorough investigation of the research “and will draw all the necessary consequences.”

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Diesel fume experiments revealed

Reports of experiments that exposed humans and monkeys to diesel fumes have the Volkswagen Group, Daimler and BMW scrambling to distance themselves from the situation. 

The automakers are promising to investigate the tests whose disclosure now threatens to open a new phase in an emissions controversy that’s dogged the industry since 2015. 

Volkswagen has seen its reputation battered in recent years by deepening scandals.

The study, conducted by the European Research Association for Environment and Health in the Transport Sector (EUGT), had 25 people expose themselves to diesel exhaust fumes at different concentrations and for several hours, the Stuttgarter Zeitung newspaper reported Monday.  

The actions further undermine diesel’s image, steepening an uphill battle to rescue the technology amid worsening political headwinds.

“This is another hit for diesel and shows how carmakers overstepped the mark morally and ethically in their fight to make diesel socially acceptable,” said Stefan Bratzel, director of the Centre of Automotive Management in Bergisch Gladbach, Germany.

“This news means more pressure for politicians to act on diesel.”

At the weekend, the German automakers also confirmed that the EUGT researchers they commissioned used monkeys to test the health effects of inhaling diesel fumes. 

The monkeys were exposed to the exhaust fumes of an older and a modern diesel vehicle, so the progress of the technology could be demonstrated. 

The circumstances of the study, and details on how it was conducted, are contained in a sworn deposition of Jake McDonald, a scientist who oversaw the project.

McDonald said in the deposition, which was taken as part of diesel emissions suit filed against Volkswagen, that the monkeys were shown cartoons during hours of tests to help keep them calm.

“We believe that the scientific methods used to conduct the study were wrong and that it would have been better not to undertake it at all,” Volkswagen said in a statement on Monday.

“We are shocked by the extent and application of the studies … We condemn the experiments in the strongest terms,” carmaker Daimler wrote.

The German government also condemned the tests. ‘These tests … are in no ethical way justifiable and they raise many critical questions about those who are behind the tests,” said Steffen Seibert, a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel.


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Golf 8 to arrive in 2020

Volkswagen claims that the next Golf will become the benchmark in safety and connectivity, when the hatchback begins production in late 2019.

2018 Golf family – Volkswagen

“In 75 weeks, the eighth generation of the bestseller in the compact segment is to roll off the production lines at Volkswagen’s main plant, in Wolfsburg, Europe’s largest car factory,” a VW spokesperson said at the ‘Golf 8 Supplier Summit.’

 VW will start production of the Golf-sized I.D. battery-powered hatchback at the same time as the new Golf in June 2019.

It will go on sale in 2020 at a price comparable to a Golf diesel.

The design will be overseen by Porsche stylist Michael Mauer.

“With expanded autonomous driving functions, the next Golf leads Volkswagen into the era of fully connected automobiles,” said Karlheinz Hell, responsible for VW brand’s compact car family.

“It will always be online and serve as the benchmark in safety and connectivity thanks to its digital cockpit and assistance systems.”

VW purchasing chief Ralf Brandstaetter said the coming Golf generation is “strategically the most important for the brand next to the I.D. family.” 

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VW sales chief quits

U.S. sales chief quits due to declining delivery numbers.

A senior U.S. sales manager has quit the Volkswagen North America branch just as the carmaker’s deliveries in the world’s second-largest auto market fall steeply.

Ron Stach, senior vice president of sales at Volkswagen of America, has left the automaker, a spokesman for VW in the United States said on Saturday.

VW said last Wednesday that its U.S. sales rose 5.2 per cent to 339,676 brand models last year but plunged 19 per cent in December after posting their first monthly drop in 2017 in November.

The world’s largest automaker by sales is keen to end losses in the United States by the end of the decade, counting on a series of higher-margin new models and structural changes as it struggles to draw a line under its diesel emissions test cheating scandal which broke in the United States in 2015.

Stach will be replaced temporarily by Derrick Hatami who joined VW of America last June as executive vice president for sales and marketing, VW said.

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VW – world’s largest automaker

VW group sales beats Toyota to be world’s largest automaker for 2017

Bild am Sonntag, a well-known German newspaper, has reported that Volkswagen Group’s vehicle sales rose to around 10.7 million last year, putting them ahead of Toyota to become the world’s largest automaker. 

Citing in-house Volkswagen estimates, Bild am Sonntag, reported that higher delivery figures helped drive revenue above US$265 billion, a significant achievement after last year’s record of US$260 billion. 

VW is due to publish official 2017 group sales data on Jan. 17 and will release core financial results in late February.

In 2016, the first full year after VW’s emissions test-cheating scandal, group sales rose 3.8 percent to a record 10.3 million cars, helped by a double-digit increase in China and gains in Europe.

Toyota relinquished its four-year title as the world’s top-selling automaker to Volkswagen last year. This was the first time the German company held the title. Toyota said in December that it expects to sell 10.35 million cars worldwide in 2017 across its Toyota, Lexus, Daihatsu and Hino brands, up 2 per cent from 2016, and 10.5 million in 2018.

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New Tiguan Allspace

New Zealand’s first ever 7-seater SUV, the Tiguan Allspace, will arrive in New Zealand in February this year.

The Allspace offers more space, and therefore, more comfort, making it an ideal choice for Kiwi families who are after an all-rounder.  

The Tiguan Allspace has a total length increase of 215mm compared to the current Tiguan.

Due to the generous interior spacing, the new SUV can be used in a variety of ways. Folding of the second and third row of seats increased the storage capacity up to 1,775 litres.

All Tiguan Allspace models come equipped with a towing capacity of 2,500kg, best in class in the 7-seater SUV segment.

Additional features include, lane assist, pedestrian monitoring, rear traffic alert, and other driver assistance systems.

More information on pricing and specifications will be released soon.

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VW’s strong rebound

Volkswagen has rebounded strongly since admitting their complicity in the diesel-emissions scandal two years ago. 

The German carmaker expects to produce more than 6 million vehicles by the year’s end due to recent product introductions and a strong performance by several of its key nameplates, such as the Golf, Jetta and the Passat. 

Those results only count VW vehicles and not those from family ties like Audi and Porsche – so we will have to wait and see whether the VW Group or Toyota will claim the full-year title of world’s largest automaker by sales.

VW says it’ll built a record 6 million vehicles by end of year – will the results be enough to top Toyota for world’s largest automaker?

VW says the Golf totalled nearly 1 million deliveries worldwide in 2017, bringing deliveries to date to 34 million across seven generations. The Golf hatchback lead its segment in Germany and Europe, while the wagon recorded the model’s strongest year-over-year growth at 11 per cent.

The Tiguan saw the brand’s strongest sales growth, growing 40 per cent to about 730,000 units delivered globally in 2017, with China and Germany as its largest markets. VW also said it delivered about 150,000 Tourans, its European multi-purpose vehicle. 

In coming years, the VW Group will increasingly turn its focus to developing crossovers, SUVs and electric vehicles. It plans to spend nearly $85 billion billion on EVs, autonomous vehicles and mobility services by the end of 2022. That includes $11.8 billion to develop and build electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles to meet EV quotas in China.

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VW will report ‘outstanding’ results this year

Matthias Mueller, CEO Volkswagen Group has announced that VW will report excellent group results this year due to record vehicle sales and spending cuts.

VW’s vehicle sales appear to have weathered the storm caused by the 2015 emissions scandal which cost the company billions of euros in fines and tarnished their reputation.

“It will certainly be quite outstanding in operational terms,” Mueller told Germany weekly paper Welt am Sonntag when asked to sum up the 2017 business year.

Matthias Mueller, CEO Volkswagen Group has announced that VW will report excellent group results this year due to record vehicle sales and spending cuts.

Last month, the CEO predicted that group deliveries would exceed the 2016 record of 10.3 million vehicles.

Cost cuts at the core passenger-cars division have caused the world’s largest automaker to raise its profit target for the year, and it has since also upgraded its mid-term profit and sales guidance.

On the other hand, Mueller said proposals by the European Commission for progressive cuts in carmakers’ average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2025 and 2030 will “cause us real pain.”

VW more than two years ago admitted to cheating in diesel emissions tests in the United States. It has set aside about 25 billion euros ($30 billion) to cover related fines and vehicle repairs and faces thousands of lawsuits worldwide. 

A signification portion of VW’s emissions scandal penance involves investment into eco-centric technologies and developing electric vehicle infrastructure, earlier this year the German carmaker agreed to spend $800 million in California and a total of $2 billion nationwide on EV infrastructure

VW is due to publish detailed 2017 results on March 13.

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