Politics and sound reasoning has time and again over history proven itself to be quite the oxymoron when used in the same sentence. No more so than now with Trump being elected in as the next US President. However, this story isn’t about Trump, rather, it is a retrospect on politics and its downstream impacts on society which brings us to the Chicken tax.
Fifty-three years ago, with political tensions rising at the height of the Cold War, United States imposed a 25 per cent tariff on imported brandy, dextrin, potato starch and small pickups in retaliation to tariffs on imported American chicken imposed by countries like France and Germany. Well, the Cold War is over, and 53 years after the tariff was imposed brandy, dextrin and potato starch no longer have a 25% tariff. However, light trucks did not didn’t get off easy. The tariff remains in place today to protect U.S. domestic automakers from foreign competition.
There aren’t too many vehicles that have as long standing lineage as Volkswagen’s Golf which is now in it’s 7th generation. But ever since the introduction of the first generation, the Golf has been establishing its place in automotive history. Introduced to the world as a modern economical front wheel drive car, the Golf was created to be an everyday commuter providing ample space in a small package. At a time when emission regulations were becoming more stringent and performance automobiles were not the hot topic, a group skunkworks team was formed at Volkswagen who put in design, engineering and marketing time after-hours to create truly the first hot hatch in automotive history. Branded as the Golf GTI, the car was never thought to be a success story, but customer response proved otherwise.
The GTI first took to the public eye at the 1975 Frankfurt Motor Show. Keeping the recipe simple, the engineers at Volkswagen raided the parts bin and gave the light weight commuter Golf a sport tuned suspension and a bump in the horsepower department. Fitted up front in the mk1 GTI was a 1588cc four-cylinder engine with a ground breaking K-Jetronic mechanical fuel injection system which made 110hp. By today’s standards that is not a lot of power. However, big power was never in the design plans for the GTI. It was about creating a well rounded package resulting from the sum of its parts. The mk1 GTI, to this day, is still a highly sought after car because it defined simplicity in engineering. The car is forgiving on the road for a daily driver, but had just enough performance to make it one hell of a weekend canyon carver.
A very exposed large SUV from Volkswagen has been spotted testing out in China. The North American market hasn’t seen or heard much about the large three rowed SUV since the concept vehicle debuted at the Detroit Auto Show back in 2013. With the SUV market being so dominant in North America, it is still a wonder if the large SUV will make it onto North American soil.
Curiously, the vehicle is first spotted in China before the US given the great demand of these types of vehicles here. Currently the car spotted in China is called the Teramont, but it will likely get rebadged if it hits North American soil. Not shockingly, the production car looks a lot like the CrossBlue concept. True to current VW standards, the front headlights get the full LED package and the angular design element continues to the rear. The Teramont really looks like a jacked up version of the current generation Passat that’s available in the European market.
Here’s to hoping that we get another SUV in the Volkswagen lineup because as it stands it’s a little thin.
By now, we know that Volkswagen has officially released a strategy to compensate their customers who currently own one of their affected 2.0L TDI diesel powered vehicles. The details on how the company will operationalize the program is yet to be made official, but we do know that customers can either sell their car back to Volkswagen as part of the buy back program, or fix the vehicle through VW’s recall. With the buy back program, customers will get maximum compensation for the value of their vehicle from prior to the emission scandal. The problem doesn’t reside with Volkswagen, it’s the vultures that are out there waiting to put a scam in place on owners who might not know the full details to Volkswagen’s compensation strategy.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has already stepped in to make sure that consumers are fully aware on what options they have, and also some tips on how to protect themselves. What consumers should watch out for are scammers who want to purchase their vehicles at a lower price than the buy back and in turn flip the vehicle back to VW for some quick cash. Owners should also watch out at the dealership and know their own rights with this compensation program. Owners will not have to spend their compensation money at the dealership, the money is free for them to choose to do what they want.
With the full details of the compensation program still to come, consumers will have to wait a little bit more to determine their own course of action.
Volkswagen’s dirty diesel scandal has mainly been on their 2.0 TDI motor. We have heard that their 3.0L V6 diesel motor was also being investigated for having a cheat software installed. Specifically, vehicles using the company’s 3.0L diesel motor has been installed with a software that turns off emission control equipment after a predetermined period of time.
So far, the 3.0L diesel engines are not part of the larger recall and buy back program which recently got approved and solidified at Volkswagen. That program is restricted to their 2.0L diesel motor only. How customers will receive compensation for this scandal is yet to be determined as Volkswagen will need to come up with a fix and recall plan for those impacted vehicles as well.
After a long wait, owners of those dirty diesels from Volkswagen may finally get some clarity on what to expect next. The United States District Court has given a preliminary green light to Volkswagen’s proposed fix to bring their 2.0L diesel vehicles into compliance. The settlement totalling $14.7-billion in the US also includes customer restitutions, a buy back plan, as well as the hefty fines resulting from the diesel scandal.
Owners will have to wait for the paperwork to process, but there should be information coming from Volkswagen in the mail to let owners know what their options are moving forward. The next official step will happen at the final approval hearing on October 18, 2016.
As the investigation continues with Volkswagen’s dieselscandal in the US, the company continues to face challenges around the world where their vehicles are sold. Most recently, Volkswagen has suspended sales of a number of their vehicle models in South Korea. The halt to sales will last for at least three months.
According to circulating news, South Korean government has been investigating the diesel scandal to determine the impact the diesel vehicles have on regulations. The South Korean government was likely moving forward with a decision to revoke a number of certifications from Volkswagen which will limit the vehicle models which are currently allowed to be sold in the country. Volkswagen choose to stop sales before the local government could make the decision for them, and therefore Volkswagen’s Golf, Jetta, and Tiguan will be part of the halt sale plan.
A spokesperson for Volkswagen Korea stated that “This decision doesn’t mean that Volkswagen is pulling out of Korea, which is a very important market to us. We’ll reapply for certification of our cars if the government revokes it. The process may take several months.”
This certainly isn’t shocking news coming from the automaker that they will focus less of it’s energy in the diesel market moving forward. With the diesel scandal that sent shockwaves through the automotive industry, Volkswagen has been on the mend with their company brand since the fallout.
Since last September, Volkswagen has faced a stop sale on all 2.0L diesel vehicles, and have had issues with their 3.0L diesel engines as well. What the company has started to do is beef up their branding and marketing around electric vehicles. Similar to how they brought up the image of clean diesel with a racing series, the company is looking at supporting an EV racing series to bring electric vehicles to the forefront. For now, VW will still sell diesel cars from 2017 through 2019 as long as regulators give them the OK to start sale again. The reality is that diesels as an industry is so tainted that it might not ever recover.
Since last September when Volkswagen’s emission scandal made headlines there has always been a wonder on who at the company knew about the planning and execution of the emission cheating software. Not long after the investigations began, it was said that a PowerPoint presentation was discovered at Volkswagen which detailed the cheating software which could be used at the company. Then it was claimed that only a small group of engineers knew about the cheating software. Well, a recent lawsuit filed by New York and Massachusetts attorneys general accuse ex CEO Winterkorn and current VW CEO Matthias Müller of being aware about the devices.
According to a report by The New York Times, the suit draws on internal documents that claim Müller knew about the decision to not equip Audi vehicles with the proper equipment needed to meet US standards in 2006. The suit claims that the automaker, with Müller’s go ahead, knowingly chose to install the devices onto its vehicles and is the first document that connects the executive to the ongoing scandal.
Further allegation in the lawsuit points to a number of leaders and executives at Volkswagen which could have had their hands in the emission scandal. This includes Wolfgang Hatz, former head of engine and transmission development at VW, Heinz-Jakob Neusser, former head of development for VW, and Ulrich Hackenberg, former head of development for Audi. Both Winterkorn and Müller have denied any malpractice.
Customers have been waiting patiently for the official fix notice to come from Volkswagen. The automaker is still in the works with regulators on the details of the repairs needed on their 2.0L TDI diesel motors to bring them into compliance. However, recent news on the projected repair plans is stating that even when the cars are repaired by Volkswagen they will still not comply with clean air laws.
The planned fix apparently will only reduce the over pollution by the 2.0L diesel by approximately 80 to 90 percent which gets the vehicles near CARB requirements, but that’s still not officially considered compliant. What’s more is that the regulator seems to be OK with it. According to Daniel Becker, Director of the Safe Climate Campaign, “For reasons they didn’t state, they’re allowing fixed vehicles to not be fixed, but to allow vehicles to emit twice as much pollution as they otherwise would allow.”