Category: Volkswagen

2020 Volkswagen Passat raises the tech for a lower price

Volkswagen has priced up the 2020 Passat, and while the shapely new sedan may be familiar under the sheet metal, the price has take a welcome dip. Headed out to dealerships by the end of the year, the new Passat trims $2,400 from the starting price of its MY19 predecessor.

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VW ID. SPACE VIZZION reinvents the wagon as a seductive EV

Volkswagen may have only just kicked off production of the ID.3, its first all-electric car based on the new MEB platform, but that hasn’t stopped it from previewing a new EV concept that could reboot the wagon. The VW ID. SPACE VIZZION will make its public debut at the LA Auto Show later this month, but don’t let the fact that it’s a concept fool you.

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There’s a lot riding on Volkswagen’s first-ever ID.3 electric car. As I watched the first production model ID.3 roll off the assembly line, you couldn’t miss the newfound sense of pride among the 8,000 or so employees inside VW’s Zwickau factory, which was converted recently from a large car manufacturing plant into what the automaker claims is the Mecca of e-mobility.

It’s a big step for Volkswagen and no less important for Germany itself. German Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel was among the distinguished guests for the opening, alongside Volkswagen CEO Dr. Herbert Diess. “With the ID.3 we are making an important contribution to the breakthrough of e-mobility,” Dr. Diess said. “It makes clean individual mobility accessible to millions of people and is a milestone for our company on the road to becoming climate-neutral by 2050.”

“All of this means a paradigm shift in mobility as we haven’t seen since the history of the automobile,” Dr. Merkel added. “Mobility, as we have known it so far, is emitting far too much CO2, so it’s very good that Volkswagen is at the very top of leading the change to e-mobility in order to reverse conventional trends.”

They’re ambitions most automakers have made at least some moves towards embracing, but converting a large manufacturing plant into an electric car factory is no walk in the park. For starters, Volkswagen invested €1.2 billion ($1.32 billion) in retooling the factory, with 1,700 robots and driverless transportation systems to lead the fully-automated manufacturing process. “Over the coming years, we will be spending some €44 billion on future technologies, of which €30 billion is earmarked for e-mobility,” added Dr. Diess.

According to Volkswagen, six MEB models across three group brands are destined to be built in Zwickau, though the 2020 VW ID.3 is the most important of them all. Zwickau is scheduled to produce 100,000 new electric vehicles next year, and Volkswagen claims up to 330,000 EVs are anticipated to leave the assembly line each year starting from 2021.

The Zwickau factory is not just about robotic assembly lines, however. Volkswagen’s renewed vigor is courtesy of the plant’s 8,000 employees, who were all retained and retrained to deal with EV production and high-voltage technology.

“The ID.3 is a high-tech car from a high-tech factory,” said Thomas Ulbrich, Volkswagen Brand Board Member for E-Mobility. “Ultimately, though, it is the people who build the cars who are the key to success.” In order to ensure future-proof jobs at the new Zwickau plant, all employees were required to participate in VW’s e-mobility qualification program. Volkswagen said the Zwickau team will have completed 13,000 training days by the end of 2020, all in a bid to master the art of building a high-quality electric car for the masses.

“Conversion work and the qualification measures will be completed by the end of 2020,” Dr. Deiss added. “In less than three years, Zwickau will then have become the largest electric car factory in Europe.”

The 2020 Volkswagen ID.3 made its official debut at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show. Long before its introduction, though, the car amassed a huge flood of online reservations – so large, in fact, that the number of people placing their advanced orders was large enough to crash the entire system. Built atop VW’s Modular Electric Drive Toolkit (MEB) platform, the new ID.3 is no larger than a Golf. In fact, to my mind, it carries the same aura as a conventional gasoline-powered Golf, which makes it more desirable than a Nissan Leaf or Renault Zoe.

Sitting down with VW’s Dr. Deiss and Thomas Ulbrich, I asked him about the challenges the automaker sees in this huge shift toward electrification. Everything from where the sweet spot for an electric car might be, to how VW plans on measuring the success of the ID.3 rollout.

Volkswagen, after all, is not just trying to build a single electric car. The German automaker wants the ID.3 to spearhead the eventual onslaught of renewable, affordable, and mainstream electric vehicles, something that Tesla has been trying to do with some success with the Model 3. Instead of ludicrous acceleration numbers, however, the new ID.3 is more focused on things that VW believes will matter the most when buying a new electric car: acceptable range, agile performance, practical space, and an affordable price.

Perhaps more than any others, range and price play a huge role in convincing buyers to take the electric plunge. “Today, in order for an EV to be successful it needs between 415 to 500 km (257 to 310 miles) of range,” Ulbrich says. “But if you’ll ask me three or four years later, I’m definitely convinced the range will decrease as soon as the charging infrastructure is growing. This makes it easier for customers to accept EVs. If the charging is easy, EVs won’t need heavier and bigger batteries, which ultimately brings the cost down.”

“The question is no longer whether electric vehicles will make the breakthrough,” Dr. Diess adds. “The question is how fast they will make the breakthrough. The VW ID.3 isn’t the first electric car. But it is the first with a long-range, high production quality and high utility value – all for the price of a diesel Golf.”

Breaking up the mass market’s relationship with internal combustion engines will take more than just appealing design and no tailpipe, however. EVs have historically commanded a price premium, and challenging that will take more than just Volkswagen.

“We’re aiming to take e-mobility out of the niche and bring it to volume,” Ulbrich says. “It’s really a puzzle on how to make e-mobility successful, it’s a complete mixture of government subsidies and establishing more charging infrastructures along the way. Of course, at first, we need satisfied customers in order to convince other buyers to choose a battery electric vehicle over a conventional car, and we think the new ID.3 can achieve that for us.”

What I found particularly interesting is how zero-emissions alone aren’t Volkswagen’s focus. The automaker is upping the stakes by positioning the ID.3 as an industry benchmark in sustainability, not least because it claims the car’s production is carbon-neutral.

“Without EVs, we cannot win the battle against climate change,” Dr. Diess insists. “By 2050, we will have brought this figure down to zero by achieving a climate-neutral balance. And by 2025, our fleet CO2 emissions will already have been cut by 30-percent.” The Zwickau plant utilizes renewable energy for battery cell production and, while certain emissions are unavoidable when you’re building cars, Volkswagen aims to offset this by investing in the Katingan Mataya Forest Protection conservation project in Borneo, Indonesia.

With all this enthusiasm, it’s frustrating that the 2020 Volkswagen ID.3 will not make it to American shores. Instead, VW will field the ID. Crozz electric crossover, a decision based on America’s insatiable appetite for larger SUVs. I understand the strategy, but it’s bittersweet nonetheless. Part of that has something to do with what we’re really missing out in the new ID.3. The base model is priced under €30,000 ($33,478) before government and federal subsidies and will have roughly 205 miles of range. The top-spec version is good for around 342 miles of range while the ID.3 1ST model starts at under €40,000 and achieves 261-miles of range.

The VW ID.3 1ST also comes with free charging for one year, along with VW’s innovative and hi-tech Augmented Reality Heads-Up Display. Using holographic 3D display technology, this feature aims to improve safety by projecting all relevant information in the driver’s field of vision.

It’s fair to say that Volkswagen is betting big on electrification being the centerpiece of its future. That takes more than one factory, and more than one car; it’s just as much a mindset that the automaker needs to believe in wholeheartedly if it’s to convince drivers, in turn, that an EV not just could be their next car, but should be.

“An industrial nation like Germany must keep reinventing itself. Only then does such a nation achieve permanence,” concluded Dr. Diess. “Zwickau has the richest tradition in Germany’s automotive industry. The future belongs to the electric drive, and with the ID.3 we are taking e-mobility out of the niche.”

Deliveries of the the VW ID.3 are expected to begin in mid-2020.

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As VW ID.3 production begins, Volkswagen bets it all on an electric future

There’s a lot riding on Volkswagen’s first-ever ID.3 electric car. As I watched the first production model ID.3 roll off the assembly line, you couldn’t miss the newfound sense of pride among the 8,000 or so employees inside VW’s Zwickau factory, which was converted recently from a large car manufacturing plant into what the automaker claims is the Mecca of e-mobility.

The 2020 @VW Golf 8 could make smart cars mass-market

Volkswagen’s Golf may have given many drivers their first taste of the open road, but the 2020 VW Golf 8th Generation could well do the same for car-to-car communications. Unveiled earlier this week, the Golf 8 debuts plenty of new technology for Volkswagen, including a number of new hybrid models. However, it’s the Car2X system that might have the biggest impact.

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One of the most recognizable and popular of VW’s line of vehicles is the Golf. The company is set to launch a new 8th-generation for the iconic Golf, and with the new generation it’s being electrified in a big way. VW will introduce five new hybrid versions of the Golf intended to increase fuel economy and reduce emissions, sitting alongside the usual performance versions, the Golf GTI and Golf R.

VW says that the new drive technologies can help cut fuel consumption by up to 17-percent, and that the new Golf will be the first of the automaker’s vehicles to launch with eTSI and eHybrid versions. The eTSI will include three 48V mild-hybrid designs that generate 81 kW, 96 kW, and 110 kW, combining a TSI engine with a belt starter generator and a 48V lithium-ion battery. Consumption on the European WLTP cycle could be cut by as much as 10-percent, VW says, with the eTSI engines.

For those who want even more efficiency – and power – there’ll be the 2020 Golf eHybrid. That’s a is a plug-in hybrid, and it will launch with two outputs, including a 150 kW version and a GTE that makes 180 kW. Each will use a new 13 kWh lithium-ion battery, for greater all-electric range. Volkswagen says that the 8th Gen Golf eHybrid should be able to drive for up to 60 kilometers (37 miles) on electric power alone.

It’s not just hybrids that will be offered, however. VW will also be offering gas (TSI), diesel (TDI), and natural gas drive (TGI) models of the new Golf, depending on geography. There’ll be two four-cylinder gas engines with 66 kW / 90 PS and 81 kW / 110 PS, two four-cylinder diesel engines with 85 kW / 115 PS and 110 kW / 150 PS, and finally a TGI with 96 kW / 130 PS.

Regardless of drivetrain, VW says all of the cars will be “intelligently digitalized” for fast and intuitive operation. By that, it means entirely digital instrumentation, and indeed the Golf will be the first model in its price segment to have a completely virtual cockpit as standard. The car will also offer voice control that responds to natural voice commands, rather than forcing drivers to remember specific key-phrases.

There’ll be mobile key support, that allows the owner to ditch traditional keys if wanted, and VW is also integrating on We Connect, and We Connect Plus technology into the car to stream internet radio. They’ll also support updates delivered over-the-air, to add new features to the car over time. The new Golf will have three-zone air conditioning, available Harman Kardon sound, and Personalization 2.0 that allows the car to save driver settings and access them in the cloud.

Perhaps most notably on the tech side, VW plans to make its Car2X communication standard across the whole Golf line-up. That will be able to intercommunicate with other cars and compatible city infrastructure, over distances of half a mile, sharing information on potential road hazards and more. It’s not the first implementation of C2X we’ve seen, but the Golf’s general popularity could help break the technology into the mainstream.

A windshield head-up display will be available, putting speed into the driver’s field of view, and the Golf will also be offered with VW’s IQ.Drive with intelligent, active steering up to 130 mph. IQ.Light LED matrix headlights will also be available. In Europe, VW plans to offer only the 5-door version of the 8th generation car, in Golf, Life, and Style trims with R-Line equipment available with a mix of gas and diesel engine options.

In North America, as of right now only two Golf versions have been confirmed to launch: the 8th Gen Golf GTI and the Golf R. Performance figures for those cars are yet to be confirmed, as is release date. VW of America tells us that the rest of the 8th Gen Golf range is still under consideration, as it decides which of the hatchbacks will be palatable to US drivers. European sales kick off in December 2019, with pricing to be confirmed closer to that point.

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2020 VW Golf 8th Gen revealed: Five hybrids, GTI and R

One of the most recognizable and popular of VW’s line of vehicles is the Golf. The company is set to launch a new 8th-generation for the iconic Golf, and with the new generation it’s being electrified in a big way.

2020 VW Atlas Cross Sport tailors two-row SUV for American tastes

The two-row midsize SUV space is getting another option, with the 2020 Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport making its official debut today. A five-seat version of the full-sized Atlas, it’s shorter and lower than its three-row brethren, but combines that more easily-parked scale with no reduction in wheelbase.

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VW ID.3 reservations top 30,000 before the EV even gets a full reveal

Volkswagen’s ID.3 all-electric car isn’t set to begin production until the end of the year, but that hasn’t stopped more than 30,000 people opening their wallets to secure one of the very first examples the automaker has announced. Reservations for the ID.3 Launch Edition – the first VW Group car to be based on the company’s brand new MEB electric platform – opened in May.

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VW ID.3 holographic head-up display teases the future of EV cabins

Volkswagen’s new ID.3 electric car is almost ready for its big reveal, but VW is already sharing details about the augmented reality dashboard the high-tech hatchback will feature. The ID.3 will be VW’s first production vehicle based on its brand new MEB all-electric platform, but it turns out that won’t be the only fresh gadgetry drivers can play with.

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VW ID Buggy Concept drive: Meet the electric future of fun

Out of all the events I had the pleasure of attending at Monterey Car Week and Pebble Beach – a week filled with priceless classics, stunning hypercars, and the sort of rarities that give automotive enthusiasts palpitations – I wasn’t expecting a bright green electric prototype to be the most memorable. I got a chance to take the VW ID Buggy for a spin, and it’s fair to say it left a lasting…

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Whatever the name night suggest, you can think of the new Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport as a five-seat alternative to the Atlas. Conceived primarily for the U.S. and Canadian market, it’s an example of VW’s regional divisions knowing what works for their audience, and the automaker’s platforms being flexible enough to drive that understanding right onto dealership forecourts. As I found from behind the wheel of an Atlas Cross Sport prototype, that flexibility comes with pros and cons.

“I can proudly say the Atlas Cross Sport is born and raised in the North American region,” Michael Lovati, Vice President, G3 NAR, VW Group of America explained to me. “Actually, the Atlas Cross Sport is the fastest car we’ve penciled and got approved in the entire history of our region. It only took us about three months to concept it, get it approved, and then start working on the entire project.”

Volkswagen did it by starting with a proven platform: the Atlas full-size SUV with seven seats. Both vehicles share the same basic underpinnings, which means that even though the Cross Sport is 5.7-inches shorter than the Atlas, it has the same 117.3-inch wheelbase as the seven-seat version. That translates to a frankly incredible amount of room for both passengers and cargo.

The MQB platform has been given a more dramatic, coupe-like design, much in the way that the Audi Q8 is a sportier and more car-like version of the larger, seven-seat Q7. “We’ve eliminated the third seat row so you have tremendous amounts of cargo space in the back,” Lovati says. “But because it’s the same wheelbase with the same underpinnings as the larger Atlas, you get the added benefit of functionality that you get in the seven-seater but without the third seat.”

It’s hard to argue that the new model doesn’t make a lot of sense. Volkswagen sold more than 27,000 Atlas SUVs in the six months ending 2017. Sales also climbed to 59,677 units in 2018, and 36,726 by midyear 2019. Indeed, VW sold 7,424 Atlas SUVs in June of this year alone, netting a 34% increase compared to the same period last year. In short, the success of the Atlas and the Tiguan accounted for 53% of total sales in June 2019. It didn’t take a huge leap to conclude that buyers still want SUVs but, more specifically, younger buyers want something smaller and sportier-looking.

While the Tiguan is an easy sell with its comfortable seven-seat interior, there’s still an audience for an even roomier – and dare I say sexier – alternative to both the Atlas and Tiguan. The new Cross Sport is intended to solidify Volkswagen’s presence in the North American SUV market not to mention take on stalwarts like the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Ford Edge, Toyota 4Runner, and Nissan Murano, current segment leaders in the five-seat SUV category.

“The regular Atlas is aimed at customers who need exceptional amounts of space and seven seats, whereas the Cross Sport is for those who want a stylish SUV that can take them anywhere and carry all their stuff,” added Lovati. “We are the only German five-seat SUV in this segment.”

Buyers of the sportier SUV can pick from two engine options. The first is a four-cylinder, 2.0-liter turbocharged mill borrowed from the Golf GTI, which produces 235-horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Second, is the larger V6 engine from the Passat, churning out 276-horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. Either way, you’ll get an eight-speed automatic and the power going to the front wheels. VW will offer its 4Motion all-wheel drive system as an option for both the four-cylinder and V6 models.

Since the VW Cross Sport is a go-anywhere five-seat SUV, it also comes with an optional towing package. This kit includes a larger and stronger 800W radiator fan to assist better engine cooling; a larger capacity 180A alternator; a wiring harnesses in the engine bay and an additional fuse box; a trailer control module; and a control module set up for the stability control system. When combined with the V6 engine and AWD, the Cross Sport has a maximum towing capacity of 5,000 pounds, which is just right for this segment.

I spent a fair amount of time towing a rather large Airstream with little to zero drama. If you’ve ever towed anything heavy before, you’ll notice a sort of sine wave jerking movement. While it’s subtle, riding as a passenger, I noticed it more than when I was in the driver seat. Just keep that in mind if you’re planning on doing any towing over a long distance.

I’ve never been to South-East Asia in the thick of summer, but there’s no question Death Valley is a scorcher – it wouldn’t be one of the hottest places on Earth, and a ripe spot for endurance testing, if it weren’t. In this hot and barren playground, I got behind the wheel of new Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport prototype and I took it for a spin. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t take long for me to discern it feels almost exactly like the three-row SUV.

That means notably light steering while the turning radius is like that of a smaller car. Think of this as high praise, considering the Atlas has similar driving dynamics to the Golf GTI on tight and winding corners. And, like the bigger Atlas, the Cross Sport doesn’t weave or bobble when traversing over rough, bumpy, or uneven roads. It feels reassuringly composed and relaxing to drive, with the engine and chassis so well balanced that adding extra speed won’t penalize you in either ride smoothness or comfort.

Indeed it doesn’t take long to realize that, though the sloping roofline and resulting coupe-inspired shape may be sufficient to induce a sense of sportiness to some, it’s hard to discern the difference between both vehicles. Even the pre-production Cross Sport prototype feels as solid as a rock, in typical German fashion.

The interior is also typical Volkswagen with a clean sheet design and well-organized layout. Though draped in camouflage, the infotainment screen and center stack were clearly lifted from the Atlas as well. Again, this is not a bad thing at all, but I do wish the Cross Sport had more cubby holes and small storage spaces in the dashboard and console, a criticism I’d level at the three-row too. The Cross Sport may have inherited the regular Atlas’ good points, but the hiccups have come along with that too.

Major trim details are still sketchy at this point, but VW says the Cross Sport will also come with standard 900-lumen LED headlights, which are specific to the North American market. I also like the handsome front end which, Volkswagen says, we can expect to see on the refreshed 2020 Atlas SUV, too. Sadly, VW will probably not sell an R-line version of the Cross Sport in the U.S. market, but we can always hope and pray. Expect the Atlas Cross Sport to arrive at dealerships XXXXXX

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Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport Prototype first drive: Changes are only skin deep

Whatever the name night suggest, you can think of the new Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport as a five-seat alternative to the Atlas.