VW credits Tesla for “proving electric cars are here to stay”

VW ID Crozz at Shanghai Auto Show

❝ Volkswagen is arguably the legacy automaker most committed to electric vehicles and this week, it gave a rare nod to a competitor, Tesla, for “‘proving electric cars are here to stay.”

Scott Keogh, the CEO of Volkswagen in the US, made the comment at the National Automobile Dealers Association…

❝ Two years ago, when he was the head of Audi in America, he told dealerships to get behind electric vehicles because they will dominate the market within 10 years…

Now the head of Volkswagen in America, he told the same audience this week that they are going electric…“Even if it’s 10 percent of the market, we want to pursue it,”

❝ He also acknowledged the success of the Tesla Model 3 and said:

“We have not seen in the history of the auto business, a company going from zero to fourth place in luxury in a matter of a few years.”

Yes, yes, I know there are birdbrains who still think this will never happen. Probably the same crowd that think our fake president is “draining the swamp” when all he’s doing is siphoning money and putting some of the worst fascist-minded reactionaries in history into lifetime judge’s robes.

VW cheated smog testing on almost a half-million cars

The EPA is accusing Volkswagen of illegally using software to cheat emissions standards, allowing the German automaker to sell half a million cars that produce nitrogen oxide, which creates smog, at up to 40 times the legal limit.

In a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act sent to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America, today, the EPA said diesel-powered VW cars used a “defeat device,” a kind of “a sophisticated software algorithm [that] detects when the car is undergoing official emissions testing, and turns full emissions controls on only during the test. The effectiveness of these vehicles’ pollution emissions control devices is greatly reduced during all normal driving situations.”

The accusation applies to 482,000 diesel-powered, four-cyclinder Jetta, Beetle, Audi A3, and Golf cars sold between 2008 and 2015 in the US, and to Passat cars sold from 2014 to 2015…

The White House has directed VW to recall the affected cars, and the automaker will be required to fix the problem, at no cost to car owners.

“Clean diesel,” by comparison to old standards [think drippy Oldsmobiles] works well and produces better miles per gallon figures. Some of the systems require a bit more owner management which VW may assume Americans aren’t disciplined enough to perform.

The majority of diesel-powered passenger cars in the country are sold by the Volkswagen group – which includes Audi.

Pretty sleazy.

Strength of materials advanced – Audi introduces fiberglass springs

GFRP spring on the left, conventional steel on the right

The quest for ever-greater fuel efficiency is driving auto manufacturers to extreme lengths to reduce the weight of their vehicles. Aluminum, carbon fiber and fiberglass are all being used to help meet stringent emissions standards. In its search for “enlightenment,” Audi has announced it will introduce glass fiber-reinforced polymer (GFRP) springs in its vehicles before the end of the year.

The core of the spring is made up of fiberglass strands, impregnated with epoxy resin and twisted together. Audi then uses a machine to wrap additional strands of fiberglass around the core and cures the unit in an oven. The strands are wrapped across each other at a 45-degree angle, to allow the load to be equally distributed across the whole spring.

So what benefits do the GFRP springs hold over steel? To start with, they don’t corrode, even after damage by stone chips, and they’re not impacted by wheel washing chemicals. In areas with snowy, salted roads, there are huge potential benefits to ditching steel for fiberglass.

Another key advantage over traditional steel springs is weight. In an upper mid-size car, Audi claims each individual spring weighs almost 6 lbs, whereas its GFRP units weigh just 3.5 lb. This adds up to a saving of around 40 percent.

One of the essential parameters in automotive design is the ratio of sprung to unsprung weight. Reducing vehicle weight, the weight of those portions of the suspension in motion – is part of that whole equation.

In combination with metallurgical advances like the lighter high-strength steel employed by Mazda and the tough, strong aluminum projected to reduce the weight of Ford’s 2015 F-150 pickup truck – we’re about to experience a dramatic change in weight-savings in production motor vehicles.

Audi traffic light system saves fuel, helps drivers hit green lights

One of life’s small but satisfying pleasures is hitting the sweet spot while driving across town and catching all the green lights. At the moment, having that happen is a matter of luck, but Audi is developing a system that will make never getting caught by a red light an everyday thing as a way of speeding up traffic while improving fuel efficiency and cutting emissions.

Driving through a string of green lights isn’t a question of gremlins or clean living, but of timing. Modern traffic signals operate on a system of preset timers. Sometimes these change depending on the time of day or, as is increasingly common, because the traffic system reacts to changes in the pattern of car movements. In other words, the trick to an uninterrupted journey is to figure out how the lights are timed at that moment and drive at the right speed, so you always hit the intersections when it’s green.

The Audi system works by taking the guesswork out of the equation. Using Audi connect and the Multi Media Interface (MMI) system, the car uses the internet to contact the area’s central traffic computer and asks it for the automated traffic light sequences. From these, the system calculates the best speed needed to hit as many green lights as possible. This speed, as well as red, green and amber icons, are displayed to the driver via the Driver Information System (DIS) located in the central instrument cluster. If the car is already at a red light, it provides a countdown until green and overrides the start/stop mechanism to bring the engine online five seconds before it’s time to go.

You save time, get to your destination sooner, don’t spend time wasting fuel slowing down and speeding up. All it requires is local legislation and a little cooperation from traffic engineers.

Audi demoed the system in Las Vegas. Now, all it takes is insightful politicians and staff. In the United States, it could be in place in a half-century or so.

2013 Detroit Auto Show news

The annual North American International Auto Show will showcase the state of the art in big pickups. The public will get its first look at General Motors Co.’s new Chevrolet Silverado, as well as Ford Motor Co.’s concept for the next Ford F-150. No wonder stocks of both companies are trading near 18-month highs. Cars will make big news, too: Toyota Motor Corp. is unveiling a model that hints at the look of its next Corolla, one of the world’s best-selling vehicles, while GM will unveil the much-anticipated seventh-generation Corvette

I’ve been a car nut all my life. That’s carried me through more experience than most in a range of vehicles – from wheels that are competitive and fun to race like Corvette and Morgan to mid-size luxury like the Cressida and Jaguar – and smartly-styled econo-wheels like the new Fiesta and every year’s latest Prius.

Can’t pass up several looks at the newest of the new. And I recommend CNET’s car geek podcasts, as well. I have them automagially downloaded along with the other IPTV shows I watch via iTunes and AppleTV.

Cost of a ground-up cross-platform redesign? Next-gen MQB architecture VW/Audi/Seat/Skoda = $65 billion

A little longer, lower, wider, better aero – and 50mpg

For many in the US, a first Volkswagen will be either a Jetta or Passat, both of which have pretty good trunks. But we just drove this all-new seventh generation Golf and it needs to be on that same consideration list because it is a nearly perfect, sensibly sized trunkless car…

But this Golf VII, introduced in September at the Paris Motor Show, is an all-new car, even though from the outside things look strictly evolutionary. The chief ingredient in making true this claim of being “all-new” is the use of a completely reworked architecture called MQB, which stands for Modularer Querbaukasten, or “modular transverse matrix.” New architectures for any company signify shockingly massive investments, and therefore the damned things had better be really good for the bottom line. In the case of MQB, company leaders estimate the price tag for its four years of development totals $65 billion, so the intent is that MQB will stick around for at least a decade before a replacement architecture is even talked about…

Making certain it earns its keep quickly, VW Group has announced that MQB will be used on everything with transverse engines coming from VW, Audi, Seat and Škoda, ranging from models the size of the next VW Polo on up to the next Passat – that is to say, a major percentage of all cars produced within VW Group. So far, we’ve driven MQB with the new Audi A3, and now here with the four-door Golf Mk VII.

For this event, we picked the upgraded 146-horsepower 2.0 TDI Golf in its top European Highline trim using an optional six-speed DSG dual-clutch automatic with shift paddles. At this launch event, the TDI motor we chose was available alongside a revamped 138-hp 1.4 TSI gas engine with Active Cylinder Technology, but the latter is not on call for US deliveries, so we took the global diesel route…

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Audi sweeps podium at LeMans — Claims first hybrid victory

Audi drove to its 11th overall victory in the world’s greatest endurance race with a 1-2-3 sweep, the German automaker re-wrote the history books at the same time in becoming the first manufacturer to win Le Mans with hybrid technology.

Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler took their No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro to the monumental win following a frantic duel with the sister hybrid entry of Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Dindo Capello in the closing stages.

However, the turning point came with less than three hours to go when McNish spun to avoid a slow Ferrari and nosed his car into the barriers at the Porsche Curves while in the lead.

What looked to be a potentially race-ending accident turned into a quick five-minute repair job by the Audi Sport mechanics, which got the rapid Scot out only one lap behind Treluyer’s R18 e-tron quattro, aided by a safety car period.

Nonetheless, it virtually ensured repeat victory for the No. 1 crew, with Andre Lotterer cruising to a one-lap victory over the No. 2 Audi of McNish, Kristensen and Capello in second.

The defending Le Mans winners held the upper hand through the night, virtually leading from the pole…

The No. 4 Audi R18 ultra of Mike Rockenfeller, Oliver Jarvis and Marco Bonanomi finished three laps back in third, completing a rather quiet and trouble-free race for the conventional-powered machine.

Advanced technology and essentially trouble-free racing – as far as technology was concerned – brings the sport into focus as a leading provider of new tech for production automobiles.

Diesel power provided Audi’s previous victories. E-Tron tech is diesel power paired with hybrid electric technology. Like most advancements of this type, you can focus on power or economy. For a race like this, obviously power and speed is the goal. But, just like the addition of turbo-supercharging, you can aim for fuel efficiency and low consumption. Audi will probably try for the flexibility of both in their passenger cars.

Audi R18 LMP1 sports car unveiled for 2011

Since its first attempt in 1999, Audi has won the Le Mans 24 hour race nine times with the R8, R10 TDI and R15 TDI, equaling Ferrari’s all-time win record. Last Friday it unveiled the new R18, a closed carbon fiber monocoque coupe specifically developed for Le Mans with a 3.7-liter V6 TDI engine and another first for endurance racing – all-LED headlights.

Recognizing that aerodynamic efficiency will be even more important at Le Mans than it was in the past, the new R18 marks the first time since 1999 that Audi will contest the world’s oldest endurance race with a closed coupe. Unlike that of the closed Le Mans prototypes, which consisted of two halves, the carbon fiber monocoque chassis of the R18 features a single-component design that reduces weight and increases stiffness…

With rule makers looking to achieve a substantial reduction of engine power in 2011, significantly smaller engines than those used before will be prescribed. This has led to Audi retaining the diesel concept that saw its first victorious outing in 2006 with a 3.7-liter V6 TDI unit with a six-speed transmission that has been specifically modified for use with the smaller engine.

Another first for the new R18 is the inclusion of all-LED headlights. Aside from optimizing the amount of light produced at night, during the daytime the LEDs form the shape of a “1” which is apparently intended to “inspire associations with Audi’s historic brand logo.” The company says the next generation headlights will also be prepared for future use in production vehicles – although the “1” formation seems unlikely to make the transition.

Average American automobile drivers have little comprehension of the power, efficiency and mileage benefits of diesel engines. First off, if they have any experience at all with passenger car diesels it’s with the crap iron that GM previously rolled out. Second, they have to confront widely varying excise taxes from state to state – resulting from political hacks trying to skim from the trucking industry.

Audi’s production diesel passenger cars sold in the US can barely keep up with demand. That’s more a reflection of the education and understanding of Audi consumers than Audi’s advertising programs.

Meanwhile, those of us who use/need pickup trucks as part of our lives can only choose among the large economy size from builders – which are terrific engines for their size; but, unnecessary for a significant amount of use. Our friends at Toyota, Ford, etc. still think they can’t sell smallish trucks with small turbodiesels in the United States.

Audi’s entire lineup to have diesel option by 2015

At the end of August, we reported that Audi would “more than double” its lineup of clean diesel models in the U.S. within the next year, or maybe two. Those words rolled from the lips of Audi U.S.A’s chief marketing officer, Scott Keogh, who adamantly claimed that the company’s highly efficient TDI engine was key to the company’s “growth and success in the [U.S.] marketplace.” Keogh’s admission that the automaker would unleash more TDI-equipped models on U.S. turf was the first time in which we recollect an Audi official uttering such words.

Now, here’s take number two. Audi of America spokesperson Brad Stertz attended a panel to discuss Green Car Journal’s 2010 Green Car of the Year tour. Stertz reinforced Keogh’s statement and added that Audi’s successful TDI-powered A3 model has encouraged the automaker to quickly move forward with plans to bring additional clean diesel vehicles to the U.S. According to Stertz, six out of ten A3 hatchbacks sold in the U.S. are of the oil-burning variety. Stertz added, “We thought we’d be lucky if (A3 sales in the U.S.) would be 18 percent TDI. We’re only limited by the fact that we can’t import any more.”

Stertz reconfirmed that no less than a pair of new diesel models bearing the four-ringed emblem will hit American showrooms by the end of 2012 and additional reports suggest that an oil-burning option will be available on every Audi model by 2015. Clearly, Audi, and even partner Volkswagen, have made tremendous strides in eliminating the American belief that diesels are smoky, stench-filled vehicles of the past. In doing so, both automakers discovered the key to oil-burning success.

I can understand someone like Ford sticking with their turbo-ized small-displacement gasoline engines. They’ve made a commitment to that solution for that part of the potential market. Just as Toyota did with hybrids. Like Toyota, sticking with the drill for significant period of time is required.

At the same time, when you have production vehicles already being sold worldwide – with a successful diesel option – I think it’s foolish not to offer the choice here in the States. Audi’s workingclass better half – Volkswagen – is another proof of the same solution.

So far, the result seems to be sales increasing faster than available product. Not exactly a bad problem.