Listen to “AD #2876 – VW Tiguan Impressions; Fisker Wants to Use VW MEB Platform; GM on Track with EV Development” on Spreaker.
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0:07 GM on Track with EV Development
1:03 Schmidt To Finish Prison Sentence in Germany
1:58 Fisker Wants to Use VW MEB Platform
3:37 Why Ford Is Reviving the Bronco
5:13 Goodyear To Remove Wrangler Name from Bronco Tires
5:42 VW Developing New Operating System For Its Vehicles
6:46 Lyft Provides Drivers with Partitions
7:15 Volkswagen Tiguan Impressions
9:14 Barn Find Revealed
This is Autoline Daily, the show dedicated to enthusiasts of the global automotive industry.
GM ON TRACK WITH EV DEVELOPMENT
General Motors released its 10th annual Sustainability Report and here are some of the highlights. While the pandemic caused it to temporarily suspend operations, there’s been no delay in its electric vehicle development and the company is on track to introduce them as scheduled. GM will spend $20 billion over the next five years to develop electric and autonomous vehicles. It’s committed to sourcing 100% of its electricity from renewable sources in the U.S. by 2030 and globally by 2040, a full decade earlier than it previously announced. And it’s increasing its efforts to 100% recycle end-of-life EV batteries and it wants all of its vehicles to be made from at least 50% sustainable materials by 2030. GM says it’s also committed to being the most inclusive company in the world and building a culture that’s both safe and equitable.
SCHMIDT TO FINISH PRISON SENTENCE IN GERMANY
Oliver Schmidt, the Volkswagen executive who was arrested by the U.S. Justice Department for his role in the Dieselgate emissions scandal, is going to finish the final two years of his prison sentence in Germany. Schmidt was sentenced to 7 years in prison and has been incarcerated at a federal prison in Milan, Michigan. Oliver was a guest on Autoline After Hours several times before the scandal broke. And our own John McElroy, along with Brett Smith from the Center for Auto Research, have visited Oliver several times in prison. He’s going to have a lot to say about what happened inside Volkswagen once his prison term is over. Meanwhile, Axel Eiser, the former head of engineering at Audi, could be extradited to the U.S. to stand trial. American authorities are also interested in going after Martin Winterkorn, the former CEO of Volkswagen.
FISKER WANTS TO USE VW MEB PLATFORM
Henrik Fisker wants to build his electric cars using Volkswagen’s MEB platform and batteries. He’s already unveiled several concept models, including the EMotion, a 4-door luxury sedan with a target price of $130,000. And he’s shown the Ocean, which he calls a luxury SUV, but supposedly will start at under $30,000. Moreover, he’s doing a reverse merger, like Nikola did, so his company can be listed on a stock exchange where he hopes to raise $1 billion. Here’s our Autoline Insight. We think it’s going to be very difficult for Fisker to pull this off. Remember, three years ago he claimed to have a breakthrough with solid state batteries that would deliver a 500-mile range and could be recharged in just one minute. But now he’s going with VW. That means all he’s going to offer is a Volkswagen with his own body on it. As we’ve pointed out before, startups don’t survive unless they bring new technology or different processes to the auto industry. And from the looks of it, Fisker isn’t doing either.
WHY FORD IS REVIVING THE BRONCO
The Ford Bronco made its highly-anticipated return earlier this week. The company stopped producing the SUV back in 1996 and on Autoline This week, Mark Grueber, the Head of Marketing of the Ford Bronco, discussed why Ford decided to revive the Bronco.
Mark Grueber, Head of Marketing, Ford Bronco
“There’s actually, I would say since probably the late 90’s, there’s been a lot of attempts inside of Ford to bring Bronco back. There’s been some actual programs that went fairly far during the development process and for different reasons they didn’t make it to market. So, there’s been a lot of effort over a couple decades to bring Bronco back and this effort started about five years ago. And I think the key enabler was when Ford decided to move Focus out of Michigan Assembly Plant and needed a couple of products to fill up the plant. We wanted to bring the Ranger back on the T6 platform and put that into Michigan and the request was ‘what else are we going to put in the Michigan Assembly plant?’ And it needs to be body on frame and that was kind of the moment that so many enthusiasts and people within Ford had been waiting for that. We had a plant, we had a platform, we had the capacity. And so at that point, we just had to put together the plan to bring Bronco back, that people have been literally begging for, for decades.”
If you’d like to learn more about the new Bronco, you can watch that show right now on our website or YouTube channel.
GOODYEAR TO REMOVE WRANGLER NAME FROM BRONCO TIRES
And speaking of the Bronco, while it’s obvious that the SUV is aimed directly at Jeep, Ford doesn’t want to be associated with its rival in any way. So it asked Goodyear to remove the Wrangler name from its popular off-road tires for the new Bronco. The Wrangler name will be on the inboard side of the tire instead of the outboard side. While it is a bit weird, it’s understandable Ford wouldn’t want its rivals name anywhere on the Bronco.
VW DEVELOPING NEW OPERATING SYSTEM FOR ITS VEHICLES
Traditional automakers have lagged behind in offering over-the-air update capabilities, but we’re starting to see more catch up, including GM, Ford and BMW. Volkswagen is following the same path with its new Car.Software organization, which will be tasked with developing a new automotive operating system for the Group. The system will combine a completely new electronics architecture with an automotive data cloud. The idea is to have common software for all of VW’s brands and the markets they’re offered in. It’s a huge task and VW says it’s going to invest 7 billion euros by 2025 to make it happen. The first vehicle to use the new system will be an EV from Audi “in a few years” and by 2025 all new models will use it.
LYFT PROVIDES DRIVERS WITH PARTITIONS
Fear of getting the coronavirus has caused ride-sharing rides to fall off a cliff. So, Lyft is going to give drivers partitions to put between them and passengers for better virus protection. But Lyft will only provide them to 60,000 of its most-active drivers. For $50 any other driver can purchase the partitions, which are made from a polycarbonate material, will fit a wide range of vehicles and can be installed by one person.
VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN IMPRESSIONS
We just had the pleasure of having a Volkswagen Tiguan in the Autoline Garage. And we were able to test drive the absolute top of the model range, the SEL Premium R-Line. Let me translate. That means that you get a Tiguan with every conceivable option that is available. And the price reflects it. The one we drove cost more than $40,400. Just to give you an idea of how much of a markup that represents, a base Tiguan starts at $25,000.
There isn’t anything that is particularly outstanding about the Tiguan, it’s just that the total package was very well executed. The styling is quite conservative, both inside and out. But it’s the kind of design that can age well. As with most of these mid-size CUVs it’s easy to get in and out of. There’s plenty of room inside for most people, and there’s a ton of luggage space in back, even with the rear seats up.
Personally, I’d like more power. It’s 2-liter turbo produces 184 horsepower and 221 pound feet of torque, which is sort of OK. But it has to propel over 3,800 pounds of mass. That translates to 21 pounds per horsepower, which generally makes a vehicle feel pretty pokey. And it helps explain why this all-wheel-drive model is rated at only 23 miles to the gallon. That is substantially below its competitors, such as the Toyota RAV-4, the Honda CR-V and Ford Escape. But thanks to good gearing, and max torque that comes on at only 1,600 rpm, the Tiguan feels reasonably responsive. It also has that feeling of solidity, firm ride and precise steering that attracts so many customers to the Volkswagen brand.
From that standpoint, Volkswagen really nailed it with the Tiguan. It’s the best-selling VW in the American market, easily outselling the Jetta, which used to be Volkswagen’s best seller.
BARN FIND REVEALED
And before we go, let’s reveal the Barn Find from yesterday. There were a lot of right answers, but Nick Thomas provided some great insight so we’re going to read his comment. He says “Okay this is actually tougher than it seems, Sean! It’s clearly a Chevy P30 Step-Van, but is it a 1968 or a 1986? This thing almost made no changes in its existence, but lets (try) and narrow it down. That said, I’m fairly confident it is a 1970s model, specifically a 1971 Chevy P30 Step-Van. The giveaway? About the only thing that changed in 30 some odd years, the badge design in front of the doors!” Love it! Thanks Nick.
But that’s it for today’s show, thanks for watching and have a great weekend.
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John McElroy is an influential thought leader in the automotive industry. He is a journalist, lecturer, commentator and entrepreneur. He created “Autoline Daily,” the first industry webcast of industry news and analysis.