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Plugging In: An Inside Look at the MEB — VW’s Platform for an Electrified Future

A combined VW-Ford battery-car program seems to have come un-plugged, however.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Feb.11, 2019

An under-the-skin look at VW's modular MEB battery-car platform reveals the skateboard-like layout.

Volkswagen is plugging into battery power in a big way, the German automaker planning to launch 50 or more all-electric models by 2025, an aggressive push that will have it betting heavily on a single new platform it is developing. Dubbed the MEB, this flexible, modular “architecture” will be used to underpin the vast majority of battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, that will be offered by VW’s dozen different passenger car brands.

The MEB has been a topic of discussion between VW and Ford Motor Co., the two companies recently launching a joint venture to develop light commercial vehicles. They also are exploring ways they may be able to work together on the development of electric vehicles, possibly using the new VW platform — though a senior Ford official cautioned that this might prove more difficult than originally hoped.

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“The future, for us, is really a dedicated EV platform,” said Matthew Renna, vice president of e-Mobility for Volkswagen’s North American Region, a platform “flexible enough to cover a broad gamut of products ranging from an entry level subcompact up to models like the ID. Buzz minivan and even midsize SUVs.

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German Automakers Face 50:50 Chance of Collapse, VW CEO Warns

Herbert Diess warns battery-cars could cost jobs – and may not be as clean as promised.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Oct.16, 2018

VW boss Herbert Diess, left,helps unveil the VW BUDD-e and eGolf Touch electric concepts.

When the U.S. economy collapsed a decade ago two of the three Detroit-based automakers plunged into bankruptcy, surviving only with the help of a massive federal bailout – and that’s the fate that could be facing the German auto industry, as well, the CEO of Volkswagen warned today.

The country’s powerful auto industry faces a 50:50 chance of suffering the same fate that nearly destroyed Detroit’s Big Three manufacturers, Herbert Diess said during a supplier conference in Wolkfsburg VW’s home town.

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“From today’s point of view the chances are perhaps 50-50 that the German auto industry will still belong among the global elite in 10 years’ time,” said Diess, who was appointed VW’s chief executive earlier this year, following a senior management shake-up.

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Volkswagen CEO Mueller Likely to Be Replaced by VW Brand Boss Diess

Mueller helped company weather diesel scandal, but Diess seen as change agent.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Apr.11, 2018

Prior to being tapped to head VW after its diesel scandal broke, Matthias Mueller ran Porsche.

Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Mueller is expected to be forced out at a management meeting Friday, with VW brand boss Herbert Diess expected to replace him, according to reports out of Germany.

The shake-up, which has apparently been in the works for months, has the blessing of some of VW’s top shareholders, as well as its chairman and powerful labor chief. It will mark the most extensive management moves since shortly after the automaker’s diesel emissions scandal broke in September 2015.

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VW issued a short statement noting it is considering “a further development of the management structure of the group which would also be associated with personnel changes in the board of management.” The statement hinted that changes under study “could include” the naming of a new CEO, adding that Mueller himself “showed his willingness to contribute,” suggesting the 64-year-old executive might voluntarily step aside rather than fight to retain his post. He is currently under a contract set to continue through 2020.

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VW Charged Up About EV Racer Heading to Pikes Peak

“It’s about time we settled the score.”

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.19, 2018

VW hopes to leave the competition in the dust when it takes the I.D. R up Pikes Peak.

Volkswagen has put in an order for a whopping $25 billion worth of lithium-ion batteries and related technology, as we reported last week. A small share of that will be going into its new electric motorsports program which is charged up and ready to challenge Pikes Peak a few months from now.

These pics preview the new I.D. R electric race car that VW plans to use as its first entry into the grueling Pikes Peak International Hill Climb since 1987. I.D. is the new sub-brand the German automaker will begin rolling out late in the decade, with a total of 20 full-electric models due out by 2025, so it’s no surprise the hill climb car will share that badge.

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“We want to be at the forefront of electro-mobility with Volkswagen and the I.D. family,” said Frank Welsch, the Volkswagen board member overseeing its electrification efforts. “Competing in the most famous hill climb in the world with the I.D. R Pikes Peak is a valuable test for the general development of electric cars.”

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VW Developing Unique, Premium EV Platform for Porsche, Audi, Bentley

BMW goes the opposite direction, abandoning electric-only platform strategy.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.09, 2018

The Porsche Mission E Cross Turismo is just a "study" for now, but expect a production version to follow.

The Porsche Mission E Cross Turismo is one of the big hits of this year’s Geneva Motor Show and while officially a concept vehicle, the battery-electric crossover is expected to soon follow into production the Mission E coupe launching next year.

Both cars will ride on a specially developed platform, dubbed J1. Meanwhile, sibling brand Audi’s upcoming E-tron Quattro battery-car will use the same MLB architecture as its more mainstream models, like the A4, as well as the new Bentley Bentayga SUV.

Electrifying News!

But, going forward, Those three luxury brands are partnering up to develop an entirely new and unique platform they will share for all future electric vehicles, according to a senior company official. Codenamed PPE, for Premium Platform Electric, it will go into all Audi, Bentley and Porsche electric vehicles from 2022 on.

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VW Squashing the Beetle at End of Current Generation

“You can’t have a new, new, new Beetle,” says R&D chief.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Mar.07, 2018

The Dune Edition of the latest Beetle is shown with a Baja version of the original Bug.

Get ready to say buh-bye to the Beetle. Oh, you didn’t know they were still building it? Well, that may explain why Volkswagen is getting set to phase out the once-iconic coupe when the current, third-generation model reaches the end of its lifecycle.

Now, Volkswagen wouldn’t be Volkswagen without at least one icon in its line-up, but Frank Welsch, the brand’s R&D chief, told Britain’s Autocar that the focus will shift to the soon-to-be-reborn I.D. Buzz, an all-electric take on the classic Volkswagen Microbus that is due to market early in the coming decade.

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Noting that VW tried to revive the Bug with the “New Beetle,” and then redid it one more time, Welsch said enough is enough. “You can’t do it five times and have a new, new, new Beetle,” ad infinitum. In fact, the VW board did consider a way to keep the Beetle alive, but it turned thumbs down to the idea of an all-electric version during a product meeting last November.

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VW Investing Over $40b on EVs, Autonomous Vehicles

German automaker ups ante in increasingly costly tech battle.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.17, 2017

The VW I.D. Crozz concept will become a production battery-electric SUV.

Volkswagen AG said Friday it will spend over 34 billion Euros, or $40 billion between now and 2022 on electrified powertrain technology, autonomous vehicles and other futuristic concepts, aiming to leapfrog key competitors like General Motors and Toyota.

VW already announced plans to offer electrified variants of every model sold by its dozen passenger car brands, including 50 all-electric models, between now and 2025. It also is developing electrified commercial vehicles.

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“We are laying the foundation for making Volkswagen the world’s number-one player in electric mobility by 2025,” Chief Executive Matthias Müller said. “The entire automotive industry is facing fundamental changes in the coming years, which will provide great opportunities, but also require us to put in tremendous efforts.”

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VW Declares “The Future is Electric”

German maker reveals e-mobility plans to investors – but declines to release diesel probe.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on May.10, 2017

VW CEO Matthias Mueller plans to triple spending on alternative powertrain technologies.

Volkswagen executives had a lot to say about their plans to bring electric and high-efficiency gas vehicles to market over the next decade, during the German automaker’s annual shareholders meeting – but they were largely mum when it came to the specifics of an extensive internal probe into the company’s cheating on diesel emissions standards.

“The future is electric,” declared Volkswagen Group CEO Matthias Mueller, during the annual meeting in Hanover, not far from the automaker’s headquarters in Wolfsburg. And VW, he added, “intend(s) to be the number one in e-mobility by 2025.

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The German automaker plans to bring out 10 electrified models by 2018, and have 30 more battery-electric models in its product portfolio by 2025, said Mueller, expanding on VW’s earlier commitment to the technology. All 12 of the company’s brands are expected to add some electrified models.

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VW Cutting 30,000 Jobs Worldwide in Wake of Diesel Emissions Scandal

Move is part of broader changes to shift product plans, improve efficiency.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Nov.18, 2016

VW CEO Matthias Mueller wants to double the carmaker's profit margin and shift its product mix.

Volkswagen AG will eliminate about 30,000 jobs, the majority of them in Germany, as it struggles to cut costs in the wake of a diesel emissions scandal that some analysts estimate will eventually cost it as much as $30 billion or more.

The cuts are expected to save the embattled automaker about 3.7 billion Euros, or nearly $4 billion annually, according to VW CEO Matthias Mueller. However, the move is meant to do more than simply help cover the costs of the diesel scandal.

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The job cuts are part of “the biggest modernization program in the history of the group’s core brand,” Mueller told reporters during a news conference at VW’s corporate headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.  “The VW brand needs a real shake-up,” he added, “and that is exactly what the future pact has turned out to be.”

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Volkswagen Delivers Solid Profit Despite Diesel Scandal

U.S. buyback program set to get underway.

by Paul A. Eisenstein on Oct.27, 2016

The Porsche Macan helped drive big profits for the brand - and for parent Volkswagen AG.

As it begins to see its massive diesel scandal fade into the rearview mirror, Volkswagen AG reported Thursday a big jump in third-quarter earnings.

The German maker had a net, after-tax profit of 2.34 billion euros, or $2.55 billion. By comparison, VW went 6.7 billion euros into the red a year ago as it set aside funds to cover fines and legal costs triggered by the revelation it had rigged emissions tests on its 2.0- and 3.0-liter diesel engines.

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On Tuesday, a judge in San Francisco gave final approval to a nearly $15 settlement with U.S. and California regulators covering the smaller of the two powertrains. That includes up to $10 billion to buy back the 475,000 Audi and Volkswagen brand vehicles sold in the U.S. using that engine. VW says buybacks are likely to begin by mid-November, though the maker still hopes to come up with a technical fix for at least some of those vehicles.

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