Fuel cells will flop outside Japan, says VW

toyota aspen 001 1 Fuel cells will flop outside Japan, says VW

“It may fly within Japan, but not globally,” VW’s Shoji said.

It’s long been battered into our beleaguered auto writer brains that the ultimate future source of motivation for tomorrow’s cars and trucks is not gasoline, diesel, electricity, natural gas, propane or solar power – it’s the hydrogen fuel cell. It’s been the Next Big Thing since the start of Next Big Things.

Despite decades of prophesizing, the availability of fuel-cell vehicles and the infrastructure to go with them remains exceedingly limited. And to hear Volkswagen explain it, things aren’t poised to get any better any time soon.

The German manufacturer’s Japanese president, Shigeru Shoji, tells Bloomberg that FCVs aren’t likely to catch on beyond Japan’s borders, where the vehicles have a shot at catching on due to huge subsidies offered by the government. Hydrogen buyers in Japan can receive up to $28,500 in breaks from the government if they adopt the zero-emissions vehicles.

It may fly within Japan, but not globally,” Shoji told Bloomberg in an interview.

The heart of the issue rests, not surprisingly, with costs. Because storing and transporting hydrogen and building out the necessary infrastructure to make it available to consumers is so pricy, the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – which as Bloomberg explains it, is targeting a “hydrogen society” – needs to incentivize adoption.

Volkswagen’s statement comes as Toyota prepares to launch a fuel-cell vehicle (shown above) on the American West Coast. With sales slated to kick off year, Toyota expects the cost to fill up the FCV to start at around $50 before falling to $30. VW, doesn’t seem too sure of that, though.

“There are still a lot of questions lingering about how practical it is even though Toyota launches next year,” VW spokesman Yasuo Maruta told Bloomberg. “By the time it gets very usable by the normal customers, it’s maybe still a decade or two decades away.”

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Tanner Foust checks out his new VW Beetle GRC rally car

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Lamando is Chinese for VW Jetta CC [w/video]

VW Lamando Lamando is Chinese for VW Jetta CC [w/video]

Volkswagen is not messing around when it characterizes its new MQB architecture as modular. It’s already underpinning the VW Golf, Audi A3, Seat Leon and Skoda Octavia, and will soon form the basis for many more. And here is the latest.

Unveiled at the Chengdu Motor Show in China this weekend is the new Volkswagen Lamando, a four-door coupe similar in size to a Jetta but with the svelter roofline of the larger Passat-based CC to go after the Mercedes-Benz CLA. It’s essentially the production version of the New Midsize Coupe concept that previewed its arrival at the Beijing Motor Show this past April, and will be built locally for local consumption by VW’s joint venture with SAIC.

Power comes from either a 1.4- or 2.0-liter turbo four mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox, with an equivalent price tag below $30,000. Whether this or any similar vehicle ever arrives in North American showrooms remains to be seen, but we’ll be watching to find out. In the meantime you can scope it out in the trippy video below and the photos in the gallery above.

Related Gallery2015 Volkswagen Lamando
vw lamando 3 1 Lamando is Chinese for VW Jetta CC [w/video]vw lamando 4 1 Lamando is Chinese for VW Jetta CC [w/video]vw lamando 2 1 Lamando is Chinese for VW Jetta CC [w/video]vw lamando 6 1 Lamando is Chinese for VW Jetta CC [w/video]vw lamando 5 1 Lamando is Chinese for VW Jetta CC [w/video]vw lamando 1 1 Lamando is Chinese for VW Jetta CC [w/video]

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What you missed on 8.28.14

u turn banner2 What you missed on 8.28.14

2014 vw e up qs What you missed on 8.28.14Electric VW e-Up! tested

The Volkswagen Up! is one of our favorite pieces of pint-sized forbidden fruit. The cute little city car is already one of the best-selling microcars in Europe, and VW aims to broaden its appeal with a new electrified version, the e-Up! Jonathon Ramsey recently took the electric Up! for a quick spin in Germany. Read his full report, here.

mazda mx 5 alfa spider mule 4 1 What you missed on 8.28.14Mazda MX-5 Coupe in the works?

We’re just days away from the reveal of the fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata, and already, the rumormill is swirling about what’s in store for the lovely two-seat sports car. New reports suggest that a long-awaited coupe model is indeed in the cards – of course, take that with a huge grain of salt. More details about future plans for the Mazda3 and Mazda6 are detailed here, as well.


2015 volvo xc90 live white 05 1 What you missed on 8.28.14Volvo model range details revealed

Tired of all the Volvo news this week? Good. Neither are we. Looking beyond the introduction of the 2015 XC90, or man Noah Joseph managed to get some more details about the future of the company’s model range, which happily includes sedans, wagons, and the well-liked Cross Country trims. See what else is in store in his deep dive, here.

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Porsche’s former CEO Wiedeking to stand trial over VW-share manipulation

 Porsches former CEO Wiedeking to stand trial over VW share manipulation

Former Porsche CEO Wendelin Wiedeking (left in the above photo) could potentially be facing some time in the slammer after all. The last we had heard, he and former Chief Financial Officer Holger Haerter (right) had avoided a trial in April due to a lack of evidence. However, an appeals court in Stuttgart has looked at the case again and overruled the earlier decision, finding that the executives should be tried for share manipulation during Porsche’s failed attempt to take over Volkswagen in 2008, Bloomberg reports.

The judges in the appeal “list numerous indications that could suggest that there was a hidden decision to increase the stake as they could suggest the opposite evaluation by the lower court,” said Stefan Schueler, a spokesperson for the court, in a statement cited by Bloomberg. Wiedeking and Haerter put out their own releases saying that there was no merit to the charges.

The prosecutors allege that Wiedeking and Haerter had a plan to buy up VW stock options in 2008 to take the automotive giant over but hid it from investors. The whole thing was a massive failure and eventually allowed VW the chance to acquire Porsche and forced the two execs to step down. In addition to the criminal investigation, hedge funds have attempted to sue the company multiple times in civil court for the same reason, but they have repeatedly failed.

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VW Golf Mk8 could arrive by 2017

16 2015 vw golf tsi fd 1 VW Golf Mk8 could arrive by 2017

The seventh-generation Volkswagen Golf (pictured above) only went on sale in the US in August, but it has been on the road in some parts of the world since 2012. The German automotive giant isn’t taking a moment’s rest for one of its most well known models, though. The latest rumor suggests that VW is already developing the eighth revision of its bread-and-butter hatchback, and it may be ready for launch as soon as 2017.

The rumors come courtesy of German magazine Auto Motor und Sport, and it claims that the new model will receive a thorough restyling of the current look. Not only will this mean the usual changes to the front and rearend design, but the next Golf will also be wider and sit lower than the current one, according to the magazine.

However, the real focus for the new generation will be more sophisticated powertrain, infotainment and safety tech. To meet Europe’s tightening emissions rules, VW will reportedly try to cut the Golf’s weight by about 110 pounds with lighter engines. Cylinder deactivation for some powerplants and possibly even a three-cylinder option are on the table, according to Auto Motor und Sport. Other recent rumors suggest that the next Golf model even use variable-compression and an electric turbo system to further shed CO2 emissions.

Much of the other technology will trickle down from the forthcoming, European-spec Passat that will go on sale later this year. The Golf will supposedly get the sedan’s pedestrian recognition system, parking assist, head-up display and Mirror-Link – a way to link the driver’s smartphone interface to the infotainment screen.

Of course the big question is when the eighth generation will make it to North America. With the latest model being built at an updated facility in Mexico, another staggered release between the US and Europe could be in the cards.

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Are you VW’s New Midsize Coupe?

nmc Are you VWs New Midsize Coupe?

Back in April, Volkswagen showed its New Midsize Coupe concept at the Beijing Motor Show, previewing a new, sub-Passat model for the Chinese market. Now, Auto 163 has stumbled upon what appear to be the first shots of the production model, and while it doesn’t stray too far from the original concept, as expected, some of the flashier styling cues have been toned down.

Of course, because we live in a world where the term “coupe” is apparently applicable to a range of bodystyles, Volkswagen’s NMC is actually very much a sedan. At the concept’s debut, VW said it “envisions a sport sedan positioned below the Passat” – the car is “appreciably wider” than the Passat, but shorter than a Jetta. It rides on the company’s MQB modular architecture that currently underpins the Golf here in the United States.

No word yet on what its production name will be, but VW’s New Midsize Coupe is expected to debut in production form at the Guangzhou Motor Show this December, in advance of its Chinese-market on-sale date in early 2015, priced from about 180,000 yuan (about $29,000 based on current exchange rates). Power is expected to come from either a 1.4- or 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. We’ll know more when the car officially bows later this year.

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How VW’s hyper-efficient XL1 will influence the next Golf

volkswagen golf How VWs hyper efficient XL1 will influence the next Golf

In 2007, the European Union mandated fleet average CO2 emissions of 158.7 g/km. For 2015, that figure will drop to 130 g/km, and the target for 2020 is an ambitions 95 g/km. Thanks to some German politicking, that target will be phased in from 2020 to 2024, but it will still apply to 80 percent of passenger cars in that first year. In US miles per gallon, that’s the equivalent of going from about 35 mpg to 42 mpg to 57 mpg. The current Volkswagen Golf is rated from 85 g/km of CO2 to 190 g/km depending on model – and zero for the e-Golf, so for the next-generation MkVIII hatch due in 2019, to meet the goal, Volkswagen engineers will need to introduce a bunch of new tricks. According to a report in Autocar, VW be mining its hyper-efficient XL1 for some of them.

Predictions for the next Golf include a variable-compression engine, an electric flywheel and an electric turbo, along with taking greater advantage of coasting. Volkswagen could be getting help from Audi with the electric turbo and variable-compression engine and electric turbo, with Audi already having shown off the former and brand technical boss Ulrich Hackenberg confirming the VW Group is working on the latter. It’s possible the flywheel system could also have the mark of The Four Rings: Autocar mentions a British system that Volvo is testing, but the R18 e-tron Quattro racer has been using one for years.

The need for such features is because the company won’t be able to net enough future gains from just aerodynamic improvements and advanced materials. As price will be a factor (the regulations are expected to “add hundreds of euros to the cost of building a car”), adding much more aluminum or carbon fiber is an unlikely option. We’re told the next generation won’t be longer or wider than the current car, and being Europe’s most popular model, VW doesn’t want to make a big bet on futuristic aero, but the report says the MkVIII will “likely” have “the most aerodynamic treatment yet seen on a production vehicle,” the area where lessons learned from the XL1 will truly be seen.

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