For over eight decades the Volkswagen Group has endured globally as, arguably, the most accessible branch of German auto engineering. More than just the ‘people’s car’ that it was conceived as, VW has evolved to embody a near-perfect blend of economy, performance, practicality and (dare we say it) fun.
Both unassuming and emphatically on-brand, Volkswagen vehicle designs embody a reserved pride that one would expect of a Bavarian automaker. From the compact iconography of the sporty Beetle to the variants of the modern and convenient Golf. Consider the sedan styling of the Jetta and Passat. Or the compelling design of the Tiguan and Atlas SUVs. What about the all-new Arteon. Or the enticing promise of such electric concept vehicles as the I.D., I.D. Vizzion, I.D. Cross and I.D. Buzz, the latter of which embodies the styling of Vietnam-era conversion vans.
With such a confident lineup and such promise on the horizon, it’s no real surprise that Volkswagen has enjoyed both increased sales volume, thickening profit margins and productivity gains. At the recent 2018 Beijing Auto Show, VW’s new CEO Herbert Diess conveyed a 7.4% increase in vehicle deliveries within the first quarter alone, confidently predicting the upward trend to continue through the year.
That said, there’s no getting around some of the negative press that Volkswagen has had to endure in recent months. If anything, the automaker deserves some credit for the ability to weather these media storms, and walk away with solid global gains.
$33.5 Million (MD) Diesel Emissions Settlement
For the better part of three years now, VW has been staring down a lot of bad press related to ‘Dieselgate.’ The scandal relates to VW falsifying emissions results in an attempt to sidestep pollution standards, allowing individual state / national agencies to pursue legal recourse against the automaker.
Pending final approval by the ruling judge, VW has all-but resolved the local action taken by the state of Maryland. Consisting of $29 million cash payment and another $4.5 million penalty to be applied if there aren’t changes made in local port logistics, VW has bellied up to the proverbial bar. The agreement will also require VW to introduce three additional electric vehicles in Maryland by end of 2019, based on precedent from a similar ruling in California.
This is just one piece of the $25 million dollar commitment that VW has made to address environmental concerns levied at the automaker by environmental regulators, owners, and dealers alike.
Having called VW’s past conduct “outrageous,” Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh, stated that the settlement sends a “clear message to auto manufacturers that violating laws designed to protect our environment and the health of our citizens is unacceptable and will result in harsh penalties.”
In response, Jeannine Ginivan, a spokeswoman for Volkswagen called the agreement an “important step forward for Volkswagen in resolving legacy exposure to state and local environmental claims related to the diesel matter in the United States.”
Coolant Pump Recall
Another recent headline states that VW’s Audi line was facing down a massive global recall, totaling up to 1.16 million vehicles with a 2.0-liter Turbo FSI engine. The reason: a faulty electric coolant pump that was susceptible to moisture, short-circuit and the potential of flammable overheating.
This is, of course, a follow-up to last year’s recall of the same group of vehicles. The first recall allowed Audi to update software so that the coolant pump could be disabled if it became blocked and placed at risk. That said, the two-fold resolution feels poorly managed and drawn out.
Considering the recall applies to 342,000 vehicles in the United States alone, what could be viewed as minor inconvenience to an individual owner, could have a damning effect overall.
Negative headlines aside, VW seems committed to evolution and adapting more positive business development and a more ethical approach to the engineering and production of its various lineups.
As with any major corporation, there are bound to be supporters and detractors for VW’s efforts. What are your thoughts