Monthly Archives: September 2016

Audi continues record U.S. sales streak for 68th consecutive month

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Volkswagen to unveil new midsize SUV

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The Tiguan compact SUV has been one of VW’s stars in the U.S., with sales growing by 49 percent through the first seven months of 2016. The company hopes to build on that success with the new midsize SUV.

With new leadership for the North American market, VW plans big changes. An expanded factory in Tennessee, and an all-new 2017 mid-size SUV are all pointing the way. It will VW’s entry into the lucrative soccer-wagon market.

After test driving a camouflaged prototype, Volkswagen North America chief engineering officer Matthias Erb said the new sport utility vehicle fills a gap for growing families. “If someone already had a Passat but wanted something bigger after having two kids, we didn’t have anything to offer them,” he said, “the Tiguan was too small, because a compact SUV offers essentially the same space as a midsize sedan.”

VW hasn’t finalized a name for the new SUV just yet, but their recent choices (Touareg and Tiguan) have started with a “T” so for now call it To Be Decided. VW plans to unveil it on October 27th and display it the L.A. Auto Show in November, so full details are not far off.

The test mule shown is heavily masked both inside and out, but larger than the 5-passenger Touareg, and easily has room for 7 adults. Two 6-foot, 260-pound men can fit into the third row seats, with two more in the second row. Third-row entry is easily achieved through an unique second-row seat that tips forward with both the seat base and back, allowing more space for getting in and out.

The new SUV is coming at a good time for VW. Challenges will include changing consumer perceptions of Volkswagen as a seller of compact sedans, and to filling the needs of U.S. drivers, who don’t need vehicles that can hold their own on the Autobahn.

The success of the new SUV is also key to the future of VW’s Chattanooga plant, which has made only the Passat sedan since opening, to great fanfare, in 2011. Most other Volkswagens destined for the U.S. are made in Mexico.

Porsche 960 supercar delayed

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Porsche wants a bigger slice of the supercar market but may have to wait longer than previously expected.

Buoyed by the success of the 918 Spyder, Porsche is keen to launch a more accessible performance offering to fill the gap between the top-end 911s and the hypercar segment that the 918 sits in. The car, a spiritual successor to the legendary 959, hence the reason it’s doing the rounds as the “960,” would target the Ferrari 488 GTB, Lamborghini Huracán and McLaren 650S. And like those rivals, it too would feature a mid-engine layout and be a more permanent fixture in the lineup.

But according to Automotive News, we may not see the 960 until as late as 2026. An original due date this decade is reportedly proving difficult, despite development of the car having been underway for some time. We previously heard the car would be launched around 2017 and be the first model to ride on a modular sports car platform being developed by Porsche for its next-generation 718 and 911 models, as well as a new Audi R8 and next-generation supercars from Lamborghini.

The primary reason for the delay could be VW’s efforts to cut costs by eliminating niche products. Much of the German auto giant’s resources are now tied up in electric cars. The 960 on the other hand was thought to be coming with a quad-turbocharged flat-8 engine with as much as 650 horsepower on tap. Another reason could be concern the car could cannibalize sales of supercar models from Audi and Lamborghini.

And Porsche already has a lot on its plate. Later this year we’ll see a new Panamera wagon. There’s also the next-generation 911, a new electric car (likely to be a sleek sedan) based on 2015’s Mission E concept car, and even the possibility of an SUV with coupe-like styling.

Audi to employ Virtual Reality Headsets in future showrooms

 

myAudi Sphere: Following a complete remodeling, the former Audi Forum at Munich Airport is reopening as a discovery platform for progressive tools in the dialogue between customers, the manufacturer and dealers. The focus is on digital innovations that connect the real and virtual worlds of Audi. myAudi Sphere is the first showroom worldwide to stage an advanced setup of the brand’s virtual reality application: the “Audi Walking VR experience”. Visitors using the virtual reality headset to get an especially realistic view of their dream Audi can now walk around it freely and even take a seat inside.

 

Virtual Reality is here and now. You can buy an Oculus, there’s a headset that comes with a Samsung phone, and if you wander the halls at the next Consumer Electronics Show, you’ll be surrounded by a sea of developers creating worlds for virtual reality exploration. Soon Audi customers will get a taste of virtual reality as the company’s dealerships begin rolling out VR headsets to its showrooms.

The German automaker is diving into the VR landscape in a variety of ways. On a training and technical level, Audi has developed a system that lets sales people show customers what it’s like driving in one of its cars fitted with the Pre Sense City Safety feature. This safety system helps mitigate accidents by sensing the world around it and applying braking forces when deemed necessary. It’s difficult to show the full capabilities of this system with actual cars, but it’s quite easy in the virtual world.

Beyond safety tech, Audi is using VR to show potential customers exactly what they can see in the latest model lineup. This normally would prove difficult from a logistics standpoint for dealerships located in major metropolitan areas. Space is at a premium, and cars take up a fair share of it. With a VR headset, a customer is able to experience an Audi model in 360 degrees and can even move around the car, examining it both from the outside and virtually sit in the cabin. Turning his or head left and right would allow the shopper to see all that the car has to offer. The sales person could have the shopper stand and virtually walk around the outside of the car. While doing so, the exterior color could be changed so that the buyer could see how their car will look.

Acting as a complex configurator, the virtual reality software allows users to cycle between different paint colors, wheels and even interior and exterior options. What’s more, a car can be viewed in a number of different light conditions and locations, such as in Paris and for those so-inclined. Apparently, some folks want to experience the Audi R8 on the moon… as judging by the supplied photo from Audi seen above. If we can incorporate that surface and that car into the next iteration of Forza Motorsport, we’re all for it.

According to Marcus Kühne from Audi’s digital retail solutions division, “Our challenge is that our customers often only come to a dealership to talk about the price. They already know everything there is to know about their chosen car from internet research. But we would like to engage them and give them a better time at the dealership. “We’d like them to have a consultation about the car rather than look on the internet. The VR technology could do this: it is invasive, emotional and unexpected,” he said.

Autocar says Audi is trying the system in six of its German dealerships and is still yet to decide between the two virtual reality headsets it is testing, the HTC Vive and the Oculus Rift.