Audi Motorsports boss Ullrich on F1 rumors: LOL

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NÜRBURGRING – With F1’s Red Bull Racing facing a dilemma about next season, the chance is still lurking around that Red Bull Racing is possibly considering the chance that German car manufacturer Audi might buy into the team or supply engines for them in the future.

However, the recent shuffle at the Inglostadt, Germany Company has not changed the difference that Audi, at the time being, has no interest at all in joining the formula one grid anytime soon.

Speaking to MotorSportsTalk at this weekend’s 6 Hours of Nürburgring, Ullrich said how the speculation about a possible move into F1 had been a long-running theme of his time at the helm at Audi.

“This is a discussion I’ve lived with for 20 years, and we never did it,” Ullrich said.

“So I would be surprised if we did it tomorrow.”

When asked by MotorSportsTalk whether some kind of entry to the sport in 2016 would be possible, Ullrich said that a lead up of a single year would be unwise.

“If somebody wants to go into Formula 1 and they think that they can do it from one to the next year, I think he shouldn’t try to do it,” he said.

The Audi-to-F1 story is something of an annual occurrence, but given Red Bull’s recent woes and the quit threats that have been issued in public, it has gained a little more traction in 2015.

Audi continues to exist as one of the two dominant teams in the FIA World Endurance Championship alongside Porsche, with its no. 7 trio of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler leading the drivers’ championship ahead of today’s race at the Nürburgring.

 

Volkswagen Creatively Counters its Carbon Footprint

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2015 Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid

Every day, companies churn out billions of products to serve all walks of life. As consumers, we almost always see and experience the end product, but rarely do we think about what it takes to make the product.

When you drive your car do you ever think about all the manufacturing processes that went into it? What about all the emissions that stem from said manufacturing? From minerals and raw materials to production and consumer use, plus recycling efforts, all of these emissions add up in a hurry. When fossil fuels burn, they produce carbon dioxide. Production of coal, natural gas and oil generate methane. Fossil fuel combustion produces nitrous oxide. The list goes on. Companies have emissions requirements they’re expected to meet, but many times they either surpass these thresholds or simply want to reduce their overall carbon footprint. Recently, we had a chance to take a trip to Northern California to see an example of what a huge company like Volkswagen does to help with sustainability and reduce its emissions impact.

For starters, the entire Volkswagen group has very ambitious strategies that seem to go above and beyond what a standard company might do to help the environment. The automaker plans to reduce its passenger vehicle carbon dioxide emissions by 90% by 2050. That might seem a ways out, but a 90% reduction is massive. VW plans to improve fuel efficiency during each vehicle redesign by 10-15 percent. From 2010 to 2020, the company’s greenhouse gas emissions due to production are set to be reduced around 40 percent. E-mobility — personal transportation powered by electricity instead of internal combustion — is also a critical factor in sustainability for most automakers. Fuel cell, battery electric, plug-in hybrid, and hybrid vehicles can all contribute, provided a company can achieve efficient production and recycling processes. Volkswagen Group engineers are working on electrifying 40 different models, with many of them already in markets worldwide. The automaker will also invest $10 million dollars in charging infrastructure throughout the U.S. by 2016.

Despite these efforts, the reality is there are tens of millions of vehicles produced every year globally, with the VW Group producing millions all by itself. This brings us to carbon offsets, one of the most effective ways to help a large corporation reduce environmental impact. Essentially, an offset is a “credit” of sorts. A company can buy carbon offsets through projects that help reduce carbon and greenhouse gas emissions. While offsets are voluntary, emissions limits aren’t, so this is an effective way to help meet emissions limits and do some good for the planet in general.

For this particular trip and in this instance, Volkswagen is working with 3degrees and The Conservation Fund, two companies leading projects at the Garcia River Forest to reduce logging impact, protect wildlife and other conservation efforts. These Garcia River Forest projects help preserve a roughly 24,000 square foot forest area, with emission reductions actually checked and monitored by an independent third party to ensure accurate assessment of these efforts. 3degrees acts as a ‘broker’ for offset projects, while The Garcia River Forest is owned by The Conservation Fund, a non-profit, who bought the area in 2004. We had an opportunity to talk with the wonderful folks from the Conservation Fund, who answered all sorts of questions about native redwood trees, endangered fish, and more. The end-goal for The Conservation Fund is to ensure business is able to be conducted in a sustainable way in the forest while still preserving and growing the habitat.

2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen TDI: the last of its kind

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During the disco era, station wagons were parked in many suburban driveways, giving families additional utility and cargo space for flexible living. Four decades later, the crossover SUV has assumed this role, and it is basically the same thing as a station wagon but with a taller ride height and available all-wheel drive.

For most buyers today, the only choice in a modern, traditional station wagon is the 2015 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen. It used to be called the Jetta SportWagen, but with a redesign for 2015, this model adopts the Golf nameplate.

Available with a choice between two turbocharged 4-cylinder engines, one burning gasoline and one burning diesel, and with a 6-speed manual or a 6-speed automatic transmission, the Golf SportWagen comes in S, SE, and SEL trim levels. Prices start at $22,215 for the 1.8T S model and rise to $33,955 for the TDI SEL model with all of the extras.

That’s pretty reasonable for a compact wagon, one providing comfortable space for four people and up to 30.4 cu.-ft. of cargo. Three children will fit across the back seat, as long as one of them doesn’t require a safety or booster seat, and if you need to maximize space, the Golf SportWagen can tackle up to 66.5 cu.-ft. of cargo with the rear seats folded down.

With the SportWagen TDI, you’re paying a $2,200 premium to obtain the turbo-diesel engine, which is expected to return 35 mpg in combined driving, regardless of transmission choice. Compared to the SportWagen 1.8T, that represents six extra miles of travel for every gallon of gas pumped, or 79.2 extra miles of travel with every tank of fuel. The TDI model’s improved fuel economy eventually pays for the price premium.

In the meantime, the Golf SportWagen is the last remaining affordable station wagon that you can buy.

Audi sets 55th straight monthly U.S. record with 20.8% gain in July 2015

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  • Fourth-best sales month in Audi of America history
  • Demand for Audi SUV models increased 68.4% for the month
  • All-time best July sales of Audi Certified pre-owned vehicles

 

Audi reported that its July 2015 sales increased 20.8% to 17,654 vehicles, a total that stands as the fourth-best monthly result ever in the U.S. market.

Audi achieved its best-ever July sales in the U.S., marking the 55th consecutive monthly sales record. The previous July record was set in 2014 with 14,616 Audi vehicles sold. Through the first seven months of 2015, Audi U.S. sales rose 12.4% from last year to 111,269 vehicles.

July results were bolstered by sales of Audi luxury SUVs, with a 68.4% increase in sales encompassing the Audi Q3, Q5 and Q7 models. The Q5 posted a 47.4% increase from last year, while the Q7 posted a 34.1% increase from last July.

“The showroom traffic that our dealers saw in July indicates that demand across the Audi product lineup is hotter than ever,” said Mark Del Rosso, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Audi of America. “We are confident that the Audi momentum will continue into the autumn selling season with the release of the entire model-year 2016 portfolio and the upcoming launches of the all-new TT and the first plug-in Audi, the A3 Sportback e-tron.”

The A3 model line achieved robust sales in July with a 46.3% increase over July 2014 sales. The A6 and A7 models also performed well, with year-over-year increases of 5.9% and 15.8%, respectively.

Audi Certified pre-owned vehicle sales also set a new July record, with a 10.3% gain on 4,542 CPO vehicles sold. CPO sales year-to-date have increased 9.5%.

Audi holds the longest running monthly record sales streak in the premium car market according to a competitive sales report from MotorIntelligence.com.

Watch This Porsche 934 Pass Nearly Everyone On Track, Twice

One of the great things about the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is that some of the historic race cars in the field are being piloted by modern sports car aces. That means that they aren’t just putting around in amateur hands, they’re actually being wrung out by people that do this professionally.

This 934 was being driven by Porsche ace Leh Keen. It’s fair to say he knows what he’s doing.

Before a clutch problem, he passes 11 cars in one lap. Then he goes back out after the repair to do it all again. Here’s what he saw:

Steve McQueen’s Porsche 930 Turbo Sells for 20x Normal Value

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Let’s set one thing straight here, if we were to have relatives like The King of Cool, not to mention if he was our father, we would never sell his bad a$$ Porsche 930 Turbo. Not only was it the last car he bought, but it was the Germans’ fastest road legal car of the time; a marvel.

If there’d be a book of records that registers the owners whose cars fetched most in auctions, then Steve McQueen would hold one of the top 10 spots. He is renown for having an excellent taste in cars and for having left a great legacy behind. Maybe there’s a type of aura left in his cars, or perhaps wealthy car collectors can’t help from buying the legendary actor’s vehicles.

Whatever the case may be, you’ll want to know that Steve McQueen’s 1976 Porsche 930 Turbo Carrera fetched an impressive £ 1.25 million ($1.95 million at the current exchange rate). The value of this beauty indeed went through the roof when it crossed the auction block over the weekend, at the Mecum Auctions sale in Monterey, California. Let’s consider that the regular price is somewhere close to $100,000, it’s safe to say the celebrity factor raised the stakes for about 20 times. Why?

It might be because of that gorgeous 3.0-liter engine working through that 4-speed manual transmission, the slate gray exterior, or the black interior. The impressive price it sold for may also be related to the one thing that made this vehicle stand out as a unique. There’s a dashboard switch McQueen added so that he could kill the rear lights in case he was being chased on Mulholland Drive.

For a legend both on set and on track, McQueen always made sure he’d give some of his success back. He made sure to offer some help to The Boys Republic, a non-profit treatment community for troubled youngsters in Chino Hills, California. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to this organization.

View our Porsche inventory >>

Porsche’s 200mph test track

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Testing a supreme driving machine like a Porsche requires a test track to match.

Porsche’s Nardo Technical Center, now celebrating its 40th anniversary, is exactly that. Located at Apulia, on the the Ionian coast in southeast Italy, and constructed by Fiat and purchased by Porsche in 2012, it’s open to any vehicle manufacturer willing to pay to test out their cars via a rigorous gauntlet of conditions. Sprawling across more than 1700 acres, the center is so massive that it can reportedly be seen from space.

Nardo allows manufacturers to recreate almost any imaginable situation in order to evaluate their cars to incredible detail. High transportation costs can be avoided, since Nardo’s variety of test tracks mimic every road surface and climate necessary.

There’s a 3.9-mile handling track with 16 curves, great for testing performance, reliability, and tire quality. The special pavements track has rails, cobblestone, pot holes, long waves, and washboarded sections for testing noise, vibrations, harshness, and durability. The tire laceration road simulates “extreme conditions” like driving on a low friction surface–like ice–with parallel rows of steel rolls. There’s a workshop and office areas, and systems to test car’s corrosion resistance.

The real star at Nardo, however, is the high-speed circular track. 7.8 miles around. 2.5 miles in diameter. The monstrous circular track, with 12 degrees of banking on its outer lane, cancels out centrifugal force even at 150 miles per hour. In 1979, Mercedes-Benz used their C111-IV to hit almost 250mph. A few years later, Porsche set a 24 hour record for average speed with the 928 S, but this has been broken since then, most notably by Volkswagen’s W12 Nardo concept car in 2002. It covered 4800 miles  in 24 hours with an impressive average — yes, average — speed of just over 200mph.

Most of the testing that goes on at Nardo is more mundane, of course — taking care of the everyday stuff cars need to do to keep their owners happy: hit a pothole without falling apart, driving in the sun without overheating. That’s a good thing. But before the official roll ut of any new Porsche, each model is put through grueling tests on this track.

“The Nardo Technical Center ideally supplements our testing and research facilities at the Weissach Development Center with the big advantage that we can test our sports cars 365 days a year in Nardo thanks to the mild climate,” says Wolfgang Hatz, Member of the Executive Board, Research and Development at Porsche AG. “These unique conditions are a valuable resource for efficient vehicle testing for the whole automotive industry.”

“On the testing ground the whole range of testing services is already available to our customers,” says Malte Radmann, Chairman of the Executive Board of Porsche Engineering Group. “But that’s not all: in the next few years we have extensive expansion and modernisation plans to meet the development requirements of the future.”

 

Volkswagen Comeback Gains Traction

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Kelley Blue Book (KBB) estimates that VW’s sales will rise 10.5% in June to 55,000, better than any other car company except Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.

VW’s sales include its Audi and Porsche brands. Audi often beats Mercedes and BMW in growth rate among German manufacturers. In the US VW itself still relies on one very successful car to pull its overall sales higher — the much-awarded Golf. Sales of the line are often in the double digits per month. Golf family sales rose 252% in May to 6,308.

KBB analysts see success beyond June: “Volkswagen Group is another manufacturer poised to report solid growth, thanks to the full model lineup of its redesigned Golf. The Audi brand also is providing a boost with double-digit growth this year, while the overall luxury market is 7.4 percent higher than last year.”

The major contributor to the turnaround in the U.S. will be the Volkswagen Passenger Cars division, which forms around 16% of the company’s valuation and was a massive 46% contributor to the net revenues last year. The forecast is boosted by an 8% jump in deliveries in May. The Volkswagen group is estimated to achieve a 4.7% growth in the U.S. in June.

The strengthening dollar also bodes well for Volkswagen, which reports its financials in euros. Volkswagen is investing $7 billion in North America between 2014-2018 for the purpose of adding capacity and accelerating growth in the country. The German company might be geared for growth in the U.S. now with a new operating structure, well-performing premium auto brands, and with a turnaround in sales for the namesake passenger brands.

VW by some measures is the largest car company in the world. It has a market share of close to 25% in Europe, and it is among the market leaders in China, the leader in sales among all countries.

Porsche to Sue Over Chinese Macan Clone?

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No, that’s not a Porsche Macan. It’s a Chinese-made knockoff, the Zoyte T700, and Porsche is seriously considering a lawsuit to prevent its manufacture.

The Chinese automotive industry has a major problem with design plagiarism, in which a Chinese automaker simply copies an existing design from another (usually non-Chinese) automaker. Of course, they don’t consider it a problem. There have been many examples of patent infringement in the past. Chinese-based Landwind built a Range Rover Evoque copy, the X7. Its patent drawings were available all the way back in April 2014, but Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) only started considering legal action after they saw the X7 debut on the Guangzhou Auto Show, when it was completely finished and ready to roll. Too late! Even more recently, BYD Auto was readying a Porsche Cayenne clone. Now automaker Zotye is preparing an SUV called the T700, which looks almost exactly like the Porsche Macan.

Zotye plans for the T700 to become the new flagship for their SUV line. It will be powered by a 177hp 2.0 turbo, or a new 3.0 V6 turbo that is currently under development. Prices are anticipated to start around 170.000 yuan ($27,390 US, according to today’s exchange rate). The Porsche Macan starts at 558.000 yuan or $89,920 US.

The Porsche press office says court action is being researched and reviewed by the company’s various legal departments, and that a final decision will be made after this process is complete. Much will depend on exactly how and when Porsche applied for patent on the Macan in China. If they did everything according to the Chinese law, which is famously vague—copyright enforcement in China doesn’t really exist—they have a chance. The Porsche name will help too, especially when fully backed by Volkswagen, one of the largest investors in the Chinese automotive sector. Furthermore, the Zotye T700 seems far from finished at the moment (it will reportedly not hit the market until next year), giving Porsche time to work out a strategy and put the brakes on development.

Audi Lunar Quattro Headed for the Moon in 2017

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Audi is helping a team called Part-Time Scientists go for Google’s Lunar XPRIZE. Anybody from around the world who can build a rover, fly it to the moon and send back data wins $30 million. The challenge requires that once on the lunar surface, the robot must explore at least 500 m around and send back high-quality photos and video.

Part-Time Scientists have created the robot, but Audi is contributing knowledge of robotics (where their experience with self-driving cars comes in handy), propulsion and lightweight materials to the project, and gets to put the four rings on the rover, called “Audi Lunar Quattro.” The mission is slotted for 2017, with the rover five days after launch near the spot where Apollo 17 touched down in 1972.