Martin Winterkorn resigns

Dieselgate latest: Martin Winterkorn resigns

Martin Winterkorn resigns

As expected, Martin Winterkorn has resigned from his position as Volkswagen CEO. The news comes following a meeting of the executive committee of Volkswagen’s supervisory board, in which Winterkorn was invited to present his case.

It is believed the group met on Tuesday evening, but it was widely predicted that Winterkorn would be forced to resign. According to Bloomberg, “what Winterkorn knew about a scheme intended to dupe regulators and consumers” would have been critical to the discussions. Winterkorn issued an official apology to consumers and Volkswagen workers, but initially refused to step down.

But with pressure mounting, Winterkorn and the board of Volkswagen were left with little option.

Fresh start for Volkswagen

“I am clearing the way for this fresh start with my resignation”, said Winterkorn.

But Winterkorn was quick to claim no wrong doing on his part, saying: “I am shocked by the events of the past few days. Stunned by the misconduct on such a scale possible in the Volkswagen Group.”

Winterkorn: Volkswagen will always be my life

Martin Winterkorn’s resignation statement, in full:

“I am shocked by the events of the past few days. Above all, I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group.

As CEO I accept responsibility for the irregularities that have been found in diesel engines and have therefore requested the Supervisory Board to agree on terminating my function as CEO of the Volkswagen Group. I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrong doing on my part.

Volkswagen needs a fresh start – also in terms of personnel. I am clearing the way for this fresh start with my resignation.

I have always been driven by my desire to serve this company, especially our customers and employees. Volkswagen has been, is and will always be my life.

The process of clarification and transparency must continue. This is the only way to win back trust. I am convinced that the Volkswagen Group and its team will overcome this grave crisis.”

Fall-out set to continue

The fall-out from the emissions cheating scandal is expected to continue. Shares in the beleaguered Group fell by 17% on Monday, dropping a further 19.7% on Tuesday. The net result is one-third being wiped off the company’s value.

It is said that Volkswagen has hired US law firm Kirkland & Ellis to help deal with event. This is the same firm that handled the Deepwater Horizon investigation in 2010.

The Volkswagen board will discuss Winterkorn’s replacement on Friday and further changes in personnel are expected.

Tim Tozer

Surprise as Tim Tozer resigns as Vauxhall boss

Tim Tozer

Tim Tozer has quit his position of chairman and managing director of Vauxhall Motors, with Rory Harvey his replacement. Tozer joined Vauxhall in February 2014, replacing Duncan Aldred, who moved to Detroit to become US vice president of Buick-GMC sales, service and marketing.

The surprise news comes during the week in which the all-new Astra is launched in the UK and off the back of an upbeat Frankfurt Motor Show, during which Tozer spoke of his high hopes for the new hatchback. Indeed, he even featured in the promotional video to support the Astra’s press launch in Liverpool.

Tozer has huge experience in the automotive industry, including a spell as CEO of Autobinck Holding in the Netherlands, president and CEO of Mitsubishi Motors Europe and managing director of Mazda UK. In a statement, Vauxhall said he would “pursue his career outside of General Motors”, although there’s no word on where he is moving to.

His replacement, Rory Harvey, moves across from Opel Europe, where he was executive director for sales. He will report to Peter Kuespert, vice president of sales and aftersales, who had this to say on the appointment: “Rory has a profound knowledge of the British car market, a wealth of experience within Vauxhall and Opel and excellent management qualities.

Rory Harvey

“We look forward to working with Rory on the implementation of our model offensive and building an even stronger Vauxhall brand. At the same time, I would like to thank Tim for the great commitment he showed towards our brand.”

Under Tim Tozer’s watch, Vauxhall has launched the fifth generation Corsa as well as bringing the OnStar service to the UK. He leaves as the Astra is receiving its most positive reviews for years.

Drivers of gas guzzlers could pay to enter towns and cities across England

Diesel car prices rise… for now

Diesel car prices rise

Will cheaper diesel fuel counter the effect of the VW scandal?

The #dieselgate Volkswagen emissions scandal may be in full swing, but there is some good news for drivers of diesel-engined cars.

Data from used car experts Manheim shows a rise in used diesel car prices of 3.1% (£242.44) in August, compared to the first half of the year. The average value of a second-hand petrol car rose by just 1.1% (£37.97) over the same period – a difference of more than £200.

Manheim attributes the increase to the drop in the price of diesel fuel, which fell below that of petrol in late July.

Michael Buxton, CEO of Manheim UK, commented: “Although there are many variables around prices changes, including volume mix, age and mileage, it appears that the fuel price drop – the first time diesel has been cheaper than petrol since 2001 – may have already had an impact in the used car market.”

It will be interesting to see if this trend is maintained, following the negative publicity for diesel in recent days. There is no evidence that the VW Group scandal affects any other car manufacturers, but the news has not done the public perception of diesel any favours.

Keep visiting motoringresearch.com for the latest news as the #dieselgate story develops.

 

 

SMMT says Volkswagen emissions scandal ‘not an industry-wide issue’

SMMT Mike HawesUK automotive trade body the SMMT says the Volkswagen emissions scandal ONLY affects the German giant and “there is no evidence that any other company is involved”.

It also added that there is “no evidence… that this is an industry-wide issue”. It would be wrong, SMMT chief Mike Hawes told Sky News, to infer that other companies were involved.

The organisation said that all cars sold in the UK must comply with a standard emissions test: unlike in the US, this is independent “and witnessed by a government-appointed independent agency.

“Consumers should be reassured that cars sold in the UK must comply with strict European laws.”

The SMMT does, however, admit that the standard European emissions test cycle itself is out of date. This follows regular complaints from motorists that their cars do not meet official fuel consumption figures in real-world driving.

As fuel consumption is directly related to emissions, this means that emissions are also higher than test cycles indicate.

The car industry is actively “seeking agreement from the European Commission for a new emissions test that embraces new testing technologies and which is more representative of on-road conditions” said the SMMT.

More on Volkswagen dieselgate

Volkswagen diesels manipulate US emissions testing

Volkswagen U.S. boss: ‘we totally screwed up’

11 million Volkswagen 2.0 TDI engines ‘have discrepancies’

SMMT says Volkswagen emissions scandal 'not an industry-wide issue'

SMMT Mike HawesUK automotive trade body the SMMT says the Volkswagen emissions scandal ONLY affects the German giant and “there is no evidence that any other company is involved”.

It also added that there is “no evidence… that this is an industry-wide issue”. It would be wrong, SMMT chief Mike Hawes told Sky News, to infer that other companies were involved.

The organisation said that all cars sold in the UK must comply with a standard emissions test: unlike in the US, this is independent “and witnessed by a government-appointed independent agency.

“Consumers should be reassured that cars sold in the UK must comply with strict European laws.”

The SMMT does, however, admit that the standard European emissions test cycle itself is out of date. This follows regular complaints from motorists that their cars do not meet official fuel consumption figures in real-world driving.

As fuel consumption is directly related to emissions, this means that emissions are also higher than test cycles indicate.

The car industry is actively “seeking agreement from the European Commission for a new emissions test that embraces new testing technologies and which is more representative of on-road conditions” said the SMMT.

More on Volkswagen dieselgate

Volkswagen diesels manipulate US emissions testing

Volkswagen U.S. boss: ‘we totally screwed up’

11 million Volkswagen 2.0 TDI engines ‘have discrepancies’

Ministers call for an end to lengthy roadworks

Roadworks TomTom

It’s the news the beleaguered motorist has been waiting for: an end to what feels like roadworks that go on for miles and miles. Highways England is considering proposals to limit the length of roadworks on motorways and A-roads to a maximum of between two and five miles, bringing some relief to commuters.

Government ministers are putting pressure on contractors to shorten the length of roadworks, with the Department for Transport (DfT) calling for “common sense decisions.” A spokesperson for the DfT said: “Our road investment strategy will deliver the biggest upgrade to Britain’s roads in a generation and secure our transport network for the long term.

“But as it is delivered we’ve got to respect the drivers who use our roads every day.

“That means taking common sense decisions to minimise frustrations wherever possible.”

Favourable, if sceptical response to news

Music to the ears of UK motorists? The response on Twitter has been largely favourable, although some are sceptical that the proposed changes will actually take place:

Drivers who have to face the misery of the M3 on a daily basis will undoubtedly welcome the news. Work is currently underway to transform the section between junctions 2 and 4a into a smart motorway, complete with a 50mph limit along a 13.4-mile stretch of road. Construction started last autumn and isn’t expected to be complete until the winter of 2016.

A common sense step?

There are similar works taking place on the M1 and M6 motorways, with drivers resigned to the fact they will face delays to their journey.

Under the proposals, many of the current roadworks would need to be scaled back. The AA’s Edmund King called for more overnight works, with motorway roadworks “limited to 10 miles”, arguing that “more incentives” would encourage contractors to get the work finished on time.

Meanwhile, RAC chief engineer David Bizley, told Motoring Research: “The Government’s road investment strategy has promised motorists the biggest improvement to England’s major roads in a generation. However it is vital that this upgrade is delivered in a way that does not cause unnecessary inconvenience.

“The sight of mile after mile of traffic cones and reduced speed limits, only for work to be taking place on a single small stretch of road, is a source of frustration for motorists. A move to complete major roadworks in phases, which would see motorists encounter shorter ‘bursts’ of temporary speed limits rather than a single one that runs for a long distance, will be seen as a common sense step by drivers.”

£15 billion ‘road revolution’

The government has committed to spend £15 billion before the end of the decade, as part of a ‘roads revolution’ across the country. Planned projects include a smart motorway between junctions 3 and 12 on the M4, along with a similar scheme between junctions 4a and 6 on the M5 in the Midlands. Needless to say, the new proposals will have an impact on the proposed works.

There are currently no timescales attached to the proposals and no guarantee that the limits will be enforced. We’ll bring you more news when we have it.

Volkswagen-Group

11 million Volkswagen 2.0 TDI engines have ‘discrepancies’

Volkswagen-GroupVolkswagen has revealed that 11 million diesel engines worldwide have discrepancies in their software that could lead to an emissions “deviation between bench test results and actual road use”.

The firm says it is “working intensely to eliminate these deviations through technical measures” – and has set aside a massive €6.5 billion to “win back the trust of our customers”.

The firm has thus warned investors that earnings and profits for the Group in 2015 will be adjusted accordingly.

To clarify, Volkswagen has added that new engines sold in the EU comply with EU6 emissions regulations and the software “does not affect handling, consumption or emissions”. The software doesn’t affect most other Volkswagen engines either.

The discrepancy is with the big-selling 2.0-litre TDI motor, sold in the US under the ‘Clean Diesel’ banner. It seems engines sold between 2009-2015 have ‘defeat device’ coding in the software that helps them pass air quality emissions tests.

This is what the EPA has detected and it seems Volkswagen has discovered this ‘discrepancy’ is present in the coding for most 2.0-litre TDI engines sold in that period.

“Volkswagen does not tolerate any kind of violation of laws whatsoever,” it added in a statement.

“It is and remains the top priority of the Board of Management to win back lost trust and to avert damage to our customers.

“The Group will inform the public on the further progress of the investigations constantly and transparently.”

Volkswagen-Group

11 million Volkswagen 2.0 TDI engines have 'discrepancies'

Volkswagen-GroupVolkswagen has revealed that 11 million diesel engines worldwide have discrepancies in their software that could lead to an emissions “deviation between bench test results and actual road use”.

The firm says it is “working intensely to eliminate these deviations through technical measures” – and has set aside a massive €6.5 billion to “win back the trust of our customers”.

The firm has thus warned investors that earnings and profits for the Group in 2015 will be adjusted accordingly.

To clarify, Volkswagen has added that new engines sold in the EU comply with EU6 emissions regulations and the software “does not affect handling, consumption or emissions”. The software doesn’t affect most other Volkswagen engines either.

The discrepancy is with the big-selling 2.0-litre TDI motor, sold in the US under the ‘Clean Diesel’ banner. It seems engines sold between 2009-2015 have ‘defeat device’ coding in the software that helps them pass air quality emissions tests.

This is what the EPA has detected and it seems Volkswagen has discovered this ‘discrepancy’ is present in the coding for most 2.0-litre TDI engines sold in that period.

“Volkswagen does not tolerate any kind of violation of laws whatsoever,” it added in a statement.

“It is and remains the top priority of the Board of Management to win back lost trust and to avert damage to our customers.

“The Group will inform the public on the further progress of the investigations constantly and transparently.”

Silverstone to Le Mans in a Porsche 911 GTS

Road trip: Silverstone to Le Mans by Porsche 911

Silverstone to Le Mans in a Porsche 911 GTS

It’s a scary thought that anyone with money can go out and buy a seriously quick car with no training other than the basic driving test.

And seriously quick cars are getting more and more attainable. You can now buy Volkswagen Golfs capable of hitting 62mph in less than 5.0 seconds. Not so long ago, that was the reserve of supercars such as the Ferrari Testarossa.

The day you pick up your first performance car – whether it’s a hot hatch or something a little more focused such as a Porsche 911 – could soon turn sour. The salesman hands over the keys, waves goodbye and you are no longer his responsibility. It’s all too easy for you to be overcome by the power and end up finding out just how quickly your new car stops when it meets something as substantial as an ancient oak tree.

But Porsche is doing something above and beyond its call of duty to make sure not only that new customers will be safe in their new performance cars, they’ll also know how to extract the best out of them – while having a lot of fun along the way.

All buyers of new Porsches are offered a driving experience session at one of its experience centres around the world. They get a 90-minute session in a choice of models and one-to-one tuition from a qualified instructor.

Each session is bespoke – tailored to your experience and exactly what you want to get out of it.

But is the entire thing just a huge gimmick? I headed to the original experience centre at Silverstone before jumping into a Porsche 911 GTS and driving 450 miles to its brand new centre on the legendary Le Mans circuit. As you do.

Porsche Experience Centre – Silverstone

Porsche Experience Centre – Silverstone

Everything you could possibly want to do with a Porsche is catered for at Silverstone. There’s a pair of handling circuits – great for finding out just how far you can push your Porsche with a professional driver sat next to you.

I also spent time on a straight bit of tarmac designed to replicate a motorway. Here, the driver encourages you to accelerate hard (using launch control) to as high as 80mph before going hard on the brakes to see how the car reacts.

Using the brakes (ceramic, as an optional extra fitted to the Cayman GTS I’m trying here) to their maximum potential is something we rarely, if ever, do on the road. It’s astonishing just how quickly you can stop if you need to. You also get the opportunity to experiment with swerving while braking and even taking your hands off the wheel.

Porsche Experience Centre – Silverstone

Low-grip areas at Silverstone are perfect for finding out exactly how to control a skid when you push your Porsche beyond its limits of grip (as well as realising just how hard you have to try for that to happen).

Not only will the 90-minute session take you out of your comfort zone – no matter how competent a driver you are – it’ll teach you an awful lot about how a Porsche drives up to the limit and beyond. It’s a thrilling session that will make you a much safer and more responsible driver, as well as showing you just how capable these cars are.

Porsche to Le Mans

To Le Mans

As enjoyable and rewarding as a session at Silverstone is, most 911 buyers will spend more time sitting in traffic than exploring the car’s limits on a track. I remind myself of this as I thread the 911 GTS cabriolet through stop-start traffic on the M25.

Once you get used to the sheer girth of the 911 (at 1,852mm, it’s 62mm wider than a Volkswagen Golf), it’s a pleasing companion. Its PDK dual-clutch gearbox takes the strain out of the stop-start traffic – my only complaint being the 20-inch wheels transmitting a horrible thrum along the concrete section of London’s notorious orbital motorway.

Considering how common (erm, sorry, popular) 911s are in the south east of the UK, it’s surprising how much attention the GTS gets – even with the roof up to shelter me from the dismal weather outside.

Eventually the M25 turns into the M26, and soon the M20, and keeping my speed within sensible limits becomes a bit more of a challenge. The road surface improves and I start to get a bit more of a teaser of what is to come when I cross the Channel.

To Le Mans

Boarding the train at the Eurotunnel again brings the 911’s width back into focus – those black alloys ready to taunt me should I get it slightly wrong. I don’t, I’m pleased to say, and before long I’m on French tarmac ready to start really covering some ground.

You know those moments where everything just clicks – the road, the car and the soundtrack? Hitting the quiet French autoroutes heading south of Calais in a 911 with its Bose sound system playing the Red Hot Chili Peppers is a moment that will stick in my memory as a highlight of my driving career.

Apart from pulling into a service station to dip below 31mph and put the roof up (and enjoy the aural delight of accelerating back onto the motorway), I continue down to Rouen without a break. Not only is the 911 an amazingly refined car for European jaunts, it’s also such a pleasure to drive that you won’t want to stop.

Rouen is famous for many things – not least the city where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431. But for me, it’s always that horrible industrial port that can’t be bypassed while trying to get towards the nicer parts of France.To Le Mans

The 911’s PCM sat nav guides me through the city’s streets fairly easily, roof now dropped again and full-on poseur mode engaged. Before long I’m free, on the toll road heading towards Le Mans – only after a fairly apt Le Mans start at the toll booth. With an impatient lorry driver behind I bail out, grab a ticket, run back to the driver’s side and jump in. I start the engine and give it the beans while simultaneously reaching for the seat belt. I glance over and notice a couple of Gendarmes watching this spectacle – amazingly, they don’t seem to mind… but who would? The sports exhaust fitted as standard to the 911 GTS sounds fantastic.

With the sat nav telling me I’m 50 miles from the centre of Le Mans, and my hotel, it’s also telling me I have a similar amount of range left in the tank. Not wanting to risk getting stranded in the city centre, I opt to pull into a service station on the autoroute and feed it some V-Power.

To Le Mans

Had I not played it safe, I’d probably have made it to Le Mans on one tank of fuel. And if I’d topped it up in Kent, I’d definitely have made it. With the trip computer showing average fuel consumption of 28.6mpg (at motorway cruising speeds and with unsympathetic use of the accelerator), the 911 isn’t as horribly inefficient as you may expect. Mid 30s mpg would definitely be possible with someone less oafish at the wheel, but surely that’s missing the point.

Journey complete, it’s time to enjoy a beer and to reflect on a job well done before heading to the race track the next day…

Porsche Experience Centre – Le Mans

Porsche Experience Centre – Le Mans

If you’ve seen pictures of Le Mans while the 24-hour race is in progress, you’ll have probably seen the iconic Ferris wheel. Fans may have been discovered it had moved this year – and that’s because Porsche’s new €8 million experience centre now stands on its site.

The new three-storey building houses a workshop and showroom on the ground floor, as well as a technical training school and a VIP delivery area where customers can collect their new Porsche if they so wish.

On the first floor is a terrace overlooking the Maison Blanche track, as well as a classic Porsche exhibition and even a restaurant complete with Michelin-starred chef.

On the top floor is a large, open space used as hospitality for the 24-hour race, with a balcony offering one of the best views in Le Mans.

But it’s the bit outside I have driven hundreds of miles to see. Within the confines of the Maison Blanche circuit are facilities similar to those found at Silverstone.

Porsche Experience Centre – Le Mans

There’s the kick plate – essentially the same as the one at Silverstone, but flat, meaning gravity won’t help or hinder depending on your direction of approach. Unlike at Silverstone, where I tackled it in a Cayman, I opt for a Cayenne this time – fancying a challenge and to show off my previous experience.

I spin it, naturally. You’d think the extra weight would be compensated for by the Cayenne’s four-wheel-drive system, but any thoughts of 4×4 invincibility are soon obliterated. Sideways.

I make my way around the centre’s different sections – including its low-friction area (my personal favourite) and the dynamic area (which lets you experiment with swerving while trying to brake… an eye-opener), before ending on the off-road course in a Cayenne.

It’s weird how I was pretty unphased by losing control of the car on the kick plate but find it terrifying on the off-road area. It’s not that it’s not capable – it is, surprisingly so – but some of the angles Porsche has manufactured into the course are seriously scary. When you’re driving up a steep slope in £60,000-worth of SUV, unable to see anything but the top of your spotter’s hands and the sky, it’s more than a little unnerving.

Porsche Experience Centre – Le Mans

But that kind of sums the entire trip. There’s an old adage I’ve been told previously by off-road instructors, that the driver will fail before the car does. And that’s so true for everything I’ve done on this journey. Whether it’s playing on a skid pan in a Cayman, tackling side slopes in a Cayenne or mile-munching in a 911, it’s clear that Porsches will always take it in their stride, flattering the driver along the way.

If you buy a Porsche, definitely take up the offer to visit an experience centre to. It will teach you new skills and make you a safer, more confident driver. And you’ll also have an awful lot of fun in a safe environment. Even if, like me, you’re not in the fortunate position to buy a new Porsche, it makes for a top day out.

TDI diesel

Volkswagen U.S. boss: ‘we totally screwed up’

TDI dieselVolkswagen of America chief Michael Head has admitted the firm “totally screwed up” following the discovery of a ‘defeat device’ for rigging the EPA emissions test cycle.

However, Head said he was confident the firm would restore customer confidence, reports Reuters.

Speaking at the U.S. launch of the locally-built 2016 Passat, Head reportedly said: “I don’t think this will affect us long term.”

The embattled firm is now facing a potential $18 billion fine from the EPA after the defeat device was discovered on almost half a million ‘clean diesel’ Volkswagen 2.0-litre TDIs sold in America between 2009-2015.

The U.S. Department of Justice has also reportedly begun a criminal probe of the defeat device incident, now being dubbed #dieselgate on social media.

Volkswagen AG shares yesterday closed down 19%, representing a market capitalisation loss of €14.1 billion. Shares were also down for other car firms: investigations are now underway to see if any other manufacturers have used similar ‘defeat devices’.