Monday, December 31, 2007

VW Gazette 2007 wrap up

Happy holidays to all of our readers out there. The year is just about finished which means its time to look back at some of the stories throughout the year. It sure has been a very busy year for Volkswagen, for 2007 was the year that Volkswagen laid out their diesel plan in full detail. And don't forget the new model introductions such as the Tiguan and up! concepts.

Read all the news makers of the year after the jump.

This year, we will do things a bit differently. Where as in previous years, we have listed things month by month, now, we will just talk about the stand-out stories of the year.

Volkswagen pushes Green initiatives
And of course, the biggest story of the year (though you would never think it) is really Volkswagen's commitment to diesel. Late last year, Volkswagen partnered with Mercedes Benz and thus got access to Bluetec technology. But when the partnership broke down in the middle of this year, Volkswagen got the keep the technology and will now be used in the Jetta and Tiguan initially once 2008 gets underway. Also, in keeping with the green theme, Volkswagen let loose new BlueMotion models in Germany. Volkswagen also showed that they are actively studying the viability of hydrogen fuel cells by unveiling a working prototype with the space up! blue. 2008 will be exciting for Volkswagen in front as they continue to reveal new greener technologies and show alternatives not only to fossil fuels, but also to hybrids. That's not to say Volkswagen won't be adding hybrid systems. They do plan to add a hybrid system to every model at some point.

New Technologies
On the subject of new technologies, 2007 really wasn't the year for new ground-breaking technologies developed by Volkswagen. However, there were a few highlights such as an all new TSI engine and a 7-speed DSG. The new TSI engine is special because, unlike other TSI engines that use both a turbo and supercharger, this one only uses a turbo, which replaced the 1.6L FSI. The new engine is more powerful but used less fuel than the FSI. Then, there was also the introduction of the 7-speed DSG transmission which also seeks to improve fuel economy. This new transmission will debut in February 2008 in the UK.

New Models and Concepts
about the The year also had its share of new model and concept introductions. As mentioned, the three up! concepts shows the future for a rear-engined small car that may in fact be the return of a genuine Beetle. We also saw in 2007 the unveiling of the Tiguan in final production form. Coming in two body styles, the Tiguan looks sharp has has since received very good reviews so far. Nothing really new for the Golf in 2007. There were some highlights such as the fantastic Golf GTI W12 650 concept that we saw at Worthësee. Made by insane Volkswagen engineers at last minute, this is an example of lunacy that we will never be able to drive. On the more restrained side of things, the Golf also finally got a BlueMotion model of its own and one each for the Golf Plus and the Golf Variant. The Jetta also gets a BlueMotion model but nothing much else in 2007. The Passat also gets a BlueMotion model in 2007 but one thing was noticeably missing: The Passat-based coupé. Of course, just a few weeks ago, Volkswagen finally put up a microsite of the car, now called simply Coupé. So in 2008, we will definitely see the unveiling of this elusive car. Out of all of Volkswagen's models, the Touareg probably got the most attention this year. Not only did it have a mid-cycle refresh, the Touareg also received a high performance R50 model. Using the powerful V10 TDI of the standard Touareg, Volkswagen managed to squeeze out even more power for the R50, increasing output to 350 HP and a whopping 627 lb. ft. of torque. And if the Touareg was the news maker of the year, the Phaeton definitely did not get anything news worthy in 2007. It only received a mild facelift and a special edition to commemorate its five year anniversary. However, rumors for Volkswagen's top car is alive and well. More on that in a bit.

Speculation and Rumors
Speculation is a central part of being a Volkswagen enthusiast and 2007 sure has come up with some very interesting ones. And while every model had it's own list of rumors attached to it, we'll begin with the obvious: the Golf. Yes, the Golf has been through the rumor mill many times this year, specifically concerning the very mysterious 6th generation Golf. Nothing really to say about it because nothing much is known. We do know that it will be based on the Mk. V platform and will be built in such a way that it cuts production time and costs. There have been some spyshots of the Golf but camouflage covers all of the important bits. The Scirocco also gained momentum in 2007 and although it has been greenlighted for production, speculation hangs over whether it will be available in North America. No one seems to know for sure, not even Volkswagen themselves after saying no, then maybe, then no again. For now, however, their official party line seems to be a firm no for North America. That could still change however in 2008. The Scirocco also is rumored to get a convertible version sometime after it comes out in 2008. Another big rumor involves the Phaeton. Actually, there are many rumors about the Phaeton, one of them being that the 2nd gen Phaeton will make a return to the US and will only come with a diesel up front. Another rumor suggests that Volkswagen is in collaboration with Lotus to create a Phaeton coupé, similar in concept to the SL. Spy photos reveal an Audi A8 in coupé form as a test mule (if it is indeed a Phaeton).

Volkswagen AG and Volkswagen GA
On the corporate side, Volkswagen did a lot of cleaning up, both local and at headquarters. First, Martin Winterkorn took the CEO chair at Volkswagen from the previous holder, Bernd Pieschetsrieder, right at the beginning of the year. Then Winterkorn assumed the responsibilities of the Chairman of the Volkswagen brand group after Wolfgang Bernhard also leaves. Then Winterkorn put into motion his restructuring plan that shook the very foundations of the company. OK, maybe not but it made some pretty big changes with how things ran. In the US, Volkswagen of America did some restructuring of their own and moved from Auburn Hills, Michigan to Herndon, Virginia. Changes were made along the way and positions were streamlined. To signify the change, Volkswagen of America changed it's operating name to "Volkswagen Group of America", with the Volkswagen arm of the operation now getting the "Volkswagen of America" designation.

Volkswagen also received a new global slogan to replace the old "Aus liebe zum automobil". Now, it simply is "Das Auto". Apparently Volkswagen wants their vehicles to be as synonymous with cars like coke is with soda. No word yet though on whether Volkswagen of America will be adopting it for North American use.

Years of EU Court proceedings ended in 2007 when the EU struck down the Volkswagen Law, leaving Volkswagen vulnerable to takeover. Porsche, which already holds controlling stake in Volkswagen, has said it may make a takeover bid for Volkswagen but nothing has been set in stone at the moment.

The VW Gazette
Now for a bit of housekeeping. The VW Gazette is now on its third year and the job just keeps getting exciting. We saw the addition of a new contributor, Phaeton, in 2007. There are many things we would like to do with this site and we hope to roll them out in 2008. But we would like to take this time to thank all of you, our loyal readers. We do this for you.

We hope to continue to bring you the latest news about the brand we love. Tell your friends about us as that is the best form of compliment you can give. Of course, we don't mind if you drop us an email once in a while.

From us to you, we would like to wish you a very Happy New Year!

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