In Wake of Scandal, Volkswagen Looks to Future

Volkswagen e-Golf Touch on display at CES. Photo by Michael Sol Warren.
Written by Michael Sol Warren

Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess showed off two new cars at Tuesday night’s keynote address at CES, including one described as a “smartphone on wheels.” He also apologized for the emissions scandal that rocked the automaker and said the company is working to rectify the problem in Europe and the U.S.

The unveiling of the Volkswagen e-Golf Touch and the Volkswagen BUDD-e  at The Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas served to illustrate the goals of the “New Volkswagen.” The company is aiming to focus on cleaner, smarter cars that integrate with the driver’s home. Deiss said that the goals of this new focus are to make Volkswagen cars electric, autonomous, fully connected with other devices, and to create a new kind of experience for drivers and passengers.

Deiss brought out Volkmar Tanneberger, Volkswagen Head of Electrical and Electronic Development, who showed off the e-Golf Touch.

“We think of the e-Golf Touch as nothing less than a smartphone on wheels,” Tanneberger said.

The e-Golf Touch features a high-definition 9.2 inch touch-screen infotainment center that recognizes voice and gesture commands. The infotainment center works with Apple Carplay, Android Auto and Mirrorlink, and the home screen is customizable to adapt to the driver’s preferences. These features are expected to be available in Europe this summer.

Diess introduced BUDD-e, a concept microbus. BUDD-e is fully electric and can be charged in 30 minutes. The batteries are placed beneath the floorboards, which, according to Diess, gives Volkswagen more design options, and allows for better handling and performance.

Volkswagen BUDD-e concept. Image courtesy of Volkswagen

Volkswagen BUDD-e concept. Image courtesy of Volkswagen

The entire dashboard in the BUDD-e is composed of touch-screens with voice and gesture capabilities. Through a partnership with LG Electronics, Volkswagen has made it possible to connect BUDD-e with devices in one’s home. The user can turn off lights, lock doors, check what’s in the refrigerator, answer the door and more, all from behind the steering wheel.

The futuristic content of the keynote address was book-ended by apologies. Diess began and ended his presentation by discussing the recent scandal in which Volkswagen was caught cheating American and European emissions tests.

“We at Volkswagen are disappointed that this could happen in the company we love,” Deiss said.

Deiss said that 8.5 million Volkswagen cars were affected in Europe and that these cars should all be fixed in 2016. He then said that 500,000 cars were affected in the U.S., and that because American standards differ from European standards, solving the problem will take more time.

“I am confident that we will get [EPA] approval [for our plan] in the coming weeks and months,” Deiss said.

Diess said that Volkswagen’s most important issue of 2016 was fixing the diesel engine problem.

1 Comment

  • This is shocking. The biggest reason for buying the diesel model was for performance and mpg. This will absolutely affect both. Shouldn’t the buyers be compensated? It’s like being told you are buying a horse and finding out it’s a goat. Fraud, absolute fraud.
    I debated for years and finally bought a Honda instead, but my heart was always with the VW Diesel. Now I have to go and buy my Honda some roses and apologize.

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