Volkswagen’s Atlas Strategy: Plug the Hole Now, Worry About Selection Later

Volkswagen Atlas, Image: Seth Parks

The journey Volkswagen’s uber-American midsize crossover took in between CrossBlue notion and Atlas production model was a lengthy 1, but it isn’t more than.

Even though production begins next month in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the model designed in the hopes of tapping America’s utility automobile addiction leaves many queries about its future unanswered.

Speaking to Wards Auto, Matthias Erb, chief engineering officer for VW in North America and head of its Chattanooga engineering center, implies that obtaining the model to customers in any form was Job No. 1 for the struggling automaker.

Sporting three rows and styling that can only be described as generic, the Atlas is the vanguard of VW’s SUV-heavy push into the U.S. marketplace. The automaker is counting on the Atlas and future utility models to reclaim sales ground lost due to the diesel emissions scandal. There’s also that pesky issue of buyers shunning cars — VW’s standard sales territory — in increasing numbers.

The Atlas closes “the largest gap” in the automaker’s lineup, Erb told Wards Auto.

It was long rumored that the model would come in a plug-in hybrid version, but that plan is not set in stone. Erb claims the firm hasn’t however decided if a heavily electrified version ought to join the Atlas range.

“This is a issue we are nonetheless discussing, Erb stated. “At the moment, the plug-in is not so extremely desirable to us since of the upstream emissions (greenhouse gasses made in the generation of electricity).”

He added, “We genuinely don’t know how desirable these automobiles are anymore because the CO2 balance is not considerably better than the balance of (standard) hybrid autos.”

A plug-in is still attainable, but so is a conventional hybrid, he stated. As well, VW is open to letting other models carry the hybrid burden, even although Erb admits there’s clients willing to pay a premium for the technologies.

“This is open,” he mentioned. “We have a particular strategy, and I cannot actually talk about that, but we’re still thinking about where (in the model lineup) to electrify and where not to electrify so significantly.”

The automaker has a variety of hybrids and battery electric automobiles planned as part of its 2025 item method. Development carries a steep cost tag, and the Atlas sits at the core of VW’s fundraising efforts.

Provided initially in a seven-seat configuration to battle the likes of the Ford Explorer and other mid-sizers, a far more stripped-down Atlas variant could be on the way.

“If you appear into the SUV segment, you can see that it is type of separated into two parts, 7-seaters and five-seaters, and in our opinion it would make perfect sense to also offer you a five-seater,” Erb stated. It is feasible that the Atlas could sport two wheelbase lengths in the future, he added.

[Image: © 2016 Seth Parks/The Truth About Automobiles]

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Consumer Watchdog Slams Elon Musk, Demands Tesla Pull the Plug on Autopilot

Tesla HQ

America’s highest profile consumer advocacy group is calling out Tesla CEO Elon Musk for waiting a month to disclose the prospective risk posed to owners by the company’s Autopilot technologies.

In a letter to Musk, Consumer Watchdog demands that Tesla sideline its Autopilot program till it can be established protected, criticizes the CEO for side-stepping blame in numerous crashes, and accuses him of placing the public at danger.

Tesla’s semi-autonomous Autopilot system is continually updated based on owner feedback. The company’s tradition of “beta testing” its products was called out by safety advocates right after it was revealed on June 30 that Autopilot played a role in a fatal May possibly 7 crash on a Florida highway.

For Consumer Watchdog, founded in 1985 with assist from automobile safety advocate Ralph Nader, the particulars of the crash are proof of a hazardous Autopilot flaw.

“An autopilot whose sensors can’t distinguish among the side of a white truck and a vibrant sky simply is not prepared to be deployed on public roads,” reads the letter, signed by president Jamie Court and two executives. “Tesla must immediately disable the autopilot feature on all your cars until it can be confirmed to be secure. At a minimum, autopilot have to be disabled till the total benefits of NHTSA’s investigation are released.”

Tesla’s admission of the crash coincided with the National Highway Site visitors Safety Administration opening an investigation into the incident. Since then, the NHTSA launched another investigation into the July 1 rollover crash of a Model X in Pennsylvania. That automobile was allegedly driving in Autopilot mode at the time.

The automaker claims it informed the NHTSA of the Could 7 crash on Could 16, and sent an investigator to examine the wreckage on May possibly 18. The automaker’s investigation was completed during the final week of Could.

In its letter to Musk, Customer Watchdog mentions Tesla’s “inexplicable delay” in notifying owners of the crash, calling the month-extended gap “inexcusable.” The group goes on to say that beta testing shouldn’t be used on merchandise that could lead to fatal consequences for the user, and accuses Tesla of making use of its shoppers as “guinea pigs.”

“You want to have it each ways with autopilot,” the letter reads. “On the 1 hand you extoll the supposed virtues of autopilot, making the impression that, once engaged, it is self-enough. Your customers are lulled into believing their automobile is protected to be left to do the driving itself. On the other hand you walk back any guarantee of safety, saying autopilot is still in Beta mode and drivers have to pay attention all the time.”

Statements created by Musk and the “Tesla Team” in the aftermath of the current crashes and a rear-finish collision last November quantity to “victim blaming,” the group stated. It demands that Autopilot only return when it can be confirmed protected, with a pledge from Tesla to be liable if any faults take place when the method is activated.

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