What’s New at the VW Group?

It’s been a while since we did a round-up of what’s been happening with our favourite motoring manufacturer. Here’s a quick look round some stories you might have missed.

1. Who’s bigger than VW Group in Europe? Stellantis, that’s who.

Strangely, Stellantis is not a cheesy 80s flick broadcast on the Horror Channel.

The VW Group has been hit hard by the global shortage of semiconductors and as Forbes reports, that’s allowed Stellantis to take top spot in European sales figures in 2021, narrowly pushing VW Group down to second place. Actually, the margin really was narrow, with Stellantis selling just 693 vehicles more across 31 European countries.

But who is Stellantis? Why, it’s the new super-conglomerate of the PSA Group (Peugeot) and FCA (Fiat-Chrysler) that is behind Peugeot, Citroen, Opel, Vauxhall, Jeep, Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge, RAM, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Lancia, and Abarth.

All those resources and they couldn’t come up with a better group name than Stellantis, which sounds like a rubbish sci-fi film from the 1980s.

For the record, here are the 2021 European sales figures for the top four manufacturers:

  • Stellantis 3,161, 594
  • VW Group 3,160, 901
  • Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi 1,788,939
  • Hyundai-Kia 1,020,687

2. Squeezed between a rock and a hard place, Herbert Diess survives.

Herbert Diess enjoys a lighter moment.
Photo Alexander Migl, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

At the end of 2021, there was plenty of trouble at t’ mill for the VW Group’s CEO Herbert Diess.

Diess managed to infuriate the powerful unions by suggesting that jobs could be lost if the company needs to streamline and become more competitive. The problem is, as Forbes points out, Toyota make around the same number of vehicles as VW globally, yet with half the workforce. But the real worry is Tesla. As VW gears up for the transition to electric vehicles, super-efficient Tesla is a country mile ahead and showing no signs of slowing down.

These may be the business realities Volkswagen faces, but understandably, no union wants to hear about the potential loss of up to 30,000 jobs. And with the worker unions wielding real power in VW’s management structure, for a while it looked like Diess would be cast out of Paradise.

Yet somehow the ever-durable Diess has lived to fight another day — ready for another round in the endless squabbles at the top of VW.

3. VW’s ID3 is doing well

VW has thrown itself into electrification, and as we mentioned before, it was important that the company’s flagship EV model, the ID.3, did well. After a year in production, we can now get a proper perspective on how it’s doing.

The news is pretty good.  In December 2021, Volkswagen announced that in the year since its launch, there had been a very healthy 144,000 orders for the ID.3. That figure represents European sales only, as the ID.3 isn’t available in the US, and manufacture in China is just starting up.

What’s more, just under 50% of the buyers had never even driven a VW before, suggesting the ID3 is hitting all the right buttons and attracting people to the brand.

Still, for a reality-check, the number of ID.3s ordered and delivered in 2021 lags behind the evergreen Renault Zoe, and is just under half of the totals achieved by the Tesla Model 3.

4. Three new VW models to get excited about

OK, to be fair, none of these models will be very exciting if you’re not interested in electric vehicles. Unfortunately for EV-haters, VW sees its future in electrons, and that’s where all of their major design efforts are now focused.

With that duly noted, the good people at Auto Car and Auto Express have reported that development is proceeding on three new VW models, each exciting for different reasons.

First up is the ID Buzz, an electric reworking of everybody’s favourite hippie-mobile, the VW Campervan. The modern take on VW’s iconic design will gladden the hearts of its many fans, though the reported price tag of 60,000 euros may dampen enthusiasm.

For a full preview, check out the Fully Charged video:

Next is the ID 3 GTX, a sporty four wheel drive version of the ID 3. With a likely power output of 295bhp and instant electric torque, the GTX is likely to have explosive performance. Bring it on!

Finally, a more exciting prospect for thousands of would-be EV buyers is the idea of a compact, practical, affordable hatchback. The ID3 is great at what it does, but with prices starting at just over £32,000, it’s out of reach for many potential owners. But now for everyone in that position, there’s the VW ID Life to anticipate. As revealed at the Munich motorshow in September, the ID Life concept looks cute as a button and could retail for 20,000 – 25,000 euros. That’s still far too much, but a step in the right direction.

Take a look below (skip through to 7:33 for the reveal)

That’s all for now — see you in a fortnight!

The Welsh VW Specialist blog covers a wide range of automotive topics, from the contentious to the light-hearted. We are an independent garage specialising (as the name suggests!) in all the VW group marques, including Audi, Volkswagen, Skoda and SEAT. Welsh VW Specialists provide services, repairs and MOTs, delivering a main dealer level of care at affordable prices. To book your vehicle in, or for any enquiries, get in touch.