The Geneva Motor Show Facilitates Uninhabited Innovation at This Year’s Show

genevaOriginally held in 1905, the Geneva Motor Show is the premier international auto show. Much of this has to do with the beautiful setting of the show. If you’ve never seen pictures or been there in person, it’s worth checking out. Geneva is undoubtedly one of the most gorgeous cities in the entire world, laden with beautiful architecture and paradisiacal weather. Also adding to the locale’s appeal is the fact that Geneva ranks as one of the top ten richest cities in the world with a social scene that is rich with high end culture.

However, there is something else about the city that has led writer Paul Eisenstein to declare it as the perfect place for an auto show. He says, “In a word ‘neutrality’…Other major shows, however hard they try, typically lean a little bit backwards for their local manufacturers, or at least those who dominate the local market, whether Paris, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Detroit, or LA. Not in Geneva, where space and position are not influenced by national identity.”

This national nepotism has certainly played a role in this year’s award season. Back in January, there was a ton of criticism and backlash when the Detroit Auto Show ended up naming two GM vehicles as the car and truck of the year. Of course, it didn’t help that the awards led to a major media whirlwind and public statements of praise from high government officials (people that are criticism magnets).

Refreshingly, these problems have fallen by the wayside at this week’s Geneva Motor Show. Nobody is talking politics and bailouts. Nobody is questioning motives for positive reviews and winning vehicles. Instead, everybody is enjoying the show and focusing on the innovation. Some of this year’s most talked about vehicles include:

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1. The Porsche 911 RSR- this car has already gained a huge following, reaching near mythic proportions when it finished in both 1st and 2nd place at last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

 

 

 

 

rollsroyce2. The 2015 Rolls Royce Ghost Series II- this larger than life luxury car is equipped with twin turbocharged V-12 engines, which soup up an amazing 565 horsepower. This engine allows it to go from 0-60 in just 4.8 seconds: pretty impressive for a luxury car. Adding to its appeal are the classic stage coach doors.

 

 

 

 

ferrari3. The Ferrari California T- making its official debut at this week’s show, the new stylish Ferrari is already turning heads. This car comes equipped with a canvas roof and carbon fiber rollover bars and clocks in at an astonishing 155 mph.

 

 

 

 

erminiseittosei4. The Ermini Seittosei- this extremely lightweight (only 1500 pounds!) 2 seater is turning heads with its amazing power to weight ratio of 4.7 lb/hp. But don’t expect to see too many of these out on the streets. Reportedly, production will be limited to just 30 cars per year.

 

 

 

 

Lambo5. Lamborghini Huracan- Replacing last year’s all-time high selling Gallardo, the Huracan already has rich folks lining up to order the vehicle (700 have been requested so far). This year’s Lambo has new aluminum and carbon fiber components and can reach 202 mph! It is being priced at $233,000.

 

 

 

vwsubaru6. The Volkswagen Giugiaro Clipper and the Subaru Viziv 2- I am grouping these two cars together because they represent a new alternative door agenda in Geneva. With their vehicle, the Volkswagen has broken form tradition and has a door that opens upward. The Subaru, on the other hand, has a completely wild sliding door design. Very nice and very futuristic!

Tenn. Lawmakers Will Cut Tax Incentives if Volkswagen Unionizes

chat3Tomorrow at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, 1,570 Volkswagen employees will gather to vote on whether or not to unionize and join the United Auto Workers. However, Tennessee’s Republican representatives are already getting their guns ready, stating that the move will be detrimental to Tennessee’s economy. Senator Bo Watson, along with a slew of other Republican figure heads, believe that if a union is established than other companies may be hesitant to set up shop inside of the state.

Republican senators have been so opposed to the move that there have even been threats of cutting off future tax incentives to Volkswagen. In a released statement sent to the Free Press, Senator Bo Watson said, “Should the workers choose to be represented by the United Auto Workers, then I believe additional incentives for expansion will have a very rough time passing the Tennessee Senate.”

However, there is another twist in this story: Volkswagen has no problem with their employees unionizing. This, of course, is quite unusual.

Detroit Free Press writer, Brent Snavely, says, “After an organizing campaign that began about two years ago, this week’s vote is the UAW’s best opportunity to win support at a foreign-owned assembly plant since Honda began building cars in Ohio more than 30 years ago. More than a half dozen organizing efforts at Japanese factories in the U.S. have failed.” Unlike other foreign automakers, Volkswagen actually has a positive outlook towards unions. Volkswagen would be more than happy to oblige the Tennessee workers so they would be able to establish a “works council,” which is currently outlawed by U.S. labor laws unless a union is present.

chatPresently, all of the Volkswagen factories in Europe use a “works council” to iron out all management-employee affairs. These works councils consist of elected white collar and blue collar workers that work in collaboration with the company’s management to create a harmonious labor environment. These elected officials are also granted access to the Global Volkswagen Works Council, which would help to facilitate business into the state while also keeping workers happy.

Chattanooga Volkswagen CEO Frank Fischer says, “Our works councils are key to our success and productivity. It is a business model that helped to make Volkswagen the second-largest car company in the world.”

Overall, works councils have been proven to be extremely successful, too. Harvard labor law expert Paul C. Weiler explains, “There are three major advantages of councils. You’re forced to consider in your decision making process the effect on the employees in advance…this avoids costly mistakes. Second, works councils will in the final run support the company. They will take into account the pressing needs of the company more than a trade union can, on the outside. And third, works councils explain and defend certain decisions of the company towards the employees. Once decisions are made, they are easier to implement.”

Representative Bo Watson

Representative Bo Watson

However, Republican Senator Bo Watson thinks differently of the situation; he says, “It has been widely reported that Volkswagen has promoted a campaign that has been unfair, unbalanced and, quite frankly, un-American in the traditions of American labor campaigns.” Of course, Republican representatives have always been fearful of unions because the potential for workers to stand up for their rights could be detrimental to business and the economy. Allowing Volkswagen to unionize would only add to this potential problem because more people would expect similar representation.

Ironically, their decision falls right in line with what they hate most about Democratic policies: a big government putting their hands into the business world.

So Far, Volkswagen Is Leading the Race for Top Super Bowl Commercial

superbowlOver the years, the Super Bowl has become more American than apple pie and super models and cursing at baseball umpires. It is an American event unrivaled by anything else, other than the 4th of July of course! Annually, the game pulls in over 100 million viewers. Some people watch it to see what happens in the game, others watch it for the 10,000 dollar bet they put down, and then there are a lot of people that just like the camaraderie and the parties. But EVERY ONE watches it for the commercials.

In the past few decades, the over the top nature of the Super Bowl has grown astronomically. Half time shows have gotten longer (and flashed some skin!) and advertisers have spent more and more money advertising. In a recent Sporting Charts article, author Chad Langager tells us, “During Super Bowl I, it cost an advertiser $45,000 for a 30-second commercial during the broadcast. Most recently, the cost of a Super Bowl advertisement was $4,000,000, which means that Super Bowl commercial costs have risen by an average of 10.18% per year on average.” That means that today advertisers are willing to pay $133,000 per second (Oh lawd, I think I done passed out).

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One of America’s favorite Super Bowl commercials in recent memory.

Now, Super Bowl commercials have become part of the American consciousness, being discussed in the days leading up to the event and the days after. Auto manufacturers have been aware of this for years. That is why many car companies are even releasing teasers of their Super Bowl ads! Don’t fool yourself; these teasers are no joke, either. They pull in upwards of 1,000,000 views on Youtube.

So far this year, the most popular teaser- regardless of genre- that has been released has come from Volkswagen. As of January 28th, the teaser has pulled over 1.7 million views and has been passed around the internet more than a joint at a Cheech and Chong screening. The commercial features a couple of hyperbolic German engineers discussing what Americans want out of a commercial. After that, the screen becomes littered with everything that is stereotypical of America. It’s unbelievably funny and will leave you wanting more on Super Bowl Sunday.

Of course, other auto makers are not just sitting on the sidelines as Volkswagen takes over the internet. Toyota is currently third in the teaser race (see video below), having released a very popular commercial that features an appearance from the Muppets. Coming in at 7th is a Ford teaser that features comedian Rob Riggle. But none have become as popular as the VW commercial, which is just another step in Volkswagen’s plan to become the top auto maker in the world by 2018.

Volkswagen’s Luxury Car Division Sales are Skyrocketing

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The compact Audi A3 has played a huge role in Audi’s spectacular year.

Volkswagen has made it clear: they plan to be the biggest auto manufacturer in the world by 2018. If 2013 is any indication, this goal is certainly attainable.

With Audi, Porsche, and Bentley sales skyrocketing, 2013 marked a high water mark for Volkswagen’s luxury vehicle department. Much of this can be contributed to the financial improvements in some of the world’s largest countries, particularly Russia, China, and India. With more money flowing and the economy starting to bounce back, the United States is also adding to the improvement in luxury vehicle sales. IBM leader, Jill Puleri, says, “People are putting their money into things that will last.”

These financial improvements came at the perfect time for Volkswagen, a company that invests much of its time, money, and energy into luxury vehicles. In 2013, sales improvements included:

  • Audi deliveries rising 8.3 percent to 1.58 million cars and SUVs
  • Porsche deliveries rising 15 percent to 162,000 vehicles
  • Bentley deliveries rising 19 percent to 10,000 units
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The Porsche Macan was a huge seller in 2013

Because of this increase, Volkswagen has decided to double down on their luxury department this year. They plan to expand Bentley by releasing its first ever SUV, while adding a Macan crossover to their Porsche division. As far as Audi goes, Volkswagen and Audi insiders believe that it will soon replace BMW as the world’s leading manufacturer of premium vehicles. Audi CEO, Rupert Stradler, says, “In the past four years alone, Audi has attracted more than 600,000 new customers.” WOW. Those numbers sure bode well for a company that has high ambitions.

Karmann Ghia Restoration Part 2

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The spare Karmann Ghia will give us all of the parts we need.

Last week, I brought everybody photos from the beginning of a Karmann Ghia restoration project that my father-in-law (Hubert) and I are taking on. Previously, we were cleaning parts in the sand blaster to get them looking good as new, and we were getting everything prepared (the car on the lift, parts laid out, etc.).

This past weekend, we started on phase 2: preparing to gut another classic Karmann Ghia for needed parts. Finding this second car (vital to the entire operation) is not something that happened over night, either. During the past few years, my Hubert has been keeping his eyes open for a comparable Karmann Ghia because we just didn’t have all the parts we needed. He went to Volkswagen festivals and visited car lots, but there was just no luck.

Fortunately, after a few years of searching, Hubert found one at a Volkswagen Body and Parts lot here in Tampa. Now, the two cars are sitting side by side in the garage like some wild Frankenstein operation. This allowed us to get EVERYTHING situated for the work ahead. Yesterday, we cleaned out the garage, rolled in the 2nd vehicle, and laid out all of the parts and tools that we’re going to need.

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Frankenstein operations

Now for a little background on what’s going on:

This is a project that has been years in the making. The Karmann Ghia is my wife Kristen’s car. She bought it 15 years ago, which ironically, is around the same time that my father-in-laws garage was built. The Ghia has only been driven one time, and Kristen knew that the car was a project/concept vehicle. This didn’t stop her from having her dreams, though. From the beginning, she could see herself driving down the coast of Florida in her own classic sports car.

This project has been spurred on because of one thing: my wife and I are expecting our first baby. We all knew that it was time to get the ball rolling because we want the little guy riding around in style. Also, it’s the perfect way for all of us to show our appreciation for my wife because she is doing the toughest job anybody could ever imagine, being pregnant and having a baby.

Next weekend, we’re going to be taking the next steps in our restoration and starting on all of the cool stuff, so stay tuned.

If you liked this post, check out the rest of my blog and feel free to follow my future posts.

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Here is the workshop. My father in law, Hubert, built this garage on his property 15 years ago.

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Inside of the garage

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The second garage aka the staging area

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Inside of our workshop

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Laying out the tools

Karmann Ghia Restoration

This past weekend, I was in my father-in-laws garage working with him on the restoration of a ’74 Karmann Ghia convertible. I just joined the team, but this is a project he has been planning and working on for years. Just a few months ago, the car was nothing but a rusted junker. But now, it’s already starting to show promise.

Currently, all the pieces are lined up to make this bad boy perfect; the work is the only thing left to do. Yesterday, we were sand blasting different parts, making them them look as good as new. Check out the pics. I’ll have more updates soon!

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Here is the Karmann Ghia on the lift.

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Yesterday, for the most part, we worked on sand blasting a few parts to make sure they looked perfect.

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The inside of the sand blaster. That thing was loud as hell.

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Right now, the car is hollowed out, but in a few months, it’s going to look good as new. We still have the original seats, and they’re in mint condition.

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A standard 4 cylinder engine. Karmann Ghia’s were originally made with standard Volkswagen Beetle engines, which weren’t always so hot.

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The motor goes in the back of the car.

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My father-in-law checking a piece out after it was sand blasted.

The History and Restoration of the Classic Karmann Ghia

A classic, fully restored '74 Karmann Ghia. Currently, my father-in-law and I are working on a convertible version of the '74.

A classic, fully restored ’74 Karmann Ghia. Currently, my father-in-law and I are working on a convertible version of the ’74.

A new Volkswagen Karmann Ghia hasn’t been made since 1974 (that’s nearly 40 years), but its reputation as a classic automobile has continued to grow since that time. Today, a fully restored Karmann Ghia can sell for upwards of $30,000! Much of this reverence can be attributed to an extremely rich history. The Karmann Ghia has roots and influences from countries and manufacturers across the world, drawing respect from car enthusiasts and turning heads on every block on which it’s driven. Within the next few months, I will be involved in the restoration of one of these classic automobiles.

History

The first Karmann Ghia was produced in 1955 under the direction of two men: Dr. Wilhelm Karmann (Germany) and Luigi Segre (Italy).

Karmann was a prominent West German coachbuilder who was working for Volkswagen in the early 50s, developing new concepts for the already world famous Volkswagen Beetle. He was an expert in the internal working of Volkswagen vehicles, but his body designs didn’t seem to make the cut. Almost every one of Karmann’s body design ideas was expelled by the company. Extremely frustrated, Wilhelm looked for help from Luigi Segre.

Around this time, Segre was working for top Italian Styling house, Carrozzeria Ghia. Recently, Segre had done some freelance body work on a Volkswagen Beetle, morphing the conventional two-door Beetle body into a coupe body shell. Many believe that this design was inspired by the 1953 Chrysler-Ghia D’Elegance concept car, which was a collaboration between American designer, Virgil Exner, and the Carrozzeria Ghia Company.

Many believe that the Karmann Ghia was heavily influenced by the '53 Chrysler Ghia-D'Elegance concept car.

Many believe that the Karmann Ghia was heavily influenced by the ’53 Chrysler Ghia-D’Elegance concept car.

The partnership of Karmann (who handled the internal workings) and Segre (who designed the body) turned out to be extremely successful, producing the first ever Volkswagen Karmann Ghia in 1955.

Popularity and Pop Culture

Right off of the bat, the Karmann Ghia proved to be a very popular model with more than 10,000 models sold during the first year. The car had the style of a sports car and the sensibilities of the everyman. The engine was the exact same as the Volkswagen Beetle- “The People’s Car”. In 1957, the Karmann Ghia added fuel to the fire of excitement by releasing the convertible version of the car.

Pretty soon, thousands of Karmann Ghias could be found all over the world. The vehicle was even a staple of pop culture. It was the featured vehicle for agent Maxwell Smart on the popular television series, Get Smart. The car lent its name to one of the featured characters in the 1968 Academy Award winning film, The Producers. And, it appears in the opening credits of the 70s sitcom Good Times. I’ve got to say: that’s a pretty DYNO-MITE résumé.

Why am I telling you all of this? Well, over the next few months, I will be releasing blogs and photos of a full restoration job on a ’74 Karmann Ghia. The leader of this small production will be my father-in-law, and we will be working from his own personal two-lift garage. Stay tuned for news and photos and subscribe to my blog to stay in touch. Thanks.