Ever since the demise of the Phaeton, the Volkswagen brand has been an armada without a flagship. Its mid-sized models have been split into conservative (Passat) and glamorous (Arteon), while its smaller Golf and Polo models are spawning crossovers from the same mechanical basics (T-Roc and T-Cross).
Yet the top step remains empty. That will change at the Geneva motor show in March 2018, when Volkswagen will tease a new all-electric, five-metre-plus flagship concept car.
While the Phaeton was seen as then-chairman Ferdinand Piech’s passion project and struggled to sell 84,000 cars in 14 years before being mercifully axed in 2016, VW has different plans for its new unnamed flagship. The battery-electric car will be the biggest VW will have built off its upcoming all-electric MEB architecture, with a predicted range in excess of 600km in real-world driving.
NEW START FOR GENESIS?
Hyundai’s luxury division Genesis, was coming to SA, then it wasn’t. Then it was. This week a Hyundai SA spokesperson confirmed that plans to bring Genesis to SA have been shelved "at the moment".
It is no surprise, of course. Nissan’s luxury arm Infiniti failed to make any impact in SA and has all but disappeared unless you really want to order one. Lexus has not reflected its international sales success in SA for Toyota either and both of these companies have the benefit of being able to use export credits from their local manufacturing to try to keep the pricing down.
Hyundai, as a pure importer, has no such credits, so as well as a market that is reluctant to ditch its German brands for fancy Korean or Japanese marques, it is likely that any Genesis model would just prove too expensive to retail.
So if you like the look of the new G70 which has just had its international launch in South Korea, then you are going to have to wait for a future right moment.
LEAVE US ALONE
Remember when Kimi Raikkonen told his pit crew to "leave me alone, I know what I’m doing"? Mercedes-Benz boss Dieter Zetsche sounded similar when addressing a European Automobile Manufacturers Association briefing on CO2 issues at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
"I do believe technology, innovation and market forces are the best way to achieve the (CO2) targets," he said.
He stressed that there needed to be a proper framework in place instead of bans and restrictions from city to city, clearly hitting out at the UK 2040 internal combustion engine ban proposal, as well as proposed bans in some German cities, such as Mercedes’ home town of Stuttgart.
Zetsche also criticised politicians saying "some factors, like election times and things like that are less about factual".
While he was at it, he even hit out at the news media saying "what we say and what we read are one thing and in-between is the person who is writing".
As some of those doing the writing, we would not want to speculate, but perhaps, as Audi’s Rupert Stadler was a number of years ago, Herr Zetsche is getting just a little irritated with some of the external influences on his business.