The VW Atlas is assembled in a nearly 2-million square foot, gleamingly modern plant near Chattanooga. Our plan was to tour the plant on our way back from the Atlas road trip, but they were temporarily shut down for upgrades and changeover to a new Passat. So instead we visited the Volkswagen Academy where they not only train their workers but also host apprenticeship and alternative education programs. Academy director, Albert Grasser tells us all about it.
We’re just back from a 2,500-mile road trip to Florida in the new-for-2017 Volkswagen Atlas mid-size, three-row crossover. VW has been concentrating on making vehicles more to the tastes of U.S. buyers and the Atlas is one of their best efforts. We talk to VW product communications guy, former A-list auto journalist, Mark Gilles about the Atlas.
While in Austin for the XC40 launch A Shunpiker's Journal got an update on the new Polestar project, Volvo’s new luxury, performance electric division. Actually, they’ve spun Polestar off into its own company. Host Steve Purdy caught communications boss John Canton just back from introducing their first car - a 600-hp, hybrid couple with stunning design - at the Geneva Motor Show.
We recently participated in the launch of the new Volvo XC40 small crossover in Austin, Texas where we recorded this interview with Jim Nichols, product PR guy for the XC40. It is an amazing small vehicle with all the sophistication and performance of its award-winning larger siblings.
Another chat at the recent Chicago Auto Show with one of our regular and favorite guests, Ken Lingenfelter of Lingenfelter Performance and the amazing Lingenfelte Collection. Ken talks about the cars they’ve brought to Chicago and what’s new at the collection.
Finally, Fred Ligouri, the articulate PR guy for GM’s electric cars, talks about the longer-range, full-electric Bolt, just getting to customers now, and about the future of electrification throughout the industry. Most global manufacturers have announced that within a few years all their new cars will have some degree of electrification and many cities and countries are beginning to restrict their streets to electrified cars.
Ever wonder about the systems under the skin of your car, and what’s happening with autonomous and self-driving cars? Well, our next guest is one of the engineers deeply involved in these issues - Patrick Ryne, engineering manager for Nexteer, a major tier-one supplier of steering systems, among other products. He tells us we’re already driving them . . . sort of, and he helps us understand what it will take to begin taking the driver out of the equation and when that might happen.
Engineer Mike Downey, vehicle line executive for the freshly-redesigned Jeep Cherokee gives us the rundown on the much-improved, off-roady mid-size crossover. Cherokee was widely dissed with its last generation design that broke new ground stylistically, particularly for a Jeep. This one continues that dramatic design language that people seem to have warmed to, and it adds a lot of important content.
Our friend and colleague, Micah Wright, is a young automotive journalist from the Cincinnati area and specializes in automobile and life-style topics.
While at the "press days" of the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Steve Purdy asks him for some punditry from his perspective as an enthusiast and “influencer," in media terms.