Tag Archives: Audi

Fiddled emissions whilst VW burns

VW 15921The VW share price is plummeting. Credibility of the many VW brands is affected. Perhaps their F1 ambitions have just gone up in smoke?

“We screwed up”, “we’ve been dishonest” and “we’re truly sorry” says their US CEO Michael Horn. But is that good enough?

Clearly the emissions scandal will run and run with lots of new whistleblowers adding to industry flames. VW Group testing software in the US appears to have been tinkered with resulting in certain diesel engines appearing to run cleaner than they really do – when tested by agencies appointed by manufacturers that is.

I’m relieved to read the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) saying this couldn’t happen in the UK because of the EU’s independent testing regime. Let’s hope they’re right.

VW BoardInterestingly the main VW Board is all male. And what has the likes of McKinsey been telling us for years? That women matter because we bring ethical values, a collaborative approach and environmental awareness to Board room decisions. In short, where gender balance exists organisations are healthier from the point of view of finance and efficiency. This isn’t rocket science guys but it’s clear you weren’t listening to the gender message when you should have been.

It looks to me that the VW Board could do with female Executive Board Directors to teach them business values and ethics. They were too busy studying the wrong metrics – now see how this negligence affects their beloved balance sheet…
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But an equally worrying issue is surely, if the likes of main Board Directors at VW can be THIS unethical, no wonder the global motor industry suffers the image it does. Because it seems to be TRUE of the very top?

Will any of those male Directors held to account be replaced by women?

Let’s hope so but I’m not holding my breath…

Finally let’s hope this is a scandal purely involving the VW Group… but let’s not forget the potential reach – their prestigious brands include VW, Audi, Seat, Skoda, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Porsche.

How could this happen in such a family, unless high level individuals knew and condoned this… That’s shocking.

FOXY

@FOXYSteph

Car sales CAN make a difference

Most marketers know to carve out a memorable niche by identifying what makes a product or service different from the rest.

Different in terms of being better, with tailored content perhaps, for a new market… or just cheaper than the rest.

In an industry used to mass marketing more than segmentation (and where the typical message is more male oriented than female regardless of the audience) this brings more marketing challenges to the UK motor industry than most. Especially when the UK’s neighbouring export market is faring worse economically than it is.

Bigger, better, best?

Despite the encouraging news that UK motor manufacturers continue to lead the UK economy in terms of job generation, car sales and exports in Q1, on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning Professor Karel Williams suggested that Vauxhall, Ford, Honda, Nissan and Toyota car manufacturers will struggle for position in the UK in future. This is because they are being squeezed in the middle by cheaper and smaller Hyundais and newcomer Dacia with status seekers and business drivers buying the likes of premium BMW, Audi and Mercedes brands that they presumably perceive to be better at the upper end of the market.

This matters to the UK because most of these supposedly ‘squeezed middle’ brands are the car manufacturers we read about today, leading the UK out of recession we hope, in terms of jobs and exports.

Customer service is key…

This means there’s even more to play for in terms of customer service with Jaguar Land Rover setting a great example of how to move from mediocre to leading advantage in a short period of time. Not just car sales, aftersales (car servicing, repairs and MOT work) is BIG business for dealership groups, specialist bodyshops and independent garages alike. At all levels, there is a real opportunity for those that can do it better to distinguish themselves from the rest (and there is a lot of scope through mediocrity here) gaining the reputation for being a better business as a result.

…providing the price is right

But the price you pay for a new car in a dealership is still too grey an area for my liking.

Why should any motorist, male or female, pay less for a car because they buy it towards the end of a sales period when the salesman is more inclined to share his commission? And why should women feel the need to take a man with them to negotiate that final price for fear of being sold a lemon?

More transparency is needed here, especially when it comes to innocent motorists who don’t understand the unnecessarily complex negotiating game and end up paying more than they should for a new car, having been baffled by the complications of trading in values and car finance in the process.

More patriotic pride needed for new cars ‘Made in GB’?

Alternatively our government can ‘encourage’ British motorists to buy cars (and other goods) made in GB of course, harnessing the power of national pride which turned so many sporting cynics into London 2012 Olympic fanatics.

This is surely what we can expect the likes of France and Germany to do soon, to secure their home markets alongside competing imports.

Then we can all feel EVEN MORE proud of our UK motor industry; when buying British means fair prices and superior service levels that don’t patronise or rip off male or female motorists who want to be able to buy cars and garage services on trust.

FOXY

Audis I have known and loved

I’ve driven two Audis to date, an Audi 80 in the 80s and a very stylish S2 coupe in the early 90s when my corporate career justified this. And I continue to very nearly buy an Audi TT and I probably will one day.

So you can see I have a soft spot for the brand and know from past experience that Audis make ideal company cars.

Particularly for high mileage female business executives looking for that all important combination of safety, economy and motoring style as they ply our busy motorways today.

The best Audi engines are usually diesels where high mileage is involved and whilst the SE trim is likely to be more saleable than the basic entry level I can’t really justify spending more than that (for me) unless you need 4 wheel drive of course. I mention this because there are some 47 models, including saloon/hatchback/estate and cabriolet variations of which 21 were petrol and 26 diesel when I last looked…

Yes it’s true that you may have to pay extra for cruise control (if you insist…) but you do get 6 airbags and stability control as standard features and the interior is stylish and uber-comfortable as you might expect from a manufacturer from the Volkswagen stable of car manufacturers.

Looking at other car review websites I see that an ancient evecars.com mention picks up on ‘fiddly buttons to navigate’ and ‘watch out for the bumpy ride’ on their negative list but that JD Power’s most recent survey points out its low depreciation (which is good news when you come to sell or trade it in), a bigger than average boot and impressive running costs to balance the debate.

Either way, we’d happily recommend Audi’s A4 to women drivers for business use in particular, pointing out the reasonable 13% benefits in kind employee contribution tax involved.

FOXY

Inevitably this is a brief and not very comprehensive review of the Audi A4. Being a naturally foxy lady you will do your own and very detailed new car shopping homework well in advance to determine the practicality and required features for your next new car.

If you’d welcome a second and independent opinion of your shortlist, where to go to buy it, or some handholding through the entire car buying process, why not join FOXY Lady Drivers Club to benefit from our motoring support services and some helpful female feedback here?

First female engineer to win Le Mans

Britain’s Leena Glade became the first female race engineer to win the world famous Le Mans 24 Hour race in 2011.

What a great role model for other females considering a career in the UK motorsports industry.

Leena is 35 and comes from South Harrow. She is a No.1 race engineer for the Audi Sport team and the car she oversaw, a diesel-engined Audi R18 TDI, was driven by French, Swiss and German drivers Benoît Treluyer, Marcel Fässler and André Lotterer who won the race last weekend (11-12 June).

Leena masterminded Audi’s win from the pit-wall throughout the race.

“I still can’t believe what’s happened and I don’t think it will sink in for a few weeks” said the former University of Manchester graduate.

“Our Audi R18 TDI started from pole-position, set the fastest race lap and did not have any major problems in what was only this car’s second race. We’d prepared properly and we raced hard throughout the entire 24 hours. It was quite amazing.”

Leena was responsible for the final decisions on the race car. If a part on the car moves, changes temperature or changes pressure, she logs it, she explained, and this could involve computer screens showing hundreds of channels at a time.

“I use that information to give radio instructions to the driver to help maintain tyre condition and maximise engine performance. In addition to looking after all functions of the car, we have to manage the tyre allocation, fuel stops, driver time in the car while keeping an eye on the weather. This information is used to make strategy decisions on when to pit for fuel and which variant of tyre to use.”

“I’m the main contact for the driver. The driver-engineer psychology has to be strong and trust plays a vital part in gaining performance. A driver performs better knowing his or her engineer is in control of the crew, the car and race which means they can focus on their driving. One miscalculation or decision that is waivered over can be the difference between winning or losing the race. And at Le Mans, that just isn’t an option.”

Well done Leena, that’s a really foxy result. We look forward to reading about you in future and about other female engineers following in your racing footsteps in future…

FOXY

PS: Thank goodness Audi drivers Allan McNish and Mike Rockenfeller weren’t injured after their respective accidents. A remarkable endorsement of Audi’s build quality, McNish’s monocoque shell remained intact after spinning, hitting the armco barrier at high speed and turning over.