L.A. Auto Show: For VW, never mind the icebergs, full speed ahead

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Declaring that VW ‘will control what it can control,’ VW of America President and Chief Executive Stefan Jacoby promised that the company would not back down ‘one inch’ -- or 26 mm -- from the North American market. VW’s U.S. sales have declined 6% for the year, but Jacoby noted that VW’s market share is up 14% on the strength of new products, including Routan minivan, Tiguan CUV, Jetta TDI sedan and Jetta TDI SportWagon and CC coupe/sedan.

Today VW unveiled the to-be-expected Touareg TDI -- a V6 diesel with 225 hp with 17/25 mpg fuel economy. The Touareg TDI’s 50-state-legal engine develops a clod-hopping 405 pound-feet of torque. If you want a big SUV, VW’s still got them.

Meanwhile, VW is stepping up its off-road racing game. In 2007, the company went to the Baja 500 with Touareg Trophy Trucks, logging a 1-2 victory in its class. This weekend, the company is tackling the Baja 1000, again with the famed Arciero-Miller Racing team. The Touareg Trophy Truck (pictured) is powered by a 5.5-liter V12 diesel wringing the axles with 550 hp.

On other fronts, VW powertrain executive Ulrich Hackenberg explicated the company’s continuing research and development of fuel cell vehicles, a moment at the press conference that produced an almost audible yawn. Once the high-tech darlings of auto shows, fuel cells and hydrogen have all but left the building.


-- Dan Neil