The chicken mole at Seattle’s Hotel 1000 was lovely, but VW head Stefan Jacoby’s comments were enlightening. For instance, VW wants to triple its vehicle sales in the U.S. in the next decade, including sales of whatever full-sized sedan will be built at the factory under construction in Chattanooga, Tennesee. (Jacoby promised the car would “solve the cupholder problem” for the American market.”)
VW also sees clean diesel and refinements to gasoline engines as the most practical solution for the near future, Jacoby said, with fuel economy raised by as much as 50% and emissions reduced significantly. That said, VW isn’t complettely counting out fuel cell technology, second-gen biofuels, and some kind of battery-electric vehicle. But for now, it’s sticking with what it knows for mass-market vehicles.
Speaking of which, VW brought a Euro-spec 6-speed manual Golf TDI for short test drives in hilly Seattle traffic. It was only a few miles, but I really liked the feel of the car while I was at the wheel. Until, that is, I got stopped at a light on a 45-degree incline. Luckily fellow auto journalist Doug Newcomb of Edmunds.com was in the passenger seat to teach me a trick with the emergency brake that kept me from rolling backward and hitting the road-test Touareg behind me. At least I didn’t curb the wheel in front of the hotel (I’m looking at you, Bruce).