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Volkswagen CEO Winterkorn checks out Hyundai at Frankfurt Motor Show [video]

VW CEO Martin Winterkorn strolled over to the Hyundai stand to check out the i30

In the midst of the world's press corp at the recent Frankfurt Motor Show, VW CEO Martin Winterkorn strolled over to the Hyundai stand to check out the i30, a competitor for the top selling Volkswagen Golf.

Almost as a sign of validation that Hyundai has come of age, or even better yet, is a worthy competitor of VW, Winterkorn along with his entourage look over the i30 with a fair amount of scrutiny.

In the beginning of the video Winterkorn whips out a magnetic tool used in measuring the thickness of paint used on the liftgate. He then proceeds to walk around the i30 grazing his knuckles across the hood-to-bumper shut lines to check for evenness. Once seated in the driver's seat, the mood gets serious as Winterkorn investigates further. He calls out for VW design boss Klaus Bischoff.

"The lever for the steering wheel release makes no sound while moving. BMW can't do it, we can't do it, why can they?!" Bischoff replies, "We had a solution for that but it was too expensive to produce."

Winterkorn continues, "You can't see the wipers."

"Full equipment but there is no auto dimming rear view mirror."

Then a tape measure is brought out, as Winterkorn is apparently measuring A-Pillar blind spot from the drivers view.

Source: autobild.de

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Comments (26)

peterjamesbenson
Everybody should take notes!! Hyundai is making what took Honda and Toyota couple of decades to achieve. I am not saying that they are bad i just that Hyundai is getting really close!! I can say that because I have an 2012 Elantra Limited(BTW Winterkorn mine came with the dimming rear view mirror) and the quality is on par with the Accord!!! Just most of the websites and magazines, Motor Trend has an article that reads: Is Hyundai the new Honda?
Dec 21, 2011 8:53 pm
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hangtime10
Winterkon was on an episode of Germany's Undercover Boss. Although with very little disguise. Nothing wrong with him looking, it is an auto show afterall.
Sep 28, 2011 9:57 am
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Renyeo
Unless Winterkon surrounds himself with a bunch of out of box engineers, his current crop of chief engineers are just playing a condescending game to the ivory tower guy whom I hope the CEO-who-checked-out-an-i30 isn't one.
Sep 28, 2011 6:51 am
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Renyeo
Unless Winterkon surrounds himself with a bunch of out of box engineers, his current crop of chief engineers are just playing a condescending to the ivory tower guy which I hope the CEO-who-checked-out-an-i30 isn't one.
Sep 28, 2011 6:50 am
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kenvo3
Winterkorn is a tough guy. I don't want him to be my boss. ;) But I think he's doing a good job at VW. Like Piech he is totally obsessed with product quality. Just look how he runs his hand over the gap at the bonnet as he walks by.
Sep 27, 2011 3:34 pm
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Faithback
Seems to me that the CEO should follow the development of their key product (Golf 7) very closely. It appears that he had demanded certain things of the Golf 7 and was given unsatisfactory excuses. Now he takes the chance to put his technical team on the spot by showing them that his demands of the Golf 7 were reasonable after all since Hyundai has done it. He was clearly interested in specific things on the Hyundai i30.
Sep 27, 2011 3:19 pm
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zot959
VW is seeking to become the #1 car producer in terms of volume. To achieve this they must see off competition from Hyundai & Kia note he did not go look at a Toyata or Honda yes that gives credit to the Koreans but this is something everyone has already recognized he has not let out any secrets. I like his approach it also puts his engineers on the spot keeps them on their toes. It shows me how serious VW is. Good job Mr. Wintercorn
Sep 27, 2011 11:11 am
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Edison
+1 for Winterkorn. I don't get people on this post. This is exactly the type of CEO a company should have. You should always be critical of your products, no matter how good they are, and see what your competition is doing right, and what you might be doing wrong. This is obviously a CEO that cares about his products and is putting the challenge to his staff to come up with a solution that is cheaper. What's wrong with that? This is NOT like GM. GM only cared about the money and thought that the only way to do that would be to find creative ways at re-packaging and re-branding 30 year-old platforms. GM's problem was that they were complacent while the industry moved forward. VW is obviously not a complacent company, considering the technology that they have brought to the lower tiers of the market (e.g. dual clutch trans, downsized engines, DI). I will guarantee you that Hyundai/KIA have stripped many a VW to figure out how their built, and this happens thoughout the industry between competitors.
Sep 27, 2011 11:07 am
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nederinaa
I truly believe Korean cars are on the rise. They have always been affordable with terrific long-term ownership. They are now one of the safest around, green, well equipped, well formed and desirable. Most importantly they are now well built and what a better way to build, test and design in a country that is obsessed with attention to detail and perfection? I truly admire German’s dedication or passion as well as the Koreans strong determination. Next would be their engine and powertrain. Volkswagen currently holds the advantage of having the best combination of engine and powertrain that is super efficient. But I heard there will be a frugal 250bhp 1.6 turbo engine with dual-clutch from Hyundai/Kia. Winterkorn's reaction is a surprise one, stating that the Koreans are eating up their Skoda/Seat sales. At the end of the day, the consumer wins!
Sep 27, 2011 9:55 am
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techie69
Definitely a abeancounter with dictatorial air about surrounded by yes man, another typical GM like story, like someone put it, detach from reality or true spirit of entreneurship to make VW a better Co. Too bad an opportunity missed and allowing a better group of people flourishand succeed-Kia/Hyundai. Like B. Lutz puts it, top managers worried about the cost and forgotteing the most important thing: the product. Like a movie adage...you build it, they will come! Not just build it but build it well, something VW good peruse in their anals of history. VW management idea of expansion is buy another car manufacturer instead of improving in their product quality and realibility so they could wake up the public interest in the Co.!!!
Sep 27, 2011 8:55 am
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charlemagne
My aunt has a word about (some) German people... I can't write it down here, it won't be fair for the German readers... serious people, hardworkers but not exactely the brightest kids in the cabbage patch - anyway, I think Winterkorn could buy the damn thing - the i30 -, put it somewhere in a garage in Wolfsburg away from everybody's eyes and started playing with it all day long. Instead he chooses to measure it and comment it in public. Needless to say what his gesture means for Hyundai's image (thank you VAG guys, no more advertising needed for us) or worse for VW's image.
Sep 27, 2011 6:07 am
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tom43
Once my uncle told me: Never believe your aunt.
Sep 27, 2011 6:14 am
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schizo
Let's just say that Mr. Winterkorn is really passionate about his work and could not control his emotions at the sight of a competitor whom he felt needed immediate attention. Very Latin of him to be passionate & compulsive (in a good way)...I hope his company will catch that fire from him too!
Sep 27, 2011 6:36 am
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golddaytona
being CEO, his passion is not an excuse for stupid action like this.. he should be fired... there is one message i got from this video clip: even their CEO thinks VW sucks..
Sep 27, 2011 6:41 am
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odysseus
Yeah, he could. But he won't wait till next spring when this Hyundai comes into sale. Would you? I don't think so…
Sep 27, 2011 7:37 am
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tom43
The Hyundai i30 has been developed and designed in Germany, same for the Kia Céed. So VW is competing with engineers, who think and work in the same way than their own engineers do. That is the problem of VW ;-) @nederinaa: You can´t compare a Grandeur to a E-class. And: the new Golf Mk VII is coming in 2012. There is no need for VW to rethink....
Sep 27, 2011 6:02 am
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nederinaa
The i30 looks a lot more desirable, interesting and just as high quality than the boring cost cutting Golf. Volkswagen Group quality is so overated these days unlike the Mk4 Golf or the Mk1 TT. I've sat in a Hyundai Grandeur, it feels a lot more luxurious and just as comparable to an E-Class. Korea has come the long way, even their Samsung Galaxy S is the state of the art smartphone. The new i30 sits on an all new platform, unlike the Mk6 Golf. VW needs a rethink.
Sep 27, 2011 4:24 am
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golddaytona
he just did a great and free advertisement for the i30... good job !
Sep 27, 2011 4:01 am
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kmayb
R.E.S.P.E.C.T y'all ! I don't like it as much as he does but they're coming on strong. Korean are getting it together all over the park and the establishment needs to be concerned about lost market share. I would rather see the GerJaps step up and show who makes the best cars for the right money in the world but I personally don't think they can stop this new strong player. By new , the Koreans are not but it's only now they offer a worthy competitor. After Korea china will be knocking on the door. At the end of the day the car consumer should be the winner in all this... :)
Sep 27, 2011 2:05 am
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techie69
They are not coming in strong in the U.S., had to layoff a shift and the VW Passat is considered dowdy to the competition since it doesn't have anything it is #1 at, the only reason VW is competitive is the many brands under its umbrella with brand sharing platform to a point of nauseaum! Its also only a matter of time the house of cards will fall with soon to come European committee investigations on its business practices! VW is outtrumped in its own homeland by the Hyundai/Kia group where German auto publishments giving a more favorable review than VWdubb!
Aug 7, 2013 9:40 am
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mickey_f1
WIN!
Sep 27, 2011 12:42 am
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schizo
I saw that clip awhile back. He wasn't too pleased at the progress... I hope this gives VW more incentive to come out of its shell...
Sep 26, 2011 11:01 pm
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Hellbound
Winterkorn shows everyone how out of touch he is with the modern world outside of the engineering on his cars. He didn't even realise his actions were being recorded and would be scrutinized by competitors and buyers before the end of the day. His advisors look like a bunch of 'yes men', which is also awful to watch. I thought they bought their competitors vehicles and tested them 'in-house'. Very amateur, this is something you'd expect a passionate and enthusiastic private car buyer to do at a car show.
Sep 27, 2011 6:58 am
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Hellbound
The mkV Golf GTI is brilliant. Hyundai needs a GTI beater.
Sep 27, 2011 7:00 am
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odysseus
@Hellbound I guess you noticed that the 2012 i30 comes into sale by next spring! So how could buy Volkswagen one of these?
Sep 27, 2011 7:31 am
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stylovale
According to this: http://www.worldcarfans.com/111091236520/vw-suzuki-partnership-sours---claims-of-infringement and this: http://www.worldcarfans.com/111091936709/vw-group-to-invest-a-record-624-billion-to-become-number VAG will buy or at least team up with Hyundai. Guys don't be so immature. U'll never see a CEO impressed by a competitor.
Sep 27, 2011 12:10 pm
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http://content.worldcarfans.co/templates/0/18