Volkswagen Newsroom

How one start-up baker uses his Volkswagen Golf to deliver 900 cookies a week – and a bit of joy

February 25, 2021
Reponen poses with his 2012 Volkswagen Golf and a batch of frozen cookie dough ready for delivery.

Alex Reponen has always had a passion for baking. After resigning from his work in federal government service in 2015, he was open to exploring a new career.

“I knew I wanted to do something different and I always enjoyed baking and pastry work,” he said. “I had done it as a hobby, but I decided to totally switch gears and try baking professionally to see what it was like”

To get his start, Reponen worked at a small, crowdfunded bakery in Washington D.C., where he learned the art of croissant-making and received formal baking experience to add to his years of home-training. After two years, he was eager to be creative in the kitchen again and made the move to open Dapper Fox Bakery from his own home kitchen in Alexandria, Va.

Reponen fills an order of frozen cookie dough in his signature packaging.

For several years, Reponen enjoyed baking everything – from custom cakes to artisan bread on commission, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, he began selling frozen bake-at-home cookie dough with unique flavors like brown butter pecan toffee. The idea came to him one night after he baked his wife a single cookie using leftover dough from a commission order. After gauging customer interest via Instagram, Reponen began offering the new product in April 2020.

“The product is filling a niche that people want. They aren’t going to their local bakery now, but there’s certainly still a need to reward yourself for enduring the stay-at-home orders or just the monotony during this pandemic.”

Since starting the cookie deliveries, Dapper Fox Bakery’s business has grown abundantly, in concert with the surge in cookie sales nationwide. On average Reponen is receiving orders for more than 900 cookies per week and making nearly 70 stops on his Friday delivery route. To get it all done, his 2012 Metallic Blue VW Golf is an essential part of the business.

When talking about his car, Reponen said, “It’s a rock star. It’s probably seen more use in the last year than ever before, but it hasn’t skipped a beat.” He added that “for a delivery vehicle, it’s pretty great.”

Reponen packs his Volkswagen Golf with up to six coolers filled with cookies for his weekly deliveries. Disclaimer: Always ensure cargo is properly secured. See owner’s manual for details.

Reponen and his wife got familiar with the Volkswagen brand while living in Europe and quickly came to love the reliability and practicality of the vehicles. They frequently rented Volkswagen Polos to drive around London and were impressed with how many items they could squeeze inside. When it came time to purchase a car in the U.S., they knew Volkswagen would be the best brand for them.

While small and efficient for city driving, the Golf has a spacious interior that can hold all six coolers needed to store cookies during the 10-hour delivery days. As his business continues to grow, Reponen is considering an upgrade to an SUV like the Tiguan that has classic Volkswagen style, but is still easy to drive and has ample space to hold deliveries.

Even after things return to “normal,” Reponen hopes he can keep the personal connection of home deliveries as a core part of his business. He loves creating something that customers may not be able to find in a store and experiencing customers’ joyful reactions when he arrives at their doorstep.

Dapper Fox Bakery has thrived during the pandemic and Reponen is grateful for it. “I discounted at first how much joy the cookies bring people, but also how lucky I was to be out of the house and interacting with people,” he said. “The fact that it’s as a result of a successful baking business is great, but it’s one of those things that you almost feel like you would do for free if you could.”

Batches of pre-made cookie dough ready for the freezer.

#TBT: Remembering Bruce Meyers, creator of the Meyers Manx

February 25, 2021

Bruce Meyers lived the life most people only read about. A surfer, inventor, artist, war hero and racecar driver, Meyers distilled the essence of 1960s Southern California car culture with the invention of his Meyers Manx, a Volkswagen Beetle-based buggy that went where the pavement ended.

Last week, Meyers passed away at the age of 94. A creator of the race which would come to be known as the famed Baja 1000, Bruce was an energizing soul of car culture until the very end, living and celebrating the freedom that off-roading creates. While his firm only built about 7,000 of the original fiberglass-bodied Meyers Manx vehicles, the design became synonymous with the idea of a “dune buggy” and driving to the surf and sand.

“My life has been full of adventures,” Meyers told us in 2017. ““I want people to have an adventure in life.”

Born in Los Angeles, Meyers grew up around beaches, surfing and vehicles; his father a prominent car dealer. When World War II called the nation to duty, Meyers first enlisted in the Merchant Marines, then the Navy. In 1945, he was aboard the aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill when the ship was hit by two kamikaze bombers. Nearly 400 of the crew perished, but Meyers survived, and swam through the wreckage to rescue his fellow shipmen.

After the war, Meyers returned home and went to art school. He spent much time on a surfboard and learned how to build sail boats using what was, at the time, a new material known as fiberglass. Spending ample time off the beaten path, Meyers noticed many of his fellow Californians using Volkswagen Beetles – minus many of their body panels – to traverse the dunes traditional four-wheel-drive vehicles had trouble navigating.

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In 1964, Meyers set about to create a better way around the sand. Using the Beetle’s floorplan and running gear, he hand-built a fiberglass tub on top, with chrome surrounded “bug-eye” style headlamps. Rather than cobble together a collection of other vehicles, his vision was to create something that came across as fun and artistic; with a touch of hotrod inspired flare. The result was dubbed “Old Red,” and its look would spark an entire culture of affordable and lightweight Beetle-based buggies.

“It was a phenomenal success,” said Meyers. “Suddenly everybody wanted this happy little car. It’s a visualization of friendship and love.”

A few years later, Meyers and friends decided to take their buggy to Mexico, where motorcyclists had been running long-distance races through the desert terrain. On just a few days preparation, Meyers and a co-driver won the race which would later become the Baja 1000, one of the world’s most popular off-road races.

 

Though Meyers founded his own buggy building operation, now known as Meyers Manx, his design proved too coveted to control. While nearly 7,000 Manx units were produced, countless copycat versions also flooded the market, ultimately forcing Meyers to close shop. Estimates vary, but sources agree more than 250,000 Meyers-inspired buggies have been built worldwide.

Only in recent years did Meyers re-start production of a new buggy – still built on the Beetle chassis – now with two seats instead of four. The original “Old Red” was added to the National Historic Vehicle Register in 2014, and represents a design cherished by countless fans worldwide.

“I was just a character who lived a lifestyle of breaking traditions,” said Meyers, “and the dune buggy did that.”

Rest in peace, friend. Thank you for being the character you were. We will dearly miss you.

The 5,000 ways Volkswagen tests EV batteries for safety and durability

February 24, 2021

Before any part gets put onto a vehicle, an automaker needs to know how long it will last and what role it plays in keeping the vehicle safe. That’s especially true for electric vehicle batteries and battery packs, the heart of the revolution to cleaner, zero direct emission driving.

To ensure all such questions have answers, Volkswagen Group Components has spent the past several years developing ways to ensure the electric vehicle batteries of today meet the standards owners will expect today and in the future.

“Volkswagen tests almost every conceivable case that could affect the battery system during a vehicle’s lifespan – from accidents to extreme temperatures,” says Michal Bruna, Head of Electronics Development and Testing at the Battery Development Center of Volkswagen Group Components in Brunswick, Germany.

Testing battery pack and cell construction.

“Every variant of an EV battery, including the software, has to prove its safety in more than 5,000 individual tests.”

Those tests include mechanical shocks such as those caused by curbs, railroad crossings or stone chippings. In a two-week vibration test, engineers simulate the life cycle of a vehicle of nearly 125,000 miles. In other tests, the battery withstands temperature shocks, such as those that can occur when driving through cold water, and checked for durability in different climatic conditions – temperature and humidity – with required charging and discharging currents. At the end, each battery system is disassembled and examined.

The complexity of an EV battery system requires several levels of tests throughout production. The Center of Excellence in Salzgitter tests the quality of the battery cells, and Technical Development in Wolfsburg tests the cell modules. The software and control units are tested automatically on so-called hardware-in-loop test benches. And in battery production, the functionality and safety of each battery is checked before it is delivered to the vehicle plant.

Volkswagen battery pouch cell.

Battery electronics have to meet high safety standards. In the MEB electric vehicle platform, the battery is located at the bottom center of the vehicle, between the frame rails, with a protective metal shield – protected in case of an accident. Like other automakers, Volkswagen also offers free and easily available materials to first responders to help safely respond to an accident involving an electric vehicle, with directions for how to safely disengage power cabling around the battery and where to avoid cutting the vehicle.

“If the airbag deploys, the battery system is automatically disabled. It can only be started and recharged after a safety check,” Bruna explained

Beyond the labs in Germany, Volkswagen is also building a new battery test lab in Chattanooga, which will test the cells and packs that will power the U.S.-assembled versions of the ID.4 SUV when it begins production next year.

Test facilities at the Battery Development Center in Brunswick.

The Volkswagen 2021 Enthusiast Fleet kicks off with the Blue Lagoon Jetta GLI concept

February 22, 2021
The modified 2021 Jetta GLI in Blue Lagoon.

Volkswagen unveiled its first of several enthusiast concept vehicles for 2021 – a Jetta GLI that revives the spirit of the rare Mk4 Blue Lagoon GLI.

The Jetta GLI has been a sportier iteration of the Jetta since 1984, offering performance that approached that of the Golf GTI with all the cargo-hauling benefits of a sedan. In 2002, Volkswagen released the GTI 337, a special edition vehicle with only 1,500 models produced. Outfitted with 18-inch BBS RC wheels, RECARO seats and a Votex body kit, the unique car struck a chord and served as the inspiration for the next generation GLI.

In 2004, Volkswagen introduced the new Mk4 Jetta GLI to the U.S. market. The model was designed to deliver a sporty driving experience and was, in a sense, the sedan version of the GTI—with a similar body kit, wheels and seats. The car was released in the color Blue Lagoon and caught the eye of enthusiasts right away. However, the run of Blue Lagoon was short-lived and eventually replaced with a medium dark shade of blue called Jazz Blue.

The 2004 Jetta GLI is an iconic vehicle for enthusiasts. “The Jetta GLI has been an enthusiast favorite throughout its 37-year history,” said Sean Maynard, Enthusiast and Motorsport Marketing Specialist. “Paying tribute to the Mk4 with this build concept celebrates the passion that goes into these vehicles.”

VW is honoring the rare model by modifying a manual 2021 Jetta GLI Autobahn into the fan favorite for the annual Enthusiast Fleet. Andres Valbuena, former Volkswagen product launch manager lead the team and executed the modifications in just over a month.

The modified 2021 Jetta GLI in Blue Lagoon.

The team started out with a 2021 Deep Black Pearl Jetta GLI and changed the color to the iconic metallic blue shade by using a vinyl wrap. To match the wrap as closely as possible to Blue Lagoon metallic, Valbuena sourced a fuel filler door off a 2004 GLI and combed through several vinyl wrap suppliers’ hues of blue until he found the ORAFOL Midnight Blue Metallic. The vinyl wrap was installed throughout the entire car – including its interior door jambs and side body pieces – so when the doors open, the color change is still visible.

The team worked with Air Design to install exterior side skirts and a rear trunk spoiler, and Fifteen52 to install a Critical Aero Design (CAD) front lower spoiler. AlphaParts also saved the day when some parts were needed ASAP. They installed BBS CH-R 20-inch alloy wheels, wrapped with ContinentalÓ ExtremeContact Sport 235/35Z R20XL 90Y tires. They installed an H&R Springs® Street Performance Coil Over suspension to give the car a sportier stance.

Inside the vehicle, RECARO Ergomed ES leather front seats and a Black Forest Industries weighted golf ball shift knob.

Out of all the modifications, Valbuena’s favorite detail is the color, which, in his opinion, makes the biggest impact. “The color is incredible,” said Valbuena. “The Recaro’s, wheels, and styling changes are amazing, but when you see it outside in the sun that color is something else.”

You can catch the one-of-a-kind model, along with the rest of the 2021 Volkswagen Enthusiast Fleet, at enthusiast events around the country.

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4 ways Volkswagen helps you drive carefree

February 22, 2021

With all the commitments and responsibilities of daily life, you’ve got enough on your plate already. That’s why Volkswagen is helping to ensure that you get all of the enjoyment from your driving and ownership experience, with fewer worries.

Owners of most model-year 2020 and 2021 Volkswagen vehicles have access to a comprehensive suite of products and services called Carefree Coverage, 1 all designed to minimize expenses, hassles, and inconveniences in everyday driving.

Discover four ways Carefree Coverage helps to make the Volkswagen ownership experience a breeze.

Scheduled Carefree Maintenance for the first two years or 20,000 miles at no additional charge

When you visit your local Volkswagen dealer for your initial maintenance appointments, you can leave the credit card at home. Most model-year 2020 and 2021 Volkswagen vehicles come standard with Scheduled Carefree Maintenance, which includes manufacturer-recommended maintenance intervals for two years or 20,000 miles, whichever occurs first. 2

Roadside Assistance 24/7

Should the unexpected happen, you’ll have less worry about getting stranded. Just add this number to your phone: 800.411.6688. It’s the contact for VW Roadside Assistance, available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 3

Roadside Assistance covers services such as towing (including, if necessary, a direct tow to the VW Certified Collision Repair Facility nearest you, at no charge), battery jump start, flat-tire service, lock-out service, fuel delivery service, and trip interruption coverage where warranted.

All new Volkswagen passenger vehicles sold in the United States and Puerto Rico are eligible for Roadside Assistance coverage for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever occurs first. Certified Pre-Owned vehicles receive additional coverage beginning with the expiration of the original coverage or sale date of the Certified Pre-Owned vehicle, whichever is greater. 4

New Vehicle Limited Warranty coverage for four years or 50,000 miles

Your Volkswagen is built for reliability. However, should issues arise during the course of normal usage, know that you’re covered by the New Vehicle Limited Warranty. Model-year 2020 and 2021 Volkswagen vehicles offer a bumper-to-bumper New Vehicle Limited Warranty for four years or 50,000 miles, whichever occurs first. 5

Volkswagen Car-Net® Remote Access

Your phone is at the center of so much activity in your life—you should be able to access your vehicle from there, too. That’s the idea behind Volkswagen Car-Net® Remote Access6 a free mobile app for owners of most model-year 2020 and 2021 Volkswagen vehicles.

Not only does it provide five years of remote vehicle access at no additional charge, it comes with an array of convenient functions including custom alerts to keep tabs on who’s driving; service alerts 7 and monthly vehicle health reports; 8 and a parking spot finder powered by Parkopedia®. 9 A VW Car-Net® Hotspot is also available by adding a Verizon Wi-Fi monthly data plan. 10

Volkswagen Car-Net® Remote Access is available in the Google Store and the Apple Store.

1 Available on most new MY20 and MY21 vehicles. For vehicle eligibility details, visit vw.com/coverage. VW’s Carefree Maintenance Program provides 10,000- and 20,000-mile scheduled maintenance services or scheduled maintenance services for two years (whichever occurs first) as stated in the vehicle’s maintenance booklet. Does not include tire rotations, or other services or parts not specified in the owner’s literature. 3 years/36,000 miles (whichever occurs first) Roadside Assistance provided by a third party. 4 years/50,000 miles (whichever occurs first) New Vehicle Limited Warranty. See owner’s literature or dealer for warranty, maintenance program, and roadside assistance details, exclusions, and limitations. Car-Net Remote Access services require cellular connectivity, GPS signal, and acceptance of Terms of Service (services not available on MY20 Passat). Not all services and features are available on all vehicles. Other Car-Net services require a trial or paid subscription. See additional important information at www.vw.com/carnet.

2 VW’s Carefree Maintenance program provides the 10,000- and 20,000-mile scheduled maintenance services or scheduled maintenance services for two years (whichever occurs first) as stated in the vehicle’s maintenance booklet on most new MY2020 and 2021 VW vehicles. For vehicle eligibility details, visit vw.com/coverage. See dealer or owner’s literature for provided services, exclusions, and time and other limitations. The Carefree Maintenance program does not provide tire rotations, or other services or parts not specified in the owner’s literature.

3 3 years/36,000 miles (whichever occurs first) Roadside Assistance on most new MY2020 and 2021 VW vehicles provided by a third party. For vehicle eligibility details, visit vw.com/coverage. See owner’s literature or dealer for limitations and details.

4 See owner’s literature or dealer for Certified Pre-Owned Limited Warranty details, exclusions, and limitations. CPO Limited Warranty repairs require deductible.

5 4 years/50,000 miles (whichever occurs first) New Vehicle Limited Warranty on most new MY2020 and 2021 VW vehicles. For vehicle eligibility details, visit vw.com/coverage. See owner’s literature or dealer for warranty exclusions and limitations

6 Available on most new MY20 and MY21 vehicles (excludes MY20 Passat). For vehicle eligibility details, visit vw.com/coverage. Always pay careful attention to the road and do not drive while distracted. Certain services require trial or paid subscriptions, that may have their own terms and conditions. VW Car-Net requires cellular connectivity, GPS signal, and acceptance of Terms of Service. Not all services and features are available on all vehicles. Certain Car-Net services, such as Roadside Call Assist, connect to 3rd party service providers who may require additional payment. Standard text and data rates may apply. Certain services may collect location and vehicle information. See Terms of Service, Privacy Statement, and other important information at www.vw.com/carnet.

7 Standard text message and data rates apply.

8 Refer to your vehicle’s warning and indicator lights for the most current diagnostic information. Always consult owner’s literature for maintenance guidelines and do not solely rely on the outreach described here for service appointments or otherwise attend to your vehicle.

9 Powered by Parkopedia. Requires parking facility participation. Volkswagen not responsible for accuracy of pricing & payment options, hours of operation, and features. See parkopedia.com for important information and details. Standard text and data rates may apply.

10 Verizon is the service provider of VW Car-Net Hotspot powered by Verizon. Available on select models. Trial or paid subscription required. VW Car-Net Hotspot powered by Verizon services require vehicle cellular connectivity and availability of vehicle GPS signal. For coverage map, see verizonwireless.com/bestnetwork. Certain services may collect location information. Up to 4 devices can be supported using in-vehicle connectivity. Verizon Wireless data subscription required upon end of 30-day trial period or use of 1GB data (whichever comes first). Use of VW Car-Net Hotspot powered by Verizon is subject to Verizon Wireless’ Customer Agreement (verizonwireless.com/legal/notices/customer-agreement/).

6 winter driving tips from VW pro driver Tanner Foust

February 22, 2021

 

Tanner Foust has some words of wisdom for any Volkswagen owner driving during the cold-weather months: “Respect the conditions.”

As a professional racing driver for Volkswagen, and a stunt driver for film and television, he’s in a position to know. Among his many accomplishments, Tanner is a three-time U.S. champion in the sport of Rallycross and a two-time winner of the Formula Drift championship. He’s mastered the art of controlling cars through all types of slippery conditions, and in fact began his career as an ice driving instructor.

Fresh from a driving demonstration at the Taos Ski Valley ski resort in Taos, N.M., here are Tanner’s six helpful tips on how to drive in winter conditions.

1. Let the technology assist you.

According to Tanner, if you stay within your vehicle’s limits, and avoid carrying too much speed into turns, onboard technology can help you tackle challenging road conditions. “Traction control is part of the Electronic Stability Control system in every modern Volkswagen,” he says. “If a tire starts to slip, the system automatically limits power to that tire to keep it gripping the road. You might not know it’s there, but it’s designed to help you.” While this rule applies whether you have a front-wheel-drive vehicle or one equipped with 4MOTION® all-wheel-drive, Tanner notes that 4MOTION® does offer the advantage of better low-speed acceleration, particularly on inclines. “That makes it a lot easier to get up that snowy road on the hill to grandma’s house.”

2. Have the right tires.

If you live in a region where temperatures regularly drop below 45 degrees Fahrenheit in winter months or where potentially difficult road conditions are common, it’s best to outfit your car with winter tires.1 This “helps give you an advantage for braking, accelerating and steering whenever you’re on a snow-covered road,” Tanner explains. Also note that as temperatures drop, so does tire pressure. Regularly check and adjust tire pressure to the recommended level for your vehicle.

3. Do one thing at a time.

“A car can either brake, turn or accelerate,” says Tanner. “When driving on a snow-covered road, because there’s such limited grip, it’s critical that you do only one of those things at a time.” Anything more than that, he explains, can overpower the grip in the tires and cause the car to skid. “You should brake in a straight line. When you need to turn, steer with your foot basically off the pedals, and wait until the wheel is almost straight before accelerating out of the turn.”

4. Take care to avoid skids.

Tanner says that there are two types of skids to avoid when making a turn on a snow-covered road: “If the back tires begin to slide to the outside of the turn, that’s a condition known as oversteer. If the front tires start to slide to the outside, that’s called understeer.” The best way to avoid either type of slide? Complete the braking process before turning, and enter corners with care.

5. Leave plenty of braking room.

Because tire grip is limited on a snowy road, the braking distance needed to come to a complete stop can be up to four times as long as it would be in dry conditions. “What this means,” says Tanner, “is that your following distance to the car in front of you needs to be at least four times as long.” Every modern Volkswagen is equipped with an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS). In an emergency stop, even on snow, “just push the brake hard,” he advises. “That buzzing sensation you feel under your foot is the ABS system working.”

6. Be prepared.

Planning ahead is the best way to help prepare for situations where your vehicle has gotten stuck, or the weather has deteriorated to the point where it’s not advisable to continue driving. Tanner says that for winter drives, especially when visiting areas outside cellular service, it’s essential to keep items like non-perishable food, bottled water and an extra set of warm clothes, along with a Roadside Assistance Kit and First Aid Kit, inside your vehicle. “This way,” he says, “you’ll be better prepared to weather the storm until help arrives.”

Beyond Tanner’s advice for winter driving, follow these bonus tips to keep your Volkswagen running in peak condition during cold weather. And don’t forget to schedule a cold-weather service appointment at your local Volkswagen dealer.

Violinists traveling in a Volkswagen Westfalia bring music to essential workers

February 9, 2021

Violinists Etienne Gara and YuEun Kim usually perform for crowds of several thousand in renowned venues and concert halls. The classically trained artists studied together at the University of Southern California in Los AngelesGara is the founder and artistic director of Delirium Musicum, a Los Angeles-based self-conducted chamber orchestra, where Kim is also a core member. 

The couple had plans to spend their summer recording Delirium Musicum’s debut album and touring internationally when COVID-19 changed everything last March. To continue performingGara and Kim knew they would have to take their music out of the concert hall and into the community. 

“We started with ‘Courtyard Concerts, where we would play in the middle of an apartment courtyard and people would listen from their balconies,” said Gara. “When we saw how music could comfort people during this period of isolation, we thought, ‘We need to take this to the road.’” 

Etienne Gara and YuEun Kim typically play in concert venues for thousands of people. This year, they took their talents on the road. (Photo credit: Lathan J.)

Together, they restored a red 1971 Volkswagen Westfalia and founded MusiKaravan, a part of Delirium Musicum’s “Projects Without Borders” series. The goal: To share the power of classical music. In 2020, that meant uplifting essential workers.

“We wanted to honor essential agricultural workers,” said Gara. “When we buy food at the grocery store, we don’t always think of where it comes from, but there are thousands of people working every day to make sure we can all eat healthy food during the pandemic. We wanted to say thank you.”

Starting in San Diego, the couple researched organic farms and wineries along their route and reached out to see which locations would be open to an impromptu, socially distanced outdoor concert — even if it meant playing for just one or two people. After a few weeks of their journey, though, they abandoned planning and embraced spontaneity.

The couple started their journey near San Diego and slowly made their way through California, Oregon and Washington. (Photo credit: Delirium Musicum)

 

“We can never predict what is next on our trip,” said Gara. “We might take a different route to look at a scenic view, or hear from a worker about another farm up the road and drive there. The bus helps us stay flexible and perform wherever we are welcome.”

The Westfalia also helps call attention to their arrival and performance. When he and Kim arrive at a new location and exit the bus with violins in hand, they are always well-received.

“We don’t always call in advance, so it helps that we have this friendly-looking car,” said Gara. “A Volkswagen bus represents positive memory for everyone. They are welcoming and capture the spirit of what we’re trying to do: create a human connection through music.”

Their 1971 Volkswagen Westfalia, nicknamed Boris, has been their companion over the past several months. (Photo credit: Delirium Musicum)

He said that people regularly share memories of when they owned a Volkswagen busor who are curious to see one up close: It’s rare to see a bright red Westfalia driving down the road, so it creates something really special. It makes people happy just to be around it.” 

At a time when few people in the country can experience live musicthe duo is dedicated to keeping the music going. They have spent five months driving from the border of Mexico up to Canada. Along the way, they have played for dozens of farms and other outdoor venues in California, Oregon and Washington 

The couple plans to expand their journey into other states, where they can continue to meet new people, try new food and see new parts of the country. 

Along the way, Gara and Kim have played for people in a variety of different settings, sharing their music with anyone who will listen. (Photo credit: Delirium Musicum)

I am from France and YuEun is from South Korea, so we would love to take the bus to other countries, too,” said Gara. “We fell in love with this 50-year-old bus, but ouultimate dream is to drive a caravan of ID.Buzz vehicles with the entire orchestra and tour the world together.  

In the meantime, the couple is continuing to express their gratitude for essential workers across California and the West Coast. 

“A Volkswagen bus represents a positive memory for everyone,” said Gara. “They are welcoming and capture the spirit of what we’re trying to do: create a human connection through music.” (Photo credit: Delirium Musicum)

“What’s so special about this journey is that it really democratizes our music,” said Gara. “We are used to playing in major concert halls for people who know classical music well and pay for a ticket to listen to us. Having the chance to play for people who would not typically have access to live classical music has been profoundly meaningful. 

 “Art is what brings people together in both good times and bad.” 

How the Volkswagen ID.4 communicates with light

February 3, 2021

As advanced as our technologies have become, most of our communications with them still go in one direction: We tell them what to do, and they do it. In science fiction, computers and other machines have long talked back, and only with the advent of digital assistants have those dreams edged closer to reality.

But with the arrival of the Volkswagen ID.4, there’s now a new way for the vehicle to communicate with its passengers. Born from Volkswagen research into potential future autonomous technologies and decades of experience with human-machine interface systems, the ID. Light represents a breakthrough in intelligent, two-way communications between the passengers and the car – pointing to the future of driving. And the Volkswagen ID.4 is the perfect place to start.

Standard on all ID.4 models, the ID. Light is a thin line of 54 multi-colored LEDs at the bottom of the windshield behind the cockpit. Designed to be visible in a driver’s peripheral vision or at certain angles from outside the vehicle, the ID. Light communicates several types of messages through color and patterns. All of those have been carefully designed and engineered to help keep the driver focused on the road while giving key feedback.

“We were looking for a new kind of communication between the car and the human,” said Mathias Kuhn, Head of User Interface Design at Volkswagen. “We wanted to create a minimalistic, yet revolutionary interaction that was both easy to understand and emotional.”

Interaction with the ID. Light begins the moment the driver sits down in the ID.4 with a “welcome” animation in white and blue, letting the driver know the ID.4 is ready to go, since unlike regular vehicles, EVs have no engine noise to indicate they’re powered up; a reverse of these colors displays when the driver leaves the car. When using the in-vehicle navigation system, the ID. Light shows upcoming directional prompts with an animated blue line – for example, flowing to the left for left turns. If the driver or passenger want to engage the car’s voice commands, ID. Light responds in white in front of the speaking occupant. To help manage demands on the driver’s attention, incoming phone calls trigger a green flash in the center, and in case of an emergency braking event, ID. Light vividly flashes red.1

When plugging in the ID.4 to charge, the ID. Light pulses with a green status bar, giving its owner a clear a way to see the battery charging state from outside the vehicle at a distance.

The idea for the ID.4 was developed from experience with automated driving technologies and vehicles Volkswagen first demonstrated at the Computer Electronics Show in 2015. Volkswagen experts realized that as driver assist systems and screens multiplied inside vehicles, so too would demands on drivers’ attention.

“As screens in the vehicle grow bigger, it can take more time for your brain to look at the display and process all the information you need to receive from them,” said Stefan Franke, the “father” of the part at Volkswagen. “Even hearing a navigation system tell you a direction makes your brain pause a second to understand the remark. We knew we needed to find new ways to communicate with drivers to help minimize distractions from the driving task.”

Four examples of how the ID. Light looks in operation

Addressing that challenge led to many hours of research and human-machine interface design that allows the ID. Light to be both simple and highly intelligent. The ID. Light will not show two “messages” at once; it’s programmed with a hierarchy to provide only the most important data at any given moment. The location at the bottom of the windshield puts it in the driver’s peripheral vision, letting the driver see it without glancing away from the road. And its colors and animations are a carefully curated syntax that’s friendly, universal and easy to grasp – giving drivers the information they need while they keep their eyes on the road.

“We wanted drivers to have a light assistant, a companion in the car that gives the needed information with the exact minimum amount of thinking needed to understand it,” said Sascha Ziebart, Lead Developer at Volkswagen. “It’s like the assistant is living in the car in front of you. It doesn’t feel like you’re talking to a machine because you have a face you’re looking into.”

The ID.3 (sold in Europe) and ID.4 are the first Volkswagen EVs to feature ID. Light as standard, and as Volkswagen moves toward the future, the ID. Light will be able to add new capabilities via software updates.

“We can carefully extend our functions and visual metaphors based on customer feedback and new technologies,” said Thorb Baumgarten, Human Factors Specialist at Volkswagen. “The ID. Light should be ideal for communication between the driver and a vehicle for many future innovations.”

A Beetle’s unique journey – from the backyard to the driveway

February 2, 2021
Adam in high school with one of his many Beetles. Photo credit: Adam Simpson.

Many kids play with toy cars, but few children get a real-life car that sparks a lifelong passion. Volkswagen super enthusiast Adam Simpson was able to transform his unique childhood escape – the shell of a 1959 Beetle – into a functioning daily driver.

Simpson’s lifelong passion for the brand began with his aunt’s 1970 Volkswagen VW Beetle. His family loves to tell the story of him spotting the curvy little car parked in his family’s driveway at age 2 and squirming his way out of his grandfather’s arms to waddle over to the car.

He was devastated when his grandparents decided to sell the Beetle for parts a few months later. To make amends, his grandparents bought a 1959 Volkswagen Beetle shell for $60 — complete with two different paint colors and signature five-gallon bucket seats — and placed it in the backyard.

“I recall my grandmother trying to get me to look at another Beetle, but I would have none of it. My eyes were set on the faded red one with mismatched white doors and no seats,” Simpson said. “I remember pointing at it and saying, ‘That one!’”

Young Adam with his family’s 1959 Beetle. Photo credit: Adam Simpson.

In school, Simpson became known as “the little boy who loves Volkswagen.” He grew up reading car magazines and would often bring clipped pictures to school to show his classmates. He began his first Volkswagen restoration project – a pair of Volkswagen Buses – when he was still in high school.

“When I ran into my kindergarten teacher in my 20s, her first question to me was, ‘Do you still like Volkswagen?’” Simpson said. “I answered, ‘It’s the one thing that never changed about me!’”

When Simpson was 10, his father bought his first Volkswagen – a 1973 Beetle – and told him that when he was old enough to get his driver’s license the car would be his. However, by the time Simpson passed the test, his father’s love of Volkswagen had grown along with his collection (which now included three cars) and he wasn’t willing to part with any of them.

In 2008, Simpson decided to turn his childhood escape into a fully operational vehicle. The restoration of the Beetle started slowly, with an aim to get the car road ready and looking decent. He replaced the cracked 1965 engine with one from a 1958 Beetle, spray painted the car with jade satin paint and used a plaid blanket as the new headliner for the car.

Adam at an auto show with his Beetle. Photo credit: Adam Simpson.

Simpson got the car running in 2009 and showed off its transformation when his grandparents came over for Thanksgiving. His grandfather could not believe it was the same car he had paid $60 for 20 years prior.

In the future, Simpson plans to continue upgrading his dream car by painting its body Mignonette Green, and replacing the interior with factory-only parts. He has also made a lot of improvements under the hood and the car now functions as a daily driver.

While he has had a collection of 23 Volkswagen vehicles over his lifetime – among them a 1988 Jetta and a 2010 GTI – his childhood Beetle will always be his favorite and a permanent car in his collection.

“[It] puts a smile on my face like no other car,” Simpson said.

For Simpson, restoring Volkswagen models is about more than just his vintage Beetle – it’s about the people.  “So many of my friends are Volkswagen people because people who are into Volkswagens are some of the most helpful people you’ll ever meet,” said Simpson.

He then added: “It’s been a huge part of who I am, for as long as I can remember.”

Why American drivers prefer monochrome vehicles – and why that might change soon

January 26, 2021
A variety of Volkswagen models

If you drove down an American street and looked only at the new vehicles, you might be forgiven for thinking you’re in a black-and-white movie.

Last year, U.S. car buyers chose white more often than any other color, followed closely by silver and black, according to experts in automotive paints. That’s been the trend for a decade, part of a longer evolution toward muted shades in automotive exteriors stretching back 70 years. It’s one that Volkswagen experts see as likely to continue – with a glimmer of hope for the color-curious.

“Color is always shifting, and our color perception is always evolving depending on what we see, what we observe, and what we live with,” said Volkswagen Senior Color and Trim Designer Jung Lim “Limmy” Park.

Old films of American highways from 1950 to 1970 captured the spirit of the era with colorful hues of aqua, cherry red, salmon and gold – a common sight on the road at that time. From 1970 to 1990, drivers started to transition towards neutrals and gravitated towards browns, greens and beiges. Today, variations of white, black, gray and silver make up over half of the market, leaving just 21 percent of cars sold in 2020 in the red, green or blue family. Americans reportedly favor the color black for luxury vehicles, and gray has replaced silver for all vehicles due to its perception as a more upscale and modern color.

“Silver used to be way more popular than gray, but it has really flipped,” noted Park. “Gray brings so many variants from cool to warm, dark to light, luxurious shimmering to outdoorsy flat effect. Thus, gray speaks more to the persona that drivers want to communicate.”

At Volkswagen, color design is inspired from a multitude of sources – from nature, food and athletics, to new digital technology and virtual experiences. Determining the color goal at the beginning of a vehicle project allows the color designers to create the perfect color palette for the model’s intended driver. Understanding the desires of the customer goes hand in hand with selecting colors that complement the vehicles’ body style and influencing industry color trends.

Color design “is complicated and a complex theory that depends on the design of the car, type of the car, the size of the car and also types of trends that project on certain demographics and lifestyles,” said Park.

A 2021 Tiguan

While color trends in fashion, interior design and technology are going global, automotive color trends are still highly regional. It’s not just cultural preferences; a red in the United States can look different from a red in Germany due to the surroundings of that region.

“Working in the color world, I learned that Asia Pacific, Europe and North America have very distinct color preferences,” said Park. “For example, Asia Pacific is actually the least colorful [region] … and in Europe, compared to North America, gray has always been more popular than silver, as has been blue.”

“Color preferences really reflect the unique social and cultural trends and even geography [of a region],” Park added.

Volkswagen has continued to experiment with bold colors even as market preferences move towards shades of white and black, from the Kurkuma Yellow of the Atlas and Arteon to the Spektrum program for the Golf R that allowed buyers a choice from 40 vibrant shades.

“The colors found on the original Buses and Beetles are iconic to Volkswagen and continue to be recognized even as the colors are no longer in production,” Park explained. “The bright contemporary yellow on the Volkswagen ID. Buzz concept is a great example how the original color image could be reinterpreted for the high-tech and it is not available in other places but in Volkswagen.”

Market demands for black, white and monochromatic shades in between will continue, Park says, but consumers are showing an increased appetite and interest in returning to bright and bolder colors. The reason? Because so much of our lives are now filtered through screens – from phones to tablets to computers to televisions – a certain segment of drivers will want vehicles that visually pop in real life as they do virtually.

“We are all so impacted by our digital life through the pandemic, and the colors you mainly see are [on] your screen more than actual physical objects.” said Park. “The future is getting colorful, for sure.”

An electric yellow ID. BUZZ concept car. Disclaimer: Concept vehicle shown. Not yet available for sale. Specifications may change.
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