Volkswagen Newsroom

#TBT: The ESVW I, designed with vehicle safety in mind

May 6, 2021
The ESVW 1

Few inventions have saved as many lives as the safety belt. It’s easy to take its benefits for granted, but safety belt technology has come a long way in five decades — thanks in part to efforts like the Volkswagen ESVW I.

In the late 1960s, as some 60,000 Americans a year were dying in car crashes, the U.S. Department of Transportation introduced an experimental safety vehicle project, asking carmakers and outside firms to develop vehicles designed with safety as the top priority. The goal wasn’t to develop production-ready vehicles – some models were barely able to move and weighed 6,000 lbs. – but rather to innovate new ideas for protecting passengers and to come up with ones that could affordably save lives. Thanks to these safety-minded prototypes, the DOT was able to establish several challenging passive-safety targets and determine future safety regulations.

Starting in 1955, Volkswagen was working on advanced body frames and launched its first crash tests in 1965. In late 1970, it began working on an experimental safety vehicle under the rules from the U.S. DOT, naming its vehicle ESVW I.

Specifically designed to protect its occupants from fatal injuries, the prototype had several standout safety features including anti-lock brakes and advanced side-crash protection. The frame was built from three sections, designed to transmit energy from a crash away from the occupants. Inside, occupants were cossetted by the first passive safety-belt systems including one for over their shoulders, and ones for their knees and midsections. Even the wiper system was designed to provide maximum visibility, with a second set of mini-wipers for the headlights.

Why was this important? Although cars had safety belts in the 1970s, not enough people were using them, and airbag technology was still in its early days. The ESVW I’s passive safety belt system was activated by the driver opening the car door and sliding into the front seat, and a horizontal strap would automatically wrap around the driver’s body for protection. All were designed to tighten automatically in the event of a crash.

Much about the ESVW I was unusual for a vehicle, then or now. Only the seat cushions moved in the vehicle, and only up or down; and a cockpit and pedals that could be moved closer or further away. Power came from a 100-hp flat-four engine in the trunk; the ESVW 1 had both a front trunk and storage above the engine in the rear.

After debuting at a global automotive safety conference in 1972, Volkswagen presented the car and its testing results, including 14 crash-test trials with the ESVW I passenger cell, countless handling and swerve tests, as well as 40 crash tests with production vehicles equipped with ESVW I safety components. The ESVW I met all U.S. safety standards; more importantly, it paved the way for many of its safety innovations to enter production. Passive safety belts would later be incorporated into models like the Volkswagen Rabbit, and the concepts of protecting passengers in crashes still drive Volkswagen today.

An inside look at a cross country road trip with the Volkswagen ID.4 EV

April 29, 2021

Last month, two of the electric vehicle experts at Volkswagen set off in a new Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV with the mission to cover 6,700 miles across the United States – from New York to Sacramento, California – highlighting the impressive range of the ID.4 (an EPA-rated 260 miles), easy charging and its ability to go the scenic route on electricity alone.

Dustin Krause, director of e-mobility for Volkswagen of America, and Tod Xelowski, manager of e-mobility customer experience, partnered to drive the ID.4 during the cross-country journey. The pair made many stops along the route, including Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The duo encountered all types of weather on their journey, from rain and snow to sunshine and clear skies. The balance of all-weather capability and handling combined with its spacious interior and technology– like optional seat massagers and standard IQ.Drive technology – made the trip in the ID.4 comfortable and fun from start to finish.1

The ID.4 in action as it made its way across America.

Krause and Xelowski met with a variety of enthusiasts, including Volkswagen supporters and team members and regional media, during their 18-day journey. Everywhere they went, the ID.4 attracted attention from other VW drivers and fans who were excited to see the all-new EV up close. The most unexpected parts of the trip occurred when taking detours to Savannah, Georgia, and Marfa, Texas, where they took in beautiful landscapes and discovered the cultural history in these locations. To show highlights from each day, they also recorded a daily vlog series, viewable on the Volkswagen USA News YouTube channel.

“We [Volkswagen] brought mobility to the masses with the Beetle, and we want to bring EVs to the masses as well,” Krause said. “Range anxiety is a thing of the past, and this drive is proving that not only is long-distance driving an easy task, but it’s also affordable.”

Dustin Krause, director of e-mobility for Volkswagen of America, and Tod Xelowski, manager of e-mobility customer experience, partnered to drive the ID.4 cross-country.

Along the way, Krause and Xelowski made use of Electrify America’s robust network of charging stations to power their trip, the largest open ultra-fast charging network in the U.S., in addition to charging the vehicle overnight at select hotels.

“Charging was a breeze. We typically stopped to charge about every 200 miles. This worked out to every two and a half to three hours on the road, which felt like the perfect time for a bathroom break, a cup of coffee or lunch,” said Xelowski. “We would normally stop for approximately 25-35 minutes at each location, and many times we realized the car was ready to continue on the trip before we had even finished lunch.”

The pair made many stops along the route, including Chicago, Atlanta, New Orleans, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

By eliminating the need for gas, the drive was less costly than the same road trip would have been in a traditional ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle, and because the vehicle produces zero emissions while driving, also more sustainable. “One generous perk we offer to new ID.4 owners is DC fast-charging at no additional cost for three years through Electrify America’s wide-reaching network,” said Xelowski. Like all fully-electric EVs, the ID.4 produces zero direct emissions and supports Volkswagen’s goal to become carbon neutral by 2050.

Electrify America is the nation’s largest open DC fast-charging network with more than 600 charging stations and more than 2,600 individual DC fast chargers, including the completion of two cross-country and two coastal routes in 2020, and growing. The network plans to have 800 charging stations and about 3,500 DC fast chargers in development by December 2021.2

“We proved exactly what we set out to do with this drive, which was to show that with a little planning, covering long distances in an EV can be easy,” said Krause. “We met so many people on the road and were able to show off the ID.4 to the U.S., just as deliveries are starting to happen at dealerships. We were impressed by the ID.4’s performance and we’re hoping this trip reiterates that electric vehicles and EV charging networks are ready for everyday SUV owners.”

Along the way, Krause and Xelowski made use of Electrify America’s robust network of charging stations to power their trip, the largest open ultra-fast charging network in the U.S., in addition to charging the vehicle overnight at select hotels.


On Earth Day, Project1Hour supercharges consideration of environmental goals

April 22, 2021
Muralist Steffi Lynn has teamed up with Volkswagen and The Conversation Fund on an original Earth Day mural. Volkswagen Group believes in the above sentiment and has asked all 660,000 of its employees worldwide to engage in an hour-long conversation on Earth Day and brainstorm around climate change and environmental protection.

For this year’s Earth Day, the Volkswagen Group will move globally while thinking locally. On April 22, the company will ask all 660,000 employees worldwide to engage in an hour-long conversation and brainstorm around climate change and environmental protection. The event, called Project1Hour, will lend momentum to Volkswagen’s existing sustainability initiatives while giving shape to new ideas that could carry the company – and the industry – in an innovative, more sustainable direction.

Volkswagen Group of America President and CEO Scott Keogh asked employees to use the time to share and discuss ideas to help make a positive impact on the environment, both as individuals and as teams. Employees have also been encouraged to share their insights and plans to reduce their personal carbon footprints on social media using the hashtag #Project1Hour following the event.

The ask underscores the company’s focus on e-mobility and commitment to carbon neutrality. “We are a diverse union of experiences and perspectives, and our company has a critical role to play in effecting change in the products we bring to market and in the communities we call home,” Keogh said. “Project1Hour represents our determination to transform today’s ideas into tomorrow’s action as we drive toward an electric, sustainable future.”

The logo for #Project1Hour

Earth Day marks the third anniversary of Volkswagen becoming the first automaker globally to embrace the targets of the Paris Climate Agreements and aim to make its global business carbon neutral by 2050. That means curbing carbon emissions from its vehicles and factories worldwide, adopting renewable energy sources wherever possible, and using carbon offsets to displace emissions that can’t be eliminated otherwise.

A key moment in that goal was last month’s American launch of the ID.4, the company’s first long-range electric SUV. The ID.4 plays a key role in Volkswagen’s goal of launching up to 70 all-electric models worldwide while transforming the driver experience through new customer innovations, like the electric vehicle battery recycling program.

Project1Hour builds on these commitments and offers Volkswagen employees an opportunity to turn their ideas on speeding our sustainability goals into action.

Volkswagen teams with muralist Steffi Lynn and The Conversation Fund for an artistic Earth Day tribute

April 22, 2021
Muralist Steffi Lynn teamed up with Volkswagen and The Conversation Fund on an artistic Earth Day tribute.

Making a statement about the environment can be about more than planting trees – it can also come in the form of community art.

As part of a partnership with The Conservation Fund, Volkswagen commissioned Steffi Lynn, a Brooklyn and Austin-based artist, designer and illustrator who uses whimsy, color and character to create playful murals with positive messages, to create a one-of-a-kind mural in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The vibrant mural, located on the side of a local Chattanooga business, promotes environmental conservation and activism, and features the uplifting message “change starts in your own backyard.”

Muralist Steffi Lynn teamed up with Volkswagen and The Conversation Fund on an artistic Earth Day tribute.

“Volkswagen is a brand that I’m proud to collaborate with because I think they really care about being accessible to everyone and more sustainable,” said Lynn. “They care about the community and the world. And I care about the community and the world, which made a perfect collaboration.”

Lynn found inspiration for the mural in the flora and fauna she encountered on a trip to Cherokee National Forest. Within her mural, she incorporated leaves and florals including four flowers that are native to Cherokee National Park. When creating the mural Lynn wanted to “recreate the peaceful feeling of the forest,” so when people looked at it, it was like a “deep breath and a piece of nature in the city.”

Muralist Steffi Lynn teamed up with Volkswagen and The Conversation Fund on an artistic Earth Day tribute.

Volkswagen sent Lynn to the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee as part of a partnership announced in 2019 with The Conservation Fund, which helps fight climate change and protects forests in the United States. Through this partnership, Volkswagen has donated $1.25 million to The Conservation Fund, which will use a portion of the funds to increase the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee by roughly 1,500 acres.

In addition to supporting land conservation, $200,000 of Volkswagen’s donation has been allocated to a community grant program to help preserve and protect natural resources in Tennessee that support the state’s environmental objectives and goals.

Muralist Steffi Lynn teamed up with Volkswagen and The Conversation Fund on an artistic Earth Day tribute.

For Lynn, the nature-inspired mural in Chattanooga is a way to remind the community to take steps to make choices that positively impact those around them.

“The mural reminds people that they can make a bigger impact in their community, world, and can relay the message to change other people’s minds and make a meaningful difference,” said Lynn.

Safety stars and cars: How Volkswagen cars receive their high safety marks

April 20, 2021
The 2021 Arteon. Disclaimer: Only drive where it is permitted and always stay on provided roads and paths. See owner’s manual.

Over the past four decades, the number of vehicles Americans drive and distance they cover every year has grown dramatically – with some 276 million vehicles registered as of 2019, traveling 3 trillion miles a year.1 And yet, the rate of crash deaths per 100,000 people in 2019 was around half of what it was four decades ago. That’s due to the work of federal and industry crash-safety standards, which have driven innovations in vehicle safety and helped save thousands of lives.

In the United States, two groups test and rate vehicles for safety – the federal National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the private Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Both organizations conduct extensive crash-safety testing and provide crucial information to consumers on the relative safety of their new vehicle.

Volkswagen designs all its vehicles with safety in mind – and not only the safety of Volkswagen vehicle occupants, but the safety for the occupants of other vehicles and road users. With advanced engineering, in-depth research and attention to key safety details, Volkswagen has repeatedly received top accolades from both groups.

Most recently, the 2020 and 2021 Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport, Golf, Golf GTI, Jetta, and Jetta GLI received five stars overall from NHTSA’s testing for both driver and passenger safety in front and side impacts and rollover resistance.2

The IIHS deemed the 2021 Arteon a Top Safety Pick when equipped with Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS) with dynamic cornering lights 3, and the Tiguan a Top Safety Pick when equipped with LED headlights and Adaptive Front lighting System (AFS) with dynamic cornering lights.4 (The 2021 Arteon and Tiguan were not rated by the NHTSA.)

Here’s a look at the two main car-safety ratings systems in the United States:

The 2021 Atlas and the 2020 Atlas Cross Sport. Disclaimer: Only drive where it is permitted and always stay on provided roads and paths. See owner’s manual.

NHTSA’s New Car Assessment Program (NCAP)

Established in 1978, the New Car Assessment Program crash tests new vehicles and rates them on how well they perform at protecting occupants in frontal, side and rollover crashes. The NCAP was designed to provide safety information to the public in an easy-to-digest form, and results from these tests are compiled into a rating of 1 to 5 stars, with 5 stars being the highest rating.

The vehicle safety ratings appear on the window stickers of new cars and are highlighted on NHTSA’s NCAP website. The program also includes a checklist of recommended driver assistance technologies – such as lane departure warning, forward collision warning and crash imminent braking – but these do not factor into the final ratings.

Some of the tests that the NCAP conducts include:

  • The Frontal Crash test: Designed to simulate a head-on collision between two vehicles of similar weight (no more than a difference of 250 pounds). Here, the vehicle being tested crashes into a fixed and non-deformable barrier at 35 mph.
  • The Side Barrier test: Designed to simulate a car crashing into the side of the vehicle at 38.5 mph (in vernacular, being “T-boned.”)
  • The Side Pole test: Designed to simulate an understeer situation in which a vehicle traveling 20 mph slides at a 75-degree angle, impacting a pole at the driver’s side door aligned with the driver’s head.
  • A Rollover test: Uses a ratio comparing the track width of a vehicle to the height of the vehicle’s center of gravity to determine how top-heavy a vehicle is and to estimate its rollover resistance. For trucks and Multipurpose Passenger Vehicles (MPVs), like SUVs, an additional test is conducted to evaluate if a vehicle will tip during a sudden steering maneuver.
The 2021 Tiguan. Disclaimer: Only drive where it is permitted and always stay on provided roads and paths. See owner’s manual.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)

The IIHS, a safety research and testing group financed by auto insurers, evaluates three aspects of safety: crashworthiness — how well a vehicle protects its occupants in a crash —crash avoidance and mitigation — technology that can help prevent a crash or lessen its severity, and headlights – how well a vehicle illuminates the road at night without causing glare to other drivers. The group performs six crashworthiness tests, two frontal crash avoidance tests and a headlight evaluation to help determine a vehicle’s rating.

The rating system for crashworthiness and the headlight evaluation has four categories: Poor, Marginal, Acceptable and Good. The front crash prevention tests have three ratings: Basic, Advanced, and Superior. The best performing vehicles can earn a Top Safety Pick or a Top Safety Pick+ award.

Some of the tests that the IIHS conducts include:

  • The IIHS’ Side Crash Test: Different from that of the NHTSA in that it is performed at 31 mph and designed to simulate impacts from taller SUVs and trucks.
  • The Roof Strength Test: Uses a hydraulic ram to drive a large, angled metal plate into the side of the vehicle roof to test its resistance to crumpling.
  • Front Crash Prevention Tests: Designed to test the effectiveness of forward collision warning systems as well as automatic braking systems, both against other vehicles as well as pedestrians.
  • Three frontal crash tests are performed at 40 mph, all at an “overlap;” that is, the impact occurs at an offset rather than head-on. The Moderate Offset test subjects 40 percent of the car’s width to the impact on the driver side, while the Small Offset test impacts 25 percent of the frontal surface to each of the driver side and the passenger side of the vehicle.

While the testing methodologies of both organizations overlap to a degree, consumers should consider both when possible to help assess vehicle safety, while understanding that there is no accounting for every possible variable and situation. As the tests measure different challenges in a crash, vehicles that do well in one may not score as highly in another.

Volkswagen Chattanooga marks the 10th anniversary of first vehicle assembled

April 19, 2021
The milestone moment was attended by over 1,700 employees of the Chattanooga plant.

Volkswagen is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the first customer vehicle to roll off the assembly line at its Chattanooga, Tennessee assembly plant. On April 18, 2011, a Passat SEL in Night Blue Metallic equipped with a 2.5-liter engine, automatic transmission, leather interior and 18-inch wheels became the first customer vehicle to be assembled in Chattanooga.

“Our Chattanooga family began with the birth of our Passat,” said Dean Parker, head of manufacturing at Volkswagen Chattanooga. “We all cheered as the first one drove off the line because we knew it was only the beginning. The successful launch of the Passat was greatly due to the hard work and dedication of this Chattanooga team, and it opened the doors for future vehicles like our Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport. Today, more than one million vehicles later, and as we are preparing to launch Volkswagen’s first all–electric SUV, we take a moment to appreciate our success, as it all started with our Passat.”

The start of operations at the Plant capped two years of work to transform an industrial brownfield site outside Chattanooga into the world’s first LEED-Platinum certified automotive manufacturing facility. Since then, Volkswagen Chattanooga has grown to employ about 3,800 people directly and assembled more than 1 million vehicles, while supporting thousands of other jobs in the region. More than 900 workers who helped assemble the Passat and were working at the plant when the first Passat left the line are still working there a decade later.

Joey Gilliland from the Quality Assurance team drove the first vehicle down the assembly line, and he was accompanied by Sha’rone Jones from Paint Shop, Jessica Davis from Assembly Shop, Carlton Lowe from Body Shop, and Lisa Knight representing support areas.

The Chattanooga plant remains among the most environmentally friendly automotive sites in the United States, with a rainwater-recycling system and a 33-acre solar park on site that provides a significant portion of the plant’s power needs. Since the first Passat rolled off the assembly line, Chattanooga-assembled vehicles have been exported to Canada, Mexico, Russia, South Korea, and the Middle East.

The Chattanooga plant currently assembles the Volkswagen Atlas, Atlas Cross Sport and Passat, and it will also be Volkswagen’s North American base for assembling electric vehicles starting in 2022 with the ID.4 electric SUV.

VW Chattanooga Key Milestones

July 15, 2008                       Announcement of Chattanooga Factory

February 3, 2009                 Start of Construction

June 4, 2010                        Opening of Volkswagen Academy

August 23, 2010                  1,000th employee hired

September 30, 2010           Opening of Supplier Park

April 18, 2011                      First Customer Passat rolled off assembly line

May 24, 2011                       Grand Opening of Volkswagen Chattanooga plant

July 29, 2011                       2,000th employee hired

December 1, 2011               LEED Platinum certification of Plant and Academy

May 31, 2012                       100,000th Passat produced

January 23, 2013                 Power-up of Volkswagen Chattanooga Solar Park

May 23, 2013                       250,000th Passat produced

August 13, 2013                  Volkswagen Academy Inaugural Graduation Ceremony

July 14, 2014                       Midsize SUV Announcement

January 1, 2015                   Midsize SUV Expansion Commences

July 22, 2015                       500,000th Passat assembled

December 14, 2016            Midsize SUV Start of Production

May 18, 2017                       First Customer Atlas Delivered

March 19, 2018                    Five passenger SUV announcement

May 7, 2018                          700,000th Passat assembled

October 5, 2018                   100,000th Atlas assembled

January 14, 2019                  MEB production and expansion announcement

October 11, 2019                  Atlas Cross Sport unveiled

November 13, 2019              Construction for electric vehicle manufacturing commences

#TBT: Volkswagen celebrates five colorful art cars from around the world

April 15, 2021

Many museums and galleries remain closed due to COVID-19 — but that doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate the holiday for artists worldwide. On April 15, Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday, an annual observance is held to honor and encourage artistic creativity and expression. To celebrate this year, we are featuring five artfully adorned cars that feature everything, from beads to paint to metalwork. Learn more about these creative, colorful cars and the compelling stories behind them.

The Vochol. Currently on display at the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City. Photo credit: Asociación de Amigos del Museo de Arte Popular, A.C. Disclaimer: Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage & compliance with required safety & other standards.
  1. The Vochol: The name “Vochol” is a combination of vocho, a common term for Volkswagen Beetles in Mexico, and Huichol, another name for the Wixárika indigenous group in the western states of Nayarit and Jalisco, Mexico. In 2010, a team of Huichol artists decorated the chassis and interior of the Beetle, meticulously covering the car with resin and applying over 2.2 million beads in intricate patterns and symbols by hand. In combining the Volkswagen Beetle — a pop culture icon in Mexico and around the world — with the Huichol traditional craft, the Vochol is a unique display of folk art’s persistence in a modern world.
Whipple’s ‘Million Dollar’ Scirocco (Photo courtesy of Rotiform). Disclaimer: Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage & compliance with required safety & other standards.
  1. The ‘Million Dollar’ Scirocco: Over the course of a decade, Volkswagen fanatic Jason Whipple took apart and rebuilt his 1980 Scirocco S from scratch, including a hand-built motor, transmission swap, custom wheels and a new engine management system. Whipple also partnered with a graphic artist to hand-paint the vehicle. With a rainbow motif and wild graphics, the vehicle offers social commentary with phrases like, “The future is our fault,” and “Things won’t change until we do.” It’s no surprise that this hand-painted hatchback drew attention from artists and automotive enthusiasts alike when it was unveiled at the SEMA Auto Show in 2018.
The Wedding Beetle. Disclaimer: Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage and compliance with required safety and other standards.
  1. The Wedding Beetle: This metal masterpiece was the creation of Rafael Esparza-Prieto, a welder and blacksmith from Mexico City in the 1960s. Using a Beetle as his base, Esparza-Prieto built a skeleton out of white wrought iron and artistically filled in the gaps with floral patterns and decorative swirls. The wire shell left the vehicle’s simple yet sophisticated mechanics fully exposed so anyone could see under its hood. The white whimsical designs of the car evoked images of Cinderella’s horse-drawn carriage and, as the car’s moniker suggests, it was loaned to happy couples as a picturesque getaway car for their special day.
The Woodstock Light Bus. Disclaimer: Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage & compliance with required safety & other standards
  1. Woodstock’s ‘Light’ Bus: Artist Robert “Dr. Bob” Hieronimus was 26 when he was commissioned to paint a Volkswagen Type 2 for Bob Grimm, a musician in the Baltimore-based group Light, in 1968. The ‘Light Bus’ traveled to Woodstock, where it was photographed by reporters and became a counter-culture icon. In 2018 — fifty years after the event — Hieronimus helped create a replica of the original van. A team of restoration experts across the country helped make his vision a reality, reproducing every psychedelic symbol and color. Today, it serves as a reminder of the legendary Summer of Love.
Mimi Kvinge, an artist from the Pacific Northwest, who painted the mountain artwork featured on the Golf Alltrack in 2017. Disclaimer: Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage & compliance with required safety & other standards. Graphic option shown is not available.
  1. A Mountainous Masterpiece: To highlight Volkswagen’s support of the Professional Ski Instructors of America and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI), artist Mimi Kvinge gave the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, Tiguan and Atlas a colorful makeover. She painted a mountainous landscape against a blue sky on each of the vehicles, paying homage to her home in the Pacific Northwest. The vehicles appeared at major ski and snowboard resorts to promote PSIA-AASI’s educational trainings for ski and snowboard instructors across the country.


Preparing and upskilling auto workers for the EV revolution

April 9, 2021
Apprentices applying hands-on skills during the apprenticeship program.

The Volkswagen Academy is making electrifying additions to its curriculum.

With the recent introduction of the new all-electric ID.4, the Volkswagen Academy at the Chattanooga plant is transforming its vocational training program to include new courses on EV technology – from working with high voltage batteries to performing advanced welding work.

Founded in 2010, the Volkswagen Academy is modeled after several successful Volkswagen apprenticeship programs in Germany. The Academy is two-pronged: an apprenticeship program which is designed to strengthen the Volkswagen workforce with additional upskill and onboarding training for new hires; and the High School Mechatronics Akademie, a program for high school students interested in studying mechatronics. The Academy also serves as the plant’s primary workforce development program—which is key for introducing the new skills and instruction needed to work on EVs.

We spoke to Ilker Subasi, Manager of Training and Development, and Steffi Wegener, Technical Training Supervisor, about the many ways Volkswagen is adapting its curriculum to encompass e-mobility.

“We look at our target groups for specific areas then identify experts in [those] areas to look into product and processes,” said Subasi.

Ilker Subasi, the manager of training and development at Volkswagen Chattanooga.

Subasi and his team of technical instructors spent extensive time understanding the crucial steps and processes needed to build an EV and developed a comprehensive and timely curriculum for Volkswagen employees.

“Safety is first,” said Subasi. “Once we have the safety basics in place, [we start training for] basic and advanced electrics, and then we go into different levels of high voltage training.”

In the new courses, students learn about high voltage systems on the vehicle and understand how the battery in an electric car differs from a standard internal combustion engine model. The curriculum is designed to be adaptive and is constantly evolving. High-tech topics covered over the course of the training include advanced robotics and the standard language of robotics.

Apprentices learn new skills at the Volkswagen Academy.

Completely new to many students is the aluminum welding required for the battery of an electric vehicle. Typically, apprentices (or, in many cases, robots) weld with steel, but for the EV batteries, they learn how to weld with rubber on an aluminum frame which will be placed in the underbody of the vehicle. The process new to Volkswagen is a key technology and skill which is needed as more EVs are developed at Volkswagen.

Current Volkswagen employees are also eligible to take the new courses and upskill their capabilities. “Everybody in the [Chattanooga] plant will have to go through a mandatory computer-based High Voltage and Electro Mobility awareness training,” said Subasi.

Current employees and apprentices alike are excited for these new training options. “We’ve been preparing for this [curriculum] since 2019 and the students are aware of our strategies and the changes we’re undergoing,” said Wegener. “The students really enjoy it and are eager to get their hands on the new technologies… they see the electric car, they see the batteries and they see how we bring the robots inside, but they aren’t just learning on paper.”

Steffi Wegener, the technical training supervisor at Volkswagen Chattanooga.

The Academy has worked hard to bring students back on site so they could continue their hands-on learning. However, due to COVID-19, the Academy has also supplemented the training with additional online courses.

Looking towards the future, the Academy is considering expanding its current curriculum to include new topics like 3D printing, cybersecurity and advanced robotics. Subasi and his team are frequently adjusting and advancing the curriculum to stay ahead of the curve.

“In the next five years, we can work on technology [that will] change the charging process,” said Subasi, like technology that would allow for wireless charging at parking stations.

The Volkswagen Academy will welcome a new class of students in the fall.

The latest Volkswagen 2021 Enthusiast Fleet showstopper: The Tiguan SE R-Line Black RiNo Concept

April 8, 2021
The Tiguan SE R-Line Black will be displayed at enthusiast events around the country. Disclaimer: Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage & compliance with required safety & other standards.

Volkswagen recently revealed its latest addition to the 2021 Enthusiast Fleet family — a sleek and sporty all-black Tiguan SE R-Line Black RiNo Concept, named for the Riverside North arts district in downtown Denver, Colorado. The concept was designed by Jamie Orr and incorporates a selection of partners from the automotive aftermarket to showcase the athletic mid-size SUV’s adventurous style, strength and spirit.

Orr, a Volkswagen enthusiast and car collector, had a clear vision for the build right from the start. “I knew what the Tiguan represented for me and what I wanted to do stylistically with it,” Orr said.

He set out to create a one-of-a-kind model that demonstrates the versatility and agility of the Tiguan. “What I love about the Tiguan is that it performs just as well on sinuous backroads as it does on city streets,” Orr added. “This car can withstand the elements — but many Tiguan owners simply want a sports utility vehicle that is fun to drive in their daily lives.”

Orr worked with California-based Marin Bikes to pair the Tiguan with the gloss black carbon fiber Alpine Trail 2 — a perfect match for when the Tiguan reaches the parking lot at a local trailhead. An avid cyclist himself, Orr said the bike complements the athletic dynamics of the Tiguan. “The mountain bike is designed to function in difficult terrain, but it works well in any environment — just like the Tiguan,” he said. “The idea is that this vehicle is capable of going on adventures with you.” Orr included a Thule® T1 bike rack that mounts to the 1,500lb rated 1.25” receiver so drivers can easily take their bikes on drives with them.

Orr incorporated the active lifestyle theme in the interior, with both Volkswagen accessories and cycling touches. Disclaimers: Always ensure cargo is properly secured. See owner’s manual for details. Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage & compliance with required safety & other standards.

Wanting to preserve the strong character lines on the vehicle’s exterior, Orr made several modifications to sharpen the Tiguan’s styling. To create a fast and purposeful look, Orr increased the tire width to 285 mm — about 50 mm wider than usual — using Continental SportContact 5P tires. The 285/35ZR20 tires are mounted to a set of Rotiform® OZR 20×10.5” wheels, finished in matte anthracite, with black hexagonal center caps. Continuing along the chassis, a newly released height adjustable coilover suspension from Solo-Werks® was installed, which allows the car to continue to perform at the lower ride height. A set of increased diameter front brake rotors from Forge Motorsport USA® are joined by their performance 6-piston Big Brake Kit calipers, to control the speed of the Tiguan in a variety of weather and road conditions.

Orr also added the Tiguan Aluminum Side Steps, a Volkswagen accessory designed to help passengers enter the vehicle with ease but in this case chosen for the visual impact, and painted them black to match the rest of the vehicle. He also created a custom exhaust system using Borla® stainless steel components with matching gloss black quad tips that pair with the R-Line rear bumper, and a rear spoiler on the trunk lid. The Tiguan SE R-Line Black is equipped with an extended spoiler from the factory, although in this case an additional aftermarket rear spoiler was also added by Orr, to make a total of three on the rear hatch. An aftermarket lip was also installed on the front bumper to add to the dramatic style.

Orr was inspired by the Tiguan’s sleek and stylish design. Disclaimer: Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage & compliance with required safety & other standards.

Inside, Orr continued the active lifestyle theme with both Volkswagen accessories and cycling touches. He modified the Dock & Hook Combination Base, an accessory that clips onto the headrest and allows passengers to store their jackets, tablets or baby mirrors depending on the attachments. Orr repurposed this so that it functioned for one more use: holding a bicycle helmet inside the rear cargo area. He also installed a large LED lightbar capable of illuminating both the trunk and area outside of the car, as well as a built-in air compressor with both bicycle and car tire valve connectors, so that passengers can easily work on their bikes from the back of the Tiguan.

One of the notable design elements in the interior of the Tiguan is the CNC-made shift knob, designed and produced by Black Forest Industries® in North Carolina, which is designed exclusively for Volkswagen vehicles equipped with either automatic or DSG transmissions. The shift boot is also from Black Forest Industries®, hand-stitched at their headquarters and made of Alcantara, a race-quality synthetic material.

With 4Motion drive, the Tiguan can handle a trip to the mountains or the grocery store. Disclaimer: Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage & compliance with required safety & other standards.

“The overall aesthetic has turned out exactly as I had envisioned,” he said. “I wanted to highlight the strong body lines and design cues of the Tiguan. When people see both its style and its strong performance, I think they’ll see why it’s a great car that’s capable of a trip to the mountains or to the grocery store.”

The Tiguan SE R-Line Black RiNo Concept was officially unveiled at the EuroTripper® enthusiast event in Ft. Meyers, Florida, in February. Orr is excited to see the response to his design as it travels to a variety of other events throughout the year, subject to COVID-19 compliance. A Volkswagen enthusiast himself, he understands the excitement these concept cars bring to other Volkswagen fans.

“The Enthusiast Fleet is wonderful for the Volkswagen community,” said Orr, who owns about 20 rare or unusual Volkswagens. “These cars are created to support fan events around the country. It’s Volkswagen’s way to celebrate everyone who is passionate about the brand, and to showcase the exciting new products available.”

The Tiguan SE R-Line Black is Volkswagen’s latest 2021 Enthusiast Fleet concept car. Disclaimer: Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage & compliance with required safety & other standards.


A professional BMX biker’s lifelong connection to Volkswagen

March 31, 2021
BMX biker Damon Dayton poses in front of his checkered 1966 deluxe 21-window bus.

It’s hard to mistake Damon Dayton’s affection for Volkswagen: his garage is chock full of vintage Buses and Beetles, he has multiple Volkswagen tattoos, and his closet is packed with Volkswagen wares.

“The Volkswagen love has been consistent throughout my entire life,” says the 48-year-old professional BMX rider and mechanic, who has owned some 150 Volkswagen vehicles through the years. “It’s a way of life for me.”

Growing up in Antioch, California, Dayton was surrounded by cars. His parents owned a mom-and-pop trucking business and taught him and his four older brothers basic mechanics at an early age.

By 12, he was tooling on his brothers’ 1962, 1965 and 1969 Beetle models, and assisting them with repairs.  “I quickly became their designated helper,” Dayton says.

Some of his favorite childhood memories were spent visiting various racetracks and Volkswagen events in the region with his siblings. “My mom would tell my brothers, ‘You can go wherever you want – as long as you take Damon,’” Dayton says. “So, I would tag along with them to these shows and immediately I just fell for the cars.”

The first Beetle project Damon Dayton worked on with his brothers.

He purchased his first Volkswagen – a 1969 peach-colored Beetle with aluminum-alloy wheels – at 14. Five years later, he began working as an auto technician and mechanic. His industry work exposed him to all sorts of Volkswagen vehicles, from older classics, like Type 2 buses and Baja Beetles, to more modern models, like the Jetta and Tiguan.

Over time, he began amassing his own car collection, which included a 1954 Ragtop Beetle with semaphore blinkers and a 1963 Type 2 split-window bus with a middle seat.

“Every day of my entire adult life I’ve driven an air-cooled Volkswagen,” he says.

Since 1999, Dayton has managed a mechanic shop in Stockton, California, and travels the world working on high-level, full-scale Volkswagen restoration projects.

His specialty is air-cooled, pre-1967 models, and he is especially known for his skilled chrome and seal work on vintage doors and window frames. Currently, he’s undertaking several restoration jobs, including work on a 1964 Bus, a 1965 right-hand drive and right-hand door Volkswagen Bus, and a dune buggy.

“I am really nitpicky on what projects I take on,” Dayton says.

Damon Dayton and his wife, Rosie Dayton, pose in front of Dayton’s checkered 1966 deluxe 21-window bus

When he’s not working in his shop or riding bikes professionally, he spends time with his family – his wife is a fellow Volkswagen superfan – and is making a positive impact in his community. “I mentor youth and really strive to get them out of bad situations,” Dayton says.

His current Volkswagen collection includes a Jetta, seven Beetle and nine Bus vehicles. “In the past 10 years, I’ve sold off a ton of them,” Dayton explains. “I didn’t sell them for the money, but I finally realized I was getting older and didn’t want to be too greedy.”

Among his coveted collection are several custom-painted cars, including a starry-painted Baja Beetle and a checkered 1966 deluxe 21-window bus – which recently inspired a certain popular toy car company to create a miniature model of it. You can expect to see it in stores later this year.

“Growing up as a kid, surrounded by cars, this means the world to me,” says Dayton.

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