Volkswagen Newsroom

Why winter isn’t a worry for modern electric vehicles like the Volkswagen ID.4 SUV

January 14, 2021

As winter takes hold in much of the United States, Americans’ interest in electric vehicles continues to warm up – driven by models such as the Volkswagen ID.4 SUV, due to hit dealers in a matter of weeks. But the season can spark questions among EV-curious drivers about how an electric vehicle can stand up when the temperatures drop.

The answer is: quite well, if owners prepare a bit and take advantage of the benefits EV technology can offer.

“Winter isn’t a reason to avoid joining the EV revolution,” said Matthew Renna, vice president of E-mobility and innovation at Volkswagen of America. “We’ve designed the ID.4 to make the transition to electric driving as seamless as possible regardless of the season, and we think owners will enjoy it year round.”

Cold temperatures can affect the efficiency of all vehicles, and it’s not that modern EV batteries perform markedly worse in cold temperatures. Rather, it’s that heating requires more energy. In a fossil-fueled vehicle, typically a third of the fuel burned escapes the engine as heat, some of which can be used to warm the interior. In an electric vehicle, where the motor may be up to 95 percent efficient, there’s no spare energy lying around to be used on interior climate control.

Powering those heaters will lessen an EV’s range by a moderate amount, especially in temperatures below freezing. But the Volkswagen ID.4 EV was designed with several technologies meant to optimize heating efficiency while minimizing the impact cold temps will have on the vehicle.

The first is pre-heating. Just as people warm up gas-powered vehicles, you can use the Volkswagen Car-Net mobile app1 to start heating the ID.4 while it’s still connected to the charger. This uses energy from the grid rather than from the vehicle battery, preserving range, and leaving you with a toasty car when you’re ready to depart.

Every 2021 VW ID.4 EV comes with heated front seats and a heated steering wheel – two features that winter veterans swear by, since they heat your body directly providing an efficient way to warm up quickly on cold days. Beyond those features, the ID.4 also has an electric resistance heater as part of the Climatronic automatic climate control system, which is designed to get to temperature faster than the traditional heaters from gas-powered vehicles, which can sometimes blow cold air until the engine warms up.

By next winter, the ID.4 will have one more tool to help handle what Mother Nature dishes out: available all-wheel-drive, with 302 hp provided from two electric motors. EVs have already shown their cold-weather abilities in other countries, such as Norway, where they account for 40 percent of all vehicle sales. By next winter, the ID.4 could be your zero direct-emission sled.

How Volkswagen Automotive Cloud will help shape the connected car of tomorrow

January 12, 2021

Seattle may not be known as a hotbed for the U.S. automotive industry, but that’s changing, thanks to the increasing importance of cloud computing for connected and autonomous vehicles. In recent years, Seattle’s nickname of “Cloud City” has not only referred to the weather, but for the industry built around some of the best cloud companies and experts in the world. That’s why Volkswagen Group chose the city to help shape the future of connected vehicles with the Volkswagen Automotive Cloud.

In 2018, Volkswagen announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft to help accelerate the development of one of the largest dedicated automotive industry clouds, known as Volkswagen Automotive Cloud or VW.AC. Designed to provide a smart, and scalable foundation for connected vehicles, VW.AC is expected to handle data from millions of vehicles per day, with the goal of delivering connected experiences to customers around the globe starting in 2022 – a key part of the Volkswagen Group strategy to become a leading automotive software innovator.

“We are now a global leader with our electric platforms and a broad range of electric vehicles,” said Herbert Diess, Chief Executive Officer of the Volkswagen Group earlier in November 2020. “In the coming years, it will be crucial to also reach a leading position in car software in order to meet people’s needs for individual, sustainable and fully connected mobility in the future.”

To that end, the Volkswagen Group announced in November that it anticipates doubling its spending on digital development to approximately $28 billion over the next five years. Under the Car.Software Organisation, the large-scale software powerhouse for in-car software development in the Volkswagen Group, the automotive giant is building its own end-to-end software platform which includes VW.AC, an in-car operating system (VW.OS), and capabilities that will help enable the next generation of infotainment, vehicle performance, and passenger comfort up to automated driving.

“Software decides how people will experience and use their cars in the future. We want to take advantage of these opportunities. The Automotive Cloud helps us realize new business functions like remote control services, electric vehicle charging scenarios, and over-the-air updates,” says Dirk Hilgenberg, Chief Executive Officer of Volkswagen’s Car.Software Organisation. “We’re building a cloud that will scale to serve millions of customers around the world and will enable us to deliver ever-increasing customer value much faster.”

Think like a startup, scale like an enterprise

Zoran Lazovski, Chief Executive Officer at VW.AC, leads the team of almost 200 experts and counting. He says basing the unit in Seattle has enabled Volkswagen to attract many cloud computing experts who are passionate about building software for an automotive company that sells more than 10 million vehicles worldwide every year.

“We’ve already hired top talent on the team but we’re still growing. We want to attract even more best-in-breed expertise, especially in cloud innovation,” said Lazovski. “One of our biggest draws is the opportunity to solve challenges at the scale of one of the world’s largest automakers.”

“We invent very quickly here at VW.AC. To do that, we’ve built a value-led culture that is rooted in trust, accountability, teamwork, innovation, and integrity,” he added. “We’re organized into small, agile teams that use remote mob programming, overall retrospectives, and other methods to collaborate and continuously improve the way they work. We also actively seek to create teams made up of people with different backgrounds and experiences because diversity leads to better ideas, solutions, and experiences.”

Currently, the Volkswagen Group writes less than 10 percent of the software embedded in its vehicles, the rest of which is tied to third-party-owned proprietary software. With efforts like the Car.Software Organisation and VW.AC, the Volkswagen Group aims to write 60 percent of the vehicle software in the next few years, providing a foundation for truly integrated end-to-end software.

“With our development work here in the Northwest, Volkswagen is building up specialist knowledge and core software competencies in cloud innovation for the entire Volkswagen Group. Our platform will enable developers from Car.Software Organisation and beyond to quickly and easily build and deploy applications, leverage real-time data, and speed time-to-market,” said Lazovski.

How will the Automotive Cloud benefit drivers in the future? For starters, it can help enhance existing services like emergency assistance or remote vehicle access, while building the foundation for new ones like intelligent navigation, smart parking and automated driving. For electric vehicles, the Automotive Cloud could power an in-car navigation system to provide charging station locations and recommended stops to avoid range anxiety. Beyond that, the cloud could harness driving and battery data generated by EVs, to help optimize and develop batteries with longer range and higher performance.

VW.AC sets the stage for a rapid digital transformation. Together with the work from Car.Software Organisation, the Volkswagen Group and its brands are being equipped to deliver hyper-personalized customer experiences, while benefiting from economies of scale.

“Our people are excited and passionate about being part of something that will shape the future,” Lazovski said.

#TBT: The ultra-economical 1988 Volkswagen Öko-Polo

January 7, 2021
The 1988 Öko-Polo. Cupples owns the only known Oko-Polo chassis in the U.S.. Photo credit: Ross Cupples

Many enthusiasts are familiar with Volkswagen’s niche models. But not even Ross Cupples, a lifelong fanatic with dozens of Volkswagen cars in his personal collection, had heard of the Öko-Polo — a rare 1988 prototype with a retro rainbow stripe across its doors — when he acquired the only known model in the United States.

Volkswagen vehicles have always been a part of Cupples’ life. At age 10, he fell in love with a yellow 1972 Beetle at his family’s used car business in Belmont, NH. He purchased his first car, a 1985 Jetta GLI, at age 16 and slowly began acquiring and restoring Volkswagen models. Since then, his collection has grown so large that even he has lost track of how many he owns.

“I have about 70, most of which are low-mileage, original cars,” Cupples said. His collection fills two buildings, and he is still running out of indoor space as he seeks to keep his vintage vehicles in protected from the elements. “It’s been a fun challenge to research and make connections as I seek out rare models over the years.”

With its rainbow stripe, the Öko-Polo embodies the bold style of the 1980s. Photo credit: Ross Cupples

The prototype was designed to run 100 km (62.13 miles) on just three liters of fuel, making it an ultra-economical car at the time. (In fact, the German name Öko-Polo translates to Eco-Polo.) It had a two-cylinder diesel direct-injection engine and a G40 supercharger. The two cylinders displaced only 858 cubic centimeters and a heat-resistant foam substance encapsulated the engine bay to minimize the engine noise and vibrations.

After a year of testing in 1988, the series of about 50-75 Öko-Polo prototypes ended. The car was never mass-produced, due to its high cost of production, but it did help future models become more efficient. The Öko-Polo’s newly developed technologies were gradually implemented in other Volkswagen models.

The chassis Cupples purchased was missing many original Öko-Polo parts, including the engine and supercharger that made it an economical choice. He imported a one-liter Polo drivetrain and fit it in the body of the car so it could run, albeit without the Öko-Polo engine.

A photo that showcases the interiors of the 1988 Öko-Polo. Photo credit: Ross Cupples

Still, the chassis belongs to just 50 to 75 total prototypes and remains the only known Öko-Polo in the country. Its origins in the U.S. are unknown, but the seller in Wisconsin purchased the chassis from a government auction.

“Other than the signature stripe, the Öko-Polo is indistinguishable from any other late-‘80s-style Polo Squareback,” Cupples said. “At the same time, it’s one of the rarest models in my collection.” Even the Volkswagen museum in Wolfsburg does not display an Öko-Polo prototype, he noted.

The vehicle also sparked Cupples’ interest in other Volkswagen Polos. Over the past two decades, he has collected every Polo model and its variants, and believes he is the only collector in the U.S. to have done so.

While some might consider 70 Volkswagens too many, Cupples is not done growing his collection.

“I have a mentality of trying to have owned at least one of every model in every generation of Volkswagen,” he said. “And having the Öko-Polo has been a part of that mission. I love being able to hold a part of Volkswagen history.”

Among his dozens of other Volkswagens have been five Golf Harlequins, with at least one of each color combination.

Cupples’ storage spaces for his 70+ Volkswagens. Photo credit: Ross Cupples

These 10 features of the Volkswagen Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport foster winter family fun

January 6, 2021
The 2021 Atlas Cross Sport.

The holidays are over, but winter is not. And while your family may be tempted to stay in their pajamas for the next three months, it can be good to get outside and go for a drive — even in the chilly weather. Outdoor activities like sledding, ice skating or even driving to look at lingering holiday decorations can help your family make the most of the season while following COVID-19 guidelines.

Whether you are headed to a faraway cabin or just across town, the 2021 Volkswagen Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport help make winter activities easy and fun for the entire family. These 10 available features can give you confidence and keep your family comfortable on winter drives.

The Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport offer plenty of space for passengers to get comfortable.

Stay warm

  1. With the extended-range remote start kit, you can start your car without leaving the house.1 While you’re still bundling up indoors, the car can begin warming the interior, saving you time and making your drive more comfortable. The extended-range remote start kit is an available accessory for both the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport.
  2. The heated front washer nozzles and heated side mirrors melt pesky ice and remove fog on your windshield and side mirrors, keeping you from scraping frost by hand. Heated side mirrors are standard on both models, while heated washer nozzles are standard on SE trims and above.
  3. Heated seats, standard in the front row and an available option for the second row, offer three levels of warmth to keep the family cozy. And for drivers with cold fingers, a heated steering wheel offers additional relief from the winter weather. Heated front seats and steering wheels are standard on SE trims and above, and the top-of-the-line Premium trim includes heated outboard seats in the second row for both models.
With ample cargo space, you can transport everything your family needs to hit the slopes.

Utilize storage space

  1. The Atlas has extensive storage space to fit equipment for every winter activity. With 20.6 cubic feet of cargo room behind the third row, there is ample space to store the family’s winter coats and luggage — and more when you fold down the third- and second-row seats. With just two rows of seats, the Atlas Cross Sport offers even more cargo room, with 40.3 cubic feet of space behind the second row and 77.8 cubic feet when folded down.
  2. When your hands are full of luggage or groceries, the last thing you want to do is set your bags down in the snow, dig out your keys and open the hatch — especially in the chilly weather. With the hands-free, foot-operated tailgate, you can load your snow gear into the trunk quickly and easily. This is available as a higher trim option in both models.
Snow Mode helps drivers navigate snowy and icy conditions. Disclaimer: When driving during winter weather conditions, ensure that your vehicle is equipped with appropriate all-season or winter tires. Always drive in a manner appropriate for the weather, visibility and road conditions.

Drive with peace of mind

  1. The Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport offer a myriad of driver assistance features. The blind-spot monitoring system, adaptive cruise control, and lane and front assist technologies are helpful as you drive year-round
  2. When you’re driving in snowy or icy weather, Snow Mode, a function of the 4Motion All-Wheel Drive system, adapts to the conditions of the road and shifts the engine into high gear.2 This minimizes slipping and provides as much traction and stability as possible. The 4Motion All-Wheel Drive system is available on every trim of the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport.
The Fender Premium Audio System offers concert-quality sound.

Settle in for the ride

  1. Many vehicles have cup holders, but the Atlas has 17 — far more than most SUVs. This helps ensure that your family’s hot chocolate or apple cider stays steady and within reach throughout the journey.
  2. The Car-Net service offers an in-vehicle WiFi Hotspot, which you can use to help avoid traffic jams, search for a parking space and arrive at your destination more quickly.3 Available as a higher trim option in both models, a Car-Net Hotspot can also help passengers work on-the-go or stay entertained by streaming TV shows, movies or games.
  3. If your family is still in the holiday spirit, a panoramic sunroof is perfect for viewing the holiday lights that decorate trees and homes as you drive. In addition, the 12-speaker Fender Premium Audio System offers concert-quality sound, adding a little extra cheer to any winter drive. The sunroof is available in both the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport, and the Fender Premium Audio System is available as a higher trim option in both models.

#TBT: The Volkswagen Beetle GSR, a classic in yellow and black

December 17, 2020

While the Volkswagen Beetle may be one of the most recognizable cars in the world, one of its most eye-catching variants is lesser known – the GSR® yellow and black striped speed racer.

The GSR is a flashy, sporty, bumblebee-colored car that was the answer to years of requests from Beetle fans for a sportier version of the classic coupe. In 1973, Volkswagen unveiled the GSR sporting updates designed with European rally racing in mind, a bright yellow paint scheme offset with flat-black hood and bumpers, and sport seats plus a three-spoked race-quality steering wheel. Each 15-inch wheel, outfitted with extra-wide tires, featured the vehicle’s production number.

One thing that didn’t change with the first GSR model was the Beetle’s engine. It was still powered by the famous flat-four which offered 50 horsepower and 80 pound-feet of torque – a bit low, even by historical standards. Though the GSR would seem pokey on modern interstates, buyers at the time were after an affordable package for rallying, not commuting.

The original GSR came into being toward the end of the Beetle’s run in Europe, and only 3,500 units were built, with only a hundred or so originals known to exist today – making them rare and highly sought after.

The rare model did make a curtain call of sorts with a special edition Beetle GSR that debuted in 2014. A modern re-interpretation of the 1970s original, the modern take includes features like all-black mirror caps, GSR lettering above the side skirts and a large rear spoiler. The major difference between the original and the relaunch was now found up front, under the hood – a modern water-cooled engine packing 210 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque.

With just three letters and two colors, the GSR makes for one striking automotive icon, in both ‘then’ and ‘now’ versions.

Volkswagen increases U.S. footprint with 2020 infrastructure developments

December 15, 2020

As the industry continues to recover and deal with the global pandemic, Volkswagen has remained aggressive in bolstering its engineering, production and logistical footprint in the U.S. as it moves ahead with new vehicle introductions, including its first all-electric SUV, the Volkswagen ID.4 EV, which is expected to hit dealers in early 2021.

“The introduction of the ID.4, our new compact SUV the Volkswagen Taos and rising vehicle quality have given us real momentum heading into 2021,” said Johan de Nysschen, Chief Operating Officer, Volkswagen Group of America. “It’s important that the infrastructure supporting our products continues to grow in the U.S. as we aim to deliver more vehicles designed in the market, for the market at the right time and at the right price.”

This month, Volkswagen announced the addition of a 51-vehicle charge park at its Innovation and Engineering Center California (IECC) in Silicon Valley. Combined with the facility’s existing chargers, the IECC becomes one of largest publicly accessible charge parks in the Bay Area.  All Volkswagen Group of America employees will have free access to the stations and open stations are accessible to the public at a cost. The chargers were installed as part of a grant issued to Volkswagen by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District.

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In November, Volkswagen broke ground on its new Battery Engineering Lab at its Chattanooga, Tennessee Engineering and Planning Center (EPC). The new lab will join Volkswagen Chattanooga’s electric vehicle production expansion and battery pack assembly facility, now under-construction, to form VW’s hub for electric vehicle (EV) production and engineering in North America. This lab will be the third facility of its kind for the global Volkswagen Group. VW is investing an estimated $800 million to assemble EVs in the U.S., including the ID.4 SUV, at its Chattanooga factory starting in 2022 , and projects that  more than 1,000 new jobs will be created because of the expansions. Currently, the Chattanooga plant produces the Volkswagen Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport SUVs along with the Passat sedan. The nearby EPC provides engineering support for the plant along with testing and vehicle content evaluation.

In October, Volkswagen Group of America (VWGoA) announced that it would consolidate its approximately 1,000 employees in Northern Virginia—currently based in multiple locations—into one, new headquarters building by 2023 to help increase efficiencies and productivity. In addition to Volkswagen, VWGoA houses the U.S. operations of several, distinguished automotive brands including Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and VW Credit, Inc.

In July, the Volkswagen Group’s Test Center California (TCC) opened the Oxnard Engineering Campus, an expansion project that combines the TCC, Volkswagen Quality team along with the Design Center California, into one campus. Work at the Oxnard campus is focused on powertrain engineering services that back U.S. product development, governmental compliance and emissions testing with an enhanced focus on electric vehicle range testing and analysis.

The same month in Arizona, VW flipped the switch to on for one of the most extensive EV charging stations at a global test facility, Volkswagen Group’s Arizona Proving Grounds. The 50-vehicle charging station is designed to help VWGoA evaluate EV battery and charging performance under extreme hot-weather conditions. Chargers feature the various connectors used in the U.S., Europe and China and engineers will be able to evaluate real time data to see how various chargers compare.

Also in July, VWGoA expanded its port operations to Baltimore with the opening of the Tradepoint Atlantic vehicle terminal at the Port of Baltimore, Volkswagen’s eighth port in the U.S. The terminal will import and process approximately 120,000 vehicles per year including Volkswagens, serving roughly 302 dealers in the mid-Atlantic region. The new port marks an approximately $150 million investment in the Baltimore-area and the creation of approximately 100 new jobs.

VW continues to maintain a large workforce in Auburn Hills, MI where departments oversee multiple business functions including quality, dealer finance, real estate, safety and customer relations.

 

The 2021 ID.4 AR Showroom gives shoppers a virtual tire kick

December 15, 2020
The app “enables your driveway or living room to become a showroom,” said David Galbraith, director of experiential marketing and brand partnerships at Volkswagen of America.

Auto shows often provide millions of people a low-cost, no-pressure way to experience brands and walk around new vehicles to get a sense of them in person and how they might look in their driveways. But with major events canceled or postponed due to the pandemic, Volkswagen has turned to augmented reality as a way to bring that walk-around experience back to customers.

Launched last week, the AR experience for the Volkswagen ID.4 and Taos allows those interested in the Volkswagen electric SUV and upcoming small SUV to experience and interact with the buzzworthy models easily at home. Available on almost all mobile devices with a web browser and camera, the virtual experience puts an ID.4 in your environment a few months before it arrives in dealerships.

The app “enables your driveway or living room to become a showroom,” said David Galbraith, director of experiential marketing and brand partnerships at Volkswagen of America. “You can walk around the vehicle, spin it and examine it from all angles. You can get a pretty realistic view of what the car will look like in your driveway or garage.”

The mobile AR experience provides customers a more engaging view of the vehicle than traditional videos or still images can provide and gives users the ability to control and customize the virtual car at the ease of their fingertips. The seamless interface allows users the ability to walk around a virtual 360-degree version of the SUV and customize its appearance with several different color and wheel options and explore the interior as well.

“All you have to do is lift your camera, scan the QR code and you’re on your way,” Galbraith said.

The new experience took an international team of 17 three months to execute, from start to finish, and was designed as a browser-based module, rather than an app, to make the user experience as easy as possible. While Volkswagen uses AR apps in its factory and vehicle development, it’s the first time using the technology to engage customers. Galbraith said reception so far has been positive, and depending on feedback AR implementation could be expanded

“The sky is really the limit on what the capabilities are of this technology,” he said.

Understanding the what, where and why of electric vehicle charging

December 10, 2020

Volkswagen ID.4 EV plugged in and charging

The What

It can seem daunting to wrap your head around some of the variables involved in electric vehicle charging. Understanding it requires some new thinking about how your vehicle gets energy – namely, how much any given charger can deliver, and how much your vehicle can take.

All Volkswagen ID.4 models will come with a 120-volt or Level 11 charger that’s best used for occasional or last-minute charging; think of it as filling a bathtub with a straw. Most Volkswagen ID.4 owners will likely choose to add a Level 2 charger at home,2 which typically require a 240-volt plug (like those used for large home appliances) or are hard-wired into your circuits.

What can be a bit challenging is that “Level 2” chargers have a variety of energy levels, and not all EVs can take as much energy as some Level 2 chargers can deliver. The important number for a Level 2 charger is its amperage rating, or how much electricity it pulls, which ranges from as low as 12 amps up to 80 amps, although most have a rating between 16 amps to 30 amps.

Because batteries store energy in direct current, and U.S. homes run on alternating current, every EV comes with an on-board AC/DC converter. The Volkswagen ID.4 has a powerful 11 kW onboard converter, which means a Level 2 charger with 50 amps can completely recharge the ID.4 in about seven and a half hours, and more-common Level 2 chargers will take longer.3

The speediest recharge for EVs comes from DC fast charging – think of it as a fire hose instead of a straw. Using industrial-grade transformers and special plugs, these units provide a large flow of direct current that batteries can absorb much faster. Here too, DC fast chargers have different levels; almost all offer at least 50 kW of current, but some stations can offer far more to handle larger battery packs.

As with Level 2 charging, individual EVs have their own DC fast charging limits. The Volkswagen ID.4 can accept up to 125 kW4, and the Electrify America network offers fast chargers with up to 350 kW.

The Where

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, about 80 percent of EV charging today happens at home. That’s understandable given the types of EVs sold so far in America; many have less than 200 miles of range and aren’t used for long-distance trips. But an electric driven future will require a public charging system that’s closer to what gasoline-powered vehicles enjoy today, and many companies including Volkswagen and Electrify America are working to make that a reality.

If you don’t already drive an EV, you may not realize just how many stations already exist or how widespread they are. Currently, there are more than 28,000 public EV charging stations nationwide, from Lubec, Maine, to Princeville, Hawaii. Of those, about 4,100 are DC fast charging stations, with about 2,700 are available to Volkswagen ID.4 owners with its standard CCS plug.

The Volkswagen ID.4 comes with three years of unlimited public DC fast charging on the Electrify America network at no additional cost.5 As of today, the Electrify America network has more than 500 DC fast charging stations with more than 2,200 individual DC fast chargers nationwide, including 150 stations in California alone. Electrify America already has two DC fast charging cross-country routes that the Volkswagen ID.4 Pro S and 1st edition models could drive coast-to-coast using its manufacturer’s estimated range of 250 miles6, and on major interstates has DC fast chargers every 70 miles on average, with more being added.

As most DC fast chargers aren’t part of a network, payments and connections can sometimes be a challenge. When the ID.4 arrives early next year, owners will be able to use the Electrify America app to find stations and connect for high-speed charging.

The why

Several surveys show concern over charging as a major barrier for people considering switching to electric vehicles. What’s often missed are the major benefits of charging versus liquid fuel – namely that charging can happen during those hours your car usually spends parked. Between at-home charging, public stations around workplaces and DC fast chargers for long-distance trips, the options for charging your EV grow daily.

There’s also the potential for cost savings. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, at 13 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity and 15,000 miles per year, charging at home with the Volkswagen ID.4  could cost on average nearly $700 less than driving a new vehicle that gets average fuel economy at the same distance. Over five years, that could add up to $3,500 in fuel savings.7

And of course, as the U.S. electric grid moves towards renewables and other forms of lower- or zero-carbon energy, so too will the energy you use for driving. It is why Volkswagen Group has committed more than $30 billion to build millions of EVs globally. You may not plug in your vehicle today, but once you experience the benefits, you likely never go back to the old way of putting energy in your car.

#TBT: The Volkswagen Cabriolet, the ‘80s definition of fun in the sun

December 10, 2020

Once upon a time on American roads, convertibles were an everyday sight. From the ‘50s through the late ‘70s, convertible models were often the fun, stylish choice, even if life with a fabric-topped vehicle was sometimes a bit louder and less rain-proof than having a steel roof over your head.

The original Beetle Convertible was a huge part of that trend, with 332,000 sold worldwide. As a result, when the Beetle was replaced by the first-generation Golf — known as the Rabbit in the United States — in 1976, Volkswagen wanted to design a new compact, affordable convertible built with safety in mind. The result hit the U.S. market in 1980 as the Volkswagen Rabbit Cabriolet.

The Cabriolet was the first in its class to have a permanently installed roll bar attached to the B-pillar for improved rollover protection and structural integrity — a design feature that was quickly compared to the handle of a picnic basket. Building on the popular features of the Golf, including its relative spaciousness and fuel efficiency, the new Cabriolet featured a five-layer roof that folded all the way back, which appealed to teens and younger drivers looking for something fun.

When the first generation of the Rabbit/Golf was updated to its second generation in 1985, the Cabriolet continued with slight exterior updates and its original underpinnings. It continued to be sold as a standalone model in the United States through 1993. Over those years, Volkswagen added updates like power windows and larger wheels, but the ethos of the Cabriolet as an affordable and enjoyable alternative never wavered.

Around the world, Volkswagen would offer the Cabriolet under several names and special editions, including Wolfsburg models in the United States. By the time production of the first-generation Cabriolet ended in 1993, Volkswagen had sold 388,552 of them worldwide.

In America, Volkswagen launched the second generation as the Cabrio in 1995, featuring several upgrades from the third-generation Golf, along with an optional power roof with glass rear window. This version would eventually be the best-selling Cabriolet worldwide, with more than 600,000 produced, before production ended in 2002.

Changing customer preferences and safety regulations have made compact convertibles far rarer on American roads, but fans of the Cabriolet still know a classic when they see one.

Visit these five museums to see rare and vintage Volkswagens

December 8, 2020

Automotive museums across the U.S. have helped preserve some of the world’s rarest Volkswagens and feature everything — from a never-been-titled 1974 Karmann Ghia to a 1966 Volkswagen Type 2 Bus that is a piece of civil rights history. With expansive collections available to the public, anyone can admire these classic cars.

Whether these five museums are pit stops or your destination, their collections of vintage Volkswagens are not to be missed.

This 1967 Volkswagen Type 2 Double-door Camper, on display at LeMay – America’s Automotive Museum, was donated by famed sculptor Dale Chihuly.
Photo Credit: LeMay – America’s Automotive Museum

1. LeMay – America’s Car Museum | Tacoma, Wash.

America’s Car Museum preserves the history, technology and influence of cars in the U.S. through its 12 rotating exhibits. Among the museum’s collection of over 250 cars is a light green 1967 Volkswagen Type 2 double-door camper, which has been restored with its original interior, wood cabinets, fold-down table and bed. The car was donated by renowned blown-glass sculptor Dale Chihuly, who was born in Tacoma. The museum also features a turquoise 1962 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia, which was owned by museum founders Harold and Nancy LeMay.

The 1974 Karmann Ghia at the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing has only 27 dealer test miles.
Photo Credit: Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing

2. Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing | Ocala, Fla.

Automotive engineer and racecar driver Don Garlits is considered the father of drag racing. As a young man, Garlits would buy a new Volkswagen every year, and the vintage vehicle wing of his museum reflects his love of the brand. Most notable in his collection is his green 1974 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia that he purchased from a car dealership auction. The vehicle has only been driven for 27 dealer test miles and has never been titled. From the same auction, Garlits also purchased a black 1950 Volkswagen Beetle — one of only 151 that were imported to the U.S. that year — and restored it himself before displaying it at his museum.

The animatronic 1963 Volkswagen Beetle at the Volo Museum still comes to life.
Photo Credit: The Volo Museum

3. Volo Museum | Volo, Ill.

On your next trip to the Windy City, head to the suburbs to see the Volo Museum’s exhibits of classic cars, including many from TV and movies. The pearl white, No. 53 Beetle is a movie star worth visiting. About 35 models of the iconic car were built for the 2005 sequel, “Herbie: Fully Reloaded,” but this model really does come to life, thanks to over a mile of wires concealed under the hood. The museum has rigged it to a motion sensor, so the Beetle still reacts when someone walks by.

This restored 1947 Volkswagen Type II Limousine is one of over 200 vintage vehicles at the National Automotive Museum.
Photo Credit: The National Automotive Museum

4. The National Automobile Museum | Reno, Nev.

See over 200 vintage vehicles dating as far back as the 1890s in downtown Reno’s National Automobile Museum. An air-cooled, four-cylinder black 1947 Volkswagen Type II Limousine is on display. Visitors are often surprised to see that the small four-seat car is called a “limousine,” but in Germany where the car was built, the term simply means “full-sized sedan.” A ruby-red 1964 Volkswagen 1200 Deluxe Convertible is also on display, after being completely disassembled and restored by the museum.

At the Petersen Museum, view this 1966 Volkswagen Type 2, formerly used by civil rights pioneers Esau and Janie B. Jenkins.
Photo: Historic Vehicle Association.

5. The Petersen Museum | Los Angeles, Calif.

With over 100,000 square feet of exhibits and 300 vehicles, the Petersen Museum is one of the world’s largest automotive museums. Its exhibits feature many iconic Volkswagens, including the yellow 1979 Volkswagen Transporter Van driven in the 2006 film, “Little Miss Sunshine.” Also on display is the 1966 Volkswagen Type 2 “Jenkins Bus,” formerly used by civil rights pioneers Esau and Janie B. Jenkins in Johns Island, South Carolina. The bus was used to transport hundreds of residents of the island to Charleston, where they could attend high school. The Jenkins family helped Black citizens pass discriminatory voting literacy tests, and later opened businesses on Johns Island to support the community. The bus has been carefully preserved and still bears the marks of its over 40 years with the Jenkins family.

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