Volkswagen Newsroom

The new 2020 Volkswagen Passat brings style and value to the sedan game

January 18, 2019

Over the past 45 years, the Volkswagen Passat has quietly grown into the world’s best-selling midsize sedan, with more than 29 million sold. Since 2011, Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn., factory has assembled more than 730,000 Passats, for sale in America and elsewhere. Yet to hear some automotive experts say it, the popularity of SUVs has rendered sedans all but obsolete.

Last year, some U.S. automakers have said they would pare back or stop selling sedans altogether. At the Detroit auto show this week, Volkswagen went the other direction – unveiling the 2020 Passat, a thorough update designed to make style, space and technology more accessible than ever to midsize sedan buyers.

As Volkswagen of America President and CEO Scott Keogh told reporters in Detroit, Americans bought more sedans – some 4.3 million last year – than all passenger vehicles sold in Germany in 2018.

“The Passat is a vital entry point into the brand, and as other brands exit the segment, we plan to offer sedan buyers a very cool new home,” he said. “We kept what customers told us they loved and improved what they didn’t.”

The updates on the Passat start with the redesigned exterior, featuring a more aggressive grille, a coupe-like roof profile and a dynamic crease known as a “tornado” line. With standard LED headlights and taillights, enhanced decklid badging and standard 17-inch wheels (with optional 18- and 19-inch designs) the entire look of the Passat feels more upscale.

While the Passat has many changes outside, what did not change was its reputation for comfort and spaciousness. The new interior was enhanced with horizontal vents running the width of the dash, a more contemporary instrument panel and touchscreen entertainment system. That system comes standard with Volkswagen Car-Net® App-Connect technology,2 which integrates compatible smartphones with the three major platforms—Apple CarPlay™, Android Auto™ and MirrorLink®. Other available comfort-enhancing options include remote start and keyless access to heated front and rear seats and dual-zone automatic climate control, along with an available Fender premium audio system.

 

To help add confidence to drivers on the road, every 2020 Passat comes standard with Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist), now with Pedestrian Monitoring, as well as Blind Spot Monitor, and Rear Traffic Alert. Available driver-assistance features also include Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Keeping Assist (Lane Assist), and Parking Steering Assistant (Park Assist) including Park Distance Control.3 The Passat also offers a suite of passive and active safety systems including the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System.

For power, all trims of the 2020 Passat except for a special launch edition employ an updated version of Volkswagen’s 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, making 174 hp and an increased 207 pound-feet of torque, connected to a six-speed Tiptronic transmission.

And like almost every other Volkswagen model, every 2020 Passat comes with the People First Warranty, America’s Best Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty. The warranty provides coverage for six-years or 72,000-miles (whichever occurs first), and the warranty can be transferred to a subsequent owner over its term.1

While prices will be announced closer to the on-sale date of the new Passat this summer, Keogh said the changes would keep with Volkswagen’s long tradition of value, and continue to serve as a cornerstone of Volkswagen production in Chattanooga for years to come.

“The Passat, Atlas and upcoming electric vehicles clearly demonstrate our commitment to further deepening our roots in America,” he said.

 

 

Volkswagen plans to produce EVs in America starting in 2022

January 14, 2019
Concept vehicle shown. Not available for sale. Specifications may change.

The future of personal transportation is electric, and for Volkswagen, building the vehicles of the future means expanding in the United States.

Volkswagen announced today it plans to expand its Chattanooga factory to build the next generation of electric vehicles – a investment of about $800 million that anticipates creating about 1,000 jobs in Tennessee and elsewhere in the United States. The Chattanooga plant will become the North American hub for Volkswagen’s all-electric vehicles built off the breakthrough toolkit known as MEB.

“We could not be prouder to build the future of mobility here in the United States,” said Scott Keogh, CEO and president of Volkswagen Group of America. “We’re known as ‘the people’s car’ for a reason, and we plan to build EVs for millions, not millionaires.”

The Chattanooga factory already has about 3,500 workers, who have assembled nearly 900,000 Passat sedans and Atlas SUVs since the plant opened in 2011. VW has already said the plant would be growing soon to handle another model, a five-seat version of the Atlas that is expected to launch next year.

So far, Volkswagen has shown five concepts based on the MEB chassis – a system that uses a common set of components and can be flexible enough to underpin a sizable range of vehicles, from compact cars to vans like the I.D. BUZZ concept vehicle.

Around the world, the Volkswagen Group has committed nearly $50 billion toward electric vehicles and digital services through 2023. The company has set targets for selling about 150,000 EVs by 2020 worldwide, and plans to increase that number to 1 million by 2025.

Concept vehicle shown. Not available for sale. Specifications may change.

In the United States, the first next-generation Volkswagen electric vehicle is anticipated to go on sale in 2020, a production version of the concept I.D. Crozz SUV that was designed to combine the interior space of a midsize SUV and the footprint of a compact model, with an all-electric range of up to 300 miles. That vehicle will eventually be among those assembled in Chattanooga.

“The United States is one of the most important locations for us and producing electric cars in Chattanooga is a key part of our growth strategy in North America,” said Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of Volkswagen AG. “Together with our ongoing investments and this increase in local production, we are strengthening the foundation for sustainable growth of the Volkswagen brand in the United States.”

Volkswagen kicks off with U.S. Soccer, aiming to become America’s preeminent sport

January 7, 2019
U.S. Women’s National Team members (from left to right) Crystal Dunn, Megan Rapinoe, Sam Mewis, Alex Morgan and Allie Long show off the team’s new training jerseys.

Around the world, more people watch and play soccer than any other sport. In the United States, soccer has steadily gained fans and players over the past few decades; it’s now the third-largest participatory sport in the nation, and its popularity among people under 35 years old is surpassed only by American football.

Today, Volkswagen of America announced it was taking a major step to bolster soccer in America by becoming the presenting sponsor of U.S. Soccer for the next four years – supporting the U.S. men’s, women’s and all youth national teams as they train and compete on the world stage.

“If you’ve driven by a community park in the last three decades, you know that soccer is a sport that’s become a big part of American life,” said Scott Keogh, President and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “Just as Volkswagen is the People’s Car, soccer is the people’s sport, and it’s a natural fit for us.”

For the first stage of the partnership, Volkswagen’s sponsorship will aim to get more women coaches into the game at all levels. While 47 percent of youth soccer players are women, only 15 percent of coaches are female. Beyond those programs, Volkswagen will also work with U.S. Soccer on raising the game’s visibility, player and coach development, and promoting greater fan engagement across the country.

This partnership launches ahead of the U.S. Women’s National Team quest to win its second straight world title at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France this summer. As the top-ranked women’s team in the world for the fourth consecutive year, Team USA finished 2018 with an unbeaten record of 18-0-2. Volkswagen will be a part of U.S. Soccer’s Countdown to the Cup from January to May, which includes Team USA playing a total of 10 games before departing for France in pursuit of another World Cup title.

The U.S. Men’s National Team, now under the leadership of Gregg Berhalter, who was named coach in December, has a four-year journey ahead to reach the 2022 FIFA World Cup. As Berhalter prepares for the CONCACAF Gold Cup this summer, Volkswagen will work with U.S. Soccer in providing fans with fun and engaging opportunities to connect with the new-look team.

“We are extremely excited to work together with Volkswagen to help us continue to grow soccer in the United States,” said U.S. Soccer CEO and Secretary General Dan Flynn. “Volkswagen will be one of the most active and visible partners U.S. Soccer has ever had, providing us with additional resources for more programs that can impact and help develop the sport, while also allowing us to reach more fans of the game across the country. We look forward to the next four years as together we drive towards our mission of becoming the preeminent sport in the United States.”

 

7 Ways the 2020 Passat Will Win You Over

January 6, 2019

The 2020 Passat has no shortage of features to convince drivers it’s the best one yet — both in design and performance.

There’s lots of standard safety, convenience, and tech features in the newly redesigned Passat. It’s got engine updates and design changes galore — 23 extra lb-ft of torque on most models1 from its 2.0-liter TSI® four-cylinder engine and bold, new body lines running from front to rear, to name just a few, will be assembled at the Volkswagen Chattanooga, Tennessee, factory.

So what’s hiding beneath the hood, how has riding (and driving) changed, and what design updates should you watch for? We’ll let the evidence of this refined midsize sedan speak for itself.

1. Hot New Looks
The 2020 Passat shares only its roof with its predecessor. The new front end features a large grille with slim headlights, giving it a determined expression. New standard 17-inch wheels and the sweeping line running down the side give the Passat a bold stance, and a new color option — Aurora Red — gives you more ways than ever to look good in your Passat.

2. It’s What’s on the Inside
Hidden behind the exterior beats the heart of a sophisticated, refined interior. The upper dashboard, instrument panel, and new 6.3-inch touchscreen infotainment screen are all updated, giving the newly redesigned Passat a contemporary feel; while the four interior trim colors boost the style quotient and comfort comes courtesy of either leather or leatherette seat materials.

 

3. Shine Bright
Look around the new body of the 2020 Passat and at both ends you’ll find a plethora of LED lighting. LED headlights, taillights, and daytime running lights are standard in the 2020 Passat, with the SEL trim level adding the Auto High Beam feature.


4. Making Life Easier
The 2020 Passat can’t pack your bags or help you remember to take your workout clothes with you on your morning commute, but it can help make some of the little things in life a bit easier.

Across all its trim levels, you’ll find available features such as the VW Car-Net® mobile app, an Easy Open trunk, keyless access, and a remote start system.2 Heated front and rear seats are available as well.

 

5. Making It Your Own
For those of us who want to stand out just a little bit more, there’s the available R-Line trim. Included are a unique, more aggressive front bumper, rear spoiler, rear diffusor, and R-Line badges. Also included are striking 19-inch alloy wheels — because it’s true that the shoes do make the outfit.

6. Did Someone Say More Tech?
Impressive feature technologies abound in all 2020 Passat models. Blind Spot monitoring and Front Assist are now standard in the S model; in some trims you can get available Park Assist, Lane Assist, and Adaptive Cruise Control.3 There are also two USB ports and App Connect4 that allows you to integrate your compatible phone, controlled through the center console’s 6.3-inch glass screen.

 

7. All That and Then Some
So, you get standard Driver Assistance3 systems; LED headlights and taillights; a 6.3-inch touchscreen infotainment screen, a standard rear-view camera, and App Connect4 — what else could you want?

You can get it all with the 2020 Passat, along with America’s Best Bumper-to-Bumper Limited Warranty, 6 years/72,000 miles (whichever occurs first).5

 

VW Fans Share Their Love

January 6, 2019

Five-hundred million people log on to Instagram every day — about one-eighth of the entire world population. A few of our favorites, of course, love Volkswagen as much as we do, and they fill their feeds with gleaming Beetle vehicles, colorful Buses, and tricked-out Jetta images. Here are seven Instagrammers and four hashtags you’ll definitely love.

@idletheorybus

Kit and J.R. have called their cheery orange Bus (nicknamed “Sunshine”) home since 2012. Their adventures — what they term “slow travel” — take them from the sand of Florida to the crags of California’s Yosemite National Park.

@carabinercoffee

Ol’ Blue is more than just transportation to the owners of Carabiner Coffee: It’s a java house on the go. Wherever owner Erik Gordon heads — which includes a lot of remote hiking outposts across the country  — he offers Colorado-roasted beans for sale from his VW bus. 

@tannerfoust

Tanner Foust covers his love of speed and much more in the revved-up scenes from his race-focused life. There are track shots, drift videos, and random sneaks into his life (think Foust getting his head shaved!). 

 

@vw, @vwdrivergear, and @volkswagenmotorsport

These official VW accounts offer Instagram-perfect ways to fuel your VW passion, whatever it is. The main VW account curates stunning Volkswagen-focused images from all over the world. VW DriverGear shows off VW-themed accessories such as clothing, water bottles, and wristwatches. VW Motorsports brings the heart-stopping action of VW racing right to your screen. 

@palmtreepetrolheads

Engines are also the prime driver of the Palm Tree Petrolheads, with plenty of VW shots — mostly in the sunny, palm-tree lined streets of Florida. 

Level up with VW hashtags

Looking for more? In addition to following individual Instagrammers, you can follow hashtags relevant to VW. Try:

  • #vw
  • #vwlove (Tag your own photos to share your love of all things VW.)
  • #vwlife
  • #vwbusbusiness

Winter Hacks for You — and Your Volkswagen

January 4, 2019

You’ve been relying on your trusty parka and slipped on your boots more times than you can count. But it’s never too early (or too late) in the cold-weather driving season1 to refresh your winter-driving reminders. Here’s how you can be prepared.

Maintain a winter-ready interior . . .

There will be plenty of trekking through rain, ice, slush, and snow, which means you’re likely to carry outside dirt into your VW every time you start the engine. Even if you’re making quick trips around town, consider using the MuddyBuddy® floor liners and MuddyBuddy® Trunk Liner,2 which help protect your interior and trunk from snow, slush, mud, and everyday spills.

. . . and exterior

Low tire pressure or worn out tires can make your VW more difficult to drive during colder days. Check your Volkswagen owner’s manual for the recommended tire pressure for your vehicle and consider installing splashguards2 on the front and back to help protect your Volkswagen model.

Fill up if needed

Be sure to refill windshield washer fluid and keep your gas tank at least half full to be prepared for unexpected travel delays during the coldest days of year.

Adjust your driving habits

No matter where you live or what kind of winter you’re in the middle of, colder months require different approaches to safe driving. For instance, when you drive on slippery roads, you should increase your following distance between vehicles to 8–10 seconds so you have more time to brake.

Pack for emergencies

Going on a road trip, either across town or several hours away? Experts recommend stocking up on bottled water, granola bars, and other non-perishable snacks. Consider stocking the SmartFlare, which can be used as a flare, headlight, or lantern in unlit areas, in your glove box. You should also pack backup batteries and charging cables for your phone as well as extra clothing.

Store essentials in the trunk

Some roadside emergencies are an easy fix, especially if you come prepared. Start with a VW Roadside Assistance Kit, filled with most of the basics you’ll need — from a whistle and pliers to work gloves and a waterproof poncho.

Know what to do

If you are stranded with no sign of help, know what to do: Stay in your car. Contact emergency services, if you can, and stay warm.

Now Trending: VW in the News

December 28, 2018

Temperatures might be dropping, but things are only heating up in the world of Volkswagen — from electric-vehicle news to soccer sponsorships. Here’s what’s happening and where you can join in the VW fun.

The Future of Electric is Coming
In January, Volkswagen announced a game-changing strategy for its future. Scheduled for a 2022 opening, an expanded VW Chattanooga facility plans to serve as the North American base for electric-vehicle (EV) manufacturing.

The approximately $800 million investment will create about 1,000 jobs and focus on the modular electric toolkit chassis, referred to as MEB, and the ID. CROZZ SUV, first revealed to the public at the 2018 North American International Auto Show. The Chattanooga factory, which opened in 2011, already has about 3,500 workers who currently assemble the midsize Atlas SUV and the Passat sedan.

This EV effort in Tennessee is part of a nearly $50 billion investment VW is making toward electric vehicles and digital services through 2023 in an effort to sell approximately 1 million EVs by 2025.

Read more here.

 

Get Your Kicks
Pay close attention to U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Soccer jerseys over the next four years, and you’ll spot a familiar logo. Volkswagen has collaborated with the U.S. Soccer Federation as the presenting automotive sponsor through 2022, with a slogan of “One Goal” and an initial focus on developing the next generation of female leaders in soccer. Specifically, the collaboration will aim to produce and support women coaches; right now, only 15 percent of all team leaders are women. Volkswagen will also help to increase visibility and engage fans with soccer all across the country. Read more here.

Let It Show
Auto shows — a wintertime staple — offer more than a sneak peek behind the scenes and under some hoods. They’re also filled with show-only experiences, such as last year’s VW interactive displays with a GTI racing simulator and a “screen” made up of tiny magnetic flipping pixels. Check out these upcoming events.

Get a glimpse of the auto show experience here.

Three Top Tuners Take on the Jetta
The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) Show is one of the biggest draws in the automotive industry. It’s where automotive media and industry professionals get their fill of after-market add-ons, upgrades, and accessories, and the November 2018 show in Las Vegas was no different. The SEMA Show was also a chance for three exhibitors to show off their products and creativity, using none other than a 2019 Volkswagen Jetta as their platform.

Check out last year’s vehicle designs. 

The Corrado Turned 30!
In 1988, leg warmers and hair bands hadn’t yet given way to flannel and big-hair bands. But the year would mark something auspicious in VW history: the debut of the Corrado.

The life of the Corrado was bright and fast; it was produced only from 1988 to 1995. Three decades after its debut, the Corrado remains a favorite of collectors. Although only around 17,000 of the cars were ever produced for the U.S. market, many are still on the road. The Corrado has attained cult classic status thanks to its performance, practical hatchback, and reputation for great handling, especially among front-wheel-drive vehicles. (Oh, and if they’re being honest, enthusiasts might admit that the speed-activated spoiler is one of its chief draws.)

 

Building the Atlas

Can’t make it to Tennessee for a tour of the VW facility in Chattanooga? You can still get an inside look at how the Volkswagen Atlas comes together.

In fall 2018, the 100,000th Atlas — a 2019 Atlas SEL Premium in Pacific Blue, with a Shetland V-Tex leatherette interior to be exact — rolled off the production line at the Chattanooga, Tennessee, plant.

See how the factory’s 3,700 employees (and more than a few robots) bring the Atlas together in just two minutes.

 Disclaimer: Watching the video may result in an uncontrollable urge to drive an Atlas.

Reasons to Try Volkswagen Service Xpress

December 28, 2018

No time for an oil change appointment, or notice a brake light suddenly doesn’t work? It happens — and it doesn’t always happen when you have time for a traditional, scheduled service appointment. Instead, there’s a more convenient, on-the-go, pro-insight option: Volkswagen Service Xpress.

Here are 5 ways Volkswagen Service Xpress can help make maintaining your VW easier, exclusive to most VW owners:

  • Offered by most local VW dealerships
  • No appointment needed
  • Simply pull in to the dedicated dealership Service Xpress line
  • Work done by Volkswagen Certified Technicians
  • Uses Genuine Volkswagen Parts

Here are factory recommended services you can use Volkswagen Service Xpress for:

  • A no-charge, multi-point inspection with any service
  • Oil and oil filter changes
  • Tire rotations
  • Air and cabin filter replacements
  • Wiper blade replacements
  • Battery diagnostic check and replacement
  • Exterior bulb replacements

Call your VW dealership today to see if they offer Volkswagen Service Xpress.

Restoring Annie the Beetle for Her Owner of 50 Years and Counting

December 20, 2018

Kathleen Brooks remembers buying her first new car. She was 21 years old in December 1966 when she went to a Volkswagen dealer in Riverside, Calif., and left with a 1967 VW Beetle in ruby red, complete with white vinyl interior, upgraded exhaust and all of 53 horsepower. Total price: $2,300, with a loan of $28.87 per month.

Because of its red coat, Kathleen quickly named her car “Annie.” Soon the miles began to accumulate, as she drove around southern California, from San Francisco to San Diego, through jobs and vacations, fun times and illnesses. With repair and upkeep as best she could, Kathleen kept Annie on the road through 350,000 miles and more.

In December 2016, Kathleen called a San Diego TV station with a question. Would they be interested in a story about a woman celebrating the 50th birthday of the only car she’s ever owned? They were – and so was Volkswagen.

To celebrate this special owner and her unique relationship with Annie, Volkswagen offered to restore Annie at its factory in Puebla, Mexico, where the last air-cooled Beetle was assembled in 2003. The result was more than anyone expected.

Annie’s Departure

The first question you might ask Kathleen is, why did she stick with Annie for so long?

“Part of it was practical … I need transportation and she’s my transportation,” says Kathleen, now 73. “But as time went on, I mean — having a car 30 years, 40 years, 51 years almost! There’s no way I could let her go, in any way shape or form. She’s not like a part of me, she’s an extension of me.”

When Kathleen marked Annie’s 50th birthday, the VW was showing every bit of her age and then some. Years of California sun had baked the paint into a darker, duller red. The chrome bumpers had pitted, and Kathleen was accustomed to holding her vent windows open with twine. That 350,000-mile number was something of a low estimate; Kathleen had seen the odometer roll over so many times she’d lost count.

But Annie was never a garage queen, and Kathleen herself still has miles to go every day. She works at a nearby boutique that offers prosthetics and comfort to breast-cancer patients and survivors, a place she discovered after one of her three bouts with breast cancer.

“I’ve had lots and lots of surgeries, lots of infections, lots of complications. Yet, I’m sitting here, and I’m so happy,” Kathleen said. “And I still love life.”

In October 2017, Kathleen allowed Volkswagen to borrow Annie for the restoration in Puebla. Before the tow truck came to haul Annie away, Kathleen wrote a letter to the people who would restore her:

“Annie reminds me a lot of myself: old, faded, rusted, dinged, and dented. Her hubcaps are horribly rusted, as they are replacements; the originals were stolen many years ago. Just like me, she’s slow going uphill and runs much better in cooler weather …

I call her Annie because she’s been in my life so long. She has been with me through marriage and divorce, the purchase of a house, my own business, several jobs, three bouts of breast cancer….

I can’t tell you how many people stop and ask me about my car! Kids love her and many adults start a conversation with ‘I used to have a Bug…’ Any time someone asks me if I’d like to sell her, I say ‘I’ll add you to the list.’ ”

Puebla was built in 1965 to assemble the original Volkswagen Beetle for Mexico and South America. The last air-cooled Beetle in the world rolled out of Puebla in 2003, and the plant has built all modern-era Beetles, including this year’s Final Edition. It was the natural place to bring Annie back to health.

The project found its manager in Augusto Zamudio, an engineer in the mechatronics shop. He volunteered because he restored “vochos” – the Mexican slang for VW Beetles – in his spare time. His first had been a 1967 Beetle, just like Annie.

“There may be other cars that are fancier or faster, and they will always get people’s attention,” Zamudio said. “But it’s always a happy car, whether in Japan, or Germany, or anywhere in the world.”

The team goal: make Annie roadworthy again. Not a museum piece, or a bolt-for-bolt recreation of a 1967 model, but a Beetle that Kathleen Brooks could enjoy for years to come.

Annie’s Restoration in Puebla

But when Annie arrived at Puebla, the challenges of the restoration quickly began to mount. Five decades of salty air had worn down the corners of the floor pan to the point where passengers could peek through to the ground. The original engine had lost much of its power. Kathleen needed an extra cushion to cope with the original, sagging seat. A couple of parts were reinforced with wood.

Drawing on volunteers from around the factory, trainees from its apprenticeship program and the know-how of experienced assemblers, Annie’s restoration team eventually grew to at least 60 people – including those who build prototypes for modern Volkswagen models.

The first step was taking Annie apart, cataloging needs, and then figuring out how to address each challenge. For example, Zamudio wanted to recapture Annie’s original color, but the paper tags with the factory paint color had long disintegrated, and Annie’s exterior had faded to a dull maroon splotched with touch-ups. The solution: matching the color from inside the glove box, painted in the original hue and mostly untouched by time.

The 1,500-cc engine was torn down to the bolts and bare cylinder block, then cleaned and rebuilt with better-than-new parts and a power increase. Same for the brakes, replaced with the disc-brake system from later models. Replacement wheels and chrome hubcaps were sourced from a Karmann Ghia. The body was stripped, repaired and reinforced, with doors from a 1980 model.

From the repaint in the state-of-the-art paint booth to sourcing new bumpers, upgraded headlights, and special touches such as a roof rack, the team eventually replaced roughly 40 percent of Annie, restoring some 357 components along the way. When the team finished, Annie went through some of the same shakedown tests used for modern Volkswagens and was given a special farewell ceremony at the factory.

All told, the restoration took 11 months.

“This car has become something special for all of us,” says Augusto. “Annie is a very special car for Kathleen and also for me. I’m not the same person now. I got to build my dream car.”

Annie’s Return

Kathleen Brooks arrived at the beach in Encinitas, Calif., knowing only that Annie was returning. She had not seen any photos of Annie’s progress since the tow truck left. During that time, she’d have the occasional bad dream that Annie was being transformed into something weird – a pickup, or a camper van wrapped in house insulation. Something not Annie.

She stood, with her back to the road, while Augusto drove up in Annie and honked twice. Kathleen turned, and for a few moments, was speechless.

“This is what I dreamed of, but I had no idea she would look this good,” says Kathleen.  “On a scale of 1 to 10, I wanted a 10. She’s a 25.”

The Puebla restoration team had prepared a number of surprises for Kathleen. The new seats have “Kathleen” and “Annie” embroidered into the seatbacks. They recreated all the old stickers that Annie wore for decades to reapply to the new body. And they wrote their own letter back to Kathleen.

Kathleen thanked Augusto and Puebla colleague Alejandro Tecuanhuehue, who showed her around some of Annie’s new details and special flourishes. Then, they said their own goodbyes and gave back Annie’s keys. Kathleen did a few shakedown laps of the parking lot, with the sun setting into the surf. Annie was a little louder, stronger, and shinier than before – and still every bit a Beetle.

“I love old things … she’s just beautiful,” says Kathleen, smiling. “I wish I could live another 50 years to have another 50 years with her.”

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Unlocking the speed secrets of Volkswagen’s first electric race car

December 14, 2018

For a motorsports engineer like Cedric Delnatte, the ask was a bit of a dream: Design a new electric vehicle to take on one of the world’s great racing challenges, from scratch, with no rules beyond those of physics and driver safety.

The result was the I.D. R Pikes Peak, the car that broke the overall record for the Pikes Peak hill climb in June 2018 – breaking a record that had previously only been set by liquid-fueled vehicles. The trip up the 12.42-mile route took just 7 minutes, 57.148 seconds, but before that was months of work by Delnatte and team to unlock the potential of Volkswagen’s first electric race car. At the Los Angeles auto show, Delnatte provided an insider’s tour into what made the I.D. R so fast, and a bit of a preview of what might come next.

 

From the start, Delnatte said the team quickly recognized that they would have to find a precise balance between power and weight. At 670 hp, the I.D. R has a mighty amount of grunt, but not as much as, say, a typical stock-bodied racecar. But with just under 2,425 lbs. to move, the I.D. R can accelerate more quickly than most top-level, open cockpit race cars.

Delnatte said computer simulations quickly found that limiting weight was vitally important for mastering the Pikes Peak route and its 156 corners — even if it meant sacrificing some power.

“Pikes Peak is very specific because it’s made out of corners, so having a lot of power doesn’t really help you – it helps you only on straight lines,” he says.  “You don’t need this power to be fast on the corners.”

The I.D. R Pikes Peak at the Los Angeles auto show. The racing number 94 comes from the ninth and fourth letters of the alphabet – I and D.

The other challenge was the battery pack. At 45 kilowatt-hours, the battery pack on the I.D. R can hold about 26 percent more energy than a 2018 Volkswagen e-Golf – again, a substantial but not overwhelming amount. Delnatte said the I.D. R was designed to make the most of that energy by relying on recuperation – essentially, using its twin electric motors as generators when driver Romain Dumas needed to slow down to recapture energy back to the batteries. Some 20 percent of the energy the I.D. R used to climb Pikes Peak came from brake regeneration.

Making the most of all these parts relied on extensive aerodynamic testing and chassis design. The I.D. R looks like no other car because it’s designed to slip through the air as effortlessly as possible. Every part of the car was optimized either for airflow or downforce, from the smooth floor to the massive rear wing. Since Pikes Peak racers end up at 14,000 feet, the higher altitude makes it harder to maintain downforce. The oversize wing and other parts create so much downward pressure at speed that it’s like having another I.D. R sitting on top of itself.

“If you could rotate the car,” says Delnatte, “the car would fly.”

Adapting to an electric racecar also posed some challenges for driver Romain Dumas. The low slung, centered cockpit provides great aerodynamics and limited visibility. Dumas’ seat is slightly off-center, as the battery pack has been split in two, with one half next to him and the other behind him for better front/rear weight balance. The other challenge: Just how quiet the I.D. R runs.

“It’s much less loud than a conventional engine car, which was affecting Romain quite a lot,” says Delnatte. “A driver in general is adjusting his driving style based on the noise that he’s hearing, and in this type of car you don’t hear that much.”

Now that Pikes Peak has been conquered, the I.D. R team has some other plans for the car. Next month, Volkswagen Motorsports will announce the I.D. R’s next challenge. Delnatte couldn’t discuss specifics, but he said just as Pikes Peak took months of work to master, the next target will need its own set of innovations.

“If you want to go back to a track basically at sea level, you would change the aero because you don’t need such a big rear wing,” he said. “If you go to a longer track, you would need maybe different batteries, or if you go to a track where you have more straight lines, you would need more power and less drag. So it’s really depending on the target you fix.”

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Joseph Volkswagen of Cincinnati
Joseph Volkswagen of Cincinnati
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(513) 914-1785
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Joseph Volkswagen of Cincinnati 39.1490025, -84.4659165.