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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.

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.

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.

Volkswagen explores the future of automotive AI in the Motor City

March 25, 2021

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become a popular catchphrase in technology, even if most people couldn’t exactly define what it really is. One promise of AI lies in finding patterns across huge datasets that make everyday business smarter and more efficient – and for Volkswagen in North America, the hub of AI development lives in Detroit.

“We want to leverage new opportunities in applied Artificial Intelligence to further improve products and services for our customers, supporting our employees and become even more efficient as a company,” said Johan de Nysschen, chief operating officer at Volkswagen Group of America.

To meet that challenge, Volkswagen has set up its AI Detroit unit, a dedicated AI research and development unit in the Motor City. “Volkswagen has a tremendous treasure of data. Competencies in Artificial Intelligence will help us leverage this this treasure, and in supporting people and business,” said Abdallah Shanti, chief information officer for the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand.

Daniel Weimer, head of AI Detroit, leads the team of machine learning scientists and software engineers dedicated to applying the latest AI and machine learning breakthroughs to the automotive business. It’s an unusual job in the auto industry, but one that Weimer and others at Volkswagen consider essential for developing, producing and selling the vehicles of the future.

Weimer says it’s really the extension of high-power data crunching that businesses have used for years. Today, that data and the specialized hardware needed to analyze it powers algorithms that can help improve results and get to the right answers faster. “We want to bring AI technology to business and create real impact,” said Weimer.

Weimer and his team monitor the latest developments in AI, from new techniques in machine learning to new software. They then work closely across Volkswagen Group of America’s different brands − from Volkswagen to Audi and Bentley − to find ways to implement those insights.

One key differentiator for AI Detroit lies in the ability to develop and operate AI solutions, feed them constantly with data from all across Volkswagen, and re-train the algorithms with new data. The next step will involve novel concepts that overcome current limitations of how an AI is trained, an engineering architecture to build up even more powerful analyses.

“AI is a toolbox of technologies to create smart solutions. We’re trying to teach a computer to do things that are straightforward for humans, like understanding spoken language that can then be applied through software to real-world challenges,” Weimer said.

All of this data does not mean using AI to replace employees with software. “It is key to develop technologies that serve and support Volkswagen employees,” Weimer said. “You let the AI do things AIs are good at, like finding patterns in huge data sets. But ultimately, our algorithms must always serve human decision makers. After all, humans are better in strategic decisions, more innovative and more creative.”

One example of an AI Detroit application is a scheduling tool for workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. With some 2,000 employees, and multiple shifts, internal rules and individual skill sets, the possible permutations of setting a schedule quickly become immense.

“We now offer algorithms to basically find a much more optimal schedule for management and workforce alike,” Weimer said. “We hope this can improve productivity, reduce physical stress for the workforce and even help them avoid sick days they may have needed in the past.”

Another project is the automated analysis and understanding of text in hundreds of thousands of documents to further improve product quality. The team in Detroit has developed an AI-based Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology that analyzes reports and claims to check similarities and patterns. This systematic analysis can help Volkswagen engineers detect possible quality issues quickly and feed them back into early stage of product development.

AI at Volkswagen has also been optimizing how to structure incentives programs and how to position different carlines in the market. By drawing on terabytes of sales data going back nearly 20 years, this system can reduce the guesswork of a model launch. Here again, AI algorithms support the human experts at the corporate level and dealers in decision making.

As vehicles grow more digitally connected and demand more data for future technologies like automated driving, the need for AI solutions will increase. By locating its AI hub in Detroit, Volkswagen wants to attract researchers and developers who want to shape the future of automotive industry and transportation — potentially worldwide.

“We’re in Detroit for a reason. You can knock on every door here and there’ll be someone with high automotive IQ,” Weimer said. “There’s all this awesome infrastructure and talent here, along with a great attitude of wanting to redefine the industry. There’s no other place where you find that.”

For media inquiries, please contact Jonas Kulawik here


Meet two of the first Volkswagen ID.4 EV owners: a solar-powered grandmother and a baseball superfan

March 23, 2021
Alice Dibben, her daughter, Helen Dibben, and Alice’s 2-year-old pup, Lucky, pose in front of Alice’s new glacier white ID.4.

Alice Dibben has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to technology. A former cryptanalyst at the National Security Agency, she mastered early modern computing systems to help collect and decipher complex codes. At age 80, she installed 120 solar panels on the roof of her barn in Pasadena, Md., to help reduce her carbon footprint.

And now, the 91-year-old grandmother and horse breeder has kept her innovation streak going by embracing electric driving with the Volkswagen ID.4 EV.

“When you’re working with yearlings, you’re always thinking of the future,” Alice says.

Alice, along with Joshua Neiderhiser of York, Pa., were two of the first U.S. customers to take home Volkswagen’s first long-range electric SUV. As of today, Volkswagen has delivered the ID.4 to its network of more than 600 dealers nationwide.

Alice enrolled in the ID.4 early registration program in 2020 after her daughter, Helen Dibben, spotted an ad for the electric car in Antwerpen Volkswagen’s newsletter. Putting in a reservation for the vehicle was an easy call for Alice, who has been a Volkswagen loyalist her entire life. The Dibben family’s fleet has included a split-screen Beetle, several Jettas and Volkswagen Rabbit models, but the ID.4 will be the family’s first EV.

“Since the early 1960s, there has been a Volkswagen in our family,” Helen says. Today, “we feel an obligation to try and use as much renewable energy as possible and do our part to transition away from using so much gasoline.”

And, after a short test drive of the car at the dealership, Alice was sold.  “This car makes me feel young again,” she says.

Helen, who assists her mother with daily driving, echoed her sentiments. “It is really easy to drive, has great handling and is extremely roomy inside,” she says. “Most importantly, it is very easy for mom to get in and out. The multi-adjustable seats allow her to travel in comfort.”

Not far away in York, Pa., Joshua Neiderhiser was test driving his own brand-new ID.4. The 43-year-old lawyer and stepdad had researched electric cars for months, hoping to find the perfect EV for his tall frame and 5.8-mile work commute.

Joshua Neiderhiser and his wife, Kristi Neiderhiser, pose in front of their new mythos black ID.4.

“The progressive, tree-hugging hippie in me wanted to get into an electric vehicle as soon as possible,” Joshua says.

He had test-driven other electric cars but was always left wanting.

“There was just no zing on the inside of their cabins,” Joshua said. “But not the ID.4.”

In early March, he got a video text from York Volkswagen that his car had arrived on the lot and was ready for pick-up. Similar to Alice, it only took one spin of the vehicle to help convince him it was the right fit – literally.

“I am 6’3” and 250 pounds, so I needed something that had space and was comfortable, and this absolutely was it,” Joshua says. “In every other car I’ve driven I’ve had to push the seat back to fit my long legs. In this one, I put it back and I was actually too far from the driving wheel, which was a welcome surprise.”

Other features of the ID.4 that jumped out to him right away were the fine lines of the vehicle, its acceleration and efficiency.

“It felt like I was driving a sportscar,” Joshua says.

His 11-year-old stepson is particularly fond of the car’s colorful ID. Light feature and Batmobile appearance. “He’s all about the bells and the whistles,” jokes Joshua’s wife, Kristi Neiderhiser.

His family plans to take the new car on the road this summer to take in America’s favorite pastime if games resume with crowds as expected.

“We had it planned for last year, but the pandemic canceled our plans, so this year we are hoping to catch all 13 baseball teams in the state in one summer,” Joshua says.

The York season-ticket holder is already eagerly mapping out his epic road trip, plotting stops at available charging stations in Pittsburgh, Erie and Philadelphia.

“Driving this car,” Joshua says, “is an absolute dream.”

Volkswagen employees #ChooseToChallenge gender disparities in honor of International Women’s Day

March 18, 2021
Dozens of Volkswagen Group of America employees take the #ChooseToChallenge pledge in honor of International Women’s Day.

On March 8, Volkswagen Group of America celebrated International Women’s Day, a global observance honoring women’s achievements and calling for gender equality. This year’s theme, “Choose to Challenge,” acknowledges that genuine change always comes from challenging the status quo across social, economic, cultural and political spheres.

As part of this effort, VWGoA employees took the #ChooseToChallenge pledge, which asked “How will you commit to creating a more inclusive and equitable world for all genders — not just on International Women’s Day, but year-round?”

Our employees responded, offering commitments about how they will challenge gender disparity in the workplace and beyond. The responses, from scores of employees at every level, prompted courageous conversations across the brands, departments, and locations of the company.

We are proud to have a workforce that celebrates women’s achievements and demonstrates a commitment to raising awareness around biases and standing up for equality. These pledges remind us that we must choose to challenge gender disparities on International Women’s Day and every day.

Here are a few noteworthy pledges:


Volkswagen marks milestone in electrification with the U.S. arrival of the ID.4 EV

March 16, 2021

The ID.4 arrives at dealerships across America.

This month marks a major milestone in Volkswagen’s story: the arrival of the ID.4, the company’s first long-range electric SUV in dealers across America. Just as electric vehicles will transform the way we drive, Volkswagen has refreshed the way it sells vehicles to embrace a more sustainable future.

From before it leaves the factory to when a new ID.4 owner quietly drives away, Volkswagen has changed, updated or reinvented the steps to the typical vehicle purchase and delivery process. As Volkswagen drives toward making its global business carbon neutral by 2050, and assembling EVs in America, it needed to create a robust process for shipping and selling EVs through a network of more than 600 dealers.

“The launch of the ID.4 represents a huge inflection point for the Volkswagen brand, and its foray into becoming a major player in the electric vehicle space,” said Taylor Olson, EV sales strategy and dealer development lead for Volkswagen of America. “The ID.4 is the right car at the right time and is being sold by a dealer network that has really embraced the shift to electrification.”

Compared to a traditional vehicle, an electric vehicle requires several different steps along its journey from factory to dealer. EVs require special handling when in transit from the factory to dealerships, including maintaining a sufficient state of charge to complete the journey.

The ID.4 arrives at dealerships across America.

Preparation for the arrival of the ID.4 in the U.S. started more than two years ago. Over that time, many Volkswagen dealers have installed Level 2 charging stations and appropriate vehicle lifts to unload the products into showrooms and service bays. Others have worked to stage their showrooms around the ID.4, giving consumers room to see the inner workings of a long-range electric vehicle.

Volkswagen and its dealers recognize that EVs come with a learning curve, requiring some new approaches to driving, charging and maintaining the vehicle. Many ID.4 customers may have never experienced an EV before, making the interaction between the dealer and the customer critical, especially when discussing topics like charging and range. Preparing customers by letting them experience the thrill of driving an EV themselves and providing them the right educational tools creates a recipe for success and a positive customer experience.

“I honestly see the ID.4 as a grand slam of a product. Not just in terms of the product itself, but the timing and for the people that it will reach,” said Cal Angus, EV specialist at Colonial Volkswagen in Westborough, Mass.

To support the expanded role of sales teams at dealerships, Volkswagen offers comprehensive training to become certified in EV – covering both the ID.4 specifically, as well as information on charging stations and networks. Volkswagen dealers also have designated EV Specialists, ready to support customers with any specific ID.4 or EV questions.

“VW of America has been extremely helpful putting the tools together,” said Steven Kappler, sales associate for Lindsay Volkswagen of Dulles in Sterling, Va. “It is great to have a go to place to check on information for not only my own knowledge, but for current reservation holders, prospective buyers, people in service, all to get the word out there.”

For most consumers, purchasing an at-home Level 2 charging option will be part of the experience.1 To prepare the sales teams, the curriculum covers topics from how to charge a car to what types of incentives may be available from federal, state, or local organizations. At the end, customers should feel confident in all aspects of EV ownership, and ready to enjoy their ID.4 for years to come.

“I have been doing this for 22 years and this is one of the most exciting launches we’ve had since the Touareg,” said Bridget Stennis, Fleet Sales Manager and Master Certified for EV sales, Volkswagen Santa Monica.

A Volkswagen Golf enthusiast shares his rare Golf Rallye

March 9, 2021
Volkswagen created the Golf Rallye to compete at a 1990 motorsport competition in Brussels, Belgium. Photo credit: Steve Smith.

When Steve Smith was growing up in 1980s England, the Mk1 Golf GTI was at the peak of its popularity. At age 17, his older brother purchased the family’s first Volkswagen — a 1983 drivers-edition MK1 Golf — igniting Smith’s lifelong love for the compact car.

“It became a bit of an obsession,” he said. “My brother and I would save up to buy a GTI, drive it around, learn about the mechanics, and visit car shows.”

Their collection slowly grew. Smith graduated college with an electrical and mechanical engineering degree, and by the time his career moved him to the U.S. in 1999, he and his brother owned five GTI models between them.

“I didn’t have much with me when I moved, but I knew I wanted a GTI,” Smith said. He soon purchased a 1989 sixteen-valve MK2 GTI — the first Volkswagen in his stateside collection. By his accounts, the opportunity to buy more Golfs “just seemed to crop up” as he became involved in a community of automotive enthusiasts and mechanics.

Today, his collection includes 17 Volkswagens, many of which are Golfs. He stores his most valuable models indoors in his garage and home workshop, and the others sit in his driveway in North Carolina.

His most treasured model? A dark blue 1989 Volkswagen Golf Rallye.

Smith has been collecting Golfs his entire adult life. His favorite part about the Golf Rallye is taking it to car shows and meeting other Volkswagen fans. Photo credit: Steve Smith.

In the late 1980s, Volkswagen created the Golf Rallye to compete at a 1990 motorsport competition in Brussels, Belgium. The model was distinct from other Golf models due to its box-flared wheel arches and rectangular projector headlamps. Its four-wheel drive, cable-shifted transmission and G60-supercharged engine making about 160 hp made it an ideal vehicle for rally racing.

World-class rally racing consists of three-day events where vehicles race on gravel, dirt and pavement under the various conditions the weather chose to present. Under the Group A rules at the time, manufacturers had to race “production” vehicles — those with at least 5,000 copies sold.

“Volkswagen made just enough to make the cut,” said Smith. “I believe they made 5,071 models in total to meet the requirements of the competition.”

With a price double that of a GTI, the model was only sold in Europe, with just two officially sent to the United States for testing and five for evaluation. Outside of those seven models, any Golf Rallye now in the Americas would have had to be imported as an antique, decades after it was manufactured.

As an automotive mechanic, Smith has always been interested in what lies under the hood. Photo credit: Steve Smith.

“They’re extremely difficult to find in the U.S.,” said Smith, who had been searching for a Golf Rallye for years before purchasing one in Florida. Smith’s model is one of only about 15 models known outside of Europe.

“I had to add it to my collection. It’s the rarest Volkswagen I own by far.”

While Smith enjoys owning one of the rarest Volkswagen Golf models in the U.S., he says that owning the Golf Rallye is about more than exclusivity.

“I love showing it to people who may not have heard of the Rallye but can immediately tell it’s a Golf and are curious,” he said. “And the people who do realize how rare it is always come up to talk to me about it. It creates a great connection between us Volkswagen fans.”

With 17 vehicles all stored at home, most people would consider their collections complete. But Smith already has his eyes on another Golf model: The Golf Limited, a limited-edition MK2 variant that also has a G60-supercharged engine. There are only 71 of these models in the world, but Smith is up for the challenge.

“I’ll always have a soft spot for Golfs,” he said.

A 1989 Golf Rallye in racing trim. Photo: Volkswagen archives.

#TBT: The long journey of EVs, from Elektro Bus to Volkswagen ID.4 EV and beyond

March 4, 2021

Arriving soon, the all-electric VW ID.4 SUV marks the culmination of nearly five decades of work by Volkswagen exploring how to make electric vehicles accessible worldwide. From early experiments to thought-provoking concepts, each project pushed the boundaries of available technologies. Here’s a look back at VW vehicles that paved the way for an EV future.

1972: Elektro-Bus/Elektro-Transporter

In the early 1970s, soaring oil prices and fuel shortages prompted Volkswagen to explore alternative powertrains. An 11-person team developed a battery system that would power Volkswagen’s first all-electric concept vehicle – the Elecktro Bus – at the Centre for Future Research in Wolfsburg, Germany.

The 1972 Bus – which had a short production run of about 120 vehicles – was powered by heavy, low-capacity lead-acid batteries. Like most modern EVs, the battery pack was located on the vehicle floor in the center of the chassis, necessary given its size and 1,847-lb. weight. Unlike today, however, its range was a mere 25 miles, and top speed was only 43 miles per hour.

1976: The Electric Golf Mk1

At first glance, the Electric Golf Mk1 concept looked like any other Golf hatchback, but instead of a four-cylinder gas engine, it featured a 27-horsepower electric motor and a four-speed manual gearbox. The car’s range was roughly 31 miles. Charging the 16.6-volt lead-acid batteries via a 220-watt connection took about six hours – and the battery pack was so huge it required taking out the Golf’s rear seats. Volkswagen engineers would regularly drive the model in normal traffic conditions to collect information that helped improve batteries in future models.

1981: Golf I CitySTROMer

Based on experience with the first electric Golf, Volkswagen worked with a German utility to further develop the concept. A total of around 25 prototype vehicles, known as the Golf CitySTROMer, were built as part of a small-scale production run. The CitySTROMer is considered one of the first electric vehicles suitable for everyday use, with room for four people. Its range was around 37 miles and it could travel about 62 miles a day with time for recharging.

1985: Golf II CitySTROMer

The Golf II CitySTROMer was the first electric vehicle built by Volkswagen for series production and eventual sale to the public in Germany. While the range of the Golf II CitySTROMer was down slightly to 31 miles from its predecessor, it offered the innovation of gel-electrolyte batteries carrying 11.4 kWh of energy, cutting enough weight to allow a top speed of 62 mph with its 31-hp electric motor. The 70 CitySTROMers built were mainly used for customer service by power utilities.

1988: Jetta CitySTROMer

Many of the early EV prototypes were designed around the limitations of older battery technology. The Jetta CitySTROMer concept was an early experiment with newer technologies, using sodium-sulfur chemistry instead of traditional lead-acid batteries. The pack weighed half as much as prior batteries, giving the Jetta up to 75 miles of range and a top speed of 65 mph – both extraordinary for their time – but the technology proved unsuitable for mass production.

1993: Golf Mark III CitySTROMer

When the Golf Mark III was released, Volkswagen revived the CitySTROMer line once again with the latest available technology. The 16 gel batteries could offer a range of up to 55 miles, but now the vehicle could be recharged to about 80 percent in 1.5 hours on a European power connection. The Mark III CitySTROMer also offered the ability to recuperate energy through braking, a key component of modern EVs. Over three years, 120 of the vehicles were built and sold in Germany.

2011: Volkswagen NILS concept

With the arrival of lithium-ion batteries, automakers considered wildly creative ways to innovate with the new technology. Debuting at the 2011 Frankfurt Auto Show, the NILS concept was one of the most radical Volkswagen vehicles ever shown – a futuristic take on a commuter car based on “bubble” vehicles from the ‘50s and single-seat race cars. With a range of about 40 miles from a 5.3-kWh battery pack, the NILS could get to 60 mph in about 11 seconds and took approximately two hours to recharge. It also demonstrated an early version of radar-based braking and cruise control.

European model shown. Specifications may vary.

2013: e-Golf

The e-Golf was the first Volkswagen model produced in high volume with a purely electric drive and was the first fully-electric Volkswagen to go on sale in the United States. The car offered all the benefits of a best-selling compact car, combined with zero tailpipe emissions, an EPA estimated 83 miles of range at launch and a practically silent driving experience. Using quick charging technology (CCS), its 24.2-kWh lithium-ion battery could be charged to 80 percent of its capacity in about 20 minutes. Later models offered an EPA estimated 125 miles of range thanks to more energy-dense batteries.1

2018: The ID. R Pikes Peak

The ID. R Pikes Peak was Volkswagen’s first all-electric race car and made history at the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in Colorado.  Designed from scratch to maximize aerodynamic advantage, the Motorsports model got its power from two electric motors on each axle, with a total of 671 hp and 479 lb.-ft. of torque, variable among all four wheels. The car not only beat the previous electric record but the overall record as well — by 16 seconds.

2021: Volkswagen ID.4 EV

Volkswagen’s first all-electric SUV arrives with an EPA estimated 250 miles of range for the 1st Edition and Pro S, 201 hp, DC fast-charging capacity and a host of features and technology that help make it easier than ever to adopt the EV lifestyle.2 And from regenerative braking to an advanced lithium-ion battery in a vehicle with room for five passengers, the ID.4 shows how far EV technology has come over the years.

Volkswagen shows off a new way to recycle and reuse EV batteries

March 1, 2021

Transforming the world to run on electric vehicles will take millions of batteries, and even though the EV revolution has just kicked off, there’s growing questions about how to handle batteries at the end of their useful lives, and where all the materials needed to build new batteries will come from.

Earlier this year, the Volkswagen Group provided one answer to both these challenges, opening its first EV battery recycling plant in Salzgitter, Germany, the result of more than a decade of research. Designed to be more energy efficient than current battery recycling techniques, the pilot plant has a goal of being able to recapture up to 95 percent of the materials in an EV battery pack for potential reuse – including rare metals that store electricity.

“We know from many years of research that recycled battery raw materials are just as efficient as new ones,” says Mark Möller, Head of Technical Development & E-Mobility Business Unit at Volkswagen Group Components. “We plan to support our cell production in the future with the material we have recovered. We really want to use every possible gram of recovered material as the demand for batteries rises sharply.”

Sieve | The sieve is used to separate the valuable cell materials - black powder (lithium, nickel, manganese, cobalt) - from the other raw materials.

As EV batteries contain a complicated mix of materials, current battery recycling methods require essentially melting them down in a furnace, which only recovers about 60 percent of the materials inside. The process being developed in the Salzgitter plant uses several mechanical steps designed to  recover up to 95 percent of a battery pack’s materials for reuse. In an 880-lb. battery pack, the plant can recover about 220 pounds of key electrode minerals like lithium, nickel, cobalt and manganese. This positions Volkswagen as a pioneer in building a recyclable materials cycle with great potential for helping reduce the need for mining of raw materials  and improving raw material supply.

The Salzgitter plant can currently handle about 3,600 battery packs a year. As Volkswagen gains more practice with the process, it expects to expand the system to handle the first wave of retired EV battery packs in the 2020s – supplying materials for new batteries in a sustainable, closed-loop system.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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