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.”
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.” of
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.”
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 12 Instagrammers and four hashtags you’ll definitely want to follow. @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. @iamsamdobbins Photographer and videographer Sam Dobbins focuses most of his Instagram on the VW Mk7 GTI RS concept car (along with the occasional adorable cat picture). Dobbins also relies solely on black-and-white snapshots, giving the VW a sculptural, arthouse feel. @classics_vw Whether they’re shiny and reclaimed or on their way to a just-like-new look, the VW vehicles in this curated Instagram account share one thing : They’re all air-cooled. @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!). @xjamiexoe A self-proclaimed car journalist/parts hunter/car importer/car builder, Jamie Orr is an enthusiast who has built his career and travel around all things automotive. These adventures are on full display in his account. For a bigger peek into his love of VW, check out his @VWmodel account, devoted to Orr’s collection of VW scale models and toys. @vwvortex Sleek concept cars, souped-up race cars, and everyday sedans: If there’s a Volkswagen somewhere in the world that someone has taken a picture of, you’ll likely find it here. @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. @humblemechanic Everything depicted on this Instagram account has probably been fixed by the hands of Charles S., the master-certified VW tech behind this page. His special focus is the MK4 R32. @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
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.
Temperatures might be dropping, but things are only heating up in the world of Volkswagen — from auto shows to soccer sponsorships. Here’s what’s happening and where you can join in the VW fun. 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. North American International Auto Show in Detroit: January 19–27 New England International Auto Show in Boston: January 17–21 Houston Auto Show: January 23–27 St. Louis Auto Show: January 24–27 Portland International Auto Show: January 24–27 Philadelphia Auto Show: February 2–10 Chicago Auto Show: press only February 7–8; open to the general public February 9–18 Cleveland Auto Show: February 22–March 3 Greater Milwaukee International Car & Truck Show: February 23–March 3 Twin Cities Auto Show: March 9–17 Atlanta International Auto Show: March 20–24 DFW Auto Show: March 27–31 Denver Auto Show: March 27–31 Washington Auto Show: April 2–14 New York Auto Show: press only April 17–18; open to the general public April 19–28 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.