Volkswagen Newsroom

#TBT: Volkswagen’s Guinness World Record-breaking history

November 19, 2020
On June 3, 2019, a professional racing driver achieved the fastest lap of the Nordschleife performed by an electric vehicle in a Volkswagen ID.R prototype.

It’s not easy to make it into the Guinness World Records book. With over 50,000 applications from aspiring record-breakers each yearit can be a competitive field  especially in transportation, where records can come down to millisecond.  

At Volkswagen, we know a thing or two about breaking records. To celebrate Guinness World Records Day, we are looking back at nine times Volkswagen and its fans have advanced the auto industry and earned a place in Guinness World Records history.

1. Fastest lap of the Nürburgring Nordschleife by an electric car  

In the highlands of Nürburg, Germany sits the Nordschleife, a motorsport racing circuit 12.93 miles long. As drivers loop around a village and medieval castle, they take 145 turns and experience 3,000 meters of elevation change. On June 3, 2019, professional racing driver achieved the fastest lap of the Nordschleife performed by an electric vehicle in a Volkswagen ID.R prototype in 6 minutes 5.336 seconds. The ID.R has two electric motors  one for each axle  that generate a combined 670 horsepower. 

2. Fastest automated parking facility 

The Volkswagen Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Germany features two 20-story vehicle storage towers that connect to the factory via an underground tunnel. After purchasing their new Volkswagen, car buyers can watch as it is retrieved from the towers and delivered to them by an automated system, which set the world record for being the fastest automated parking facility in 2013. The robotic shuttles can complete the parking process, from the entrance of the tower to the farthest parking box, in 1 minute 44 seconds. 

The Volkswagen Autostadt in Wolfsburg, Germany.

3First car to sell 20 million units 

The Volkswagen Beetle was the first automobile in history to reach 20 million sales. On May 15, 1981, the 20 millionth Volkswagen Beetle rolled off the assembly line of Volkswagen de México in Puebla. To celebrate, a commemorative limited-edition Beetle was sold with silver metallic paint and black side stripes. 

4Farthest distance driven using an internal combustion engine in one hour 

Two professional racing drivers set the record for the greatest distance driven in one hour by a car with an internal combustion engine. On October 18, 1980, at the 14-mile, high-speed Nardò circuit in Italy, test drivers drove 219.598 miles in a Volkswagen diesel-powered prototype in just one hour 

5. Most people crammed into… 

  • A “new” Volkswagen Beetle: A total of 25 people packed into a Volkswagen Beetle in Kremser, Austria on April 29, 2000. 1
  • An “old” Volkswagen Beetle: A decade later, a university attempted the same feat  this time with a 1964 Volkswagen Beetle. On December 9, 2010, twenty people crammed into the car, which was the most people to fit inside any old-style Beetle model. A college group organized the event to raise awareness of human trafficking. 2
  • A Volkswagen camper van: On September 5, 2015, a group of Volkswagen enthusiasts gathered at a festival held in Malvern, Worcestershire in the UK. Fifty people crowded into the van, setting a record that had never been attempted before, and they used the event to raise money for a children’s charity. 3
A collection of Volkswagen Beetles.

6. Fastest vehicle crossing the Gilf Al-Kebir Plateau 

A Volkswagen Amarok was driven across the Gilf Al-Kebir plateau in Egypt on July 9, 2012The route started at the Kamal El-din Hussein Memorial and ended at Wadi Abdul Malekbreaking the world record for the fastest time from south to north of the plateauIt covered 236 miles of difficult terrain and poor weather in 5 hours 7 minutes. 

7Longest parade of Volkswagen cars 

A total of 2,728 Volkswagen Beetles participated in a parade on a racetrack near São Paulo on May 1, 1995. The event, organized by a local Volkswagen enthusiast club, also achieved the Guinness record for the longest parade of a single-model vehicle. 

8Largest human power symbol 

Hundreds of Volkswagen employees gathered in Millbrook, U.K. at an employee conference on October 15, 2019. To foster teamwork, the group came together to create the largest human power symbol. The 786 participants, all of whom worked for the Volkswagen Group, remained in position for five minutes 

9. Bestselling passenger car company  

In 2017, Volkswagen broke the record for the world’s best-selling passenger car company, with estimated sales of 10,447,227 units. 

And Volkswagen is not done breaking recordsWith the ID.4 launching a new generation of fully electric vehicles, we expect to hold more of the world’s superlatives in the years to come. 

The Volkswagen ID.R prototype in Nürburg, Germany.

Volkswagen teams with Taos Ski Valley, Inc. for snow adventures

November 18, 2020
Photo credit: Taos Ski Valley, Inc.

The name of the all-new Volkswagen Taos was chosen as a homage to the wild and beautiful land around Taos, N.M. To build that relationship beyond the name, Volkswagen has teamed with one of the state’s largest resorts and one of North America’s premier ski and snowboard destinations — the Taos Ski Valley ski resort.

A short drive from Colorado Springs and Denver, the top-rated, ski-in/ski-out mountain hotel and resort features 14 lifts, 110 trails and 1,294 acres of varied terrain, including access to Kachina Peak and Wildy Bowl. With the resort is the Ernie Blake Snowsports School, which offers lessons to skiers and riders of all ages and varying abilities. The ski school has Professional Ski Instructors of America and the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (PSIA-AASI), which is a sponsorship partner of Volkswagen.

“We are super excited that the name of this incredible and gorgeous new vehicle is synonymous with the spectacular place that we live,” Jeff Sherwood, director of resort services at Taos Ski Valley.

The ski resort also operates an airline, Taos Air, which operates public charter flights to Austin, Dallas, San Diego and Los Angeles. However, due to Covid, the airline is currently suspended.

Photo credit: Taos Ski Valley, Inc.

Taos Sky Valley has received third-party certification for its high standards of social and environmental performance. The European-style Alpine resort runs partially on solar power and devotes funds to the clean-up of the Rio Hondo River, which flows from the resort into the Rio Grande. The luxury Blake Hotel, named for Ernie Blake, the German/Swiss ski pioneer who founded Taos Ski Valley in 1955, is also LEED-certified.

All of this draws from the experience thousands of skiers seek out every year. From the top of Kachina Peak, Taos Ski Valley contains several double-black diamond runs that rank among the best expert-level skiing in North America. Its unique geography allows the resort to have deep powder long into the season while providing visitors gorgeous views of the Taos region.

“Taos takes on a new meaning now for Volkswagen, and this collaboration with Taos Ski Valley strengthens our message of bringing SUVs to the American market,” said Duncan Movassaghi, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Volkswagen of America. “Collaborating with an organization that is as socially and environmentally responsible as Taos Ski Valley is perfectly aligned with our Drive Bigger goals.”

The collaboration between the two like-minded, entities includes shuttle SUVs and loaner vehicles for guests to drive themselves up to the slopes or into town. Additional programming includes on-site VW activations for the greater Taos Ski Valley community, signage and joint digital and social media campaign efforts.

“Every decision we make, we look at it through three lenses: financial, social and environmental,” Sherwood explained.  “And, as we talked more and more with Volkswagen, we found out that our principles aligned, and they were on the same path as us.”

Taos was the perfect moniker for the sporty, subcompact SUV crossover, which embodies the same artistic and adventurous spirit and ethos of its namesake city. You can catch the affordable two-row, five-seater on the slopes on American roadways in 2021.

2022 Volkswagen Taos

Shopping small leads to big impact

November 17, 2020
Little Sesame’s 1978 Volkswagen Bus

The holiday shopping season is officially underway, and an easy way to celebrate the start of the holiday gift-giving season is investing in your community and shopping locally.

Since 2009, holiday shoppers nationwide have been encouraged to forgo shopping at big-box stores and area malls and support local independent retailers and mom-and-pop shops the weekend after Thanksgiving. The annual shopping event is an opportune time for neighborhood merchants to attract new customers and highlight their unique services.

This year it’s more important than ever to support small businesses who have been disproportionately hit hard due to coronavirus. Choosing to purchase books, food, services, and other holiday gifts from a small business positively impact communities and those that reside within them. With a little extra planning, it’s easy to shop in-store and online to find the perfect item.

From hummus and coffee, to a mobile bookstore, Volkswagen is proud of the many small business owners that rely on Volkswagen products to help their businesses run.


Little Sesame’s 1978 Volkswagen Bus

Little Sesame

When Chefs Nick Wiseman and Ronen Tenne opened their hummus shop in Washington, D.C. in 2015, they wanted their restaurant’s foundation to have a very different philosophy than some of the New York City kitchens they’d cooked in over the years. One key ingredient of their business philosophy: travel.

Little Sesame was developed in ode to the owner’s vibrant heritage and their love of travel. To help inspire the flavors of their hummus shop, the duo hits the road in their robin’s egg blue 1978 Volkswagen Bus to find inspiration for fresh, bold and new flavors across the U.S. Read more about the DC-based restaurant here.

Dominykas poses with a cup of joe from Dom’s Coffee. The beloved European-style coffee store was opened by his parents, Andrius Plankis and Asta Plankiene, in May 2015.

Dom’s Coffee

The European-style coffee shop, Dom’s Coffee Bar, was opened by Andrius Plankis and Asta Plankiene in May 2015, two years after the couple emigrated to America from Lithuania. Named after their 8-year-old son, Dominykas, specialties of Dom’s Coffee artistically crafted drinks include espressos, affogatos, specialty lattes, cold brews and hot chocolates.

In addition to their popular brick-and-mortar shop in Farmington Valley, Conn., the family runs a fully-equipped mobile espresso bar, which can be set-up and operated out of the trunk of their Volkswagen Atlas R-Line, when the car is parked. With their portable coffee bar, the couple has the opportunity to grow in their community steadily and economically. By adding a mobile component to their brick-and-mortar enterprise, they can reach new audiences and build new customers. Read more about charming coffee shop here.

Melanie Moore poses in front of her teal 1962 Volkswagen Transporter, which doubles as The Book Bus.

The Cincy Book Bus

Melanie Moore had always wanted to open her own bookstore. After retiring from 25 years of teaching, she decided it was time to pursue her dream and get books into the hands of kids who need them most. She was about to sign a lease on a physical storefront when she got cold feet and decided to proceed in a new direction.

Inspired by a novel centered around a fictional, female horse-drawn carriage bookseller, Moore decided to launch the Cincy Book Bus – a mobile bookstore – out of the bed of her husband’s teal 1962 Volkswagen Transporter. The van holds about 150 books, and Moore regularly rotates titles to cater to her audiences. Additionally, she’s developed relationships with foreign book publishers and authors to sell unique and hard-to-get titles. And, thanks to the Bus’ unusual appearance, customers often stop and pose for fun photo-ops. Moore dedicates her profits to stocking classroom libraries and giving back to her community. Learn more about the Cincy Book Bus here.

Virtual events are driving enthusiasm in the automotive industry

November 13, 2020
Last year, a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle was the winner from the Seattle stop of the Hot Wheels Legends Tour. This year, the competition was held virtually. Photo credit: Mattel

This year, major automotive events — which typically hold thousands of attendees and carmakers from around the world in large, crowded indoor venues — could not continue as they did in years’ past while following social distancing guidelines. But rather than facing cancellation or postponement, many are adapting by creating new ways for fans to engage with automotive brands and one another online.

Hot Wheels Senior Design Manager Brian Benedict was working with his team to plan the third annual Hot Wheels Legends Tour set for March, when he realized the event series would look different this year. To avoid cancellation, Benedict knew the event series would have to pivot.

“We would typically go city-by-city, with around 15 to 20 different events in the series, [but] this year we knew that wasn’t an option,” Benedict said. “The safety of our employees and attendees was our biggest priority.” After gauging interest from Hot Wheels fans, the team decided to turn the Legends Tour into a virtual event series.

“Our fan base still wanted to participate in something fun and different, even if it was from home,” Benedict added. “And, with extra time on their hands, contestants were spending more time on car building [and] were eager to share their work.”

In the car-building competition, which first started in 2018 for Hot Wheels’ 50th anniversary, contestants create a life-size, fully functioning vehicle by hand and their model is evaluated by a panel of automotive design experts. The winners from each event compete in the finale, with the champion inducted into the Hot Wheels Garage of Legends — the brand’s elite collection of the best Hot Wheels models. Only 22 of over 800 Hot Wheels models currently sit in the Garage of Legends.

But perhaps the competition’s biggest appeal is the reward of having the winning car preserved as a 1:64-scale Hot Wheels model to be sold around the world.

“We’re looking for folks who have created a unique, working car that’s worthy of being immortalized in a die-cast car,” said Benedict. “It’s got to have creativity, authenticity and what we call ‘garage spirit,’ meaning [that] someone put their blood, sweat and tears into the model, rather than having it shopped out.” The event attracts hundreds of contestants every year.

When the Hot Wheels team made the event series virtual, they were concerned fewer people would be interested in attending the event and entering the competition. However, the virtual events series has drawn a wider audience than ever before.

Attendees of the virtual event series were able to engage in the judging process for the first time this year. Photo credit: Mattel

“Going virtual has given us a chance to engage with fans all over the country,” said Benedict. “Our audience isn’t limited to people living near the cities we would stop in. Now, anyone who has WiFi can join.”

Benedict says the level of engagement has also improved, and online cameras can provide close-up views of the participating cars, which would normally be crowded with fans and difficult to see in-person.

“This gives attendees a greater appreciation for the mechanics of the vehicles, and the contestants who enter their cars… are able to have their hard work viewed by a national audience,” he said.

Benedict said this visibility also has helped Hot Wheels fans become more involved in the judging process. “The deliberation normally happens out of sight for most attendees [but] now they can… watch the decisions happen in real-time,” he said.

This was the first year Hot Wheels incorporated a “fan favorite pick” element to the judging process that allows attendees to cast their vote for their favorite vehicles.

“It’s things like this that allow people to feel engaged,” said Benedict. “There are still opportunities to see amazing vehicles and have conversations with other fans.”

The series is ongoing through mid-November, and Benedict said the events have received positive feedback from attendees so far.

“We haven’t had to sacrifice engagement, attendance or interest for safety,” said Benedict. “As difficult as it was to cancel the in-person tour, the virtual events have allowed people to come together just like [they would have] in-person.”

As the industry continues to navigate social distancing guidelines, Benedict expects more automotive events to explore virtual options to allow audiences to engage with their community without leaving their driveway.

“At the end of the day, people want to come together as a community — whether [that is] online or virtual.”

The judges look for creativity, authenticity and “garage spirit.” This 1971 Volkswagen Squareback named “Two Cool” has all three. Photo credit: Mattel

#TBT: A Volkswagen Beetle adorned with millions of beads links Mexico’s past and present

November 12, 2020
The Vochol Beetle. Credit: Asociación de Amigos del Museo de Arte Popular, A.C.

Volkswagens have always been vehicles of expression, from the Volkswagen Light Bus to the Wedding Beetle. But perhaps no car is as intricately and meticulously crafted as the “Vochol,” a 1990 Volkswagen Beetle adorned with over two million carefully placed glass beads.

The name “Vochol” is a combination of “vocho,” a common term for Volkswagen Beetles in Mexico, and “Huichol,” another name for the Wixárika indigenous group in the western states of Nayarit and Jalisco, Mexico. Separated from modern Mexico by the Sierra Madre mountains, Huichol artists have preserved many of their pre-Columbian traditions through the centuries, including their decorative beadwork.

Originally, the Huichol people used beads made from seeds, shells and other natural materials to adorn jewelry, animal skulls, bowls and masks. Today, their beadwork incorporates colorful glass or plastic beads, depicting geometric patterns and scenes of animals and crops.

About 2,277,000 beads cover the Vochol. Photo credit: Asociación de Amigos del Museo de Arte Popular, A.C.

In 2010, a combination of public and private organizations commissioned the creation of the Vochol, a complete covering of a Volkswagen Beetle with ornate Huichol beading. The goal was to create artwork using folk techniques on a modern canvas, demonstrating the ongoing traditions of Mexico’s indigenous communities.

A team of eight artists from two Huichol families worked for eight months to decorate the chassis and interior of the Beetle, meticulously covering sections of the car with resin and applying the beads in elaborate patterns by hand.

The entire car was covered in beads and symbols that pay tribute to Huichol culture, from the side mirrors to the seats to the steering wheel. The final product is an exclusive design that not only decorates the car but expresses Huichol spiritual beliefs.

On the Vochol’s hood, two snakes in the clouds represent rain. The sides depict deer, scorpions, birds and peyote flowers, which are all important symbols in Huichol culture and spirituality. On the roof, a large sun symbolizes the union between humans and gods, and four two-headed eagles offer protection to the passengers inside. An image of a shaman steering a canoe adorns the back of the car. The phrases “200 years of Independence” and “100 years since the Mexican Revolution” are spelled out in the Wixárika language along the fenders to mark the bicentennial of the start of the war of independence from Spain in 1810 and the centennial of the Mexican Revolution in 1910.

The phrases “200 years of Independence” and “100 years since the Mexican Revolution” are spelled out in the Wixárika language along the fenders. Photo credit: Asociación de Amigos del Museo de Arte Popular, A.C.

In total, the artisans used about 2,277,000 beads in their finished product and totaled over 9,000 hours of work. The car is perhaps the largest individual piece of Huichol beadwork ever created.

The masterpiece was unveiled at a museum in Guadalajara, Mexico. It was then featured in Mexico City for exhibition, and later embarked on an international tour at museums across the United States, Europe, Asia, South America and the Middle East. When it is not on loan, the Vochol resides at the Museo de Arte Popular in Mexico City.

By combining the Volkswagen Beetle — a pop culture icon in Mexico and around the world — with the Huichol traditional craft, the Vochol is a unique display of the persistence of folk art in a modern world.


How owning an electric vehicle can save money over the long haul

November 9, 2020

Electric vehicles like the Volkswagen ID.4 offer a lot of benefits to their owners, such as zero tailpipe-emission driving and home charging. But there’s often been questions about the cost of EVs, as battery technology remains slightly more expensive than combustion engines.

The truth is that while some of those differences exist, the cost of owning an EV has fallen in recent years. With Volkswagen building a global platform to support dozens of EV models worldwide, the ID.4 can offer all the benefits of a compact SUV at a price that’s within reach of a typical new-car buyer. And for many people in the market for a new vehicle, an EV offers several ways to potentially reduce costs while helping reduce carbon emissions.

“We want the ID.4 to be accessible to the average American family, with a package that has no compromises,” said Duncan Movassaghi, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Volkswagen of America. “We think this really works financially for our customers.”

Here are three ways that EV owners typically reduce costs:


Under current law, purchasers of certain electric vehicles may qualify for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500 (See important limitations below ).1

Subject to various limitations and qualifying criteria, state and local governments and other entities may also provide tax incentives or other benefits for certain EV buyers and lessees. 2 There are several websites that provide information on potential incentives in your area. If available, these incentives could reduce the purchase or lease cost of an EV.


Thanks to using electricity to get around, powering an EV can cost significantly less than filling up the average new gasoline-powered vehicle. For the ID.4, charging at home could cost on average about $58 per month less than driving a new vehicle the same distance. Over five years, that could add up to over $3,500 in fuel savings. 3

Beyond that, the Volkswagen ID.4 comes with three years of unlimited public DC fast charging on the Electrify America network at no additional cost, which offers 487 stations with more than 2,000 fast chargers nationwide, and more coming online soon. 4


With fewer moving parts and fewer routine needs like oil changes, EVs generally can cost less to maintain over several years than combustion vehicles. The Volkswagen ID.4 will come with two years or 20,000 miles (whichever occurs first)5 of scheduled maintenance services through Volkswagen’s Carefree Maintenance program to take care of routine items; beyond that, the ID.4 will have a four-year or 50,000-miles (whichever occurs first) bumper-to-bumper New Vehicle Limited Warranty6 and an eight-year/100,000-mile (whichever occurs first) limited warranty on the battery pack.7

All of these cost estimates above will vary based on your unique situation. It may take a bit of homework, but depending on your particular situation the Volkswagen ID.4 might help you save some money and embrace electric driving at the same time.


The new 2022 Volkswagen Golf R brings more power, tech and fun than ever before

November 4, 2020

It has been just under two decades since Volkswagen revealed the first Golf R32, a then-unexpected combination of the classic Golf hatchback platform with the go-fast parts of a performance car—namely the 3.2-liter narrow-angle VR-6 engine and an advanced all-wheel-drive system. From its cornering prowess to its exhaust note, the R32 quickly built a following.

Today, Volkswagen reveals the fourth-generation of the Golf R, and while the formula hasn’t changed, the performance potential has reached a new level. Arriving in the United States next year as a 2022 model, the Golf R will offer 315 hp, the most sophisticated 4Motion® all-wheel-drive system ever offered in the United States and technology that ties the ingredients together like never before.

And there’s even a Drift mode.

2022 Volkswagen Golf R. European model shown.

First, the key stats: The 2.0-liter EA888 turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the Golf R makes it the most powerful hot hatch Volkswagen has ever sold, with 315 hp, 27 more than the prior Golf R, and 310 pound-feet of torque, up from 280 pound-feet previously, with the max torque available from 2,100 rpm through 5,350 rpm. That power can be routed through either a North American-specified six-speed manual or a seven-speed DSG® dual-clutch automatic. In a straight line, the 2022 Golf R can now hit 62 mph in 4.7 seconds, with an on-track top speed of 155 mph.1

But the Golf R experience was built around cornering ability and all-around ability, and here the new model has several upgrades. The upgraded 4Motion system now not only shifts power between the front and rear axles, but also between the left and right rear wheels. Where the prior system kept a 50:50 split from side to side, the new system can direct 100 percent of available power to the wheel on the outside of a corner, helping to reduce understeer and boost agility.

To manage those decisions, the Golf R features a new Vehicle Dynamics Manager, which monitors every corner the Golf R takes and helps adjust the vehicle as needed. It links the all-wheel-drive system, electronic differentials, the DCC® adaptive suspension, steering, transmission and brakes with a new level of sophistication, taking data measurements up to 200 times a second. In practice, this means the Golf R can now sense whether it’s entering understeer or oversteer and apply yaw and load changes on individual wheels at just the right amount to help improve response, shifting power delivery or applying a brake to an individual wheel.


The Driving Mode Selector now features five built-in settings; “Comfort,” for daily cruising, “Sport” for standard performance, “Race” for a more taut and louder setup, and two new modes, “Special” and “Drift.” “Special” mode was developed at the Nürburgring Nordschleife, with softer damping, coordinated DSG downshifts for cornering and other settings for that famed track; compared to the prior model, the new Golf R is up to 17 seconds quicker per lap in internal testing. “Drift” mode, intended only for the track, changes the stability control and all-wheel-drive power delivery modes to allow tire-smoking, sideways action.

Drivers can also customize an “Individual” drive mode setting to generate their exact preferences. For those taking the Golf R on track, the electronic stability control can be set to an “ESC Sport” mode that increases the thresholds for the system to intervene in traction moments, although Front Assist2 reactivates the ESC in emergencies.

The 2022 Golf R will feature more visual distinction from the Golf GTI than before, with unique front and rear bumpers derived and a two-part rear roof spoiler optimized for aerodynamic performance. The new Golf R adds a distinctive light signature for the first time, with a blue crossbar in the grille integrated with an LED strip that serves as part of the car’s daytime running lights.

From the side, the Golf R features 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with summer performance tires3 and larger cross-drilled brake discs, with blue calipers that feature the R logo. The car also sits 0.8 inches lower than the regular production Golf. The five-door Golf R can be configured in three different colors; the traditional Lapiz Blue Metallic, Pure White or Deep Black Pearl Effect.

The new levels of performance and technology continue inside the Golf R. The driver sits in Nappa-leather trimmed seats with the new R logo in the headrest. In front of them, there’s a heated and multifunction leather sport steering wheel, with DSG paddles, blue contrast stitching, touch controls with haptic feedback and an R button for choosing driving profiles. (Press it forcefully, and the Golf R switches directly into Race mode.)

Behind the wheel lies the Digital Cockpit configurable instrument panel, with data displays and graphics unique to the Golf R that work seamlessly to improve driving performance. Switching the DSG to manual and choosing Special or Drift profiles brings up shift recommendations in the Digital Cockpit. Other data display options include: boost pressure, gearbox temperature, torque, power, a G-meter, the torque distribution of the all-wheel-drive system, and a lap timer for track work.

The dash also includes a 10-inch Discover Pro touchscreen with key infotainment software, and the interior mood can be set with a 30-color ambient lighting that synchronizes with the display.

When it arrives next year, the new Golf R will bring a major jump forward in driving enjoyment, while offering a compelling mix of versatility and technology for its price. You won’t have to wait to own a future classic.

How polymers help make Volkswagen cars lighter, faster and more fuel-efficient

November 2, 2020
European model shown. Specifications may vary.

The role of plastics in the design and production of cars has never been more essential. To help meet the needs of modern cars, scientists and specialists at Volkswagen of America’s polymers laboratory near the company’s Chattanooga plant create innovative solutions to help make cars lighter and more fuel-efficient.

“Polymers have improved all of our lives in many ways, but especially in vehicles,” says laboratory evaluation specialist Ellen Collins, who has studied and seen the evolution of these advanced materials for the past decade.

The term polymer refers to any long molecular chain made up bonded chemical units, or monomers. These chemical chains are strong, resistant and have a high tolerance for heat – making them useful in a variety of components throughout a vehicle.

“Unlike metals, you can directly mold them, which can make them more versatile and less expensive for the manufacturer. And, because they can be made quickly, they can go into production much faster than other materials, which can also help reduce the cost for the end-user,” Collins explains.

The automotive industry is the third most important consuming sector of polymers after packaging and building and construction. On average, there are 39 different types of basic plastics used in a car and more than 70 percent of the plastic is derived from four main polymers: polypropylene, polyurethane, polyamides and PVC.

Volkswagen of America’s polymers laboratory in Chattanooga, Tn.

Collins and her team test, inspect and approve these components to help ensure there are no defects – for example, in the texture, mold and grain. They also work closely with the company’s chemical compound suppliers to supply the right materials. “We challenge them with a ‘wish list’ of items we’d like to see developed,” she says.

These high-performance polymers are designed to be long-lasting can be found throughout the vehicle, from the car’s tires to its trunk. They can absorb energy in the event of car crashes and help minimize the harmful impacts to the car’s driver and occupants.

“Look at the evolution of the instrument panel. Originally, the dashboard was made of wood or metal. But, when they changed it to polymers, it started being referred to as a crash pad. Why? …Because it is softer and had protective padding, which can lessen the impact on the driver during an accident,” Collins says.

She explains that one of the lab’s main objectives is to help reduce the overall weight of a vehicle as much as possible without losing any capabilities. According to the Department of Energy, reducing a vehicle’s weight by 10 percent can result in a 6-8 percent improvement in overall fuel economy. It boils down to physics: The lighter the vehicle is, less power is required to get it moving and less energy is needed to maintain a constant speed and it thereby uses less fuel. The lighter various vehicle components can be made, the more flexibility designers and engineers have to add other technologies like electronic sensors and airbags while staying within weight goals.

One recent win the lab experienced was working with suppliers on producing a lightweight polypropylene to incorporate on the door frame of the Volkswagen Atlas. “We were able to reduce the weight of the part while preserving its same characteristics,” Collins says.

Collins says the role of plastics in the design and production of cars has never been more important and expects the demand for polymers will grow over the next decade, thanks in large part to the increase of electric and hybrid vehicles. By 2025, Volkswagen is committed to reducing the carbon footprint of its global vehicle fleet by 30 percent compared to 2015 and aims to make the Volkswagen Group’s balance sheet CO₂ neutral globally by 2050.

“We have to incorporate lighter parts to help offset the weight of the car’s heavy [lithium] batteries,” Collins says. “We believe that polymers are the future … and hope that all car companies are taking the same approach because the sooner they bring down the weight of their vehicles, the quicker we can work toward reducing our carbon footprint.”

#TBT: 50 years after, a look back at the first modern Volkswagen

October 29, 2020

From the launch of the Beetle through the Bus, the 411 and other models, Volkswagen built all of its cars around air-cooled engines mounted at the rear. This approach had tremendous benefits, but it was clear by 1970 that the future would require a different approach – and in October of that year, Volkswagen unveiled the model that set the tone for decades to come.

While not imported to the United States, the Volkswagen K70 notchback sedan marked a dramatic change in the company’s direction. Developed by NSU, a small German automaker that Volkswagen had bought in 1969, the K70 featured a clean, classic design with a water-cooled four-cylinder engine powering the front wheels.

At the time, NSU and other automakers had been experimenting with other engine types and layouts, including rotary, Wankel-style engines that might offer the best combination of power and efficiency. In the K70, the result was a smaller sedan that offered ample interior and cargo space for its time, along with a well-tuned independent suspension. The 1.8-liter engine’s 70-hp output was adequate for its era, but less than sporty.


One of the main emphases of the K70 was on active and passive safety. Features such as a reinforced passenger compartment, crumple zones at front and rear, a fuel tank at the rear in the protected area and preparation for safety belts on all seats as a standard feature set new standards.

Built in a new factory in Salzgitter, the K70 was announced as “a new Volkswagen, different to all the others made to date.” Although it was groundbreaking, the K70 wasn’t a huge seller, but it laid the groundwork for Volkswagen to develop the Golf and Passat. And 50 years later, its design has aged gracefully into a true classic for collectors worldwide.

#TBT: From Woodstock to Waikiki, the nostalgic pull of the 23-window Bus

October 22, 2020

What do touring musicians, alpine explorers and beach bums all have in common? You could catch them behind the wheel of the elusive and highly sought-after hippie classic – the Volkswagen 23-window bus.

Known to U.S. buyers as the “Deluxe Microbus with Samba package,” the 23-window bus was originally designed as a vehicle to tour the Swiss Alps, offering up to nine passengers maximum visibility, but was quickly adopted by families, campers and members of the counterculture. The van features a collection of unique windows including eight skylights, two curved rear windows, a retractable skylight, and a coveted split windshield.

Produced between 1951 and 1967, the first-generation Microbus was budget-friendly and built for sightseeing adventures. The four-cylinder engine was placed in the rear, allowing the driver to sit right on the windshield affording unparalleled views of the road.

Over time, the classic silhouette of the Microbus could be spotted at beaches, campgrounds, and music festivals. The bus quickly became synonymous with the counterculture — posing a complete opposite of souped-up muscle cars that were being pumped out of Detroit in the 1950s and 1960s.

The bus was relatively easy to maintain and could carry lots of passengers — factors that were very attractive to the nomadic hippies of the 1960s and 1970s. The Microbus was responsible for shaking up the automotive industry just as America was on the brink of a social revolution.

While the original 23-window bus only came in two colors (Mouse Grey with a Pearl White top or Sealing Wax Red with a Chestnut Brown top), surfers and hippies quickly adapted their paint jobs with custom art, peace signs and lyrics from their favorite bands.

The Microbus has been featured throughout pop culture, from album covers to cartoon feature films. To this day, the bus continues to evoke feelings of nostalgia and free-spiritedness.

Spotting an original 23-window bus on the road is a rare sight — only between 5 and 10 percent of all VW Bus models made had this combination of features – and when they appear on the market in top-notch condition, they can fetch a six-figure sum. In 2017, a 1961 Volkswagen 23-window Deluxe Microbus Samba sold for $291,500, setting a new record for the model.


Saved Vehicles

You don't have any saved vehicles!

Look for this icon to save your favorite vehicles.

Once you've saved some vehicles, you can view them here at any time!


Saved Vehicles

You don't have any saved vehicles!

Look for this icon to save your favorite vehicles.

Once you've saved some vehicles, you can view them here at any time!

Contact Us
Volkswagen Fort Walton Beach 30.412020, -86.622910.