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Watch the electric ID.R set a record on one of the most beautiful roads in the world
September 13, 2019
It’s known as “Heaven’s Gate” – the world’s highest naturally formed arch, with an opening some 430 feet tall and 190 feet wide, about 5,000 feet up China’s Tianmen mountain. A hallowed and scenic site for centuries, visitors can reach the gate on a road that ranks among the most scenic, and twisting, of any in the world, with 99 sharp switchbacks.
Earlier this month, the Volkswagen ID.R team went to the Tianmen Mountain Big Gate Road to set the first benchmark there of any kind for a performance car, let alone a 671-hp, all-wheel-drive electric one. With Romain Dumas at the wheel again, the ID.R glided up the 6.78-mile route in 7 minutes, 38.585 seconds.
Professional driver on closed course.
The feat was the latest in a string of record-breaking events for the purpose-built electric race car. In June 2018, Dumas not only won the famous ‘Race to the Clouds’ at Pikes Peak for electric vehicles with the ID.R, but also smashed the all-time record for vehicles using any kind of fuel by a massive 16 seconds. A few weeks later, Dumas undercut the record for electric vehicles at the Goodwood Festival of Speed’s famous hill climb in England with the ID.R.
Three months ago, the ID. R set a new and dominating electric record on the Nürburgring, and a few days later came the all-time record in Goodwood – demonstrating how electric vehicles can meet extreme challenges. Next year, Americans will get their chance to see Volkswagen’s ID. electric vehicle technology up close when the wraps come off the first U.S. version of an ID. production car.
alice + olivia’s spring collection blooms into view with a Beetle backdrop
September 10, 2019
The fashion world gathers in New York City every September for a week-long reveal of the latest works from top designers, all capturing trends that will shape the industry in the coming year. Attendees put their best, well-heeled foot forward and see what the season ahead will bring.
The brainchild of designer Stacey Bendet, alice + olivia’s Spring 2020 fashion presentation has long shed the stale catwalk approach for a series of nine “vignettes” – colorful, social-media-ready sets ranging from frothy pink flowered swings to a backdrop of neon orange teddy bears. Among a bustling crowd of onlookers and celebrities, Volkswagen further enhanced Bendet’s dream-like vision this year by displaying its Beetle Final Edition, wrapped in alice + olivia’s whimsical hero print for Spring 2020. Guests were able to partake in the set experience and snap pictures inside and around the personality-packed VW Beetle.
“When the colors are right in a space you exhale and tune into your own interior,” Bendet say. “I dream in color and these rooms are fashion dreams come to life.”
Launched in 2002 by Bendet, alice + olivia has built a sizable following for its mix of whimsy and sophistication that’s a strong reflection of its founder’s personality. Its line of clothing and accessories can be found in more than 800 department and specialty stores worldwide and more than 20 stand-alone boutiques.
The collection introduced color block dressing highlighted by dramatic new shapes which included high-waisted trousers, tops with voluminous sleeves, oversized blazers with pleated ruffle details, and dresses that showcased fresh new floral prints and fine embroidery.
The brand also introduced a collaboration with Murder Bravado designer Everard Best, a rising star in the fashion world. Best is known for his hand embroidered, dyed and distressed denim, and previously collaborated with fashion designers Virgil Abloh and Heron Preston.
“With this collaboration, we wanted to bring our vibe and our design DNA to alice + olivia,” Best says. “We applied our signature dying and distressing techniques then exaggerated the length to keep it super fun and over the top.”
Vintage Warehaus: A true restoration story
August 29, 2019
Tim Bolar’s passion for restoring vehicles started where many enthusiasts’ do: fixing up cars with his grandfather as a kid. Born and raised in Iowa, Bolar talks fondly about his childhood memories of going for ice cream runs in his granddad’s Volkswagen Bug and afternoons spent working on his Beetle.
However, Bolar took his passion one step farther and turned it into a successful career path: he has a 9-to-5 job restoring vehicles and a side Volkswagen-inspired business called Vintage Warehaus.
Started last year by Bolar and his wife, Tasha, Vintage Warehaus is a unique concept. The couple sells one-of-a-kind vintage items and antiques out of their bright orange Volkswagen Transporter.
Over the past year, Tim and Tasha, have taken their colorful VW camper, nicknamed “Bob,” to antique shows around the state of Iowa. In between shows, the couple tracks down unique and uncommon furniture and goods that can be repurposed and resold, with the help of Vintage Warehaus. Through the experience, the pair have met numerous VW owners who jump at the opportunity to share their memories of the brand with fellow enthusiasts.
“We are just passionate about bringing older inventory to life again, which applies to both the cars and the antiques that we sell,” Bolar commented.
Before Vintage Warehaus, Bolar owned and restored several Volkswagen vehicles as a hobby, ranging from the Beetle to Rabbit, Jetta vehicles and a 1976 Westfalia bus. The Westfalia bus, dubbed “Leo,” was a complete overhaul of the vehicle.
Today, Bolar’s most recent restoration project is a blue 1984 Rabbit Cabriolet, Wolfsburg Edition. As he thinks about his plans for future cars and goods, he comments, “These projects just find me.”1
From Beetles to robotics, one teacher’s passion for cool machines
August 21, 2019
Troy Rivers Jr.’s obsession with air-cooled Volkswagen cars dates back to his early teens. While his classmates were saving up for newer models, Rivers was pinching his pennies to be able to purchase a bright green 1969 Baja Volkswagen Beetle.
“I went and looked at it with my mom and fell in love with it,” says Rivers. “It’s a blast to drive.”
He attributes his love of vintage vehicles to his father and grandfather, who enjoyed owning and fixing up classic cars. “Growing up, I just remember being in the back seat of these cool cars,” says Rivers. “I’ve kind of taken the obsession to another level.”
Since then, Rivers’ Baja Beetle has become an important member of the family. It was the car Rivers drove off in after exchanging vows with his wife, Lindsay, and played a starring role in the pregnancy announcement of their son, Colt. “He is definitely going to be car crazy, just like me,” says Rivers.
Over time, Rivers has added more Volkswagen vehicles to the family—his growing collection includes a 1970 Volkswagen Type 2 Bus, a 1973 Volkswagen Thing, and four more vintage Volkswagen Beetle cars.
“The thing that made me go back to the VW family is that they’re a car that everybody can relate to,” says River. “It seems like everybody has a story with them.”
Rivers’ automotive interest blends surprisingly well with another one of his passions: teaching. Initially on a business degree track, Rivers was inspired to switch careers and pursue teaching after seeing how much joy working with children brought his wife. “Initially, I just wanted to make a lot of money,” Rivers says. “Then, one day, something just clicked. I’ve always loved kids, so I decided to be a teacher and I never looked back.”
Currently a third-grade teacher in Loganville, Ga., Rivers uses his automotive know-how to help co-host the school’s robotics club. “I kind of relate it to working on cars,” says Rivers. They “have to be good with following directions, because they have to follow very detailed directions [and] go through hundreds of different steps to build the actual robot.”
This past year, ten of his students were invited to compete on the state level against middle schoolers. “It was very cool,” says Rivers.
In years to come, Rivers plans to continue to share his Volkswagen fervor with his students and son. “Being able to pass on my passion of cars … [and] share that with my son is like nothing else,” Rivers says.
A trip down our record-breaking lane.
August 20, 2019
The Volkswagen ID. R electric race car that set a record for climbing Pikes Peak last year now owns two more records. Driver Romain Dumas made the climb at the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed in just 41.18 seconds, breaking a 20-year-old record by half a second.
This comes just one month after the ID. R snagged the record for fastest electric car around the Nürburgring. Dumas made the lap in 6:05.336 minutes beating the previous EV record set in 2017 by 40.564 seconds – and in the process, surpassing every fossil-fuel powered record at the track save one.
But enough about the ID.R, Volkswagen has been breaking records for decades. Here’s a look back at all of the times we’ve changed the game in the auto industry.
Volkswagen Beetle No. 15,007,034 rolled off the assembly line in Germany, surpassing Ford’s venerable Model T as the most highly produced car in history.
A 1,900-mile test drive.
Golf I “Alaska-Tierra del Fuego” and a second bright-yellow Golf I, completed what was probably the longest test drive ever taken by a new car, almost 1,900 miles from Fairbanks, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina
Speed record at Nardò Ring.
The Volkswagen W12 Coupé concept car set the world record at Italy’s Nardò Ring for all speed classes over 24 hours, with an average speed of 200.6 mph.
Jetta Hybrid set the land speed record at Bonneville with a top speed of 187.147 mph.
Top track speed electronically limited in U.S. Always obey all speed and traffic laws.
Fastest lap at Nürburgring.
VW Golf GTI Clubsport S broke the record for the fastest front-drive car to lap the Nürburgring at 7:49:21 minutes.
VW delivered more cars globally than any other automaker in history with 10.83 million units.
At over 30M sold, the Passat is the highest selling midsize car ever.
Watch the Volkswagen ID. R take on its latest speed challenge – a racing drone
August 16, 2019
From Pikes Peak to the Nürburgring and Goodwood, Volkswagen’s electric ID. R race car has set records around the world, showing how electric power can transform vehicle performance. Its latest challenge isn’t a famous track, but another type of breakthrough technology – a racing drone.
Launched earlier this decade, drone racing now sports thousands of players worldwide and several professional leagues. All feature tiny, remote-controlled aircraft capable of reaching speeds of 85 mph or more through wild obstacle courses. For this video, a racing drone took on the ID. R through a twisty course set up inside a Volkswagen factory. Take a look at what happens when two pieces of the future come together.
Reviving auto shop classes for the EV era, one old Volkswagen at a time
August 14, 2019
When Ron Grosinger began teaching shop class in 2005 at Memorial High School in West New York, N.J., the program was struggling to survive. In a school facing many challenges, the elective course had dwindled from six teachers to two and rarely offered any hands-on learning, Grosinger says.
As in many schools across the country, the shop program was on the path to being eliminated. Between the extra cost of running capital-intensive classes and a growing focus on college preparation, enrollment in vocational classes has dwindled from prior decades – even with a growing economic need for future mechanics.
To keep the class afloat, Grosinger knew he’d have to get creative to stay relevant. “If you’re teaching students about gasoline cars, that’s basically the equivalent of 8-track players,” says Grosinger.
So, in 2008, he approached the school’s administrators with an innovative idea: he would teach his 27 students, step-by-step, how to convert a gasoline-driven car to electric power.
“With the electric car, I wanted to prove two things,” says Grosinger. “First, [I wanted to prove] that we could convert it. Everyone was telling me at the time that it was impossible when really, we just didn’t have the option yet [on a large scale].
“Second, and most important, I wanted to prove that kids are super capable. You just have to give them a chance.”
He had recently taken an intensive, two-week EV conversion course in San Diego and believed the new program would help teach students applied science and engineering principles through automotive applications. With backing from the school, he was able to purchase his first conversion vehicle: a 1990 Volkswagen Cabriolet.
Grosinger knew it would serve as the perfect base for this specific build. “Volkswagen vehicles are known for their German engineering and affordability. They’re built with no-nonsense and the parts are readily available,” Grosinger says. “They’re also relatively lightweight, which is great for electric conversion and helps keep the battery costs down for the class. … All the money you put into them is worth it.”
Over time, the students learned how to produce the various mechanical parts in cardboard, then wood, then steel. They welded parts, tackled wiring and learned to solve problems as they arose.
“We completely gutted the car and put it all back together,” says Grosinger.
Within a year, he noticed the student makeup of the class had expanded to advanced math, science, physics and engineering students. Also, there were many more female students. “The girls in my classes are amazing engineers,” says Grosinger. “Through hands-on learning, I hope they are encouraged to maintain and broaden their interest in STEM careers.” His goal is to get the male to female ratio up to 50-50.
Every year since his first year of teaching, Grosinger has upped the ante and challenged his class to take on new projects. In the decade since the program was revamped, enrollment has dramatically increased. The department has now expanded to four teachers and the school added an after-school automotive program.
“Teachers should encourage students to explore new and more efficient ways to move a person from point A to point B, whether that system is a train with solar panels on it, a car with an electric motor in it or retrofitting an existing technology with a different energy source,” says Grosinger. “And don’t come up with the solutions for the students.”
The various automotive build projects have also led to the award of additional grant money that has helped pay for new and improved equipment. Most importantly, several of Grosinger’s students have gone on to work in the automotive field.
Grosinger attributes the popularity and growth of these courses to the promotion of STEM subjects and the infusion of high-tech equipment, like 3D printers, in the programs.
“It’s all about giving students options,” he says.
The USWNT just brought home another championship—and ‘home’ was ready to celebrate
August 13, 2019
As the seconds ticked down in the final moments of the U.S. Women’s National Team 2-0 victory over the Netherlands, preparations were already underway in New York City – preparing a heroes’ welcome fit for a team that captured not only the championship, but the imagination of an entire nation.
For a few hours on a steamy Wednesday morning in July, lower Manhattan transformed into the Canyon of Heroes as fans spilled into the streets with homemade signs and cheered from office high-rises as floats carrying the champions made their way down Broadway under a flurry of ticker tape. It was an inspiring and pivotal moment for soccer in the U.S. — and for female athletes (young and old, amateur and pro) the world over.
Not on our watch.
At Volkswagen, we understand the deep pride people feel for this team. It’s this same pride that inspired us to become the presenting partner of the U.S. men’s, women’s and youth national teams. Because, to us, driving bigger means supporting these teams, and not just on the field. In fact, we even had members from the New York chapter of America SCORES on our parade float.
And we won’t just be there for the fanfare. We’ll be collaborating with U.S. Soccer to help increase grassroots-level support and foster a deeper love for the game. By working toward raising the game’s visibility in the U.S., we’re hoping to help truly make soccer America’s most popular sport. It already has one of the most passionate fan bases, so we’re off to a great start.
Flint brings back its historic Soap Box Derby, with a little push from Volkswagen Group of America
August 13, 2019
As the cradle of the American automobile industry, Flint, Mich., has always been a playground for four-wheeled innovation. In the boom times of 1936, the town held its first Soap Box Derby for children and adults to home-build their own gravity-powered racers. Thousands of fans and even the occasional national political leader would attend the events, which were held until 1995.
Since then, a lack of resources has kept the event on hiatus – until this summer, when Volkswagen Group of America helped bring Flint’s Soap Box Derby back to life, with a dozen cars running for glory in early June.
Shane Schmitt, an employee of Volkswagen Group of America (VWGoA) in Auburn Hills, Mich., saw a chance for the company to not just sponsor a race, but promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education while reviving a fun tradition for Flint.
“Audi and Volkswagen’s involvement in this unique race was an exciting opportunity,” said Schmitt. “The race, and what it sought to teach the kids, aligned with our core beliefs as a company. Our involvement was much appreciated by the organizers of the event, and it was a wonderful chance to reach out to the community of Flint.”
If you’ve never seen a soap box race, the whole idea of putting a “soap box” on wheels can be a bit misleading. Like real race cars, soap-box cars must be built to a set of rules for weight and design. Even though they’re only powered by gravity, they can reach 30 mph on typical-length tracks.
Volkswagen Group of America was a “Super Stock” level sponsor of the race, which funded the purchase of two derby cars as well as the transportation of the winning car and driver to the All-American Soap Box Derby World Championships in Akron, Ohio.
Thanks to the sponsorship, local middle school students in Flint were able to participate in every aspect of the vehicle assembly process. Students had the opportunity to collaboratively build the derby cars, learn about vehicle assembly in a hands-on environment, work through pre-race inspections, and participate in the race as either a driver or pit crew member.
To help the students with the build process, employees from Audi quality tech service and Volkswagen sales and marketing came together to work on the design of the derby cars and the vehicle’s display decals. Other VWGoA employees volunteered at pre-race build workshops. After building was complete, two cars were entered in the Flint Soap Box Derby—one branded Volkswagen, and one branded Audi.
The Volkswagen vehicle took home second place and Audi placed eighth. All told, 38 kids took part in the derby experience, and the winning car went on to compete at the national level in mid-July, bringing a bit of automotive history back to Flint.
How one teacher funded over 100 classroom projects through DonorsChoose.org
August 9, 2019
Allyson Maiolo, an elementary school teacher for more than 20 years, has raised more than $40,000 for her students on DonorsChoose.org. Since discovering the site in 2007, Maiolo has had more than 110 classroom projects fully funded – mostly through anonymous donations – thanks to the crowdfunding platform.
“It only takes five minutes to create your account and less than 20 minutes to build your page,” says Maiolo, who currently teaches third grade in North Port, Fla. “Everyone can spare [that time] to get something amazing for their classroom that will greatly benefit their students’ lives.”
Her first fully funded project was a collection of whisper phones and lower-level reading books to help students struggling with reading comprehension build their reading skills and confidence. “From there, I got on a roll,” Maiolo says. Since then, she has raised thousands of dollars to help buy basic classroom needs, such as pencils and books, to technology, sports equipment and furniture.
That’s what’s special about DonorsChoose.org – teachers can tailor the projects to their schools and students’ top needs. “At my previous school, it was very high needs and had very few resources. I did a lot of fundraisers for furniture we didn’t have that helped my classroom feel homier,” Maiolo explains. “It really makes a difference when you have things that are new and nice, and the kids see that learning is valued.”
Volkswagen agrees that education should be cherished and is donating a total of $1 million to DonorsChoose.org to help teachers by funding classroom projects across America. Volkswagen dealers will receive DonorsChoose.org donation cards pre-loaded with funds from Volkswagen that they can share with customers during the “Drive Bigger” Summer Event.
Maiolo, a volunteer teacher ambassador for DonorsChoose.org who drives a Volkswagen GTI and Tiguan, has encouraged several teachers on her campus to develop their own pages and helped jumpstart several new school-wide programs, including a program that provides positive male role models for at-risk fifth-grade boys.
Through the DonorsChoose.org platform, the school was able to buy the male students dress shirts and ties. “They would wear the outfits on the days they had meetings,” says Maiolo. The program was so popular and successful that the school plans to expand it to additional students this upcoming year.
With the first day of school on the horizon, there’s no time like the present to create a classroom project. Here are Maiolo’s top 10 tips for getting your classroom project funded.
Do your research. Poke around DonorsChoose.org and look at other projects that have been successfully funded by users. Get a feel for what others are doing and tailor your project accordingly.
Start simple and small. Maiolo recommends keeping project costs low, especially early on. “I usually recommend keeping projects between $200-$300,” Maiolo says. “If you start small, your projects will fund a lot easier.”
Create a catchy title. “Anything that draws people to your project is good,” says Maiolo. If you can come up with a play on words, or a catchy title, that’s best. Also, be as descriptive as possible. Instead of writing “tablets needed,” write “tablets needed for hands-on, STEM-based learning and activities.”
Let your students shine. The project description is a great avenue for teachers to demonstrate how much they enjoy their job, students and classroom. “Describe what the demographics are like at your school, as far as free and reduced lunch levels, but also how your students have overcome difficult challenges and circumstances,” she says. “Make sure to demonstrate how these items can best benefit your students’ lives in the long-run.”
Be strategic with your categories. Be sure to pick two categories that best apply to your specific project to help drive traffic to your page.
Don’t feel limited. As noted above, Maiolo has requested a variety of classroom enhancements, ranging from basic school resources to technology and furniture. Teachers can also repeat projects every school year. “I always write a snack project at the beginning of the year so every day every child in my class gets a snack, no matter if they brought one from home or not,” Maiolo explains.
Think beyond your community. “For the most part, my projects have been funded by strangers and random people on the internet,” Maiolo says. “You want to make sure your project is written in a way that’s going to speak to any donor who finds your page.”
Be patient. Remember, you have four months to get your project funded, so don’t worry if the response isn’t immediate. “You can’t expect your project to be funded overnight,” says Maiolo.
Research match offers. Your project may qualify for a match offer or funding, so make sure to scope out any offers currently available and tailor your project to their criteria. “At least half of my projects, if not more, have qualified for match offers,” says Maiolo. “It’s a great and easy way to get funding for your project.”
Send thank-you notes. “Every time someone donates – even if it’s only a $1 donation – you have an opportunity to say thank you and it’s really important to do that,” says Maiolo. She always suggests taking photos of your students using the items you requested. “You want to make sure that you’re demonstrating the impact of those items so the donors understand the difference they have made and will be encouraged to donate in the future,” says Maiolo.