Thirty-six years ago, one of the world’s fastest race cars – a Porsche 956 – tore around the 12.9 miles of the Nürburgring Nordschelife race track in a scant 6 minutes, 11.13 seconds. That record stood for more than three decades as an ultimate testament to power, engineering and skill, only falling to an experimental Porsche last year that was custom-built for the task.
Last Monday, that record was surpassed for the second time – by an all-electric car.
The Volkswagen ID. R electric race car that set a record for climbing Pikes Peak last year now owns the record for fastest electric car around the Nürburgring. Driver Romain 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.
“To be a record-holder on the Nordschleife makes me unbelievably proud,” says Dumas. “For me, this is the best and most difficult race track in the world. The ID. R was perfectly prepared for the Nordschleife and it was so much fun to experience the blistering acceleration and rapid cornering speeds.”
With a redesigned aerodynamic package meant to maximize the 670-hp ID.R’s top speed, Dumas averaged 127.36 mph around the course. As you can see from the video below, at that speed the Green Hell becomes a frightening blur of hills and curves.
The ID. R is more than just a fast car. From quick-battery charging and cooling to electrical shielding in high-voltage environments, the technology gleaned from the ID. R may have everyday applications for Volkswagen’s upcoming wave of electric vehicles, such as the ID. CROZZ and ID. BUZZ.
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.
Top produced car.
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.
Speed record at Bonneville.
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.
Most cars delivered in 2018.
VW delivered more cars globally than any other automaker in history with 10.83 million units.
Best-selling midsize car.
At over 30M sold, the Passat is the highest selling midsize car ever.
A high school teacher revitalized his auto shop class in West New York, N.J., by introducing an electric vehicle conversion course.
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.
Award highlights vehicles based on a combination of available driver assistance features, safety and reliability ratings, and critical acclaim
Herndon, VA — Volkswagen of America, Inc. is pleased to announce that the Volkswagen Jetta has been named the 2019 Best New Car for Teens in the $20,000 – $25,000 category by U.S. News & World Report. To be awarded as one of the Best New Cars for Teens, a vehicle must have the best combination of reliability ratings, crash test scores, available advanced driver assistance features and top critical recommendations in the U.S. News Best Cars rankings in its price category.
“We are so pleased for Jetta to be recognized as a 2019 Best New Car for Teens,” said Scott Keogh, CEO and President, Volkswagen Group of America. “The seventh-generation car features an excellent combination of technology, styling, and value, and continues to be one of Volkswagen’s best-selling vehicles in the United States.”
“In addition to strong crash test scores, the 2019 Jetta has a suite of available driver-assistance features, like forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, blind spot detection, lane departure warning and lane keeping assist, all of which can help prevent new drivers from having accidents,” said Jaime Page Deaton, executive editor of U.S. News Best Cars. “The Jetta also gets good gas mileage—a major plus for teens trying to stretch their allowance.”
All 2019 Best New Cars for Teens winners have available forward collision warning and forward automatic emergency braking. Nearly every winner has lane departure warning—which alerts the driver if the car strays out of its lane—and lane keeping assist, which can help keep the car in its lane. Almost all winners also have teen driver controls or available smartphone apps for compatible devices that can send parents alerts when the car goes over a set speed or is driven outside a set geographic area or after a certain time of day. These features are designed to allow parents to set limits for teen drivers and have an ongoing conversation with their teens about responsible driving habits.
The seventh-generation Volkswagen Jetta was introduced in 2018 as a 2019 model. Based off the award-winning MQB platform, it offers bolder design, even more interior space than the previous model and some of the newest technology from the premium class. Jetta is powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged and direct-injection TSI® engine, making 147 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, mated to either the standard six-speed manual or available eight-speed automatic transmission. It is available in S, SE, R-Line®, SEL, and SEL Premium trim levels and has a starting MSRP of $18,745.
The 2019 Jetta offers a comprehensive suite of driver-assistance technology. Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking (Front Assist), Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Traffic Alert are standard on SE models and above, as well as available in the Driver Assistance Package for S models. Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Keeping System (Lane Assist) and High Beam Control (Light Assist) are standard on SEL and SEL Premium models.
Volkswagen Car-Net® Security & Service, available by subscription on Jetta SEL and SEL Premium models, allows owners to access their VW remotely through vw.com/carnet as well as a smartphone app on compatible devices. In addition to features such as Automatic Crash Notification and Roadside Assistance, Car-Net Security & Service includes Family Guardian features for added peace-of-mind. Speed alert notifies the owner of the vehicle when the pre-determined maximum speed limit is exceeded; boundary alert lets you know when the vehicle has traveled outside of a pre-set virtual boundary. Customers purchasing new Volkswagen models equipped with VW Car-Net Security & Service will receive a, six-month trial subscription from Verizon Telematics that starts on date of purchase for no additional charge.
Volkswagen knows wagon fans well; we’ve been selling wagons in America since 1966. But customers are speaking clearly about their preferences—it’s an SUV world now—and the 2019 model year will mark the end of Volkswagen Golf Alltrack and SportWagen production for the United States.
“As we say goodbye to the Golf wagons, our legacy of ‘long roofs’ is something worth celebrating,” says Megan Closset, Product Manager for the Golf Family at Volkswagen of America. “From the air-cooled Squareback to the midsize Quantum and Passat wagons to today’s SportWagen and Alltrack models, every VW wagon has offered something different and something that stands out from the crowd.”
In the era of the original Microbus, Volkswagen of America positioned its popular people hauler as a competitor to the huge, domestic station wagons of the 1960s. The first true wagon as we know them today arrived with the introduction of the Type 3 in America in 1966, which was sold as a “Squareback sedan,” using the same air-cooled, rear-mounted engine with rear-wheel-drive layout as the Beetle. Although small by American standards, the Squareback offered cargo room both behind passengers and under the front hood.
The Type 3 Squareback was followed up by the Type 412 wagon in 1971. While it also used the basic Beetle layout, the 412 offered a more advanced suspension and unibody chassis. Heralded as a break with the classic “Think Small” approach of the Beetle, the Type 412 was sold through 1974.
That year, Volkswagen replaced the 412 with the first generation of its modern midsize sedan and wagon, sold as the Dasher here in America and the Passat elsewhere in the world. Fully embracing the modern water-cooled, front-engine vehicle layout, the Dasher offered a clean design from Giorgio Giugiaro, ample space for its size, and compelling fuel economy in an era of oil embargoes. While its 75 hp seems low by modern standards, the lightweight Dasher (2,100 lbs.) gave it performance that was competitive for its time and price.
The second-generation of the Passat was renamed Quantum when it arrived in the United States in 1981 as a 1982 model. The Quantum wagon variant was a more upscale vehicle than its predecessors, available with an optional 100-hp five-cylinder engine, and advertised as “the roomiest, most elegant Volkswagen ever.” It also was the first Volkswagen wagon to offer Syncro all-wheel drive, from 1986 through 1988.
Dasher, Quantum and Fox wagons
1977 Volkswagen Dasher wagon
In 1987, Volkswagen saw an opening for a more budget-priced wagon, offering a two-door variant of the Fox subcompact. One of the last “shooting brake” style cars sold in America – the name for body styles that combine two-door profiles with wagon-like cargo areas – the Fox wagon was rare in its time and even more so today.
The third generation of the Passat wagon arrived in 1990, keeping with the trend of the previous generations by being one of the largest Volkswagen sold to date. Available as a sedan or wagon, the new-to-America Passat name arrived with a sharp change in Volkswagen design, featuring a smooth, grill-free nose and aerodynamic-tuned profile. Building on the Volkswagen reputation for affordable European engineering, the Passat offered a controlled ride, upscale materials, and new touches like one-touch power windows.
When the all-new Passat arrived in America in 1998, the wagon variant quickly became a favorite among Volkswagen fans, with a variety of available engine choices and optional all-wheel-drive. The range eventually grew to include one of the most unique wagons ever sold in America, the Passat W8, powered by a 270-hp, 4-liter W8 engine paired with all-wheel-drive and an optional six-speed manual transmission. At nearly $40,000, it remains one of the rarest and most expensive Volkswagen wagon sold on these shores.
Passat and Jetta Wagons
1990 Volkswagen Passat Wagon
Recognizing the customer demand for a compact wagon, Volkswagen unveiled a wagon version of the Jetta at the 2001 Los Angeles Auto Show that went on sale in March that year. Much like the popular Jetta, the wagon offered similar performance and handling with even more space, and quickly proved popular. In 2002, between the new Jetta and Passat, U.S. sales of VW wagons hit a peak of 34,396.
The Passat wagon was redesigned again in 2005, and sold through 2010 in the United States. The Jetta wagon’s redesign in 2008 to add a new chrome grille, greater interior space and an independent rear suspension made it one of the most popular wagon model Volkswagen has ever sold in the United States.
For 2015, the Jetta wagon was replaced by the modern Golf SportWagen, built off the dynamic MQB chassis, offering improved handling, space and fuel efficiency. Two years later, the Golf Alltrack arrived for wagon fans looking for a more rugged, all-wheel-drive variant.
Volkswagen plans to extend production of the popular Alltrack for the United States through December 2019 to ensure that everyone who wants to experience an affordable, European-designed wagon has the opportunity to do so.
In the coming years, an expanded lineup of SUVs and the future ID. electric vehicle family can bring the opportunity to combine style and space in a variety of ways. As the ID. BUZZ Concept shows, the flexibility of future EV chassis means that there’s always a chance for a favorite body style to make an electric comeback.
When many schools in Casper, Wyo., started to struggle with funding and field trips became limited, many students weren’t able to visit nearby attractions. One of these attractions was a science museum, The Science Zone, a locally owned business for almost 21 years. So, community members decided to come up with an alternative plan. Now, instead of all children coming to the museum for the usual 45-minute lesson and tour, The Science Zone staff is able to bring science education directly to students in a specially equipped Volkswagen.
Since March 2018, the spacious SUV – dubbed the “Science Mobile” – has traveled to a dozen schools, offering a variety of science workshops, activities and demonstrations. Students can make slime, participate in electricity presentations, learn about plants and chemistry, view reptiles and even make mini explosions with liquid nitrogen – a popular favorite.
“The Tiguan has been essential in the schools we visit,” said Steven Schnell, executive director of The Science Zone. “Once we learned the kids couldn’t come to us, we decided we would take the science to the kids.
The Science Mobile on display at one of the many fairs The Science Zone frequents. Graphic package shown is not available.
Ahead of school visits, teachers can choose a curriculum and a series of lesson topics that are best suited for their classroom. Subject areas range from engineering to animal science to space science. All the topics align with the Wyoming State Science Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. After the lessons, teachers can download supplemental information from The Science Zone website to further extend the lesson program.
Set up in the basement of a furniture store, The Science Zone relies heavily on outreach programs to engage the local community. Schnell and his team have traveled throughout the state of Wyoming, attending as many fairs and exhibits as possible. To date, the team has interacted with over 10,000 people. At the events, the Science Mobile is on display at The Science Zone booths which offer science demonstrations for children preschool aged through high school.
Due to the obscure location of The Science Zone, the Science Mobile has acted as signage and publicity for the business, as many people don’t know its exact location.
“I get a lot of calls from people saying they are in a furniture store parking lot and think they are in the wrong place,” Schnell says. “We don’t have signage outside the building, [so] the Tiguan has been a big part of our marketing efforts and our identity. We’ve been able to generate awareness through the car.”
The Science Zone team is currently made up of 10 staff members who are always looking for new ways to bring the Science Mobile to more students.
And thanks to their Tiguan, “We’ve been able to say yes to any type of opportunity that comes our way,” Schnell says.
Twenty five years ago, an elementary school teacher in Washington, D.C. saw that many of her fifth-graders had nothing to do in the hours after school. She invited them to stay after school and play soccer – and when the weather turned cold, to explore poetry and spoken word performances to keep the group intact.
That combination – along with community service – form the pillars of a fast-growing non-profit now known as America SCORES that serves more than 13,000 students a year, at 311 schools, in twelve cities. Approximately 85% of participants are living at or below the poverty line.
In the fall and spring, students practice and play soccer in leagues, along with exploring creative writing and composing their own poetry that they eventually perform in competitive poetry slams. In the spring season, America SCORES teams also research and perform community service projects.
This week, America SCORES will be introduced in many American homes during the FIFA Women’s World Cup, with some help from Volkswagen. Using its own advertising time, Volkswagen, working alongside with America SCORES, created a 30-second spot for America SCORES that will air during the FIFA Women’s World Cup, alongside Volkswagen’s own “Drive Bigger” campaign.
“We’ve known of the good work America SCORES does for some time,” says Jim Zabel, vice president of marketing for Volkswagen of America. “They have a fantastic story to tell, and by producing this ad, Volkswagen hopes to demonstrate how all of us can drive something bigger than ourselves in our own communities.”
In Washington, the founding chapter, of America SCORES, works with 3,000 low-income boys and girls across the city every year. The DC SCORES program – the only consistent, grade-school public soccer league in the district – has proven so popular that dozens of schools are on a wait list for new sites.
“It’s a mind-body-soul education for the kids,” said Michael Holstein, director of marketing and communications for DC SCORES. “It gives them athletic confidence and helps them speak and write well. They also benefit the community with a year-round effort that transcends all those elements on their own.”
Charity Blackwell, the director of creative arts and education at DC SCORES, says most children come to the program for the soccer, something many couldn’t afford to play otherwise. “But when they get into writing and communicating with each other is when the light bulbs come on,” she says. “Here’s a unique place where they can work together, take their emotions and express themselves in a safe space in the classroom.”
Blackwell also notes that the competition around poetry can be as challenging as the competition on a soccer field. Once they get the basics of poetry, the DC SCORES players receive coaching and feedback from spoken-word artists and compete to reach a city-wide poetry slam where their best efforts will be judged.
“It’s all about mixing public speaking and theater, with their poetry,” says Blackwell. “They’re judged on their written work, their presentation, their hand gestures, and voice projection. Some may start out thinking poetry’s not a sport, but it can get pretty tough.”
“We’ll see kids who are great athletes but shy in public, who will get up on stage and just come alive, or kids who aren’t great at soccer excel in spoken word,” adds Holstein. “It’s a cool experience to see kids be more than they thought they were.”