The Volkswagen Taos, a big idea in small SUVs

More than half of the new vehicles sold in the United States so far this year have been SUVs, a trend that hasn’t been seen in decades. It’s easy to see why; SUVs typically have more space, more capability and often as much performance as their owners can use. And while SUVs have a reputation as larger vehicles, more buyers now want those same attributes in a package that takes up less room.

That’s the concept behind the all-new Volkswagen Taos, a new compact SUV that’s smaller than the Tiguan, and affordable like the Jetta. With power, space and tech that’s competitive with the class, the Taos improves on the small SUV formula at an entry-level price.

“Taos is our fifth new addition to the Volkswagen SUV family in just four years, and we’re thrilled to keep finding new ways to help meet the needs of American families,” said Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “Taos will bookend our compact SUV offering, giving buyers all the style, technology, and drivability that Volkswagen is known for at an even more affordable price.”

From the front, the Taos continues the Volkswagen modern design approach that’s clean and classical, without extraneous lines that would date its look. All trims come with LED headlights and the higher-end trims add an illuminated line in the grille, just like the ID.4 electric SUV. You’ll see some Tiguan influence in the C-pillar from the side of the Taos, and the rear has touches of the Tiguan.

The Taos is 175.8 inches long—9.3 inches shorter than the Tiguan—with a wheelbase of 105.9 inches; it is 72.5 inches wide and 64.4 inches tall. Passenger space is a roomy 99.5 cubic feet, just 1.6 cu ft less than the two-row Tiguan, with 28.1 cu ft of luggage space behind the second-row seats and 66.3 cu ft with the second row folded, a generous amount by class standards.

Volkswagen Taos

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Power comes from a new 1.5-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which uses some advanced engineering like a variable-turbine geometry turbocharger to make 158 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque, along with outstanding fuel economy. Front-wheel-drive models use an eight-speed transmission, while 4Motion all-wheel-drive models use a seven-speed DSG® transmission. A choice of 17-, 18- or 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels (later availability) put the power to the road.

The modern cockpit offers a style that surpasses what’s typically available in the segment. Start with the instrument cluster, where the Volkswagen Digital Cockpit comes standard, behind an available heated leatherette steering wheel. Next to it sits the available central 8-inch touchscreen with voice control, which can hook into the available premium BeatsAudio sound system. The seats come in two-tone patterns available in every trim and have available heating and cooling options. Volkswagen Car-Net comes with every Taos, enabling in-car WiFi capability when you subscribe to a data plan.12 The MIB3 infotainment system with wireless charging and wireless App-Connect for compatible devices is available from mid-level trims.3

The IQ.DRIVE® suite of driver assistance technology on every Taos model features Forward Collision Warning with Autonomous Braking (Front Assist), Active Blind Spot Monitor, Lane Keeping System (Lane Assist), Adaptive Cruise Control with a Stop and Go feature, Travel Assist and Emergency Assist. High Beam Control (Light Assist), the Adaptive Front-lighting System (AFS), and Park Distance Control are also available.4

The new Taos is expected to arrive on American streets next summer, and even with all the other SUVs on the road, it will be a standout.

Join us in the electric future, and drive bigger for the planet

We have revealed the first electric SUV for Volkswagen in America – the ID.4 EV. While it’s new to you, it’s something we’ve been working on for a few years now, and we’re proud to finally share it with the world. But it’s not just the launch of a car – it’s our biggest step yet on our new path to change the future of driving.

Our past has fueled our future and changed the way we operate as a company. It’s made us even more committed to a more sustainable future, one in which we plan to reduce our carbon footprint by 30 percent by 2025. To do so, we need to bring EVs to the mass market and help lead the globe, and the auto industry, toward a more sustainable future. We have one of the largest EV investment plans in the world, at nearly $35 billion, with the goal of selling one million EVs per year worldwide by 2025 and launching more than 70 electric models worldwide across the Group brands by 2029.

To do that, we want to make EVs accessible for the millions, not just the millionaires. The ID.4 EV is designed to give consumers the SUV they want – reliable, smart, affordable – and it just happens to be electric. It’s fun to drive with rear-wheel power (with optional AWD coming next year), a low center of gravity and instant torque. And pricewise, it falls into the sweet spot of the market. We have designed it to do all the things compact SUVs do today, in package you can charge at home.

We know more and more buyers want a more sustainable future, and we want our owners to be equally as passionate about our goals to help reduce carbon emissions. In Europe, we’ve joined with charging networks to provide renewable sources of energy to EV drivers, and we’re looking to find similar solutions in the United States. When the ID.4 arrives at a Volkswagen dealer, our plan is to have measured and offset the carbon emissions so that the vehicle is net carbon neutral from manufacturing to delivery – a first for any automaker in the United States.

But our commitment to a carbon-neutral goal isn’t just one vehicle. Last year, Volkswagen Group committed to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement by pledging to make our business carbon neutral by 2050. When we say “business,” we mean everything  from hauling metal to our factories to our trucking routes to recycling the batteries from our electric vehicles.

We have already started on our way towards this goal. For example, earlier this year, Volkswagen Group became the first automaker to use ships powered by liquified natural gas (LNG) to transport vehicles across the ocean. We also opened operations at the Port of Baltimore, allowing us to considerably cut vehicle transport miles to our mid-Atlantic dealers.

The solar park that helps power Volkswagen’s Chattanooga factory.

We’re also working to break down the CO2 impact across the individual lifespan of our vehicles –  from raw materials to recycling – on all new models moving forward. And we intend to look beyond EVs, for ways to help reduce the carbon outputs of our gasoline-powered vehicles, through steps such as hybrid engines, lightweight materials and powertrain improvement.

Last November, we broke ground on a $800 million new manufacturing facility at our plant in Chattanooga, and starting in 2022, we plan on assembling the ID.4 SUV and other EVs for America there. This will create about 1,000 jobs in Tennessee and other states and includes a 198,000–square-foot plant facility for the assembly of Georgia-built battery packs.

The ID.4 EV symbolizes a shift in not only the way we do business, but how we want the world to think about – and drive – Volkswagen. Lots of people want something more sustainable to drive today, but what has come so far hasn’t always met their needs or their budgets. EVs are the future, but only if they have the range and functionality owners expect at a price they can afford. With the ID.4 EV, the future can finally find a home in your driveway.

A new name in small SUVs from Volkswagen: The Volkswagen Taos

Tiguan, Touareg, even Thing – over the decades, most Volkswagen SUVs have a certain alliteration in their names. On Oct. 13, Volkswagen will reveal an all-new SUV for the small compact space in America, and with it a new name: the Volkswagen Taos.

The Volkswagen Taos SUV shares the same name as the New Mexico town of about 6,000 residents that has a rich history and culture. Occupied for more than 1,000 years, the town offers artist colonies that have thrived in the beautiful, mountain-ringed landscape since the early 20th century.

“It was important to choose a name that really embodied the nature of the car and the town of Taos, New Mexico was a perfect fit,” said Hein Schafer, Senior Vice President for Product Marketing and Strategy, Volkswagen of America, Inc. “It’s a small city that offers big things—from outdoor adventure to arts and design and great cuisine.”

Taos also has a bit of connection to Volkswagen history. A must-read of the original van life culture, his book has helped keep countless VW models running, from Beetles and Buses to Type 3 and Type 4 models.

The Taos will slot into the Volkswagen lineup beneath the Tiguan, and represents not just another SUV model, but one designed in the North American region, with its consumers’ needs in mind, with superb space, handling, efficiency and technology. You’ll get your first glimpse of the Taos on Oct. 13.

Meet the Volkswagen ID.4: Finally, an electric SUV for you

Americans’ embrace of the SUV has reached the point where just under half of all vehicles sold new in the United States are some kind of SUV. Meanwhile, despite all the potential benefits of electric vehicles, their costs and lack of choice or availability have kept their numbers low – just over 1 percent of new sales.

Today, Volkswagen unveils the SUV that’s meant to bring electric vehicles to the mainstream – the all-new ID.4 electric SUV. It has ample battery range and recharging capability for everyday use, with three years of charging at Electrify America public chargers at no additional cost. It has the space, utility and technology that compact SUV buyers want at a price that’s fully competitive with the segment. The ID.4 will be produced at the Zwickau factory with a net carbon-neutral balance.

It also looks like nothing else on the road. And you can sign up for yours today.

The ID.4 is another step toward the Volkswagen Group global goal to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement combatting global warming by making its business and its vehicles carbon neutral by 2050. According to experts, such goals can’t be met without widespread adoption of electric vehicles, and the ID.4 demonstrates how Volkswagen plans to make EVs for the real world.

“The ID.4 was engineered, loaded and priced to win the hearts of SUV owners who are simply ready to go electric—and fall in love with Volkswagen again,” said Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “It drives like a GTI, it has the packaging of a Tiguan and the purpose of the Beetle. All the best things about VW in one package.”

The ID.4 can be reserved today starting with a special 1st Edition model, featuring a 201-hp motor powering the rear wheels – just like the original Beetle. The ID.4 1st Edition, with 82-kWh battery pack, has a preliminary manufacturer-estimated range of 250 miles based on the EPA test cycle, a little bit less than what the average American drives in a week. A full recharge from a typical Level 2 outlet, like those commonly installed at home or in public parking, will take around 7 ½ hours; the 11 kw onboard charger adds about 33 miles of range per hour of Level 2 charging.

Using public DC fast chargers typically found at highway rest stops, the ID.4 can go from 5 to 80 percent charge in about 40 minutes. Buyers of the 2021 ID.4 will get three years of unlimited charging on Electrify America network at no additional cost, covering more than 470 charging stations and over 2,000 public DC fast chargers nationwide.

Next year, the ID.4 will add an all-wheel-drive version with an electric motor on the front axle and total power of 302 hp. In 2022, Volkswagen will begin assembling the ID.4 in Chattanooga, Tenn., and plans on offering a localized version of the ID.4 with an anticipated MSRP around $35,000.

The benefits of electric driving start with the dimensions of the ID.4. It’s the first vehicle for America built off the Volkswagen MEB platform, designed exclusively for electric vehicles. That platform gives the ID.4 agile handling, with the battery pack in the floor and even front/rear weight balance. And when you hit the accelerator, the ID.4 produces 228 lb.-ft. of torque instantly, giving it great off-the-line performance.

The design of the ID.4 combines a futuristic, aerodynamic look with some classic Volkswagen touches. The Volkswagen logo sits in the center, as it did on the Beetle’s hood; unlike the Beetle, the logo can come as an LED lighted option. The LED headlights, taillights and an optional front illuminated light line and Volkswagen logo create a new, distinct signature, while the cleanly formed bodywork gives the ID.4 a strong visual presence, along with a low drag coefficient of 0.28.

The ID.4 comes in one of six colors, with 19-inch alloy wheels standard. The two available packages – Statement and Gradient – add upgrades such as a panoramic fixed-glass roof, power folding side mirrors and 20-inch wheels.

Volkswagen ID.4 Electric SUV

On the inside, the ID.4 offers the most advanced interior of any Volkswagen ever. The standard heated leather-wrapped steering wheel has touch controls and sits in front of a 5.3-inch digital cockpit. In the center dash sits a larger infotainment display – a 12-inch Discover Pro Max on the ID.4 1st Edition, or a 10-inch Discover Pro comes standard – with wireless App-Connect and available in-car WiFi.

As EV components take up less space – the electric motor of the ID.4 can fit in a duffle bag – the ID.4 can offer nearly as much passenger volume as the Tiguan in a vehicle that’s 4.6 inches shorter. Legroom is a comfortable 41.1 inches for front passengers and 37.6 inches in the rear seat. Cargo volume is 30.3 cubic feet behind the second row, and 64.2 cubic feet with the seats folded.

Another new feature is ID.Light, a light strip below the windshield that provides feedback to drivers in different colors. It can signal when the drive system is active, if the car has been unlocked or locked, and feedback from driver’s assistance systems. The “Hello ID.” voice control system also debuts in the car, allowing drivers and passengers the ability to use voice commands in everyday language.

The ID.4 features a full complement of safety systems, such as six airbags and Electronic Stability Control. An aluminum frame helps protect the battery in event of a crash, with a replaceable underbody aluminum shield defending against road hazards. There’s also a suite of driver-assistance technology known as IQ.DRIVE standard for all ID.4 models, which includes Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring (Front Assist); Blind Spot Monitor (Side Assist); Rear Traffic Alert; Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC); Lane Keeping System (Lane Assist); Travel Assist; and Emergency Assist8. In addition to IQ.DRIVE features, all ID.4 models include Dynamic Road Sign Display; Park Distance Control; and High Beam Control (Light Assist).

EVs won’t make an impact unless they are affordable, and here the ID.4 shines. Prices for the ID.4 start at $39,9954 for the ID.4 Pro rear-wheel-drive model scheduled to arrive in the first quarter of 2021. With a potential federal income tax credit of up to $7,5009, the entry price for the ID.4 could compare favorably with a high-end Tiguan. For highly qualified customers who lease through Volkswagen Credit, the ID.4 monthly lease payment for a 36-month lease with 10,000 miles per year, is $379 per month with $3,579 due at signing, excluding tax, title, license, options and dealer fees.

Next year, the ID.4 AWD Pro ($43,6954) will launch. Both Pro models carry the same equipment and can be additionally outfitted with two packages—Statement ($4,500), and Gradient ($1,500), which is only offered with Statement.

The limited-run ID.4 1st Edition starts at $43,9954, featuring the same content as the Pro models, along with a long list of additional features, from 12-way massaging power seats to 30-color ambient lighting and an easy-open power tailgate. It also has a few unique features including accelerator and brake pedals with “play” and “pause” logos.

Many EVs in America are only sold in a handful of states, or not through traditional dealerships. The ID.4 will be offered nationwide, throughout Volkswagen’s network of more than 600 dealers. Starting today, interested customers can reserve their ID.4 with a fully refundable $100 reservation fee. When production begins, those in line can confirm their order for an additional fully refundable $400 vehicle deposit.

To begin meeting the goal of carbon neutral business, Volkswagen analyzed tens of thousands of processes at the factory in Zwickau, Germany, from raw materials to final assembly. The plant and some suppliers now use renewable electricity sources, and Volkswagen has taken other steps to try to cut carbon emissions. For those emissions that can’t be avoided, Volkswagen plans to use offsets via certified carbon credits for a variety of projects in Asia and South America.

It adds up to a new type of vehicle for American roads. This much space, at this price point, for an EV that’s available nationwide – this is just the beginning of a new chapter for Volkswagen.

This information and any vehicle specifications are preliminary and subject to change. Features and technical data apply to models offered in the USA. They may differ in other countries.

Why battery power will drive the future of transportation

Chances are you might have at least two lithium-ion batteries on your body right now – one on your wrist, and one in the phone in your pocket. You may have multiple more if you’re holding a car key fob or have a pacemaker or any other electronic device.

But do you know how those batteries actually work?

For a technology at the heart of modern life, batteries remain something of a mystery. While humans have used batteries for hundreds of years, it’s only within the past decade that the science of batteries has advanced enough to make long-range electric vehicles like the Volkswagen ID.4 electric vehicle possible. Among all alternatives, researchers suggest that battery-powered vehicles hold the promise today of reducing carbon emissions from personal vehicles enough to help make significant progress against climate change. And Volkswagen hopes to have the next evolution of these batteries powering its vehicles within a few years.

Batteries rely on basic chemistry to work, formulas that were first identified by Alessandro Volta in 1799. Basically, every battery cell has two electrodes – one positive (the cathode), one negative (the anode) – and a substance in between called an electrolyte. When connected to an electric circuit, electrons move from the anode to the cathode through the electrolyte, while ions move in the opposite direction, creating electric current. In rechargeable batteries, the process reverses.

It wasn’t long after the invention of the early batteries that people began experimenting with vehicles built around them. In the early years of the auto industry at the turn of the 20th century, EVs were among the best-sellers, thanks to their quiet operation, ease of driving and low maintenance needs around newly paved cities. Only when roads improved and gas vehicles became more affordable did the first EV era end, aided by the increasing prevalence of gasoline stations, the lack of charging options for batteries, and the short range of early EVs.

The modern revival of EVs was made possible by lithium-ion batteries, first invented in the 1970s, and  Volkswagen’s own electric history shows how far EV batteries have evolved. In the early 1970s, Volkswagen built a handful of Microbus vans converted to electric power, using the lead-acid batteries that you find under the hood of gas-powered vehicles today. The tray of batteries in the floor provided 25 miles of range– and added 1,847 lbs. of weight. Today, the largest lithium-ion battery pack in the Europe-only ID.3 EV holds nearly four times as much energy (82 kWh) at a third of the weight.

And the battery lies at the heart of why EVs are considered by experts to be one of the best choices for vehicles that combat climate change. Liquid fueled vehicles only use about a third of the energy it contains to move the vehicle – the rest escapes as heat and friction, and it generates carbon dioxide when burned. Similar waste happens with alternative fuels, from ethanol to hydrogen. But according to the EPA, EVs typically convert over 75% percent of their energy to movement and, if charged with renewable energy, have zero direct emissions in use.

Most EV owners will never see the batteries that power their vehicles. In the Volkswagen MEB electric vehicle platform, the batteries are built into the floor, for optimal weight distribution. EV batteries – like those in the upcoming ID.4 electric vehicle – aren’t one huge cell. It’s a modular package, where flat, individual “pouch” batteries are stacked 24 to a “module,” with up to 12 modules then connected into a single unit like the squares of a chocolate bar.

The components of the MEB battery system

There are multiple reasons for building EV batteries this way. Smaller cells carry more energy per pound. It can be easy to add or subtract battery modules to offer EVs with different ranges and prices. Most importantly, as each individual battery can be controlled through software, it can be easier to maximize power flow and battery life, helping ensure a steady delivery of energy as the batteries discharge.

These systems can store and deploy tremendous amounts of electrical power. A typical cell phone battery runs at 3.7 volts; the battery pack in Volkswagen’s MEB electric vehicle platform operates at up to 408 volts. This helps allow the ID.4 EV to provide ample energy to its electric motors and power all the internal accessories, including heating and air conditioning.

Battery power for vehicles comes with some drawbacks. EVs simply don’t hold as much energy as a liquid-fuel vehicle and therefore have shorter ranges. It can take hours to recharge a large battery pack with a home 110-volt supply, and although there are fast charging options, everyday use of high-power charging can degrade EV cells. And EV batteries are the most expensive component in the vehicle.

Volkswagen Group has started to tackle these challenges with battery innovation start-up QuantumScape, and the concept of the solid-state lithium battery. Today, most lithium-ion batteries use either a liquid or gel electrolyte. A solid electrolyte could in theory create a battery that holds more energy per pound, at a lower cost, with fast recharging times in normal use. Volkswagen Group has invested approximately $300 million with QuantumScape since 2012 to research and develop such batteries, toward the goal of bringing the technology to market over the next few years.

Putting electric vehicle charging to a high-temp test

Whether in your phone, your watch or a next-generation electric vehicle, batteries can respond differently to temperature extremes. And when you’re about to build millions of electric vehicles worldwide, engineers want to research what could happen when plugging an EV into a 350-kW DC fast charger on the hottest days.

That’s why Volkswagen Group has spent the past year building one of the most advanced EV charging test sites in the world at the Arizona Proving Grounds. The 50 charging stations feature a mix of standards and power levels from around the world, designed to test how electric systems handle recharging at desert temperatures that can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s a key building block in Volkswagen Group’s goal to become carbon neutral across its business by 2050, and its goal of building about 20 million electric vehicles worldwide by 2029, including the upcoming ID.4 electric SUV. Already, the site has led to an innovation for electric vehicles – a battery cooling system designed to help prevent overheating damage to batteries in emergency situations. It’s based on the technology used at the site to monitor the temperature of battery cells as they charge.

“The opening of this  facility means one of the most sophisticated EV testing facilities in the world, with some of the toughest conditions on earth, will be right here in the United States,” said Dr. Wolfgang Demmelbauer-Ebner, Chief Engineering Officer for Volkswagen’s North American Region. “It reaffirms not only Volkswagen’s commitment to the U.S. market as we bolster our engineering expertise here but also our drive towards an electric future.”

If you’ve ever traveled overseas, you know that every country has a slightly different set of plugs and electric voltages for home appliances. Electric vehicles have to be designed to handle one of three international standards for plugs and a sizable range of power inputs, from a typical 120-volt U.S. wall outlet up to the fast chargers that employ industrial-grade electric currents.

The Arizona Proving Ground site includes 25 DC fast chargers running at currents from the most common 50 kW output up to the 350 kW envisioned by Volkswagen Group’s most exclusive electric sports cars, along with 10 Level 2 AC chargers that simulate home charging. The chargers will utilize charge plugs from the three standard connector types: U.S. (CCS1), Europe (CCS2) and China (GB-T), along with equipment from different brands from around the world to optimize testing variability.

The 16 parking spots were built with a remote-controlled canopy that can vary the level of sun or shade needed for testing. The station is also designed with the future in mind, as technologies such as inductive charging continue to be developed.

The 1,600-acre Arizona Proving Grounds opened in 1993 and supports testing of vehicle durability, corrosion, weathering and severe hot-weather endurance for Volkswagen Group products worldwide including the Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini, Bentley and Volkswagen brands.

RSVP for an EV SUV with a $100 reservation for the Volkswagen ID.4 electric vehicle

In good times or bad, people need their vehicles. Over the past few months, Volkswagen of America has worked with dealers on a new shopping and buying experience so our customers can shop from home. Next month, Volkswagen will unveil its first electric SUV, the ID.4 — and a new system that allows customers to reserve their car.

The Volkswagen reservation platform will make its debut on Sept. 23rd, immediately following the reveal of the all-new, zero-tailpipe emission Volkswagen ID.4 electric vehicle at 11 a.m. EDT. on VW.com. Customers who want to experience the future of driving will be able to reserve an ID.4 before it hits dealer showrooms later this year.

The easy-to-use platform lets Volkswagen fans reserve an  ID.4 in a few simple steps. The platform also includes shopping tools such as a range estimator, payment tool and dealer selection to assist shoppers with finding an ID.4 model and making the transition to EV ownership.

“Our online reservations portal will give those who are ready to make the switch to an EV SUV a place at the front of the line,” said Duncan Movassaghi, executive vice president, sales and marketing for Volkswagen. “We’re excited to share the future of Volkswagen with the ID.4. It’s a compelling, zero direct emissions alternative to the compact SUVs on the market today.”

Once a user has built their vehicle, they can secure their place in line with a fully refundable $100 reservation payment. As vehicle production starts, our reservation holders will be invited to lock their configuration and confirm their order with an additional $400 deposit. From placing a reservation, to production and through delivery, the customer can see where they stand and when they can expect their ID. 4 to arrive at their preferred local VW dealer.  At that time, the customer can transact with their dealer and complete their purchase.

Volkswagen plans to offer the ID.4 electric vehicle across all 50 states, and throughout its network of more than 600 dealers. The reservation platform will also invite owners and prospective EV customers to become insiders by allowing them to subscribe to Volkswagen’s latest EV news as it plans to sell 26 million electric vehicles globally by 2029.

#TBT: Volkswagen Chattanooga Celebrates 10-Year Anniversary of Volkswagen Academy

Apprentices applying hands-on skills during the apprenticeship program.

In the early 2000s, Volkswagen operated several successful apprenticeship programs in Germany and, because of its success abroad, the company decided to bring it stateside. The apprenticeship program, one of the core programs of the Volkswagen Academy, officially launched with the opening of the Chattanooga Plant in 2010 and has since trained over 100 apprentices.

This year, as the program marked its 10th anniversary, 28 apprentices successfully completed the program and transitioned into jobs at the plant.

Mark Limerick, a 2013 graduate says his training at the Academy helped him build a “great skill set” that allowed him to work on the floor. “I would recommend coming to the Volkswagen Academy,” said Limerick. “It helped me greatly with a future at Volkswagen. I’ve learned so much here.”

The Volkswagen Academy in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The Academy continues to strengthen the Volkswagen workforce with additional upskill training and onboarding training for new Volkswagen hires.

“Apprenticeship and educational programs date back centuries and have endured the test of time because they are truly effective ways for people to develop skills,” said Ilker Subasi, assistant manager, technical training, of the Volkswagen Apprenticeship Program at Volkswagen Chattanooga. “We are proud of what we’ve accomplished in the past 10 years at the Academy and look forward to continuing to train our next generations of automotive technicians in the years and decades to come.”

In addition to the apprenticeship program, the Volkswagen Academy is home to the High School Mechatronics Akademie, a two-year mechatronics program that is open to eligible high school students in the Hamilton County School District. This program combines high school and college courses into one program for students who are interested in studying mechatronics. Since its inaugural year, 54 students have graduated from the program.

Apprentices applying hands-on skills during the apprenticeship program.

Under normal circumstances, the Academy would also host Volkswagen’s Academy Summer Camp. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 camp was cancelled. During previous summer camp sessions, 14- to 18-year-old campers received hands-on experience in robotics and automation, and a variety of educational programming tied to the automotive manufacturing field.

“This is a great way for teenagers in the community to be involved with Volkswagen and a wonderful way for us to give back to the community as well,” said Steffi Wegener, technical training specialist at Volkswagen Chattanooga. “It’s exciting to watch the campers face challenges and use critical thinking skills to resolve issues they might encounter during an activity. This program really allows these youths to get a glimpse of some of the things we do here at the plant.”

In addition to its many successful educational programs, the Academy also serves as the plant’s primary workforce development resource. Prior to the start of production at the plant, employees undergo training at the Academy to ensure the workforce is well-versed and ready to hit the ground running.

This will be of added importance with the launch of the new battery plant and the electric vehicle build in Chattanooga, which will see the need for new skillsets in the plant’s employees.

Building EVs in America begins with engineering EVs in Chattanooga

With the all-electric Volkswagen ID.4 due to be revealed in full-production form soon, Volkswagen has begun expanding its Chattanooga factory to build a North American center for electric vehicles – not only for assembly, but for engineering the EVs of the future.

To power those efforts, Volkswagen‘s Engineering and Planning Center in Chattanooga will soon feature a unique, state-of-the-art high-voltage laboratory designed to develop and test electric vehicle cells and battery packs for upcoming models assembled in the United States. Volkswagen is planning to use battery cells manufactured by SKI in Georgia for the EVs it builds in Chattanooga.

“There are two ways that auto companies approach the development of electric vehicle batteries,” said Wolfgang Maluche, Vice President of Engineering at Volkswagen of America. “A lot of them will farm out the development and testing of batteries to another company, and some will actually do the work of developing and testing in-house. We are doing the latter.”

The EPC plans to break ground on the lab soon, with the goal of being fully operational by spring 2021. It will feature cutting-edge equipment, including pressure testers, explosion-rated climate chambers and – perhaps the most unique – a custom multi-axis shaker table (MAST), which is designed to test the integrity of vehicle components in some of the roughest conditions they might face on the road.

Most automotive labs have MASTs, but almost none were designed for electric vehicle batteries. EV battery packs are the largest and heaviest component in an EV, typically weighing hundreds of pounds and running the width of the vehicle.

“The battery is not only shaking; it is going through a series of harsh conditions to test its durability in a variety of possible environments, from the South Pole to the Sahara,” said Jason Swager, the Director of Electrical Development. “We needed to build a MAST that could withstand the immense force and frequency that we need to test these batteries.”

To run a MAST at such high frequencies, Volkswagen had to design its own tool rather than using an outside supplier. The supports for the MAST will be buried 12 feet under the lab’s floor and buttressed with concrete to help withstand the forces in use. Volkswagen’s new lab will be only the second location in the country with a MAST of this size.

Rendering of the Chattanooga plant expansion for EV production.

Beyond the tools, Chattanooga’s high-voltage lab will have other unique features. In line with Volkswagen’s goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, the lab is planned to be built to LEED standards for environmental impacts, through steps such as a battery-to-grid connection that sends unused energy back to utilities.

“This lab was planned to be as sustainable as possible,” said Maluche.

And the lab adds to the growing tech scene in Chattanooga. From the engineering work of Volkswagen and other firms to its early embrace of affordable gigabit Internet for its downtown business center, Chattanooga has managed to grow a core of technology businesses while retaining its Tennessee mountain charm.

Swager has lived in Chattanooga since 2009 and has seen the Engineering and Planning Center grow alongside the town. “It feels like gold rush time,” he said. “There is this great spirit in Chattanooga, where everyone is excited about what the city can become. It’s a great town for an engineer like me, but also for others in tech and start-ups.

“The future of driving is coming to Chattanooga. We have the chance to help shape how Volkswagen and the entire automotive industry engineers electric vehicles to be as safe and sustainable as possible.”

Concept vehicle shown. Not available for sale. Specifications may change.

Everything you wanted to know about EVs (but might be afraid to ask)

The electric revolution will be coming soon to a street near you. In a matter of weeks, Volkswagen will reveal the production version of the ID.4 electric SUV, part of a worldwide strategy to deliver millions of electric vehicles to help combat global climate change.

Electric vehicle owners know the joys of driving an owning a battery-powered model. But for those who are on the fence about whether an electric vehicle may be right for them, Volkswagen has developed this Q&A to tackle everything you need to know, and a few things you might be afraid to ask.

Answers to questions about EV ownership

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Why should I buy an electric vehicle?

Electric vehicles have zero direct emissions from driving and can help reduce carbon dioxide emissions compared to traditional vehicles. Researchers suggest that there may be no way to combat global warming without millions of electric vehicles worldwide. They’re fun to drive and quiet on the road, plus you can recharge them at home. They are also far more efficient at using energy compared to liquid fuel vehicles, which waste about two-thirds of their fuel as heat and friction.

Why can’t I buy one today?

In the United States, EV supplies have mostly been limited either to specific states or to luxury vehicles. Volkswagen aims to change that starting with the ID.4 electric compact SUV, the first of a line of EVs it plans to launch in the United States over the next several years. These vehicles will be what Volkswagens have always been – affordable and fun to drive.

Why is Volkswagen building so many EVs?

The Volkswagen Group has pledged to make its global business carbon neutral by 2050, and electric vehicles will help make that possible. By 2025, the Group plans to build about 1.5 million electric vehicles a year worldwide – including at its U.S. factory in Chattanooga.

Are they as safe as regular vehicles?

Yes. All Volkswagen vehicles are subjected to intense safety testing. They must meet rigorous safety standards and crash tests required by law, and often exceed these standards.

Aren’t the batteries in EVs just versions of what I have in my phone or laptop?

While most electronics use some form of lithium-ion battery today, the chemistry and design of an EV battery is quite different than those used in consumer electronics.

The battery in my phone only lasts a few years. Will I have to replace the battery in my EV?

EV batteries in vehicles are not designed to be replaced like those in phones, and it’s rare for an EV owner to face that issue. EVs are designed to provide a certain amount of power for many years of ownership. While all batteries can lose charging capacity over time, Volkswagen EVs have several strategies to help combat that process, from liquid cooling to energy reserves. For example, the Volkswagen e-Golf came with an eight-year or 100,000-mile (whichever occurs first) limited warranty on the battery pack.5

Answers to questions about EV Charging

CHARGING

How long does it take to charge an EV?

That depends on how much power the charger can provide, and how fast the vehicle can accept it. There are three general levels of charging power:

  • Level 1 is your typical 120-volt plug. Most EVs can get roughly 2-5 miles of range per hour of charging at one.
  • Level 2 chargers are the most common; they run off 240-volt circuits and can add about 12-24 miles per hour of charge. Most charging is either Level 1 or 2, and about 80 percent of all vehicle charging takes place at home.
  • Level 3 is commonly known as DC fast charging and requires special equipment with heavy-duty cables and inverters. These systems typically are only found at public charging stations and used for occasional recharging on long-distance drives. A Level 3 charger can recharge an EV battery to 80 percent capacity in roughly 30-40 minutes, depending on the charger’s total power limit. (Charging speeds at a DC fast charger slow for the final 20 percent of capacity due to heat buildup.)

Because the power coming out of a U.S. outlet is alternating current (AC), and vehicle batteries rely on direct current (DC), that electricity has to be converted, and the vehicle’s onboard converter can only handle a certain amount at a time. (That’s also the reason fast charging uses DC – it bypasses the onboard converters.) Charging times can also be affected by temperature extremes; very hot or cold weather can slow charging rates and lower the total amount of energy the battery can hold.1

Can I plug in anywhere, or to any EV charger?

Not quite. Your EV has a specific type of charge port that has to match the charger. All Level 1 and Level 2 chargers use the same standard plug, but there are different plugs for DC fast charging. It can be a bit frustrating and confusing at first, but more automakers are moving to use the Combined Charging Standard (CCS) for DC fast charging already used on all Volkswagen Group EVs.

Your Volkswagen EV will come from the dealer with a Level 1 charger that plugs into a standard three-prong, 120-volt outlet. However, if you have a driveway or a permanent parking place, you will likely want to get a Level 2 charger installed at your home. Many apartment buildings and parking garages are also installing Level 2 chargers nationwide. There are about 59,000 public Level 2 chargers available in the United States, along with about 2,500 DC Fast Chargers that use the CCS standard, and more are being built.

What if I don’t have a driveway or fixed parking spot?

That’s one of the challenges that Volkswagen, along with companies like Electrify America, have been working to tackle. Some EV owners may be able to rely on charging at their workplaces, or paid public charging. Other firms are building chargers that can be added to public streets. For some people who want to buy an electric vehicle, this may be too big of a hurdle to overcome today – but many companies want to solve it soon.

How much energy does an EV battery pack hold?

The non-scientific answer is: A lot. According to federal energy data, the average U.S. home uses 30.5 kilowatt-hours of energy a day. The smallest battery pack in the Volkswagen ID.3 electric hatchback sold in Europe could power that typical home for a day and a half. The largest available pack for the ID.3 holds 82 kilowatt-hours of energy – or roughly 5,500 times that of your smartphone.

Can I plug it in when it’s raining?

Electric vehicle charge ports and plugs use software to confirm they’re properly connected before sending electricity to a battery, and they’re designed to work in all weather conditions.

Answers to questions about how EVs driveDRIVING

EV people say driving one is fun. What’s so fun about it?

It’s the very nature of electric driving. Your gas-powered engine makes its maximum torque and horsepower when it revs up to a few thousand revolutions per minute. An electric motor makes its maximum torque the instant it begins spinning, and it makes for a great driving experience. The last generation Volkswagen e-Golf was as quick to 30 mph as the same-generation Volkswagen GTI, even though the GTI had nearly 100 horsepower more than the e-Golf.4

Volkswagen EVs will come in rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions, and the Volkswagen electric vehicle chassis locates the battery at the bottom of the car, giving it a low center of gravity designed for better handling. All Volkswagens offer engaging vehicle dynamics and that can get even better in the Volkswagen EVs.

Oh, and it’s quiet to drive – there’s no engine noise or exhaust.

How far can I go in an EV?

Every EV in the United States has an EPA rated range estimate for a full charge. In daily use, EVs offer a constantly updated estimate of available range, based on your current driving data, your recent past driving history and other factors such as temperature and HVAC usage. Your range estimates may be lower in winter or higher in summer than the official number due to the effect of weather on batteries; they tend to work best at moderate temperatures, and lose some capacity in extreme cold or heat.

What about range anxiety? EV owners must worry about that all the time.

Range anxiety can happen to EV owners, but it’s no different than planning your fill-ups in a gasoline-powered vehicle. According to federal data,the average American commuter was traveling about 35 to 40 miles per day before the pandemic; the next generation of Volkswagen EVs starting with the ID.4 are engineered to have EPA estimated ranges that well exceed those daily driving needs. As we mentioned before, about 80 percent of charging happens at home; beyond that, the number of public charging stations continues to grow, and more tools than ever are available to help EV drivers find a recharge if necessary.2

What is regenerative braking?

EVs all work the same way: Batteries feed electric power to a motor, which turns the wheels. One of the ways EVs can help save energy is by regenerative braking, which simply reverses that flow — using the wheels to turn the motor and send power back into the batteries while slowing the vehicle.

Volkswagen EVs have a sophisticated set of sensors and software that lets drivers decide how much regenerative braking they want, and whether they want the system to kick on the moment they take their foot off the accelerator pedal. At higher speeds, you may want to coast as far as possible. In stop-and-go traffic, the regenerative braking can make driving even more efficient.

While regenerative braking can handle a lot of speed reduction, EVs do also have traditional friction brakes. The software system ensures a safe engagement of the traditional brakes as needed.

What kind of tires do EVs have?

EVs typically come with low rolling resistance tires that help extend their range while still providing assured handling. These typically do not cost more to replace than comparable regular tires.

Why do EVs seem to have strange wheel choices?

Aerodynamics. Well-designed EVs try to reduce aerodynamic drag as much as possible to maximize their range. Wheels designed to smooth the air flow around the car can make a noticeable contribution to range in most EVs.

What about a transmission?

Volkswagen EVs don’t have a traditional multi-gear transmission and don’t need them; the motor connects with the wheels via a single-speed gearbox. You can set different driving modes that offer either more sporty acceleration, or those that can help save energy and are designed to extend your vehicle’s range in many cases.

Answers to questions about cost and CO2 savings with EVsSAVING

Do electric vehicles cost more or less than comparable internal combustion engine vehicles?

Electric vehicles typically have higher MSRPs than comparable gas-powered vehicles due to the expense of batteries. That said, many electric vehicles, including the upcoming Volkswagen ID.4, qualify for government incentives, such as a potential U.S. federal tax credit of up to $7,500. They can also be cheaper to run, as the cost of charging is generally lower than the cost of gas to drive a comparable distance. Plus there are fewer parts that need servicing (i.e., no more oil changes), which can result in lower scheduled maintenance costs. Depending on how long you own the car and how much you drive, these lower costs may help offset an EV’s initial higher purchase price.3

Volkswagen’s strategy to make electric vehicles for millions involves driving down the cost of the components, including batteries, by building EVs at a global scale.

Do EVs really reduce carbon dioxide compared to gas vehicles?

Yes, they can over time, especially when they use renewable energy sources.

While EVs do require slightly more energy to build, they can make up that CO2 deficit and then some over their useful lifetimes. Exactly how much less CO2 emissions driving an electric vehicle generates compared to driving a gasoline-powered vehicle depends on the source of the electricity the owner uses for charging, which varies by geographic region. In many places, electric grids are converting to more CO2-free sources – such as solar and wind – and as that trend continues, the CO2 benefits of EVs will grow. But even at today’s mix of energy sources in the United States, electric vehicles can have a CO2 benefit, as most emissions are lower for electricity generation than burning gasoline.

How much does it cost to charge an EV?

If you’re at home, your EV recharging costs are based on your electric rates. In some places, EV owners can get special programs from their electric utilities that offer special discounts for charging at night or during off-peak times. The current U.S. average price of residential electricity is 13 cents per kilowatt-hour; at that rate, a full recharge of most EVs today would cost less than $10.

Public chargers range from free to more expensive than home charging for DC fast charging, depending on their power levels and networks. In general, charging your EV is still less expensive than filling up a tank of gasoline.