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Why your cup holders carry a surprising amount of science

  When Volkswagen calls the 2019 Jetta “all new,” it doesn’t just mean the chassis, the styling or the driver’s assistance technology. Even the cup holders received a rigorous engineering upgrade. America’s thirst for places to store a beverage in their vehicles dates back decades; it was only in the early ‘80s that the first viable cup holders built into a family vehicle appeared.  Today, Americans can’t get enough of them; the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas has 17 cup holders and the new 2018 Tiguan has 12. Yes, that’s multiple liquid-leveraging spaces per passenger, but as anyone who’s ever road-tripped knows, you can run out of cup holders before you run out of cups. It’s been many years since Volkswagen of America actually shipped fast-food soda cups to Germany to ensure future cup holders were robust enough for American appetites. Carsten Scharf, senior manager for concept and design quality for Volkswagen Group of America, says there’s now a continuous loop between VWoA and product engineering to translate customer data into better product solutions. “We strive to improve each vehicle model to meet the needs and wants of our American consumers,” says Scharf. “To do this we look at our customer feedback, translate that into requirements that will be established for the next model, and then work with our engineering colleagues to have those updates come through in our future products.” For the seventh generation of the Jetta, Volkswagen designers and engineers looked closely at not just cup holders, but the whole interaction of parts in the center console – an increasingly busy piece of vehicle real estate. Cups sticking up too high can interfere with moving the gear shift; the wrong kind of armrest can take up too much space or be uncomfortable for some drivers. Volkswagen designers not only updated the Jetta driver and passenger cup holders to make space for a mug with a handle, but also reworked the cup holders inside the backseat armrest entirely. In reviewing feedback that previous model backseat console cup holders were too shallow, VW designers remodeled the feature to allow for a deeper cupholder but still keeping all passengers in mind. “By updating the materials at the bottom of the cupholder itself to use a softer plastic, it allowed for a much deeper, more efficient feature that was not only more functional, but also maintained the comfort of the center seatback when the console was up,” Scharf says. It wasn’t just the cup holders that enjoyed an upgrade. The center console “jumbo” box grew in volume, so that it can now hold an item about the size of a full-size touchscreen tablet inside, without blocking the cup holders. Even the placement of new USB ports and a deeper well in front of the gearshift to hold cellphones reflect how people use their cars today. These updates were based directly on feedback from VW drivers and turning that into the next set of requirements. And doing that correctly means thinking constantly about what’s next and starting early. Although the seventh generation Jetta just hit dealerships, “believe it or not, we are already in the process of defining customer requirements for the 8th generation Jetta,” says Scharf.

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Volkswagen’s U.S. factory cheers the first grads from its on-site high school

Imagine as a high school student studying Chaucer in one period, and then walking a few steps to program a state-of-the-art welding robot or 3D printer. That’s a glimpse of what a school day is like at the high school held on the grounds of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga factory. Volkswagen Chattanooga, Chattanooga State Community College and Hamilton County Schools recently celebrated the first graduating class from the Mechatronics Akademie, a two-year mechatronics program at Volkswagen Chattanooga open to eligible high school students of Hamilton County Schools. It’s an extension of the successful Volkswagen Academy, a apprenticeship program for high-school graduates that offers three years of on-site education, paid factory experience and a conditional job offer for those who graduate. “We are excited that young people are gaining exposure to mechatronics training and the availability of technical careers through the programs offered in our Volkswagen Academy,” said Nicole Koesling, Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Volkswagen Chattanooga. “I am proud of the graduates and look forward to watching them grow and develop as they take the next step towards successful careers.” The fast-track Mechatronics Akademie melds high school and college courses that touch on combining mechanics, electronics and computing and applying them to the design of manufacturing. Students split their time between traditional classroom learning and technical, hands-on training. The students stay attached to their home high schools for sports and social activities, so attending the Akademie doesn’t mean missing out on prom. “My expectation for the program was to get started on the career path I wanted. I want to do mechatronics engineering, so this prepared me and set me on the right track,” said Clayton Edward Watkins, a recent Mechatronics Akademie graduate. This past spring, the first graduating class of 24 received their diplomas. Next year’s incoming senior class has 20 students and the upcoming junior class, while still working through the application process, is expected to fill approximately 24 spots. “The program gave me a head start on my career because I graduated high school with 40 hours of college credit,” Watkins said. “I’m not aware of anyone from my high school with that many credits, so I feel the program has placed me a step ahead. For any high school students thinking of applying, do it. Get in, don’t waste time, and do the best you can because this program is a really good opportunity for young people like myself.” In addition, more than 95 percent of the students are already looking forward to continuing their studies at post-secondary educational institutions, including 10 students who will start as apprentices at the Volkswagen Academy this fall. “This is a very good program and I had such a great experience. I was a foreign student from Spain, so I was expecting to face challenges because of English being my second language,” said Maria Roig, a recent Mechatronics Akademie graduate and the daughter of a Chattanooga employee. Roig continued: “Sometimes I would see or hear words I had never heard before, but my classmates and teachers would help me whenever I needed, and with their help I was able to be successful. Because of this program, I have gained the tools necessary to enroll in the apprentice program here at the Volkswagen Academy in the fall. This program is an open door to a new future.”

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Volkswagen’s 2018 Enthusiast Fleet shows its colors at European Experience

Closed course. Concept vehicles shown. Not available for sale. Modifying vehicles can adversely affect reliability, warranty coverage, & compliance with safety and other standards. SOWO Partners’ European Experience, hosted in Savannah, Ga., was home to the debut of the Volkswagen 2018 Enthusiast Fleet. Embracing the enthusiast lifestyle, Volkswagen teamed up with several aftermarket companies to customize four vehicles, demonstrating what can be done with a few aftermarket items on each. The Golf R Abstract Concept features a variety of items from aftermarket companies and is defined by the abstract artwork that covers the car. Abt Sportsline side skirts, exhaust system, and 20-inch wheels are mated to H&R lowering springs, bringing the car’s chassis closer to the ground, while a BAK Performance Carbon Fiber Steering Wheel brings a new experience to the cockpit. of The SoCal Concept, as featured on the all-new 2019 Jetta R-Line pays homage to the styling of the second generation Jetta with its retro graphics on the rear quarter panels. The Formula GT wheels by fifteen52 are color-matched, creating an all-white theme that fits right into the southern California cars of the ‘80s. KW automotive’s coil over system lowers the vehicle and some florescent accents around the car identify it as part of the 2018 fleet. Volkswagen’s R-Line branding inspired the 2018 Tiguan R-Line’s aesthetic, creating a camouflage pattern across the car’s body and the Thule Motion Alpine cargo box. Air Lift Performance and satin black Rotiform CCV wheels quietly bring the SUV lower to the ground on command with a minimal complement to the camo pattern, while Thule’s cargo box creates some added storage space for everyone’s’ belongings. The all-new 2019 Arteon R-Line rounds out the pack, fitted with 20-inch Vossen HF-2 wheels and H&R coil over suspension, and fully-wrapped in a fluorescent yellow shade, defining the Highlight Concept. A new model and vehicle style for the stateside market, enthusiasts were eager to see and experience a modified Arteon in-person, and the Vossen HF-2 wheels’ Brushed Gloss Black finish subtly complemented the gloss black and chrome trim accents that balance the Highlight Concept’s bright body color. Also on display is the 2018 Atlas that Tanner Foust built for the SEMA show last year. Large tires and off-road wheels complement the extended fenders and lower body panel cladding to give the vehicle an extreme off-road look. The bumper design raises the approach angle to help provide underbody protection. Light bars inset into the bumper and mounted on the roof illuminate the night for backcountry camping trips, while the roof rack with access ladder make sure there’s even more room inside for the whole family. Minimal changes to the interior include plaid inserts in the seats that are reminiscent of Volkswagen GTI heritage and also reflect on Tanner’s childhood in Scotland. Watch the video below to check out the fleet and details of each car.   The Volkswagen enthusiast fleet will be on display, at these events throughout the year: Euro Hangar | Holland, MI | June 22-23 Waterfest | Atco, NJ | July 21-22 Wolfsgart | Burlington, VT | Aug. 3-5 VAG Fair | York, PA | Aug. 11-12 SoCal Big Euro | San Diego, CA | Sept. 2 Pacific Waterland | Woodburn, OR | Sept. 9 (Car appearances subject to vehicle availability)

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The Volkswagen Tiguan turns up the heat on Food Network Star

For an exciting fourth year in a row, Volkswagen teams up with Food Network to present its hit competition series Food Network Star. As the exclusive automotive sponsor for the 2018 season, Volkswagen brings the Tiguan to this year’s party. Like the chefs competing on the show, the Tiguan will be showcasing its style, versatility, and sense of adventure in a sophisticated urban setting. Through weekly challenges, competitors compete for a shot at stardom, and the Tiguan takes some starring roles in the action. On a special June 24 episode, you’ll see the interior of the 2018 Tiguan up close and personal when the contestants hit the road and get loaded up with all the fixins for a culinary showdown. In their Tiguan SUVs, the competitors travel in style all-season long. Culinary explorations are par for the course, so they have to be ready for anything. And with an available 3rd row, sliding and reclining 2nd row, and cavernous cargo space, the Tiguan is more than up to the challenge. Celebrating summer, competitors can haul anything from coolers to cantaloupes and pineapples to picnic blankets, and still have room to relax, ride, and take a hands-free call. So tune in Sunday nights and check out the on-camera charisma of the Tiguan and the contestants. It’s sure to be entertaining for VW fans and foodies, alike. Food Network Star premieres Sunday, June 10, at 9/8c on Food Network. Follow VW on Facebook and Twitter for show updates and more.

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Driving the first-generation Volkswagen Jetta with its 2019 successor

The 1980 model year was a big one for Volkswagen of America. Known at the time mostly for the Rabbit hatchback, VW brought out four new models that year – the Rabbit convertible, the Rabbit-based Pickup, the then-new Vanagon (including its hip camper variant) and an all-new sedan named after the German word for “jet stream:” the Jetta. It was not many years later that the Jetta became the best-selling German model in America, with more than 3.2 million models sold since. With the new 2019 Jetta hitting dealers now, we put a first-generation example side-by-side with the modern Jetta to show off just how much has changed in nearly four decades. The Mk1 Jetta here is a 1982 model acquired and restored by Volkswagen of America last year to good driving condition that belies its 180,000-mile odometer reading. Designed to provide space and openness in a Rabbit-based package, sitting in the Jetta feels upright by today’s standards. In front of the driver lies the traditional VW analog dash in a minor symphony of brown and beige shades, from the chocolate-covered dash to the latte-colored cut-pile carpet. By the standards of 1980, the Jetta offered enough power for a subcompact sedan – 76 horsepower from its 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. Acceleration was not rapid, especially with the optional three-speed automatic in place of the standard five-speed manual, but the Jetta’s handling and road feel were better than expected for the segment in the era. So too were the space for four, the sizable trunk and decent fuel economy for its competitive set. Driving the 1982 edition today reminds you of how much vehicles have grown. Riding on 13-inch wheels, the Jetta feels diminutive in traffic, but also wonderfully connected with the road. The unassisted steering can be a bit tough in a parking spot, but once at speed it’s easy to see what made the original Jetta attractive to drivers in its era. of Switching from one to the other, you’re instantly struck by how much more the 2019 Jetta brings to the driver’s comfort, from cupholders (eight total, versus none in the Mk1) to the standard infotainment system with App-Connect, Bluetooth and a number of ways to stream music. (The original Jetta did come with two ashtrays; the 2019 Jetta makes no such provision.) Much like the wind eroding the face of a cliff, the Mk1 Jetta’s upright, squared-off lines have been refined for better aerodynamics over the years into the slippery shape of the 2019 edition. The Jetta has also grown over the years to hold five passengers and their luggage, with markedly better performance and fuel economy. Where road noise thrums into the Mk1 Jetta, it’s in the background of the 2019 edition. And the new Jetta offers a menu of standard safety features — like eight airbags and post-collision emergency braking — along with several available driver-assist technologies, like lane departure warning and automatic cruise control, which were only concepts in 1980. For all these dramatic changes, the biggest one may be the least obvious: how much the Jetta’s value has grown. The 2019 Jetta’s MSRP starts at $18,545, before destination charges, a price cut from its previous generation, and comes with a long list of standard features. At its launch, the 1980 Jetta base sticker price was $7,650, excluding extra-cost options such as alloy wheels or air conditioning. Adjusted for inflation, that’s more than $23,000 in today’s money. What the first-generation Jetta and its 2019 counterpart share is the philosophy that an affordable compact car doesn’t have to sacrifice performance or comfort. That will be true no matter how many more decades the Jetta rolls through America. 1980 Jetta 2019 Jetta Height 55.5 inches 57.4 inches Width 63.4 inches 70.8 inches Length 167.8 inches 185.1 inches Wheelbase 94.4 inches 105.5 inches Trunk space 14.1 cu. ft. 14.1 cu. ft. Horsepower 76 147 Torque (lb-ft) 83 185 Transmissions Five-speed manual, three-speed automatic Six-speed manual, eight-speed automatic EPA-estimated Fuel Economy (automatic) 28 mpg combined* 34 mpg combined** Colors Alpine White, Diamond Silver, Black, Indiana Red, Mexico Beige, Inari Silver Pure White, Tornado Red, Black, Deep Black Pearl, White Silver, Platinum Grey, Sage Green, Silk Blue, Habanero Orange Cruise Control Unavailable Standard; optional Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) Lights Dual sealed-beam headlights, bulb taillights LED headlights & taillights; LED Daytime Running Lights; automatic on/off Infotainment AM/FM cassette stereo AM/FM/SAT with touchscreen and standard Volkswagen Car-Net® App-Connect, Bluetooth® and USB; optional 8-speaker BeatsAudio® and navigation Air Conditioning Optional Standard; optional dual-zone Climatronic® automatic climate control Seats 4 5, optional heated and cooled front seats, power driver’s seat, and heated rear seats USB ports Not yet invented 1 or 2, dependent on trim Ashtrays 2 0 Cigarette Lighter 1 0 Armrests 0 2 Cupholders 0 8 Airbags 0 6 *Due to regulatory changes, the EPA estimate was subsequently revised downward. **30 city/40 highway mpg 2019 VW Jetta automatic. EPA estimates. Your mileage will vary and depends on several factors including your driving habits and vehicle condition.  

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Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetles sweep inaugural Americas Rallycross

The first season of Americas Rallycross began with a familiar sight – two Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross drivers on top of the podium. Tanner Foust claimed victory and Scott Speed took second in the inaugural round of Americas Rallycross last weekend at Silverstone Circuit in England. The pair faced a mix of old and new competitors around the 0.6-mile dirt and asphalt track, but Foust and his No. 34 Rockstar Energy Drink Beetle dominated the field, with top-three finishes in each of the four qualifying rounds and a victory in his semifinal race. With pole position for the final, Foust led from flag to flag. “I’m super stoked to get the first Americas Rallycross win with Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross today,” said Foust after the race. “The team’s worked really hard, giving me and Scott awesome Beetles to race, and I’m glad we got to wrap up a victory for them and Rockstar after a long trip away from home.” Reigning rallycross champion Speed had a minor setback in the second qualifying round after contact with another competitor but won his semifinal in the No. 41 Oberto Circle K Beetle Rallycross and started next to Foust on the front row of the Final. After losing a little ground on the first lap, Speed moved back up through the field but was unable to catch Foust, settling for a second-place finish. “We didn’t manage to get a win, but that was one of the better races of my career,” said Speed. “It’s super fun to come here and race with hard but fair competition, and I’m happy to grab a 1-2 finish for the Volkswagen Andretti team.” The race sets the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross drivers as the duo to beat when Americas Rallycross is back in action this July at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.

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Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross jumps into the Americas Rallycross series

After winning the U.S. rallycross titles for the past two years, the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team gets back in action this weekend with Scott Speed, Tanner Foust and their Volkswagen Beetle Supercars at one of the world’s most historic race tracks. The team will compete against several world-class rallycross drivers in the newly launched Americas Rallycross series, with events throughout the summer culminating in a championship race this September at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Their first challenge: the new rallycross circuit at Britain’s Silverstone circuit, part of its Speedmachine festival, where fans will be able to see the U.S. rallycross stars and the British round of the separate World Rallycross Championship. The race will be a homecoming of sorts for Foust, who won races at Silverstone in the 2011 and 2012 European Rallycross Championship, the first American to do so. “Having World Rallycross expand its reach to the U.S. is going to make the competition so much more accessible for fans to better understand the sport,” said the No. 34 Rockstar Energy Drink Beetle driver. “ARX will be a great platform to find new fans and spread the word about rallycross.” Speed and Foust will again run in the Beetle Supercars built by Volkswagen Motorsports in Europe. The cars have been updated to improve their handling, but will race with the same 2.0-liter 560-horsepower turbocharged engines that propelled the team to success in 2017. “I’m excited to compete with ARX,” said Scott Speed, driver of the No. 41 Oberto Circle K Beetle. “The competition is going to be tough, but our Beetles are ready. I think this new series will be a great place to push our team and the cars in 2018.” Four qualifying rounds, followed by the semifinals and finals will be held across Saturday and Sunday, May 25-27. The ARX champion of Speedmachine will be crowned live on the ARX Rallycross Facebook page, with additional coverage on CBSSports.com.  

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