A Tale of Two Powertrains

The push toward “Electric for All” rests on the Volkswagen all-new MEB platform, which was designed from the ground up. So what makes the platform so different? Let’s talk about the motor The all-new MEB platform utilizes an electric motor, located in the back, which powers the rear wheels. However, the platform also supports all-wheel drive with another front motor that can power the front wheels. In the current VW MQB platform, the engine is located in the front to drive the front wheels — and may have a center drive shaft connecting to the rear differential for all-wheel drive on select models. Your brakes do more than help your VW stop Both the current generation Volkswagen MQB vehicles and future MEB electrics vehicles use four-wheel disc brakes. However, the MEB also has regenerative braking — when you take your foot off the accelerator, the motor works as a generator, reversing the flow of energy back to the battery and slowing forward motion. Something is missing inside a VW Electric Vehicle MEB That hump between the front seats that’s in most vehicles? It takes up lots of room because it’s providing necessary space for some vehicle elements, including the center drive shaft and shifter. In the MEB platform, there’s no need for a center drive shaft, thus no need for that center hump. A single-speed gearbox is housed in the same drive unit as the motor and supporting electronics, driving the wheels directly. Additionally, without the engine and transmission up front, the panel separating the engine and passenger compartment was pushed forward to create more interior volume. A traditional vehicle relies on a heater core in the dash that hot engine coolant runs through to heat the cabin. In an MEB EV, the heater is located under the hood, freeing up even more space inside. Additionally, it is predominantly electric because there’s not always hot coolant available. (Though it’s mainly electric, it also uses heat generated by other components when available.) How about the battery in the MEB EVs? First of all, it’s large, flat, and mounted under the floor, which helps to maintain weight distribution and a center of gravity. Secondly, the battery pack can be rapidly-charged — as much as 80 percent in 30 minutes, depending on application. Future plans may include inductive charging. How does the MEB keep the motor cool? Surprisingly, the MEB EV has a relatively conventional radiator at the front of the car just like an MQB. However, unlike a gasoline motor (coolant circulates through the engine block), the MEB EV system uses an electric pump to circulate coolant to the motor’s heat exchanger on demand — as well as other electronic components such as the battery and inverter — to keep them at their optimum operating temperature. But how are they the same? One of the things that made the MQB so great was its versatility: It could be lengthened, widened, and lifted to accommodate different vehicle types, such as the Golf and the Atlas. That same versatility guides the MEB: It will be able to support a wide range of next-generation VW EVs in all shapes and sizes. of

Read More
Building a sportier sedan: 35 years of the VW Jetta GLI

This year marks the 35th anniversary of Volkswagen’s Jetta GLI – a performance version of VW’s best-selling sedan. Over the past three decades, multiple generations of the Jetta GLI have delivered an affordable, family-friendly package to automotive enthusiasts. Ahead of unveiling the 2019 Jetta GLI at the Chicago Auto Show, let’s take a quick look back at the car’s history. 1984 Jetta GLI The Jetta GLI first arrived in the United States for the 1984 model year. After the successful launch of the Golf GTI – or as it was known here, the Rabbit GTI – Volkswagen decided to create a similar sporty version of the Jetta. Unlike the Golf GTI, the top-of-the-line Jetta had a four-door option, seating for five and a spacious trunk, which better fit the needs of the average American family. The GLI’s first iteration was powered by many of the cutting-edge mechanical pieces featured in the Golf GTI, including a fuel-injected, 90-horsepower, 1.8-liter engine with revised cylinder heads, lighter pistons and higher compression ratio. It also had a close-ratio five-speed manual transmission and improved sports suspension. The original GLI has become a rare classic, as it was only built for one model year. Its power numbers seem mild by modern standards, but in its day the first GLI was frequently tested against entry-level sports sedans from German luxury brands – and often came out on top. As the Jetta evolved throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the GLI underwent several more enhancements to improve its performance and visual appeal. The first 16-valve, 2.0-liter engine arrived in the 1990 GLI, for instance. 2003 Jetta GLI The new millennium brought a slew of improvements for GLI. The Mk4 Jetta debuted with Hartmutt Warkus’s modern, rounded design for the 1999 model year and the GLI returned for the 2002 model powered by the 2.8-liter narrow-angle VR6. In 2004, the more efficient 1.8-liter turbocharged and direct injection engine was also offered, the only time that GLI was offered with more than one engine. 2006 Jetta GLI The Mk5 Jetta GLI paired the 2.0-liter TSI turbo engine with an independent rear suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels. Where the original Jetta GLI was offered with few options, the Mk5 GLI ‘s demonstrated just how important tech and creature comforts had become for compact sedan owners, with available options such as touchscreen navigation, keyless entry and heated seats. The fifth-generation version of the GLI, built on the Jetta Mk6 platform, offered 210 horsepower and available technologies like lane departure warning and blind spot detection systems.1 But the benefits of the GLI – a European-tuned sport sedan at an affordable price – were just as evident as when it first arrived in 1984. We’ll see what advances the next generation of Jetta GLI offers later this week.

Read More
The Volkswagen Tarok concept asks America if it’s ready for a compact pickup revival

Forty years ago, the first vehicle designed and assembled by Volkswagen entirely in America rolled out of the factory in Pennsylvania. Officially and simply called “Volkswagen Pickup,” the compact truck built from the Rabbit chassis offered an economical alternative to full-size pickups in a time of fluctuating gas prices. Over five years, Volkswagen sold 77,514 Pickup models in the United States and exported several thousand more, before the U.S. market shifted away from small trucks. This week at the New York International Auto Show, Volkswagen has brought a 21st century take on the Pickup of years past. Aside from having a bed, the Volkswagen Tarok concept1 offers a far higher level of capability and refinement, with seating for five, an innovative bed and ample payload for its size. While it’s not designed for American buyers, it’s here to ask the question: Is America ready for a smaller pickup again? Most pickups pair big engines with ladder-type chassis that use leaf springs, a setup great for hauling and towing (just like the westward pioneers found with their Conestoga wagons). Over the past several decades, many automakers have experimented with using a more car-like unibody chassis with a pickup bed as a solution that’s designed to be more space- and fuel-efficient, while still offering additional load-carrying capability. Volkswagen’s first pickups in the United States were versions of the Bus sold in single and double-cab models in the 1950s and 1960s. Thanks to the rear-engine Bus chassis, these trucks had fantastic features like fold-down beds and a sizable storage compartment between the engine and cab. Sold mostly as commercial vehicles and never quite as popular as the Bus, these pickups fell victim to tariff rules in 1971 and are now collectors’ items. Since the Volkswagen Pickup ended production in 1984, other car-based compact pickups have disappeared from the market; the last one ended production in 2006. Yet pickups  account for 16 percent of all new vehicles sold in America so far in 2019, and as they’ve grown in popularity, they’ve also grown in cost and size. Even today’s “midsize” pickups are around 17 percent bigger than they were in their 1980s peak. Those evolutions may have created space for something new like the Tarok concept. Based on Volkswagen’s versatile MQB chassis that’s shared with the Atlas and Tiguan, the Tarok  is 193 inches long, or about five inches shorter than the Atlas. Yet thanks to an innovative design that allows the front wall of the pickup bed to fold down into the passenger cabin, along with the rear passenger seats, the Tarok can hold items 73 inches long. of Four decades of design advancements and the MQB chassis allows the Tarok concept to have roughly double the payload capacity of the previous Volkswagen Pickup, at 2,200 lbs – which is also at least 1,200 lbs. more than the last compact pickup sold in America. With Volkswagen’s sharp, modern design, nine inches of ground clearance and 4Motion all-wheel-drive, the Tarok has the skills to match its looks when venturing off road. As it’s designed for South America and not the United States, the Tarok is powered by a 1.4-liter TSI four-cylinder engine making 148 hp and 184 lb-ft of torque, capable of running on ethanol fuel blends up to 100 percent, mated to a six-speed automatic. But because of its flexible MQB chassis, the Tarok could easily be adapted with larger TSI engines similar to what the Atlas and Tiguan have today. Whether there’s demand for a more versatile compact-plus-sized pickup remains to be seen. But based on the reaction to the Tarok concept in New York, Volkswagen has the potential to make one a reality – and bring another distinctive vehicle back to American roads.

Read More
Volkswagen Atlas Basecamp Concept offers a new way off the beaten path

From Vermont’s Kingdom Trails to Moab, Utah, mountain biking has grown in recent years to become a favorite outdoor sport of millions of Americans. The Volkswagen Atlas Basecamp Concept, on display at the 2019 New York International Auto Show, demonstrates how the Atlas could be transformed into a mountain biker’s dream touring machine. Concept vehicles are not available for sale. Specifications may change. Starting with a 2019 Atlas SEL Premium, powered by the 276-hp VR6 engine paired with 4Motion all-wheel-drive, the Basecamp bolsters the off-road1 presence of the Atlas with a new stance. Custom fifteen52 brand Traverse MX Concept wheels wearing 265/70R17 all-terrain tires debut on the Basecamp ahead of the anticipated production at fifteen52 this fall. The Basecamp Atlas also rides 1.5 inches higher thanks to coil-over springs from H&R Special Springs. The Basecamp Concept wears a combination of matte-finished Platinum Gray and Black Uni paint, with orange accents and a rugged body kit from Air Design. There’s a 40-inch LED bar up front and a 10-inch light bar on the rear with fog lights for extra illumination. The roof sports a FrontRunner Slimline II expandable roof-rack system with a low profile that’s easier to load bicycles onto and creates less wind drag than taller basket-type racks. of To complete the touring setup, a custom HIVE EX trailer could provide tow-along lodging in the wilderness. Wearing the same wheel/tire combo as the Basecamp, the HIVE EX trailer holds a queen-sized bed with a mini-kitchen to store and cook food in the wilderness. With heating options, portable toilet and hot shower, along with a roof-mounted bike rack, the HIVE EX has almost every need covered. Alex Earle, Exterior Design Manager at the Volkswagen Design Center California and avid cyclist, envisioned the Basecamp concept as the answer to what a perfect, mountain-biking-friendly SUV might look like. “Whether you are taking on a series of challenging single-tracks with your favorite mountain bike or enjoying a relaxing evening under the night sky, the versatility of the Basecamp Concept provides ideal mobile solutions for just about any adventure,” he said.

Read More
For EV battery recycling, Volkswagen thinks ahead to the end of the road

One of the great success stories in recycling may lie under the hood of your car. In the United States, 99 percent of all lead-acid automotive batteries are recycled, making them among one of the most-recycled goods you can buy. When your battery wears out, you can easily turn it in when buying a new one; that old battery can then be shredded or melted down, and its raw materials reused. The new generation of electric vehicles will bring a massive increase in the number of batteries on the road – and already there are some concerns about how those advanced lithium-ion batteries will be recycled after their 10 or 15 years of use. Volkswagen plans to build one million electric vehicles a year by 2025, including at the Chattanooga plant and is already working on how to develop a robust second life for the batteries that will power them. Why is recycling such a concern? Start with cost: Electric vehicle batteries are one of the most expensive parts on such cars, due to their complexity and the rare metals they require, like cobalt and manganese. As electric vehicles become more commonplace, digging those metals out of discarded batteries can be cheaper than digging ores from the Earth. More importantly: Helping reduce the carbon impact of transportation – not just from the vehicles when they are driven, but over their entire lifespan, from raw material to junkyard – requires tight control over how batteries are recycled. To tackle the challenge, Volkswagen is working towards two approaches: Portable rechargers, and energy-efficient recycling. Charging when you need it An older lithium-ion battery that’s been on the road a decade or more may not be suitable for powering a vehicle, but it could still have a sizable energy capacity. (The battery pack in the 2019 Volkswagen e-Golf can store as much energy as the typical American household uses in a day, and then some.) And electric vehicles may need charging in many places where there may not be chargers or even power outlets available. Those two problems have the same solution. Volkswagen Group plans to produce this portable quick-charging station. Designed to hold up to 360 kilowatt-hours of energy, the quick-charge station can charge up to four vehicles at a time, with a maximum quick-charge output of 100 kW. Like a portable cellphone charger, the Volkswagen Group charger can be used until it’s depleted or connected to a power source to keep itself recharged. And it’s small enough to be deployed in hard-to-charge locations, such as music festivals. The charger has been designed to use the same battery packs as Volkswagen’s MEB electric vehicle chassis, so that when those packs reach the end of their useful life, they can have a second career as a recharge station. The first of these Volkswagen Group portable quick chargers is anticipated to be installed in Germany next year, and Volkswagen Group expects to begin full production in 2020. At some point, all batteries lose the ability to hold energy. That’s where a new project at the Volkswagen Group’s component plant in Salzgitter comes into play.An electric car battery shredded by a Volkswagen process into its components: copper and aluminum, steel, insulation/packaging and “black powder” – raw and rare metals. Salzgitter is expected to be the home of Volkswagen’s first center for electric vehicle battery recycling. Next year, the center plans to have an initial capacity to recycle roughly 1,200 tons of EV batteries per year, equal to the batteries from about 3,000 vehicles. Using a special shredder, the individual battery parts can be ground up, the liquid electrolyte can be cleaned off, and the components separated into “black powder.” This contains the valuable raw materials cobalt, lithium, manganese, and nickel – which, while requiring further physical separation, are then ready for reuse in new batteries. In the long term, Volkswagen wants to recycle about 97 percent of all raw materials in the battery packs. Today, it’s roughly 53 percent, and the plant in Salzgitter expects to raise it further to about 72 percent. Volkswagen expects the plant in Salzgitter to be followed in the next few years by further decentralized recycling plants. Given how many electric vehicles Volkswagen plans to sell, handling recycling internally will be a priority for cost and environmental reasons — even though it will be at least a decade before the battery shredders have much to do.  

Read More
Tailored bodies, Beetle basics: The quirky world of coachbuilt Volkswagens

A one-of-a-kind car celebration calls for a one-of-kind car – or 12. To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the first Volkswagen Type 1 sold in the United States, a dozen Beetle-based cars with coachbuilt bodies were presented at the prestigious Amelia Island Concours d’ Elegance. Having a custom body tailor-made for your car was a power move among the wealthy from the start of the auto industry through the 1930s. Following World War II, the European carrozzeria (or karosserie) builders looking to rebuild their business had few options until the arrival of the Volkswagen Beetle – an inexpensive model engineered with an easy-to-remove body shell. Several shops, mostly in Germany, offered limited-production, hand-built bodies based on the basic Beetle chassis. Volkswagen itself embraced the movement with higher-volume production of the Karmann Ghia and the original Karmann-designed Convertible, but many of these vintage cars from coachbuilders are now extremely rare and collectible. Along with those of the collectors, Volkswagen brought a few examples from its own collection, including the unique 1965 Karmann-Ghia Type 1 concept and a Wedding Beetle. We talked to three collectors about their coachbuilt creations and what drew them to their cars. Ned Gallaher, 1957 Rometsch Lawrence Convertible At age 20, European car specialist Ned Gallaher spotted his dream car in a vintage Volkswagen book. Labeled a rarity, he presumed he would never see the curvaceous coach-built in his lifetime, let alone own one. But when the uncommon model rolled into his shop in 1994, he knew he had to have it. “There’s only five driving in the world and I’ve never seen another one,” says Gallaher, who owns Gallaher Restorations in Landrum, S.C. He worked seven days a week for six months to get the two-tone car in presentable shape for Amelia Island. “They are really hard to restore because they are not like a normal production car,” Gallaher, 74, explains. “Nothing fits like it would on a standard Volkswagen. For example, I spent 16 hours replacing chrome around the windshield.” But Gallaher says his efforts were worth it after seeing its positive reaction from the crowds at Amelia. “There was so many people inquiring about the car – what is was and how it was built –that I had to have two friends with me to help answer questions,” says Gallaher. “It was crazy!” Lloyd Kee, 1954 Dannenhauer and Stauss coupe Lloyd Kee refers to his maroon 1954 coupe as the “holy grail” of cars. It’s a fitting label, as there are only 19 known Dannenhauer and Stauss coachbuilt models in existence and his is the lone surviving coupe. “While beautiful and handmade, these cars were never made to last,” Kee, 56, explains. German winters were harsh, and salt would often cause car corrosion and rust. Plus, the two-door coupes were considered “the ugly duckling” of the prettier convertibles, says the Danville, Calif.-based car collector. So, the fact that the sporty wheels have survived and is still in drivable condition today – largely due to its relocation to the States in 1962 – is astonishing. His 1954 coupe was purchased in Germany by a wealthy tobacco dealer and outfitted with special Porsche parts, including an engine from a 356 and 16-inch slotted rims. The unique car made its way to the United States when an American serviceman imported and sold it the Roberts family in 1962 for $200. They used it as their main family car until 1973 and stored it in a barn next to their Oregon home until Kee purchased it in 2011. Although Kee rarely has time to drive his “work of art,” the Volkswagen enthusiast calls it the “pride” of his collection. To honor the vehicle’s storied past, he opted for a preservation, rather than a full restoration. “The car’s history is told in what it is now,” he says. Kevin Jeanette, 1959 Rometsch Lawrence Coupe and 1951 Tempo Matador A Porsche aficionado, Jeanette has been collecting cars since 1975 and has a habit scouring rare and unusual finds on the Internet. The race-and-restoration shop owner bought his unrestored Rometsch Lawrence coupe in 2007 and a blue Tempo Matador shortly after. Shortly after acquiring the coupe, he added the Tempo to his collection. Originally owned by a Finnish carpenter in Sweden, the VW-powered truck was only recently reassembled in America. “We finished putting the car together three months ago,” Jeanette, 65, explains. The technology of the 23-window, front-wheel Tempo was “way ahead of its time,” says Jeanette. “It had a 4,800-pound payload and a dependable 25-horsepower Volkswagen motor.” For Amelia Island, he rebuilt the carburetor, cleaned the steel tank and put a new fuel pump on it. “Once we did that, it started right up and drove perfectly,” he said. of

Read More
A VW Beetle enthusiast gets her dream car after 12 years of saving

At 15 years old, Tiera Powers vowed she would one day own a 2005 Volkswagen New Beetle GLS convertible with an Aquarius Blue coat. Never losing sight of her goal, she saved for over a decade to buy her dream baby blue Beetle. “I always loved how the Beetle stood out in a crowd … It’s so unique,” said Powers, now 27. Powers was inspired to start her Beetle fund after spotting her ideal ride while out shopping with her mother for a family car in 2006. The Upstate New York teen couldn’t keep her eyes off the shiny new Bug parked across the street in the lot of a Schenectady County Volkswagen dealership. Even though Powers didn’t have a job — or even a driver’s license — at the time, she was committed to making her vision a reality. “I decided right there I was going to get a job to buy that car,” she recalls. And she didn’t hesitate. From the VW lot, Powers headed straight to a local church where she secured her first job as a part-time administrator. Since then, her career has taken her from dentist’s offices to TV newsrooms, though she never stopped pinching pennies throughout. She even kept a 1:12 scale model on her desk to keep her eyes on the prize. “Having a goal makes it easier to save,” Powers explained. “You don’t realize how much money you can actually put away until you really want something.” Last summer, she had finally saved enough funds to buy her dream Bug and started scouring listings from across the state. Lucky, her boyfriend found a match at a used car dealership in Latham, New York – just down the road from her home in Schenectady – in January. On top of that, she was able to secure a good deal on the used convertible since it was wintertime. “After I went to the dealership and test drove the car, I took a week to think about it,” she said. The following week, after a huge snowstorm, she decided to make an offer — $5,100 — and drove the car home two days later. The “Dream Beetle,” currently unnamed, is sitting in Powers’ garage with 84,000 miles on it. She’s also keeping her previous car to brave the Northeast’s wintry conditions. Powers plans to christen her new car with a name and celebratory first drive this spring.

Read More
More Stories