How the Volkswagen Atlas Cross Sport delivers concert-quality sound

You may be among the millions of vehicle owners who have never taken note of how many speakers your car has. But for many, car audio systems matter greatly – after all, if you’re going to commute in your vehicle a couple hours a day, you should enjoy the environment it creates. In the digital era, car audio has become less about total volume of sound and more about tuning the sound for the environment. And since 2011, Volkswagen has teamed with Fender and Panasonic to bring a new quality to the sound inside your car. The first Fender Premium Audio System debuted in the 2011 Beetle, Passat and Jetta GLI, offering 400 watts, eight speakers and the in-person type of sound that has made Fender such a legendary name in music. Volkswagen has continued to partner with Panasonic and Fender to implement systems in other models, including the 2015 Golf, and select Golf, Passat, Tiguan and Atlas models. With that system, “we’re able to put concert-quality sound inside a vehicle,” said Tom Dunn, Director of Global Audio Solutions at Panasonic. “The emotion of a live performance is something we were all familiar with, but it was not something anyone expected to feel while driving their car.” Applying that same formula to the 2020 Atlas Cross Sport posed some unique challenges. “The Atlas has three rows and seven seats, which gives the vehicle a large cabin space,” said David Ernst, Panasonic’s Senior Acoustics Engineer. “The Atlas Cross Sport has two rows and five seats, so we had to pare down the design of the Fender Premium Audio System for the smaller model without taking away any of the quality.” To adapt the original Atlas audio system for the size of the Atlas Cross Sport, Ernst and his team tested the system with focus groups and people at events and concerts. The team even had musical artists sit in the Atlas Cross Sport and listen to their own music on the system to see how well it matched in quality and expectation. “We did a lot of fine-tuning to make sure the product would be perfect for passengers, wherever they sat inside the vehicle,” Ernst said. This latest Fender Premium Audio System includes 12 separate Fender speakers around the Atlas Cross Sport cabin. The 80-mm front-center channel speaker brings vocals to life, as if from a concert stage. In the front doors, two 200-mm dual voice coil woofers deliver lower tones with minimal distortion, even when played at high volumes. Four 60-mm soft dome tweeters, located in the first and second rows, convey the richness and clarity of each instrument. Two 168-mm speakers in the rear doors deliver a smooth low-frequency and midrange response, and two 80-mm wide frequency speakers in the D-pillar mimic the depth and spaciousness of a concert venue. In the back, a 168-mm subwoofer sits in a 12-liter enclosure, completing the audio spectrum with cabin-filling bass that passengers can feel in their chests. All told, the system can pump out 480 watts of power – enough to help recreate that front-row-concert sound. After spending months optimizing the Atlas Cross Sport, Ernst says he’s proud of the “concert feeling” passengers have when listening to the final product. “This partnership is not just about the hardware of the audio system,” said Dunn. “It’s an opportunity to connect with customers on an emotional level. And Volkswagen has always recognized the importance of this connection.”

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Women leaders at Volkswagen talk about the road ahead

March is Women’s History Month and offers an opportunity to look at the progress women have made in the automotive industry and the challenges that remain. We asked four leading women from Volkswagen of America to share their insights about breaking into a male-dominated industry, their role models, and where they want to take their careers in the future. Shani Jayant, Principal UX designer, Innovation and Engineering Center California How would you describe your role and responsibilities at Volkswagen? Shani Jayant, Principal UX designer, Innovation and Engineering Center California: I lead the Inclusive Mobility initiative from the Silicon Valley IECC campus. Our mission is to help design vehicles and services that can improve transportation and the quality of life for everyone, especially people with disabilities. We do this by working closely with disability communities from the start, so we can inform the future design of accessible self-driving electric vehicles that will come out years down the road. Ellen Collins, Laboratory Evaluation Specialist, Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant: I primarily test, evaluate and release components according to material specs for vehicle parts for production, and field and factory issues. This year will mark my 10th year at Volkswagen. Megan Closset, Product Manager, Volkswagen HQ: I am the product planner for what is arguably our most impassioned group of vehicles – the Golf family. I have the opportunity to connect with our most enthusiastic customers on a personal level. As a lifelong Volkswagen fan, and employee since 2005, I’ve always gone to enthusiast events as a customer first, employee second. I consider everyone who has a Volkswagen an extended family member or friend, especially on the enthusiast side. Dawn Dameron, Senior Manager of Customer Care, Auburn Hills Corporate Office: My role is to inspire my team to deliver experiences that leave our customers, dealers and prospective customers feeling great about the brand and our products. I would argue I have the coolest job in the company. I have an immediate opportunity to really impact the way a customer or shopper views the brand. I absolutely love what I do and feel fortunate to work with such a dedicated group of people. Megan Closset, Product Manager, Volkswagen HQ What do you enjoy most about what you do at Volkswagen? Closset: I love the teamwork and camaraderie at Volkswagen. My workgroup has become my friend group. I love the people I work and interact with, and it’s not just the people on my team—it’s everyone. My favorite car aspect of the job is … the cars! I love the cars! Whether it’s driving, sharing them with customers and advocates, or welcoming someone new into the Volkswagen family, it’s really cool and rewarding. Collins: I enjoy working with individuals who are from diverse backgrounds. It has been motivating, as well as interesting, working with such awesome associates. Jayant: I enjoy the people! My teammates have been such great influences on me and my work ethic. Also, working with the disability community has taught me a lot about what it means to be an ally, and what it means to live out diversity and inclusion instead of just saying the words. I hope that diversity truly becomes a bigger part of Volkswagen, especially around hiring practices. Dawn Dameron, Senior Manager of Customer Care, Auburn Hills Corporate Office What advice would you give to other women trying to break into the automotive industry? Dameron: Be genuine, sincere, and take stand for what you believe in – this will gain you the trust and respect needed to be successful.  The simple things can go a long way. Collins: It’s your choices that show who you truly are, not your abilities. Be courageous and brave. Take bold steps, and never forget to enjoy the journey. Jayant: While it’s great to be a car geek, you can also enter the automotive industry other ways! I knew nothing about cars but joined my group because of my past work with multimodal interactions and working with the disability community for many years. Closset: If you are confident, study your craft and know you’re an equal, you will succeed. Also, having dealership experience, whether you’re male or female, is very valuable. My experience there gave me the motivation to be a sales trainer and later a product trainer. I would also recommend finding a mentor. Ellen Collins, Laboratory Evaluation Specialist, Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant What woman inspires you and why? Collins: Emily Dickenson. She is one of my favorite poets. There is a verse from her poem, “We never know how high we are,” that has moved me to overcome the fear of failure. Closset: My first boss, Laura McKelvey, remains one of the most powerful forces in my life – as a boss, as a mentor, as a business inspiration, and as a friend. She’s been with the company for 36 years and has helped me chart my course at Volkswagen. I would also say my mom. She worked full-time, but never missed an important milestone or opportunity to encourage me to do – and be – my best. Jayant: I’m inspired by disability activist Alice Wong, who founded the Disability Visibility Project. She has done an amazing job helping to bring disability policy issues to the forefront in this year’s presidential primary elections. Dameron: Human rights activist Malala Yousafzai. For those of you that are not familiar with her story, Yousafzai was shot by a Taliban gunman when she was 15 and went on to win the Noble Peace Prize. I am absolutely in awe of her courage and relentless drive to make the world a better place – even under terrifying circumstances. Her story was tragic, but she used it as an opportunity to make a difference and change the world around her.  

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Stars & cars: Your ideal Volkswagen match, according to the Zodiac

A car is not just a means of transportation – it also offers clues to your personality, lifestyle and character traits. And, with so many great vehicles to choose from, it can be hard to find the perfect match. To explore these cosmic connections from a different angle, we’ve developed a guide that pairs the attributes associated with your zodiac sign to current and classic Volkswagen models. Because sometimes the right connections come from the stars. Aquarius: Lively, sociable and original, you prefer the unconventional to the traditional. The Beetle, the quintessential Age of Aquarius car, is fun, unique and one-of-a-kind – just like you. Pisces: Intuitive, imaginative, creative and compassionate, you are escapist by nature. An iconic Microbus will give you the freedom to follow your whimsies and hit the road (and knowing your selfless ways, we’re sure you’ll have plenty of passengers). Known for your patience and empathy, you will feel good knowing that the microbus is anticipated to be reincarnated as an electric model – the ID. BUZZ – in 2022. Aries: Adventurous, energetic and a bit of a trendsetter, you were the first of your friends to embrace EVs. The all-electric e-Golf is agile, fun to drive and designed to keep up with your active and energetic personality. Your sympathetic and courageous side will also feel good knowing your car is helping lower greenhouse emissions. Taurus: Reliable, practical and dependable, you want a car that’s just as solid and steady as you are, and the Tiguan checks all the boxes. The mid-size, sporty SUV offers spaciousness combined with Volkswagen’s hallmark driving dynamics and careful attention to detail (which, as a fellow meticulous planner, you can appreciate). Plus, its ergonomically-designed seats, heated side mirrors and available panoramic sunroof all appeal to your self-indulgent side. Cancer: Family-oriented and a homebody by nature, you crave a steady and spacious shell to get you from point A to point B. The redesigned 2020 Passat fits the bill. Known for your unwavering attention to detail, you will appreciate the midsize sedan’s intricate balance of high quality, value and modern comforts. Leo: Vivacious, theatrical and passionate, you are a charismatic, natural-born leader who loves basking in the limelight.  Behind the wheel of the sporty, statement-making Jetta GLI, you are bound to make a splash. You have a palpable, high-energy and an ambition that can’t be tamed and this bold, eye-catching sedan is the perfect ride to get you to new heights. Virgo: Reliable, meticulous and modest, you desire a car that is practical, dependable and yet ever-so-slightly off the beaten track. Look no further than the Jetta. This sassy sedan offers all the features you require – easy handling, plenty of torque and a comprehensive suite of driver assistance technology – plus fun interior styling and a concert-quality stereo system. Libra: Clever, passionate and talented, Libras are going places and plan to get there in style. The Arteon, outfitted with frameless side windows and a wraparound grille, is the perfect blend of form and function – and a natural fit for the sign that places value on balance, order and equality. Scorpio: Determined, powerful, passionate and endlessly curious, you need a sleek and sporty SUV to keep up with your bold and ambitious plans. Just like Scorpio, the Atlas Cross Sport emulates confidence and encourages spontaneity with its versatile cargo space that allows for everyday (and not-so-everyday) activities. Sagittarius: Free-spirited, fun and focused, you seek out adventure and love a good road trip with friends. Enter the Atlas. A perfect complement to your work hard, play hard mentality, the seven-seater offers ample seating for friends and family to join you on your adventures. Capricorn: Practical, prudent and ambitious, you’re not going to blow your savings on some flashy status symbol. Your business-minded and want something that’s sturdy and reliable but has flair. The beloved Golf GTI is the perfect workhorse, offering great handling, performance and comfort all for a reasonable price. Gemini: Adaptable, adventurous, and versatile, you are the quintessential, and much beloved, Golf R: quick, fun and never dull. The hot hatchback also shares Gemini’s dual personality – it’s a practical, everyday commuter with a sports-car soul.

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A son’s 38-year quest to find and restore his father’s Type 3 fastback

Lynn Pfenning and his father, Marvin Pfenning, in front of the 1967 Type Fastback before the North Dakota State Fair in 2018. Photo courtesy of Lynn Pfenning. Lynn Pfenning spent 38 years chasing down his father’s beloved 1967 Volkswagen Type 3 fastback and four years restoring it to its original glory. The cousin of the Volkswagen Beetle was a major touchstone of Pfenning’s childhood. His father purchased the Brunswick Blue Type 3 fastback for $2,200 in 1967 after totaling his 1965 Volkswagen Beetle. The car was no match for a cow he hit while traveling home from their grandparents’ house in rural North Dakota. “Growing up, my job every Saturday was to wash and detail the family car before church,” Pfenning said. Eight years later, his dad sold it to a local farmer who then gifted the car to his son – a friend of Pfenning’s – to drive to and from school. Once Pfenning’s friend graduated from high school, the Type 3 fastback was used as a utility vehicle for several years before being barn-bound for approximately two decades. A lifelong gear head, Pfenning went on to trade school, trained as a construction electrician and went on to work at an automotive plant for 20 years. As the years passed, however, Pfenning grew more and more eager to add the special air-cooled to his collection; he currently has two other collector cars, including a 1963 Beetle. “Over the years, we may have gone our separate ways, but I always kept track of that car,” said Pfenning. “I would check in every five or some years to see if he was willing to sell me it.” The owner wouldn’t budge. Pfenning poses with the original 1967 Type 3 fastback (pre-restoration) and the car’s second owner Lyle Opland. Photo courtesy of Pfenning. Thankfully, Pfenning’s luck changed in 2013. After spotting another Type 3 Fastback in St. Paul, Minn., he decided to ring his friend and ask again if the car was available for purchase. To his surprise, it was, and he was invited down to North Dakota to negotiate a price. With some strategic haggling, his compelling backstory and a small nudge from the owner’s wife, he was able to buy the car at a fraction of the asking price. “Before he had a chance to change his mind, I handed him the cash and away we went,” Pfenning said. Contrary to photos, however, the car was in rough shape. The past owner had used the fastback as a farm vehicle to round up cattle, which in turn caused damage to both car doors and crushed the nose of the car. Instead of a proper fix, panels were filled with several inches of putty. On top of that, the engine was severely damaged due to a hidden mouse nest, which caught fire and impaired the car’s cylinder heads. The windshield gaskets had failed years earlier, deteriorating the floor pan and transmission deck. “It was like peeling back an onion – once I started pulling back the layers the car told a very different story,” Pfenning said. The total job, along with custom additions, would eventually run him nearly $40,000. To help pay for the project, he worked late shifts, overtime, during shutdowns and covered coworker’s vacations. He also devoted 10 and 12-hour days on weekends to repairs and bodywork. “I cut out all the rust and replaced it with new metal. All the nuts and bolts were replaced or refurbished,” said Pfenning. Pfenning’s restored 1967 Type 3 fastback. Photo courtesy of Pfenning. A car collector at heart, he told the mechanic that he worked with during the restoration process he didn’t want to just write the check, he wanted to do the dirty work and learn about everything being done. “He was more than happy to let me tear out all the rat-infested parts, grind paint, rip out of all the moldy, stinky interiors and rust,” Pfenning said. Pfenning rebuilt the engine to 1776 cc from the stock 1600 cc and installed a custom tweed interior. All the brightwork was new or reconditioned. The final step was replacing the car’s original Brunswick Blue paint with a head-turning Candy Brandywine – a popular color found on 1930’s era hot rods. “I was so far into the project there was no use in cutting corners,” said Pfenning. Pfenning completed the project in July 2018 and decided to enter it in the North Dakota State Fair, where it received first place for best antique car. To celebrate, he invited his then-83-year-old dad to participate in the parade with him. “He couldn’t believe it was the same car,” Pfenning said. “He smiled the entire parade – which lasted nearly two hours – yelling, in his distinct German dialect, ‘It’s a Volkswagen, and I bought it brand new!’ He was so excited.” Since then, he’s entered the car in several competitions and received more awards. “I won first place for Vintage European car in Minneapolis’ Light the Night event: second place went to a fancy Porsche and third went to a BMW,” Pfenning said. “It was pretty fun to see my little Volkswagen beat out over them.” That said, nothing will compare to his father’s priceless reaction from riding in his original Volkswagen. “Sharing this experience with him … has made every penny worth it,” Pfenning added. Pfenning displays his best in show award in front of his winning 1967 Type Fastback at a car show in Minneapolis. His red 1963 Beetle is behind him. Photo courtesy of Pfenning.

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Volkswagen brings augmented reality to life along the factory line

In just the past few years, augmented reality has gone from a science-fiction idea to apps that lets you see how clothes fit, where to put your new home appliance or even to test how well you could have piloted the Apollo lunar lander. Now Volkswagen has put augmented reality to work in its U.S. factory. As the Chattanooga factory ramps up production of the new Atlas Cross Sport, and lays groundwork for assembling the next generation of Volkswagen electric vehicles planned to begin in 2022, engineers have a new tool using augmented reality goggles to design production lines and help spot potential issues. The software tool was developed over just six weeks by the Volkswagen Virtual Engineering Lab California, based on requests and feedback from technicians in Tennessee. The system helps designers see not just individual parts, but how existing and future equipment could interact in a real environment. While virtual planning and software design for vehicles and factory machinery has been a standard for years, the AR factory goggles gives engineers the ability to see how the pieces will fit together in the real world. Different colors indicate the virtual position of new machinery along the Chattanooga production line “This helps us to make decisions quicker, and spot potential issues sooner,” said Steffan Nunn, digital factory specialist at Volkswagen Chattanooga. “As we integrate new models into the existing factory, we need to make sure our virtual design data matches the reality in the plant.” The original concept for the system was sketched out in two weeks by Volkswagen’s Advanced Technologies group. By building the system in-house, Volkswagen had more room to maneuver and improve quickly while working with sensitive data, says Frantisek Zapletal, who leads the Virtual Engineering Lab for Volkswagen Group of America. “If we had done this with external partners, it wouldn’t have been as flexible or as fast,” Zapletal said. “It’s really a communications platform, and people can use it to share ideas quickly. Once you see an idea in AR, you really believe it.” Some early examples have shown that the system was able to identify pinch points between machinery and parts that weren’t previously visible. Zapletal says the tool could have uses from office layouts to vehicle accessories design, across Volkswagen’s North American Region or beyond. Nunn says the next step in Chattanooga will be using the augmented reality tools to help improve ergonomics and maintenance. “With so many people generating input into these processes, communication is really important,” he says. “Anything we can do to help speed up decision making means we can get more efficient and focus on assembling high-quality vehicles for our customers.”

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The next electric revolution from Volkswagen begins with the ID.4 SUV

Electric vehicles for millions, not just millionaires. That’s been a goal for Volkswagen Group since its commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change last year, driving its aim to be carbon neutral across its fleet, production and administration globally by 2050. Here’s the first big step toward making that goals a reality in the United States: the near-production version of the ID.4 electric SUV that is anticipated to go on sale in the next 12 months. Based on the ID.CROZZ concept, the ID.4 is the second vehicle to use the Group’s modular electric drive architecture (MEB), following the compact ID.3, and the first to be sold in America. The “ID” name stands for intelligent design, identity and visionary technologies, and the number 4 identifies the new model as a compact SUV segment. And yes, officially, there’s no extra space in the name when you write it out – it’s simply ID.4 Concept vehicle shown throughout. Not available for sale. Specifications may change. “Climate change is happening, and it’s time to do something about it,” says Ralf Brandstätter, Chief Operating Officer of the Volkswagen brand worldwide. “That’s where e-mobility comes in, and Volkswagen is pushing the pace of e-mobility for everyone.” With its high-energy battery pack in the floor, the ID.4 wraps a highly aerodynamic exterior around an open-space interior, with a cockpit controlled by touch or voice interactions. The ID.4 is anticipated to launch in a sporty rear-wheel-drive configuration, with a powerful, all-wheel-drive two-motor variation to come soon thereafter. Based on preliminary manufacturer estimates under the EPA test cycle, the ID.4 is expected to offer more than 250 miles of range, along with high levels of innovative technologies and connectivity. When produced at the Zwickau plant, the ID.4 is expected to be carbon-neutral along its value chain. In 2022, the ID.4 will also go into production in America, at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant. And even before the ID.4 goes on sale, Volkswagen Group has raised its worldwide target for electric vehicle production across all its brands, with up to 1.5 million EVs expected to be built as early as 2025. “We’re going to invest 11 billion euros ($12.3 billion) in electromobility, more than any other automaker, with the aim of getting it out of its niche and making it affordable for all,” said Brandstätter. Over the next 12 months, Volkswagen will offer more details on the ID.4 and how it plans to make a people’s electric vehicle available to all, from charging to long-term ownership. With the ID.4, driving bigger will mean driving electric.    

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Revealed: The next-generation Volkswagen Golf GTI, with new style and more power

The hot hatch lives on. For more than four decades, the Volkswagen Golf GTI has been the standard for affordable, European-designed performance hatchbacks. Over seven generations, more than 380,000 Americans have taken home a GTI, enjoying the mix of driving enjoyment and everyday utility that few competitors even approach. Now, Volkswagen unveiled the eighth-generation GTI, with more power and more technology than its predecessor that’s relevant to drivers worldwide. Don’t worry: there’s still a stick shift, a functional hatch and all the other features that make the GTI so flexible – all demonstrating a commitment by the driving enthusiasts at Volkswagen to keep building cars other drivers can enjoy. The new Golf GTI arrives with a power boost. In European trim, the GTI makes 241 hp and 273 lb.-ft. of torque, generated by an upgraded version of the 2-liter turbocharged, four-cylinder engine. That power hits the road through either a six-speed manual or seven-speed DSG automatic transmission. The style of the eighth-generation GTI takes on a sharper, sleeker edge than its predecessor. Built off an updated version of the MQB chassis, the new GTI maintains the comfortable yet compact dimensions of the current GTI. The new look includes a more dramatic light signature with standard LED headlamps featuring a red and while illuminated strip across the grille, and optional fog lights integrated into the air intake in an “X” layout. New standard LED taillights, a more pronounced spoiler and the classic C-pillar shape of the Golf complete the look. For improved handing, the GTI updates its suspension geometry but maintains the key basics, such as an independent, multilink rear suspension. The brakes and wheels have also been updated, with new designs up to an optional 19-inch wheel. The most dramatic changes to the GTI come from new technology. Start with the driver, who will control the road with the standard Volkswagen Digital Cockpit, available with an optional heads-up display. The in-dash entertainment and control center now lives behind an updated touchscreen of up to 10 inches diagonally, with fully automatic Climatronic climate control below. The background lighting in the dash and passenger compartment can be customized in up to 30 colors. The updated Car-Net1 with available in-car WiFi2 and compatible wireless cellphone charging also now come standard. Beyond the interior technology, the GTI now comes with an updated Front Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking and pedestrian monitoring as standard, along with a long list of available tech including Lane Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control and Park Assist.3 And yes, there’s still a golf-ball shifter on the manual and a plaid design for the cloth seats – albeit in a new checked design called Scalepaper. Expect the new GTI to come to America sometime in the second half of 2021, as a model-year 2022 vehicle. of

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