U.S. soccer star Mia Hamm teams up with Volkswagen to inspire young women

Mia Hamm with the team. Mia Hamm – one of the most important and influential female athletes of all time — dropped in and surprised a girls’ soccer team in Palo Alto, Calif. The five-time U.S. Soccer Player of the year, two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and Soccer Hall of Famer was invited by Volkswagen of America to crash the girls’ practice, train with the squad and offer advice to the next generation of young female soccer players. Hamm, who retired in 2004 as the leading goal scorer – male or female – in the world, played an integral role in popularizing the sport and changing the status of the women’s athletics back in the late-1990s. Her role in the record-setting 1999 Women’s World Cup paved the way for today’s powerhouse team. For weeks, Volkswagen of America – who is the presenting sponsor of U.S. Soccer – and Palo Alto Soccer Club worked behind the scenes to make the event possible, coordinating with coaches and parents to keep the surprise under wraps for the players. “We wanted the girls to have the best experience possible,” says the team’s main coach, David Madrigal. And it worked. The 18 starry-eyed, pony-tailed players exploded in fits of laughter and screams of delight when the soccer legend crashed their team huddle. Among the crowd was eighth grader Finley Craig. The 14-year-old fan says she was empowered by Hamm’s comments on self-determination, teamwork and goal setting. “She’s one of my role models and not just in soccer, but in life,” says Craig. “She told me ‘don’t let anyone tell you that boys are better than girls’ and to ‘follow my dreams without interruption.’” Her mom, Jodie Craig, who was standing on the sidelines during the reveal, was also star struck. “Mia was so kind and down to Earth. She’s a great inspiration for these young girls coming up as young women and as young women athletes,” Craig says. Hamm ran drills with the girls before they headed to a U.S. women’s soccer match against South Africa at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. Hamm stuck around the field for several hours, running drills, snapping pictures and signing soccer balls for the group before they headed to a U.S. women’s soccer match against South Africa at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. The team was even able to head down to the field and watch the national team perform warm up exercises before the game started. “It was a surreal moment for all of us,” says Madrigal. “I think it sunk in for all of us then that this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Weeks later, Madrigal still says the magic of meeting Hamm still hasn’t worn off his players. “I see a fire, an energy, a boost of confidence, really, instilled in them that I haven’t seen before,” says Madrigal. “When somebody like Mia tells you can achieve it, you believe in it.” Hamm with several of the players in a Volkswagen Atlas.

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Watch the Volkswagen ID. R drive the fastest all-electric lap around the Nurburgring

Thirty-six years ago, one of the world’s fastest race cars – a Porsche 956 – tore around the 12.9 miles of the Nürburgring Nordschelife race track in a scant 6 minutes, 11.13 seconds. That record stood for more than three decades as an ultimate testament to power, engineering and skill, only falling to an experimental Porsche last year that was custom-built for the task. Last Monday, that record was surpassed for the second time – by an all-electric car. The Volkswagen ID. R electric race car that set a record for climbing Pikes Peak last year now owns the record for fastest electric car around the Nürburgring. Driver Romain Dumas made the lap in 6:05.336 minutes beating the previous EV record set in 2017 by 40.564 seconds – and in the process, surpassing every fossil-fuel powered record at the track save one. “To be a record-holder on the Nordschleife makes me unbelievably proud,” says Dumas. “For me, this is the best and most difficult race track in the world. The ID. R was perfectly prepared for the Nordschleife and it was so much fun to experience the blistering acceleration and rapid cornering speeds.” With a redesigned aerodynamic package meant to maximize the 670-hp ID.R’s top speed, Dumas averaged 127.36 mph around the course. As you can see from the video below, at that speed the Green Hell becomes a frightening blur of hills and curves. The ID. R is more than just a fast car. From quick-battery charging and cooling to electrical shielding in high-voltage environments, the technology gleaned from the ID. R may have everyday applications for Volkswagen’s upcoming wave of electric vehicles, such as the ID. CROZZ and ID. BUZZ.

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From “Think Small” to “Drive Bigger,” Volkswagen embraces a new purpose

In the 1960s, Volkswagen came to America’s attention through ads like the “Think Small” campaign that dared to be different than other automakers. They emphasized the connection owners make with their vehicles. And they spoke to a cultural moment, resonating with drivers who were less conspicuous in their consumption. Today, Volkswagen launches a new direction for itself in America with an advertising campaign that breaks with convention again. “Drive Bigger” isn’t just a slogan – it’s the definition of Volkswagen’s calling to work towards a larger purpose, including its pledge to goal of global carbon neutrality across  our fleet, production and administration by 2050. “Drive Bigger” rekindles the spirit of this brand and highlights the special responsibility we have as one of the world’s largest automakers,” said Scott Keogh, president and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “Our goal is to become a benchmark of environmental responsibility in our industry, an automaker that inspires people; not just through our vehicles, but by how we go about our business. It’s time to make VW stand for something again.” The first television ad of the new campaign, “Hello Light,” unveils the creative work from New York-based Johannes Leonardo, Volkswagen of America’s new lead brand agency. Volkswagen has been transforming since 2015, working to atone for its mistakes. Before Volkswagen could credibly lay out a new direction, it had to take a moment to properly address what led to it; “Hello Light” acknowledges Volkswagen’s recent troubles, but also symbolizes a rebirth and sets the stage for the brand’s future – represented by the upcoming ID. BUZZ electric microbus. Within the next few days, the “Drive Bigger” campaign will begin. In form, tone and copy, it marks a return to the fun and engaging Volkswagen ads that first caught America’s attention in the 1950s and ’60s. The ads will run in print media, as well as on digital and social platforms. Beyond the ads, Volkswagen will bring “Drive Bigger” to life across its business. The most substantial commitment comes in the embrace of electric vehicles and a goal to make the entire Volkswagen Group – in products,  production and administration – carbon-neutral by 2050. Globally, the Volkswagen Group expects to spend about $50 billion over the next four years developing EVs; the Volkswagen brand alone plans to invest $10 billion. “Drive Bigger” will involve every touchpoint of the brand – whether that’s supporting dealers in their community events, or engaging new Volkswagen owners with ways to benefit causes they support. “This campaign is for all of those we disappointed, all of those who stayed with us, those who worked like crazy to keep us moving forward and for all of those who stopped caring,” said Keogh.  “We have a responsibility to do better, to be greater and we intend to shoulder that responsibility.”

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How a $7,000 car became a ‘Million Dollar’ Volkswagen Scirocco

Jason Whipple’s 1980 Volkswagen Scirocco S is an instant head turner. Splashed in a rainbow motif, blurred lettering and wild graphics, there’s no surprise why the hand-painted hatchback has people buzzing in and outside the automotive community. Blurring the lines between race car and art car, the sporty coupe beckons viewers to stop and stare a bit longer. Whipple has devoted nearly a decade to retrofitting his weekend beater into a decked out circuit racer. What began as a simple side hustle for the Volkswagen enthusiast snowballed into a complex rebuild as his laundry list of desired modifications grew longer and more ambitious. “I took a perfectly good car, pulled it apart and changed everything about it,” says Whipple, co-founder of the California-based wheel company Rotiform Wheels. “I call it the ‘Million Dollar Scirocco’ because it seemed, at the time, I was spending a million dollars on it.” His alterations include a hand-built motor, transmission swap, custom wheels and a new engine management system. The car’s 2.0-liter naturally aspirated 8-valve engine can reach 200 horsepower. “Everything under the hood is 100% custom,” Whipple says. 1 Whipple has been a Volkswagen enthusiast since he was a teenager. The first car he purchased on his own was a 1986 Jetta GLI 8v. Now in his forties, he’s expanded his collection to include a Volkswagen Golf R in the new Spektrum Irish Green color and three Sciroccos. “They are the quintessential, affordable sports car. They are right and nimble and, because of that, move with grace and balance. It’s hard to find that in a modern car today,” Whipple explains. “It’s the joy of simplicity when I drive it.” Whipple’s ‘Million Dollar’ Scirocco (Photo courtesy of Rotiform). Disclaimer: Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage & compliance with required safety & other standards. More than 500,000 of the Mark 1 Scirocco were sold between 1974 and 1981, although the car was not as popular in the United States as it was in Europe. Designed by legendary automotive designer Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Scirocco was more a style statement and sharp handler for its price than a top-speed machine. The vehicle’s sharp lines, low roofline, wide rear fenders and angular windows have kept their impact over time; today, an intact Mk1 Scirocco is a true collector’s car. “It’s a fantastic little car and I’m shocked at how many people don’t know what it is,” Whipple says. Last fall, Whipple crossed paths with fellow Volkswagen head and British graphic artist Nicolai Sclater. Connected through the automotive business Race Service, he originally wanted to team up with Sclater on a skateboard deck design. However, when Sclater heard about Whipple’s souped-up Scirocco, the project went in a different direction. “My instant reaction was obviously ‘I want to paint that car,’” says Sclater. “It reminds me of the height of my glory years. You know, that really good rebellious period of life.” Whipple granted Sclater free reign of the design of the then all-white vehicle and gave him several weeks to hand-paint it. “I was both terrified and thrilled at the same time,” says Jason. Whipple’s ‘Million Dollar’ Scirocco (Photo courtesy of Rotiform). Disclaimer: Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage & compliance with required safety & other standards. Sclater incorporated some progressive ideas into his design, including phrases like ‘the future is our fault’ and ‘things won’t change until we do.’ “It stemmed from two different ideas. The first was the blurry lettering. I was getting frustrated at how insignificant art is becoming on Instagram and that’s generally where most people are obtaining their art on a daily basis. They are not looking at books or going to museums,” says Sclater. “I wanted to do a little of a practical joke with the audience, so they had to pause and actually engage with the picture.” The second part was a call-to-action for onlookers to take stock of their actions and be more considerate of people and the environment. “It’s all about working together rather than approaching the world as one massive competition,” says Sclater. He believes the Scirocco was the perfect vehicle for this directive. “I think a message like this needs to be carried out in a light-hearted way,” Sclater explains. The crew unveiled the coupe in November at the 2018 SEMA Auto Show in Las Vegas. Buzz traveled quickly, much like the strong hurricane wind which the car is named for, and the car has since appeared on the cover of Performance VW Magazine and several automotive enthusiast events. And, while not everybody may have understood it’s messaging or what a rainbow motif was doing on a race car, it certainly captured people’s attention and got them talking. “It certainly sparks conversation,” says Whipple. “I have no regrets.” His next project: a ‘2 Million Dollar’ Scirocco. Already painted the traditional Volkswagen Mars Red, Whipple plans to build a second colorful Scirocco to cart his two young children to and from school. Whipple’s ‘Million Dollar’ Scirocco (Photo courtesy of Rotiform). Disclaimer: Modifying vehicles can adversely affect warranty coverage & compliance with required safety & other standards.  

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The next step in autonomous cars? Helping avoid motion sickness

Carsickness can happen to anyone: the confusion between the motion your eyes see, and the motion your body feels, can lead to a queasiness in your stomach or something worse. About a third of all people are susceptible to it—women more than men, children more than adults—but under the right conditions, anyone can suffer from it. And many of those conditions could become more common once autonomous vehicles hit the road. At the Volkswagen Group research labs in Wolfsburg, scientists are studying what can trigger car sickness and potential ways to help prevent it from happening in a future where the car can mostly drive itself. “To put it simply, the forces acting on us in the car confuse our sense of perception,” says Adrian Brietzke of Volkswagen Group Research. This happens most often to passengers he says—the “driver’s privilege” of knowing what’s about to happen next allows them to adapt to the car’s motion. But what could happen with autonomous vehicles? At the test track in Ehra-Lessien, a female volunteer takes the passenger seat of an Audi A4 sedan wearing various sensors and cameras designed to measure her pulse, skin temperature, and even changes in skin tone. For a 20-minute drive, the sedan will use Automatic Cruise Control to follow a semi-autonomous Passat that travels in a stop-start motion. During the test, a tablet properly secured to the dashboard plays a video for the volunteer to watch. The visuals are swimming fish rather than a major blockbuster, to help avoid triggering any emotions such as tension or happiness that could skew the data. As the car drives, the volunteer rates her state of health on a tablet—and it doesn’t take long for a change. “I didn’t think I was that sensitive, but I felt queasy after just a few minutes,” says the volunteer. In other tests, the Volkswagen Group researchers are exploring whether changes to the vehicles themselves might help prevent motion sickness. Such ideas include special movable seats that can react to driving changes and an LED light strip on the door panel that illuminates in green and red – providing a visual cue for the passenger of braking or acceleration. Studies have shown that these inventions have already had some initial success. But the team still has some way to go, and further studies are in the pipeline. Their plans include examining not only the longitudinal forces that passengers feel when braking and accelerating, but also the transverse forces when taking corners. With the first truly autonomous vehicles possibly arriving within the next decade, finding a way to help control our propensity for motion sickness will be more important than ever.

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Volkswagen Remixes: Seven custom vehicle builds for 2019

Just as the summer starts with a dance remix hit or two, Volkswagen annually takes some of its most popular models and builds special remixed versions to inspire enthusiasts across this country. The 2019 edition of the Volkswagen enthusiast fleet ranges from off-road1 haulers to ‘90s-themed throwbacks—all built with the sense of fun that’s an essential part of Volkswagen. of Created at the Volkswagen Technical Service Center in Auburn Hills, Mich., this Golf Alltrack Combi brings a global look to the Golf Alltrack wagon. Starting with a 2019 Golf Alltrack SEL, the Combi includes the front bumper from the European Golf GTE, a Golf GTD short shifter, and rear spoiler from the Golf GTI Rabbit Edition. The look is completed with a set of H&R® VTF adjustable lowering springs, custom 90’s-themed graphics, tinted windows, Volkswagen Accessories base carrier bars with an integrated LED light bar, and a Thule® Motion XT L cargo box. of A homage to the iconic Rabbit logo, this 2019 GTI Rabbit Edition is covered in a wrap decorated with Rabbit logos, plus a few hidden surprises, arranged in a confetti-like pattern. This concept is fitted with 19-inch Rotiform RSE wheels, complete with customized Rotiform Aerodisk wheel covers; H&R® VTF adjustable lowering springs; tinted windows, and Volkswagen Accessories base carrier bars with a Thule® Canyon XT Cargo Basket. of The white-water kayak on the roof advertises the real goal of the Tiguan Adventure Concept. Starting with a 2019 Tiguan SEL Premium 4Motion, this overland concept built in collaboration with H&R® Springs features a topographic-themed wrap, H&R® Adventure Raising Springs, and 18-inch Rotiform WGR wheels fitted with all-terrain tires. The car also features a plethora of adventure-ready Volkswagen Accessories: MuddyBuddy® protection mats, Bumperdillo® protection plate, rear spoiler, aluminum side steps, base carrier bars, and a Thule® Hull-a-Port kayak carrier. of Volkswagen has collaborated with Fifteen52 in the creation of the Super Touring Concept, using a 2019 Jetta GLI Autobahn for the reveal of brand-new Fifteen52 wheels.  Additional equipment includes K&W Variant 3 DDC coil overs, sport spoiler, brake kit, extended exhaust, and tinted windows. of The SEMA Concept builds on a collaboration started in 2018 with Vossen Wheels for the SEMA show. With a 2019 Arteon SEL R-Line as a base, the SEMA Concept features Xpel satin finish paint protector for the Pure White exterior, islowered nearly three inches by H&R® Ultra Low coil overs, and rides on a set of 21-inch Vossen Forged M-X4T wheels. For 2019, the concept was updated with a 380mm front big brake kit by Forge Motorsport, as well as a custom valence kit and aluminum floor mats by Luft Technik. of Many of the 40 colors available in the Golf R Spektrum program this year were bits of visual history from previous Volkswagen models. The Spektrum Concept plays up that history further, building off a 2019 Golf R w/ DCC & Navigation, dressed in Spektrum color Ginster Yellow, a 90s-era color option on GTI. The concept adds H&R® VTF adjustable lowering springs, 20-inch Vossen Hybrid Forged HF-1 wheels, tinted windows, and [black OR yellow] lower rocker panel accents. of The Basecamp Concept unveiled at the New York International Auto Show was the brainchild of Alex Earle, Exterior Design Manager at the Volkswagen Design Center California and avid off-road cyclist. Built from a Volkswagen Atlas SEL Premium, the Basecamp Concept comes painted Platinum Gray and Black Uni with a matte finish and orange accents. Wearing 265/70R17 all-terrain tires on fifteen52 Traverse MX Concept wheels, the Basecamp also includes a custom body kit by Air Design, an H&R® lift kit with coil over springs that raise the ride height approximately 1.5 inches, a Front Runner® Slimline II roof rack system with bike holders and off-road LED light bars on the front and rear. You’ll be able to see the Volkswagen Enthusiast Fleet at the following events in 2019: SOWO: The European Experience | Savannah, GA | May 18-19• ARX Round #2-3 | Madison, IL | July 13-14 Waterfest | Atco, NJ | July 21-22 Wolfsgart | Essex Junction, VT | Aug. 4-5 VAG Fair | York, PA | Aug. 4-5 SoCal Big Euro | San Diego, CA | Sept. 1 Pacific Waterland | Woodburn, OR | Sept. 9 ARX Round #5 | Austin, TX | Sep. 28

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