Retrospective

It's been 65 years since VW rolled a gold and rhinestone Beetle off the line in Germany

Volkswagen created this one-off Beetle to celebrate a signninficannt anniversary.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The one-millionth Volkswagen recently rolled off the line at the company's Chattanonoga, Tennessee plant. It's been 65 years since the same thing happened in Wolfsburg, Germany.

The factory first opened in 1938. Due to regulations put in place by the German government then American occupation in the lead up to and throughout World War II, the factory did not gear up to produce civilian vehicles en masse until after the war was over.

Volkswagen Wolfsburg line Volkswagen produced the Beetle and Bus at the plant following World War II.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Leadership by British Army officer Major Ivan Hirst saved the plant from complete ruin. Hirst convinced the British government to place an order for military vehicles with the plant. Slowly, as Europe worked to recover from the warn, Volkswagen began creating a sales network.

In the early 1950s, the Wolfsburg facility began assembling the Beetle and the Bus.

By 1955 the Beetle was one of the most popular vehicles ever made. To celebrate the one-millionth vehicle milestone Volkswagen hatched a plan to celebrate the moment by producing a gold-painted Beetle whose bumpers were lined with rhinestones.

Volkswagen 1 millionth plant The company had 150,000 people join in a ceremony to celebrate the 1 millionth vehicle produced at the plant.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The car rolled off the assembly line in a celebration with nearly 150,000 people joining in for the festivities.

The golden, one-millionth Beetle now makes its home in Wolfsburg's AutoStadt Museum.

Just 17 years later, on February 17, 1972, Volkswagen broke the record for the total production of a vehicle surpassing the Ford Model T. The Model T was produced between 1908 and 1927.

Volkswagen had produced its 16 millionth Beetle by 1973 and on June 23, 1992, they company reached the 21 million mark.

VW bid farewell to its iconic Beetle on December 31, 2019 with a short film that aired during "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2020". The film, called "The Last Mile" featured a number of moments from the Beetle's history. Eagled eyed watchers can nview the film and see numerous pop culture references throughout the film including cameos from Kevin Bacon's character in "Footloose", an astronaut, and artist Andy Warhol. There's a sign proclaiming that its "Not a Lemon" and a cameo from Bravo TV host Andy Cohen in the 90-second spot.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

The ID.4 will ramp up production as the U.S. says goodbye to the Passat.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The Volkswagen Passat will end its run in 2023 at VW's U.S. manufacturing base in Chattanooga, Tennessee. But don't worry, Volkswagen has plans for what is next. In fact, they've already announced the products; they're just now getting around to specifying a timeline.

Currently, the Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant is producing the Passat alongside the Volkswagen Atlas and Atlas Sport. earlier this year, the plant celebrated the 1 millionth vehicle to roll off its assembly line - Aurora Red Metallic 2020 Volkswagen Passat R-Line.

Before the Chattanooga plant opened, Volkswagen hadn't made a vehicle in the U.S. in 22 years following the closing of the Westmoreland facility in Pennsylvania.

1977 Volkswagen Dasher and 2020 Volkswagen Passat The Dasher was the predecessor to the modern Passat. Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The Passat got its start as a vehicle designed specifically for the North American market. Ground was broken on the Tennessee plant in 2009 and in 2011 it began producing the cars. It currently employees approximately 3,800 people. In the last nine years, the plant has produced more than 700,000 Passats and 100,000 Atlas SUVs. The new 2020 Atlas Cross Sport and the refreshed 2021 Atlas recently began production.

Volkswagen has announced that the plant will be the company's North American base for manufacturing electric vehicles including the ID.4, representing an approximately $800 million investment, starting in 2022. The expansion to enable U.S. production of long-range EVs began in November 2019.

The expansion includes a new Engineering and Planning Center (EPC) at the plant that will feature a unique, state-of-the-art high-voltage laboratory that is designed to develop and test electric vehicle cells and battery packs. These cells and packs are slated to be assembled in the U.S. before being inserted into vehicles.

Production of the ID.4 will ramp up starting 2022. It will reach full capacity by 2023, then the Passat will be shown the door. Before the U.S. production begins, Volkswagen will exclusively produce the ID.4 at its Zwickau plant in Germany.

2022 Volkswagen ID.4 The Volkswagen ID.4 will be made in the U.S. starting in 2022.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Though the Passat is leaving the U.S. market, it will continue as a vehicle for international sale. Development of the ninth-generation version of the model is currently underway.

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McLaren has chosen an easy-to-pronounce name for its new hybrid supercar - Artura.

Photo courtesy of McLaren Automotive

McLaren is about to mark the beginning of a new era in hybrid powertrain engineering. In the first half of 2021, its high-performance hybrid series production supercar will go on sale and we now know what it will be named.

The McLaren Artura builds on the legacy of the McLaren P1TM hybrid hypercar, which was unveiled in 2012, and the Speedtail Hyper-GT, which entered production this year and the fastest McLaren ever with a top speed of 250 mph.

"Every element of the Artura is all-new – from the platform architecture and every part of the High-Performance Hybrid powertrain, to the exterior body, interior and cutting-edge driver interface – but it draws on decades of McLaren experience in pioneering super-lightweight race and road car technologies to bring all of our expertise in electrification to the supercar class," said Mike Flewitt, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Automotive.

Mclaren Artura The Artura badging sits on what is likely the rear of the car.Photo courtesy of McLaren Automotive

It will be the first car to be built on the company's new platform architecture, which has been optimized for electrification. Design and engineering of the McLaren Carbon Lightweight Architecture took place in the U.K. at the McLaren Composites Technology Centre.

Two photos released by the company show what is likely the back of the Artura, with a honeycomb design beneath the car's badging between two exhaust outlets.

The Artura will get a twin-turbocharged V6 petrol engine that combines with an electric motor. This will be the engine's debut. McLaren says that the engine retains the performance benefits of the company's larger V8s but has improved torque response at low engine speeds. The Artura can also run on all-electric power.

The weight of the hybrid engine system has been offset by the application of weight-saving technologies throughout the chassis, body, and powertrain. Ahead of a full product reveal, McLaren is touting the car's class-leading weight advantage.

The McLaren Artura is expected to be revealed soon. Pricing will likely be announced at that time.

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