Eco Warriors

Volkswagen giving The Conservation Fund $1.25 million to buy, protect land in East Tennessee

Volkswagen is making a significant donation to help the environment of Eastern Tennessee.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

The Conservation Fund will be on the receiving end of a $1.25 million donation from Volkswagen. The monies will be used to buy, protect and donate hundreds of acres of land to the U.S. Forest Service. Any remaining money will be used to provide community grants in Eastern Tennessee.

Volkswagen's U.S. plant is located in Chattanooga, Tennessee, near where these funds will be used.

Cherokee National Forest TennesseeThe additional conservation efforts will allow visitors to enjoy the national habitats of wildlife in Tennessee.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

"We are excited about our partnership with Volkswagen and the opportunity to advance their commitment to corporate leadership around sustainability," said Larry Selzer, president and CEO of The Conservation Fund. "Volkswagen is taking real, measurable steps forward to help protect the environment, embrace sustainable business practices and support the communities in which they work."

Most of the funds will be used to increase the size of the Cherokee National Forest. The Forest was created in 1920 and currently stands at about 656,000 acres north and south of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Volkswagen's donation will help add 1,500 acres to the site. That new acreage will be used for public recreation and habitat protection for black bears and Indiana bats.

Cherokee National Forest sign TennesseeVolkswagen of America and The Conservation Fund are teaming up to increase the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

"Our work with The Conservation Fund will help strengthen the environment and help us give back to a community where more than 3,800 of our colleagues live," said Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America. "This collaboration in our own backyard underscores our 'Drive Bigger' goal of pursuing ideas bigger than ourselves and then taking action. We feel a responsibility to show how a major automaker can credibly contribute to the greater good."

In addition to the bears and bats, the Forest is home to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, several whitewater rivers, and 12 designated wildernesses.

The Conservation Fund is negotiating with private landowners to acquire properties that will be held until they can be transferred to the USDA Forest Service for long-term stewardship in 2020 and 2021.

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VW purchased the rights to the iconic Scout name and plans to make new EVs under the brand.

Volkswagen

Automakers bring back names and brands from the past all the time, but it's not every day that a major company purchases a brand name specifically for the purpose of reviving it. That's exactly what Volkswagen just did with Scout, the name of an ultra-popular off-road SUV that was built by International Harvester in the 1960s and 1970s.

As for the types of vehicles we'll see from the brand, we currently only have the renders to go on. The pickup truck and SUV both feature throwback styling that is reminiscent of the original Scout shapes. Beefy off-road tires and lifted suspension are the only other clues available in the drawings.

Volkswagen has its own EVs, and its other brands like Audi and Porsche have made significant progress with electric vehicles as well. That said, VW doesn't really have a solid off-road option from any of its brands at the moment, so the Scout purchase opens doors for the automaker in that arena.

The announcement sounds exciting, but we've still got plenty of time to wait before there's a Scout-branded EV on the roads. Volkswagen said the plan is to release vehicles by 2026, but it won't be sitting idle between now and then. The VW ID.4 is still very fresh and the automaker says it will launch a total of 25 new EVs in the U.S. by 2030.

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The ID. Buzz enters production in Europe soon.

Volkswagen

The Volkswagen ID. Buzz is one of the most anticipated EVs in a sea of desirable and exciting new vehicles. With retro styling and an all-electric powertrain, the van promises to be a funky, futuristic people-hauler with plenty of new tech. Today, VW handed out specs and information on the van during its global launch.

Volkswagen ID. BuzzInterior and exterior design ooze retro style. Volkswagen

Two configurations are available: A five-seat passenger version and a three-seat cargo version. Both ride on Volkswagen's modular electric drive platform (MEB), and both are rear-wheel drive. Power output lands at 201 horsepower and 229 pound-feet of torque, and the van's top speed reaches 145 mph.

Inside is where the magic happens. The passenger van features five seats, and in top models the seats come with massaging functionality. The three-person bench seat in the second row can be folded flat or folded 60/40, and the seat slides up to 5.9 inches front to back. Six-passenger seating is standard, but an extended wheelbase seven-seat configuration will be offered.

Inside, a ten-inch digital gauge cluster is standard, and pairs with a ten-inch infotainment touchscreen. A 12-inch display is available, and touch controls handle climate controls and audio volume. Rather than a traditional gear selector lever, Volkswagen uses a stalk mounted on the steering column. The Cargo version gets special storage functions, including a removal center console and several storage bins.

Volkswagen ID. BuzzBoth passenger and cargo configurations are offered.Volkswagen

ID. Buzz Cargo production starts in Europe early this year, with production of the standard van following shortly after. The European launch is scheduled for the third quarter of 2022, and the van will launch in North America in 2024. Volkswagen has not yet nailed down the model year for the new van, and will release more information closer to its release.

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