Former teacher transforms her Volkswagen Transporter into a mobile bookshop

Melanie Moore had always wanted to open her own bookstore. After retiring from 25 years of teaching, she decided it was time to pursue her dream and get books into the hands of kids who need them most. She was about to sign a lease on a physical storefront when she got cold feet and decided to proceed in a new direction. “I realized that if I had a brick and mortar bookstore, I wouldn’t be able to do the fun part of the business, which is talking [about] books and putting books in people’s hands,” Moore says. Inspired by a novel centered around a fictional, female horse-drawn carriage bookseller, Moore decided to launch the Cincy Book Bus – a mobile bookstore – out of the bed of her husband’s teal 1962 Volkswagen Transporter. “Everything just clicked into place,” Moore says. The vintage Volkswagen, which Moore affectionately refers to as “old gal,” turned out to be the perfect vehicle to help Moore accomplish her vision. It was purchased by her husband Tony at a Volkswagen car show in Los Angeles in 2014 and had previously served as a working truck at a cherry farm in Colorado. “It’s a family passion,” Moore explains. “My husband has been a VW enthusiast his whole life – his first car was a ‘77 Beetle he bought at 16 – and I can’t even tell you how many Volkswagens we’ve had since then. We go to all the Volkswagen shows.” Before the Book Bus’ debut in November 2018, Moore had to re-learn how to drive a stick shift and refurbish the rusty, 58-year-old truck with new paint and parts. She also designed several custom-made wooden milk crates to display her large and ever-growing collection of new and gently used books for sale. The van holds about 150 books, and Moore regularly rotates titles to cater to her audiences. Additionally, she’s developed relationships with foreign book publishers and authors to sell unique and hard-to-get titles. And, thanks to the Bus’ unusual appearance, customers often stop and pose for fun photo-ops. “It’s not just about selling a book. I want to be able to have an experience with the people that visit the bus,” says Moore. Normally, Moore sells her inventory at area coffee shops, farmers’ markets and public events around Cincinnati. However, due to COVID-19, she has moved the bulk of her business online. She accepts book orders through her website and ships them across the United States. She’s also found new and creative ways to promote literacy and connection during this time of isolation and separation with virtual book clubs, online audiobook sales and at-home book deliveries. Charity has always been the main component of Moore’s business; she dedicates all of her profits to stocking classroom libraries in schools that do not have school libraries and supporting charitable organizations that need books. “A lot of the funding has been cut for school libraries, so it’s great to be able to work with teachers directly and ask them, ‘What do you need?’ and deliver them books that are racially and culturally diverse,” Moore says. Her partnership with the local Blue Manatee Literacy Project and Book Store has enabled her to enhance her charity work. “I could get the books cheaper from my supplier, but for every book I buy through them they donate a book back to the community,” says Moore. Over the course of 2020, she’s donated $16,500 worth of books to non-profit organizations like Casa de Paz (House of Peace), a safe house for Latina women and their children who have suffered trauma and abuse, and schools such as Pleasant Ridge Montessori. “I usually fill up the truck with books I plan to donate and drive directly to the school so kids can come up and pick out their books in person. It’s one of my favorite things to see how excited the children get about the Book Bus,” Moore says. “The old gal is really the star of the show.”

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Join us in the electric future, and drive bigger for the planet

Today, we reveal the first electric SUV for Volkswagen in America – the ID.4 EV. While it’s new to you, it’s something we’ve been working on for a few years now, and we’re proud to finally share it with the world. But it’s not just the launch of a car – it’s our biggest step yet on our new path to change the future of driving. Our past has fueled our future and changed the way we operate as a company. It’s made us even more committed to a more sustainable future, one in which we plan to reduce our carbon footprint by 30 percent by 2025. To do so, we need to bring EVs to the mass market and help lead the globe, and the auto industry, toward a more sustainable future. We have one of the largest EV investment plans in the world, at nearly $35 billion, with the goal of selling one million EVs per year worldwide by 2025 and launching more than 70 electric models worldwide across the Group brands by 2029. To do that, we want to make EVs accessible for the millions, not just the millionaires. The ID.4 EV is designed to give consumers the SUV they want – reliable, smart, affordable – and it just happens to be electric. It’s fun to drive with rear-wheel power (with optional AWD coming next year), a low center of gravity and instant torque. And pricewise, it falls into the sweet spot of the market. We have designed it to do all the things compact SUVs do today, in package you can charge at home. We know more and more buyers want a more sustainable future, and we want our owners to be equally as passionate about our goals to help reduce carbon emissions. In Europe, we’ve joined with charging networks to provide renewable sources of energy to EV drivers, and we’re looking to find similar solutions in the United States. When the ID.4 arrives at a Volkswagen dealer, our plan is to have measured and offset the carbon emissions so that the vehicle is net carbon neutral from manufacturing to delivery – a first for any automaker in the United States.1 But our commitment to a carbon-neutral goal isn’t just one vehicle. Last year, Volkswagen Group committed to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement by pledging to make our business carbon neutral by 2050. When we say “business,” we mean everything  from hauling metal to our factories to our trucking routes to recycling the batteries from our electric vehicles. We have already started on our way towards this goal. For example, earlier this year, Volkswagen Group became the first automaker to use ships powered by liquified natural gas (LNG) to transport vehicles across the ocean. We also opened operations at the Port of Baltimore, allowing us to considerably cut vehicle transport miles to our mid-Atlantic dealers. The solar park that helps power Volkswagen’s Chattanooga factory. We’re also working to break down the CO2 impact across the individual lifespan of our vehicles –  from raw materials to recycling – on all new models moving forward. And we intend to look beyond EVs, for ways to help reduce the carbon outputs of our gasoline-powered vehicles, through steps such as hybrid engines, lightweight materials and powertrain improvement. Last November, we broke ground on a $800 million new manufacturing facility at our plant in Chattanooga, and starting in 2022, we plan on assembling the ID.4 SUV and other EVs for America there. This will create about 1,000 jobs in Tennessee and other states and includes a 198,000–square-foot plant facility for the assembly of Georgia-built battery packs. The ID.4 EV symbolizes a shift in not only the way we do business, but how we want the world to think about – and drive – Volkswagen. Lots of people want something more sustainable to drive today, but what has come so far hasn’t always met their needs or their budgets. EVs are the future, but only if they have the range and functionality owners expect at a price they can afford. With the ID.4 EV, the future can finally find a home in your driveway.

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Meet the Volkswagen ID.4: Finally, an electric SUV for you

Americans’ embrace of the SUV has reached the point where just under half of all vehicles sold new in the United States are some kind of SUV. Meanwhile, despite all the potential benefits of electric vehicles, their costs and lack of choice or availability have kept their numbers low – just over 1 percent of new sales. Today, Volkswagen unveils the SUV that’s meant to bring electric vehicles to the mainstream – the all-new ID.4 electric SUV. It has ample battery range and recharging capability for everyday use, with three years of charging at Electrify America public chargers at no additional cost.1 It has the space, utility and technology that compact SUV buyers want at a price that’s fully competitive with the segment. The ID.4 will be produced at the Zwickau factory with a net carbon-neutral balance. It also looks like nothing else on the road. And you can sign up for yours today. The ID.4 is another step toward the Volkswagen Group global goal to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement combatting global warming by making its business and its vehicles carbon neutral by 2050. According to experts, such goals can’t be met without widespread adoption of electric vehicles, and the ID.4 demonstrates how Volkswagen plans to make EVs for the real world. “The ID.4 was engineered, loaded and priced to win the hearts of SUV owners who are simply ready to go electric—and fall in love with Volkswagen again,” said Scott Keogh, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. “It drives like a GTI, it has the packaging of a Tiguan and the purpose of the Beetle. All the best things about VW in one package.” The ID.4 can be reserved today starting with a special 1st Edition model, featuring a 201-hp motor powering the rear wheels – just like the original Beetle. The ID.4 1st Edition, with 82-kWh battery pack, has a preliminary manufacturer-estimated range of 250 miles based on the EPA test cycle2, a little bit less than what the average American drives in a week. A full recharge from a typical Level 2 outlet, like those commonly installed at home or in public parking, will take around 7 ½ hours; the 11 kw onboard charger adds about 33 miles of range per hour of Level 2 charging.3 Using public DC fast chargers typically found at highway rest stops, the ID.4 can go from 5 to 80 percent charge in about 40 minutes.4 Buyers of the 2021 ID.4 will get three years of unlimited charging on Electrify America network at no additional cost, covering more than 470 charging stations and over 2,000 public DC fast chargers nationwide.1 Next year, the ID.4 will add an all-wheel-drive version with an electric motor on the front axle and total power of 302 hp. In 2022, Volkswagen will begin assembling the ID.4 in Chattanooga, Tenn., and plans on offering a localized version of the ID.4 with an anticipated MSRP around $35,000.5 The benefits of electric driving start with the dimensions of the ID.4. It’s the first vehicle for America built off the Volkswagen MEB platform, designed exclusively for electric vehicles. That platform gives the ID.4 agile handling, with the battery pack in the floor and even front/rear weight balance. And when you hit the accelerator, the ID.4 produces 228 lb.-ft. of torque instantly, giving it great off-the-line performance. The design of the ID.4 combines a futuristic, aerodynamic look with some classic Volkswagen touches. The Volkswagen logo sits in the center, as it did on the Beetle’s hood; unlike the Beetle, the logo can come as an LED lighted option. The LED headlights, taillights and an optional front illuminated light line and Volkswagen logo create a new, distinct signature, while the cleanly formed bodywork gives the ID.4 a strong visual presence, along with a low drag coefficient of 0.28. The ID.4 comes in one of six colors, with 19-inch alloy wheels standard. The two available packages – Statement and Gradient – add upgrades such as a panoramic fixed-glass roof, power folding side mirrors and 20-inch wheels. of On the inside, the ID.4 offers the most advanced interior of any Volkswagen ever. The standard heated leather-wrapped steering wheel has touch controls and sits in front of a 5.3-inch digital cockpit. In the center dash sits a larger infotainment display – a 12-inch Discover Pro Max on the ID.4 1st Edition, or a 10-inch Discover Pro comes standard – with wireless App-Connect6 and available in-car WiFi.7 As EV components take up less space – the electric motor of the ID.4 can fit in a duffle bag – the ID.4 can offer nearly as much passenger volume as the Tiguan in a vehicle that’s 4.6 inches shorter. Legroom is a comfortable 41.1 inches for front passengers and 37.6 inches in the rear seat. Cargo volume is 30.3 cubic feet behind the second row, and 64.2 cubic feet with the seats folded. Another new feature is ID.Light, a light strip below the windshield that provides feedback to drivers in different colors. It can signal when the drive system is active, if the car has been unlocked or locked, and feedback from driver’s assistance systems. The “Hello ID.” voice control system also debuts in the car, allowing drivers and passengers the ability to use voice commands in everyday language. The ID.4 features a full complement of safety systems, such as six airbags and Electronic Stability Control.8 An aluminum frame helps protect the battery in event of a crash, with a replaceable underbody aluminum shield defending against road hazards. There’s also a suite of driver-assistance technology known as IQ.DRIVE standard for all ID.4 models, which includes Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking with Pedestrian Monitoring (Front Assist); Blind Spot Monitor (Side Assist); Rear Traffic Alert; Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC); Lane Keeping System (Lane Assist); Travel Assist; and Emergency Assist8. In addition to IQ.DRIVE features, all ID.4 models include Dynamic Road Sign Display; Park Distance Control; and High Beam Control (Light Assist).9 EVs won’t make an impact unless they are affordable, and here the ID.4 shines. Prices for the ID.4 start at $39,995 for the ID.4 Pro rear-wheel-drive model scheduled to arrive in the first quarter of 2021. With a potential federal income tax credit of up to $7,500, the entry price for the ID.4 could compare favorably with a high-end Tiguan. For highly qualified customers who lease through Volkswagen Credit, the ID.4 monthly lease payment for a 36-month lease with 10,000 miles per year, is $379 per month with $3,579 due at signing, excluding tax, title, license, options and dealer fees.10 Next year, the ID.4 AWD Pro ($43,6954) will launch. Both Pro models carry the same equipment and can be additionally outfitted with two packages—Statement ($4,500), and Gradient ($1,500), which is only offered with Statement. The limited-run ID.4 1st Edition starts at $43,9954, featuring the same content as the Pro models, along with a long list of additional features, from 12-way massaging power seats to 30-color ambient lighting and an easy-open power tailgate. It also has a few unique features including accelerator and brake pedals with “play” and “pause” logos. Many EVs in America are only sold in a handful of states, or not through traditional dealerships. The ID.4 will be offered nationwide, throughout Volkswagen’s network of more than 600 dealers. Starting today, interested customers can reserve their ID.4 with a fully refundable $100 reservation fee. When production begins, those in line can confirm their order for an additional fully refundable $400 vehicle deposit. To begin meeting the goal of carbon neutral business, Volkswagen analyzed tens of thousands of processes at the factory in Zwickau, Germany, from raw materials to final assembly. The plant and some suppliers now use renewable electricity sources, and Volkswagen has taken other steps to try to cut carbon emissions. For those emissions that can’t be avoided, Volkswagen plans to use offsets via certified carbon credits for a variety of projects in Asia and South America. It adds up to a new type of vehicle for American roads. This much space, at this price point, for an EV that’s available nationwide – this is just the beginning of a new chapter for Volkswagen. This information and any vehicle specifications are preliminary and subject to change. Features and technical data apply to models offered in the USA. They may differ in other countries.  

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How Volkswagen is helping diverse suppliers find their footing

Edkedsha “KeeKee” Mathis is the Manager of Supplier Diversity at Volkswagen Group of America at Chattanooga Plant. Automakers may be fierce competitors on the showroom floors and production lines, but in one critical area they share a common goal: working to equip diverse suppliers to help build the future of electric mobility and autonomous cars. The Automotive Industry Group (AIG)—a coalition of industry competitors including Volkswagen Group of America—works to develop and train suppliers in advanced technologies so that minority-, women-, veteran- and LGBTQ+-owned businesses have a chance to compete. “A unique challenge with diverse suppliers is helping them perform at the level needed to compete with the current and actual needs of the automotive industry today,” said Volkswagen Manager of Supplier Diversity Edkedsha “KeeKee” Mathis. “Technology is a massive area in which minority and diverse suppliers need to build their competencies, so it’s more difficult to award that type of business to those we’ve committed to working with. As technologies evolve and change, my role is to make them aware of our existing needs and to help develop their capabilities to better [align] with the future of the industry.” When Mathis stepped into her role with Volkswagen in 2013, she focused not only on significantly contributing her time to the AIG, but also on providing one-on-one mentorship to help Volkswagen’s existing diverse supply base streamline operations to enhance their competitiveness, and adopt development plans to help them hone in on their strengths and sharpen their areas of weakness. Mathis and James Wingard, CEO & President of Wingard Supply, LLC. at the 2018 Volkswagen Group of America’s 9th Annual Partnering for Success Conference. Presenting Mr. Wingard with a Volkswagen Passion for Diversity Award. For many diverse suppliers in the industry, the biggest barrier to being awarded work by Fortune 500 companies is access. Smaller minority-owned businesses do not typically have someone who can walk them through an RFQ (request for quotation) process. Without that insider knowledge, they can also lag in developing the right technologies and skillsets needed to help meet changing industry demands. “If you are not able to provide certain technologies or meet scopes in their entirety without deviation, you are simply not going to be competitive in these spaces,” said Mathis. For some of the businesses Mathis works with, adjustments to marketing, inventory and structural operations are all that is needed to help move the needle. With Wingard Quality Supply, LLC, for example, one of the target areas was in finding ways for the second-generation minority-owned business to better market the company to other original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). From a thorough website review, to creating speaking engagements for company president James Wingard, Mathis worked with the company in helping to provide opportunities to engage with other OEMs and business leaders. “KeeKee was really pushing me to become a company that is visible, making me stand up in front of audiences to talk about our business,” said Wingard, whose tire and wheel assembly business has been a supplier with Volkswagen since 2010. “It was all out of my comfort zone, but it helped open the door for me to explore new business opportunities.” Mathis speaking at our 2016 Volkswagen Group of America’s 7th Annual Partnering for Success Conference. An integral part of Volkswagen’s acquisition process is for Mathis to sit down with suppliers one-on-one, both to provide education about the industry and to give them feedback, especially if they did not win a particular RFQ. Her goal is not only to help each business identify their strengths, but to point out their weaknesses so they can both better align themselves with Volkswagen for the next RFQ, or with any Fortune 500 company. For BarPellam, Inc.’s CEO David Barfield, Mathis has been an invaluable coach as well as an advocate in helping the business expand its footprint within Volkswagen. “In no way has our long-term relationship resulted in her being easier on us; in certain instances, its resulted in her being tougher on us—in a good way—because she really wants us to perform well and therefore she challenges us and certainly holds us accountable,” said Barfield, who manages the staffing and recruiting company. “KeeKee is very direct, but she always comes about it in a spirit of partnership and really caring for BarPellam as one of her suppliers. We are a better company because of her support, her mentorship, her guidance—and quite honestly, her tough love.” For Mathis, supplier diversity is not just about short-term contracts, but long-term invested partnerships, so that as Volkswagen grows, these underutilized minority and diverse companies can grow alongside. “I believe it’s incumbent on Corporate America to help ensure that diverse firms are invited to participate in the bidding process, and that ultimately the supply base reflects the nature of our country’s changing demographics,” said Barfield. “I just think it is critical that responsible companies like Volkswagen continue to seek partnerships with leading minority and women-owned firms to ensure all of its customers are represented in the supply chain.” “For me, programs they come and go with an organization,” Mathis said. “This is not a program—this is a part of our process; it’s embedded in our policies, procedures and guidelines and it is here to stay.”

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#TBT: Volkswagens tie grandkids to their family legacies

Frank R. Shoemaker Sr. purchased a 1967 Beetle brand new in December 1966. It’s been in the family ever since. Eric Shoemaker had no real interest in cars. As a designer and entrepreneur, he primarily took an interest in hobbies like woodworking, furniture restoration, and photography. Today, however, he not only owns a business with his wife Amanda that restores air-cooled German engine components, but his website (1967beetle.com) is a go-to resource for tech tips, classifieds, and Volkswagen stories from around the globe. And what he attributes as the catalyst for his newfound passion is a 1967 Beetle his grandfather drove that almost ended up in the crusher. Eric’s grandpa, Frank R. Shoemaker Sr., was 54 years old when he purchased the family Beetle brand new. As someone who lived through the Great Depression and World War II, Frank bought the car in December 1966 because it was economical and reliable as a piece of quality German engineering that could get him to and from work. For young Eric, however, the Beetle was more than a car—it was a vehicle, literally, for drawing the family together. Frank R. Shoemaker Sr. (L) and his grandson, Eric Shoemaker (R), pose with the family Beetle. Frank passed away in 2019, but his grandson Eric carries on his legacy through his business and his family’s love for the Beetle. “I have many fond memories riding around in our ’67 Beetle with my family—that ‘Volkswagen smell’ and the cadence of an air-cooled engine,” Eric said, who lives with Amanda and seven-year-old twins in Decatur, Ga. “It’s special to me now for obvious reasons—nostalgia from the family history and the connection to my grandparents.” As studies have found over the years, car culture and consumption are never simply about consumers’ making economic choices to meeting a material need—aesthetics, emotional responses and the ability to build relations are driving factors in the cars they choose to buy and drive. In fact, Volkswagen’s 2019 SUV survey revealed that more than 80 percent of parents today view their cars as a place where important family discussions take place, creating a new space for family time, whether they are running errands or on a family road trip. It should be no surprise that many fans of vintage Volkswagen models feel an emotional connection to their vehicles because of how it ties them back to their families.   Margo and Tony Huizing live out of their 1982 VW Vanagon Westfalia for eight months of the year, but still find unique ways to connect with their six grandchildren. For grandparents like Margo Huizing and her husband, Tony, their Volkswagen camper is a tool they use to build lasting memories with their six grandchildren. After retiring 10 years ago, the couple has spent their time split between living in a sailboat off the coast of Baja California and living out of their 1982 Vanagon Westfalia for eight months of the year. Since 2000, the Huizings have traveled to 49 of the 50 states in their van (Hawaii is out since they can’t get there by car) and have created a special way to connect with their grandchildren from afar. “Our grandkids have grown up with our lifestyle, and when we’re on the road I make maps so they can follow us when we travel and color in all the places we’ve been,” said Margo. “I make a point to send them pictures and we bring them home things that are not traditional souvenirs—like volcano dust from Alaska—so they can learn about our adventures and we can teach them to follow their dreams.” Margo Huizing makes maps for her grandkids so they can follow their grandparents on their travels. For Eric, the nostalgic tie between his family’s history and the Beetle came later in life when he learned that the car was sitting unused in his grandpa’s garage. “I asked my Dad about it because I thought it could be a fun creative side project, then one day, my Grandpa called me up and simply said, ‘Come over, let’s talk about it’,” said Eric. His grandfather had all the car’s original records since it left the factory. “The window dealership sticker, bill of sale, all service records, everything,” said Eric. “He proudly signed the title and handed over the keys.” The car did not run well at all at first, and the restoration journey was long, so Eric and Amanda created their website in 2009 to share their progress on the Beetle. As he worked, the site became a canvas to tell his family story, and the catalyst for eventually launching their business, Lane Russell LLC. Eric Shoemaker (L) and his grandfather Frank R. Shoemaker Sr. (R). The most rewarding moment for Eric, however, was when he finally drove the fully restored Beetle to his grandpa’s house for the first time. “I can still see Grandpa standing in the driveway as I pulled up the hill to his house saying, ‘Well, I’ll be damned, Eric!’” said Eric. “My Grandpa left us last year at 99, but our family ‘67 Beetle lives on as a symbol of hard work, creativity, and my family history.” For Margo, the family Volkswagen symbolizes more than simply building memories, but an important tool to instill life lessons and pass on what she and Tony have learned over the years. “I tell them: ‘If you can imagine it, you can do it,’ and I show them how through the way we live our life,” said Margo. “I want to instill in them that there is more to the world than sitting on the couch with a video game—there is the possibility of today. Our van gives us that.”

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A new name in small SUVs from Volkswagen: The Volkswagen Taos

Tiguan, Touareg, even Thing – over the decades, most Volkswagen SUVs have a certain alliteration in their names. On Oct. 13, Volkswagen will reveal an all-new SUV for the small compact space in America, and with it a new name: the Volkswagen Taos. The Volkswagen Taos SUV shares the same name as the New Mexico town of about 6,000 residents that has a rich history and culture. Occupied for more than 1,000 years, the town offers artist colonies that have thrived in the beautiful, mountain-ringed landscape since the early 20th century. “It was important to choose a name that really embodied the nature of the car and the town of Taos, New Mexico was a perfect fit,” said Hein Schafer, Senior Vice President for Product Marketing and Strategy, Volkswagen of America, Inc. “It’s a small city that offers big things—from outdoor adventure to arts and design and great cuisine.” Taos also has a bit of connection to Volkswagen history. A must-read of the original van life culture, his book has helped keep countless VW models running, from Beetles and Buses to Type 3 and Type 4 models. The Taos will slot into the Volkswagen lineup beneath the Tiguan, and represents not just another SUV model, but one designed in the North American region, with its consumers’ needs in mind, with superb space, handling, efficiency and technology. You’ll get your first glimpse of the Taos on Oct. 13.

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Why battery power will drive the future of transportation

Chances are you might have at least two lithium-ion batteries on your body right now – one on your wrist, and one in the phone in your pocket. You may have multiple more if you’re holding a car key fob or have a pacemaker or any other electronic device. But do you know how those batteries actually work? For a technology at the heart of modern life, batteries remain something of a mystery. While humans have used batteries for hundreds of years, it’s only within the past decade that the science of batteries has advanced enough to make long-range electric vehicles like the Volkswagen ID.4 electric vehicle possible. Among all alternatives, researchers suggest that battery-powered vehicles hold the promise today of reducing carbon emissions from personal vehicles enough to help make significant progress against climate change. And Volkswagen hopes to have the next evolution of these batteries powering its vehicles within a few years. Batteries rely on basic chemistry to work, formulas that were first identified by Alessandro Volta in 1799. Basically, every battery cell has two electrodes – one positive (the cathode), one negative (the anode) – and a substance in between called an electrolyte. When connected to an electric circuit, electrons move from the anode to the cathode through the electrolyte, while ions move in the opposite direction, creating electric current. In rechargeable batteries, the process reverses. It wasn’t long after the invention of the early batteries that people began experimenting with vehicles built around them. In the early years of the auto industry at the turn of the 20th century, EVs were among the best-sellers, thanks to their quiet operation, ease of driving and low maintenance needs around newly paved cities. Only when roads improved and gas vehicles became more affordable did the first EV era end, aided by the increasing prevalence of gasoline stations, the lack of charging options for batteries, and the short range of early EVs. The modern revival of EVs was made possible by lithium-ion batteries, first invented in the 1970s, and  Volkswagen’s own electric history shows how far EV batteries have evolved. In the early 1970s, Volkswagen built a handful of Microbus vans converted to electric power, using the lead-acid batteries that you find under the hood of gas-powered vehicles today. The tray of batteries in the floor provided 25 miles of range– and added 1,847 lbs. of weight. Today, the largest lithium-ion battery pack in the Europe-only ID.3 EV holds nearly four times as much energy (82 kWh) at a third of the weight. And the battery lies at the heart of why EVs are considered by experts to be one of the best choices for vehicles that combat climate change. Liquid fueled vehicles only use about a third of the energy it contains to move the vehicle – the rest escapes as heat and friction, and it generates carbon dioxide when burned. Similar waste happens with alternative fuels, from ethanol to hydrogen. But according to the EPA, EVs typically convert over 75% percent of their energy to movement and, if charged with renewable energy, have zero direct emissions in use. Most EV owners will never see the batteries that power their vehicles. In the Volkswagen MEB electric vehicle platform, the batteries are built into the floor, for optimal weight distribution. EV batteries – like those in the upcoming ID.4 electric vehicle – aren’t one huge cell. It’s a modular package, where flat, individual “pouch” batteries are stacked 24 to a “module,” with up to 12 modules then connected into a single unit like the squares of a chocolate bar. The components of the MEB battery system There are multiple reasons for building EV batteries this way. Smaller cells carry more energy per pound. It can be easy to add or subtract battery modules to offer EVs with different ranges and prices. Most importantly, as each individual battery can be controlled through software, it can be easier to maximize power flow and battery life, helping ensure a steady delivery of energy as the batteries discharge. These systems can store and deploy tremendous amounts of electrical power. A typical cell phone battery runs at 3.7 volts; the battery pack in Volkswagen’s MEB electric vehicle platform operates at up to 408 volts. This helps allow the ID.4 EV to provide ample energy to its electric motors and power all the internal accessories, including heating and air conditioning. Battery power for vehicles comes with some drawbacks. EVs simply don’t hold as much energy as a liquid-fuel vehicle and therefore have shorter ranges. It can take hours to recharge a large battery pack with a home 110-volt supply, and although there are fast charging options, everyday use of high-power charging can degrade EV cells. And EV batteries are the most expensive component in the vehicle. Volkswagen Group has started to tackle these challenges with battery innovation start-up QuantumScape, and the concept of the solid-state lithium battery. Today, most lithium-ion batteries use either a liquid or gel electrolyte. A solid electrolyte could in theory create a battery that holds more energy per pound, at a lower cost, with fast recharging times in normal use. Volkswagen Group has invested approximately $300 million with QuantumScape since 2012 to research and develop such batteries, toward the goal of bringing the technology to market over the next few years.

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