Volkswagen Builds Its Presence at The Chicago Auto Show

The days of our youth are scattered with experiences that few but us recall.  Many times though, those youthful experiences are remembered for a lifetime.   Their impact surfaces during our adult lives often to mold and shape our futures.  This was so for President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. Hinrich J. Woebcken.

As CEO of the North American Region as well, Hinrich was an exchange student in high school.  He went to the prom, perfected his English. and spent time in the American culture.  His tenure in America shaped the essence of his desire to bring German engineering to the U.S. market through Volkswagen and its offerings.

Hearing him recollect his days as a teen in America and the profound influence it had on him for a lifetime was one of the subjects he touched upon at the Economic Club of Chicago Luncheon at the first of two media days at the 2018 Chicago Auto Show.

ECC luncheon

Photo by Jules Stayton

Re-living days gone by isn’t something any Volkswagen executive would like to do given VW’s woes surrounding the emissions issue.  When asked by David Snyder, COO of Chicago CRED, Woebcken said that one of the most important aspects of getting through that or any other business crisis is transparency.  Sounds familiar.

Volkswagen is steaming ahead with multiple platforms and models made just for the American market.  Bigger is better in America and the addition of a mid-size SUV fits the bill.  The Atlas has been named Good Housekeeping Magazine’s 2018 Best New Midsize SUV for its “exceptional handling, spaciousness, and practicality”. With almost 100 cubic feet of cargo space, the Atlas boasts room for just about anything, I would also be remiss if I didn’t tell you that there are 17 cup holders too.

VW Atlas

Captain’s chairs are available in the second row and car seats don’t have to be removed to access the third row seat.  A rocker lever positioned on the shoulder of the chair initiates the forward movement so passengers can enter the third row. I’m 5′ 10″ and I had no trouble in and out of the third row and sat comfortably.  Volkswagen had a clever display, seen here, right next to the Atlas with all of the “stuff” that would fit into that 100 cubic feet of space.  My product specialist Sheila was happy to tell me of the Atlas and its popularity and if you would like to know more click here. The Atlas is manufactured by the German automaker in Chattanooga, Tennessee at its Volkswagen plant.

Another big moment on day one of the Chicago Auto Show for the VW brand was the release of a new member of the team replacing the CC, the Arteon.

Billed as a luxury sedan for a mid-size price, the Arteon is longer and sleeker than the CC with 268 hp from a 2.0-liter TSI® engine that carries an eight-speed automatic transmission.  4Motion® all-wheel drive is an available option. In a crowded mid-size class Volkswagen hopes that the exterior styling and cab-backward design will give more room and status to hungry buyers hoping for a sedan that stands out from the crowd.

Journalists are hungry for more than just the story and a free breakfast drew all of us to the Volkswagen corner again on day two to discuss the newly re-invented Jetta.  Designers were going for the “elegant, yet athletic” look for this 2019.

VW Jetta

Photo by Jules Stayton

VW’s best-selling model is set to dazzle more than just 20 something females.  It’s strong lines and front grille are undeniably Volkswagen.  This compact sedan will surely make a splash in the busy class.

Not to be outdone by the Atlas, Arteon or Jetta, the Tiguan has also been re-designed. Fresh off its Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick award when equipped with driver safety Forward Collision Warning and Autonomous Emergency Braking.  The Tiguan garnered a “Superior” as well on the Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) test.

VW Tiguan

Photo by Jules Stayton

Unique to its class, the Tiguan is the only compact SUV to offer an Automatic Post-Collision Braking System. It is crafted on the premise that most collisions are not one single event, but multiple events after initial impact.  As soon as the airbags detect a collision, the Automatic Post-Collision Braking System engages and hopefully prevents more events as it disrupts the kinetic energy of the initial crash.  It is standard across all trim levels.

Whether the Atlas, Arteon, Jetta, Tiguan or any other Volkswagen product is on your radar, know that VW’s presence at the Chicago Auto Show media days was significant.  Multiple contact points and food win favor among journalists.  Easy to access and open, honest conversation about issues facing the brand are helping move Volkswagen forward.

Volkswagen offered answers, predictions, plans, lattes and hope for the future.

I wonder if Hinrich knew just how important going to the prom in America would be all those years ago…

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