The Golf, the icon: the most-built Volkswagen is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. To kick off the anniversary year, the Golf I and one of its predecessors from 1969 can be seen at the Bremen Classic Motorshow (Germany). The Golf has moved and impressed the masses since 1974. And with every generation, the compact car has revolutionised and democratised the automotive world.


it was no longer cooled with air and it was no longer a boxer. A new era started with the first Golf. And the technical change was also accompanied by a change in the visual concept. “The Golf offers maximum usable space and safety. It is uncompromisingly practical,” is how the company described it at the time. And so the year in which Germany won the World Cup in football became the year for the most-built Volkswagen of the future. Just two years later, the first million units had already been sold, and more than 37 million units have now been delivered worldwide.

The Golf would and had to continue its success story. But in 1974, nobody knew that its success would be much greater than that of the Beetle. Over the years, the Golf became almost imperceptibly part of our society, synonymous with a vehicle class and even an entire generation. And everyone has probably had their own personal experience with the Golf: as a driving school car, as an own new or used car, with relatives or friends, with two or four doors, as a petrol or diesel model, GTI or ‘strawberry basket’. Somewhere there always was and still is a Golf.

The heart of the Volkswagen brand

However, when series production of the Golf I started at the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg 50 years ago – in March 1974 – this success was far from guaranteed. Because as the successor to the Volkswagen Beetle, it followed in giant footsteps. The Beetle, the icon, had laid the foundation for Volkswagen’s worldwide success. But the new model from Wolfsburg was also very popular and quickly became a bestseller.

In the subsequent model generations, it was always the Golf that made affordable mobility possible for everyone at the highest technical level. It came with technology such as the controlled catalytic converter and efficient drive systems, and additionally offered safety features such as the anti-lock braking system, airbags or the first all-wheel drive system in the product line. The secret of the success is also down to the fact that the designers transferred the first generation’s DNA to its successors, thereby cultivating the classic design.

Development of a new bestseller

Work on a successor to the Volkswagen Beetle had already begun in Wolfsburg in the late 1960s. Several concept vehicles were created, including the EA (development order) 276. The EA 276 from 1969 already exhibited many features of the later successful model such as front engine, hatchback with large boot lid and torsion beam axle. But under the bonnet was still the well-known Beetle boxer engine with air cooling, and the focus was on reliability and low development costs. However, the days of this technology were coming to an end. The design of the EA 276 was pioneering, but another concept vehicle was developed further for series production. The new model was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro (Italdesign).

Rare exhibition duo at the Bremen Classic Motorshow

To mark the start the anniversary year, the Volkswagen brand is presenting the Golf I in Bremen, thus recalling the beginning of the automotive revolution in 1974. The appearance at the motor show is complemented by the unique EA 276 concept vehicle – the predecessor to the Golf that was developed in Wolfsburg. The bright yellow production Golf and the orange-red concept vehicle can be seen at Stand D10 in Hall 5 from 2 to 4 February.

Volkswagen Classic is present at the show together with the Autostadt Wolfsburg, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Oldtimers and Audi Tradition, who will also make it possible for visitors to experience automotive history.

The Bremen Classic Motorshow has been opening the season of classic vehicle shows in Germany for over 20 years. With over 46,000 visitors, it is a firm fixture in the event calendar of classic car enthusiasts.

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The Golf is celebrating its 50th birthday this year – and Volkswagen is launching an enhanced version of its bestseller to mark the anniversary. Customers will be able to order the new model in just a few weeks. The new Golf impresses with a next-generation infotainment system, a more intuitive operating concept, a sharper front and rear end design as well as efficient drive systems. These include plug-in hybrid drives with an increased all-electric range of about 100 kilometres. In addition, an illuminated Volkswagen logo adorns the front for the first time on a Golf.


Thomas Schäfer, CEO of Volkswagen Passenger Cars: “The Golf has been at the heart of the Volkswagen brand for half a century now, offering affordable mobility for all at the highest technical level. This is precisely what we are now building on with the new evolutionary stage – with even higher efficiency, comfort and quality and a new operating concept. The Golf does not get any better than this.”

Imelda Labbé, Member of the Volkswagen Board of Management for Sales, Marketing and Aftersales: "With Golf, we have written a unique success story. The Golf stands for the Volkswagen brand like no other model. A car for all generations. And this has been the case for 50 years. With the continuous technical development of the new Golf, we are now adding another chapter to this success story."

Revamped front and rear and new light design. The new Golf and new Golf Variant can be recognised by their new front end. Visually defining features include the Volkswagen logo, which is illuminated for the first time on the Golf, and the newly designed LED headlights. The top-of-the-range IQ.LIGHT LED matrix headlights incorporate a new high-performance main beam with a range of up to 500 m. The IQ.LIGHT 3D LED tail light clusters in both body versions have also received a new design.


New infotainment landscape and ChatGPT integration. Inside, the model series features a newly developed, intuitive infotainment system with a free-standing touchscreen (screen diagonal up to 32.8 cm). This has ergonomically optimised and illuminated touch sliders for temperature and volume control at its base.

Also new are the enhanced multi-function steering wheel and new IDA voice assistant. Using natural language, the IDA can be used not only to control functions such as the air conditioning, telephone or navigation system, but also to access online information from all conceivable areas – from weather forecasts to general knowledge questions. The Golf will have the latest infotainment system generation on board in future. This integrates the artificial-intelligence-based chatbot ChatGPT into the IDA voice assistant. Showcased at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas at the beginning of January, the feature can seamlessly access the ever-growing database of artificial intelligence. Occupants can interact with the car using natural language and have researched content read aloud to them while travelling.


Parking made easy thanks to new assist systems. Manoeuvring the Golf and Golf Variant is made easier by new assist systems such as the enhanced Park Assist Plus function. When driving past a parking space, it can detect whether the space (parallel or bay) is large enough and starts the parking procedure accordingly. It takes over the steering as well as acceleration and braking. All the driver has to do is monitor the parking process. In addition, Park Assist Pro will be available for the Golf for the first time, enabling drivers to guide the vehicle in and out of parking spaces with their smartphone. The vehicle can be driven out of the parking space remotely if the parking space is very narrow, for example. Another new feature is the Area View system – here, a 360-degree all-round view is created by merging four cameras, and the corresponding image is transferred to the infotainment system touchscreen. This makes it easy to see kerbs and parking space markings.

New powertrain range. The new plug-in hybrid drives in the Golf offer increased power and an electric range of about 100 km, and are additionally equipped with a DC quick-charging function. The highly efficient 48 V mild hybrid drives are particularly appealing for drivers who haveno charging wall box at home. A total of nine different options – mild hybrid (eTSI), plug-in hybrid (eHybrid and GTE), turbocharged petrol (TSI) and turbocharged diesel (TDI) – will be available for the product line in the launch phase. The Golf GTI has become even sportier with added power compared to its predecessor. Further Golf derivatives will be introduced successively throughout 2024.


50 years of the Golf – the history of the bestseller

The first series-produced Golf was built at the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg at the end of March 1974. The official launch began in May. Prior to this, the Beetle and thus the combination of a rear-mounted engine and rear-wheel drive had shaped the Volkswagen brand for decades. At the beginning of the 1970s, the first Golf – like the Passat, the Scirocco and the Polo – marked the start of a new era: that of the front-mounted engine and front-wheel drive. The modern and safe drive system concept, the great flexibility with a tailgate and folding rear seat backrest, and the design were so convincing that the millionth Golf rolled off the assembly line by October 1976.

But that was just the beginning: in the seven generations that followed, it was always the Golf that made affordable mobility with the highest standard of technology open to everyone. It came with technology such as the controlled catalytic converter and efficient drive systems, and additionally offered safety features such as the anti-lock braking system, airbags or the first all-wheel drive system in the product line. The secret behind the Golf’s success is also down to the fact that the designers transferred the first generation’s DNA to its successors, thereby cultivating the classic Golf design.

Comfort, quality and innovative assist systems gained importance with each generation and continue to set standards today. Over the past 50 years, the Golf has become a high-tech compact class all of its own – this even became known as the ‘Golf class’ after just a few years. The model has won countless awards and comparative tests at home and abroad. Various derivatives such as the Variant, Cabriolet and Sportsvan followed; the all-electric e-Golf and sporty models, with the abbreviation GTI, GTD, GTE, and the flagship Golf R quickly established themselves. The Golf was one of the first cars in the segment to offer assisted driving via Travel Assist. Another innovation in the Golf was the debut of Car2X technology, which can provide advance warning of hazards.


To date, more than 37 million Golfs have been sold across eight generations. The Golf is a solid pillar for the Volkswagen brand and is always able to adapt as a driver of innovation. With the new evolutionary stage, the brand is building precisely on that – with enhanced efficiency, comfort and quality and a smart operating concept.


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At CES 2024, the world's leading electronics trade fair held from 9 to 12 January, Volkswagen will present the first vehicles in which the artificial-intelligence-based chatbot ChatGPT is integrated into its IDA voice assistant. In future, customers will have seamless access to the constantly growing artificial intelligence database in all Volkswagen models equipped with the IDA voice assistant and have researched content read out to them while driving. Cerence Chat Pro from technology partner Cerence Inc. is the foundation of the new function, which offers a uniquely intelligent, automotive-grade ChatGPT integration. Volkswagen will be the first volume manufacturer to offer Chat GPT as a standard feature from the second quarter of 2024 in many production vehicles.


The new chatbot is offered in conjunction with the latest generation of infotainment in the following models: ID.7, ID.4, ID.5, ID.3, the all-new Tiguan and the all-new Passat, as well as in the new Golf. Enabled by Cerence Chat Pro, the integration of ChatGPT into the backend of the Volkswagen voice assistant offers a multitude of new capabilities that go far beyond the previous voice control. For example, the IDA voice assistant can be used to control the infotainment, navigation, and air conditioning, or to answer general knowledge questions. In the future, AI will provide additional information in response to questions that go beyond this as part of its continuously expanding capabilities. This can be helpful on many levels during a car journey: Enriching conversations, clearing up questions, interacting in intuitive language, receiving vehicle-specific information, and much more – purely hands-free.


Nothing changes for the person behind the wheel. There is no need to create a new account, install a new app or activate ChatGPT: The voice assistant is activated by saying "Hello IDA" or pressing the button on the steering wheel. IDA automatically prioritises whether a vehicle function should be executed, a destination searched or the temperature adjusted. If the request cannot be answered by the Volkswagen system, it is forwarded anonymously to AI and the familiar Volkswagen voice responds.

ChatGPT does not gain access to any vehicle data; questions and answers are deleted immediately to ensure the highest possible level of data protection. This is facilitated by Cerence Chat Pro, which leverages a multitude of sources, including ChatGPT, to enable IDA to provide accurate and relevant responses to nearly every query imaginable. The feature also prioritises security and seamless integration with IDA’s myriad capabilities, delivering ease of use for drivers.


"Volkswagen has always democratised technology and made it accessible to the many. This is simply ingrained in our DNA. As a result, we are now the first volume manufacturer to make this innovative technology a standard feature in vehicles from the compact segment upwards. Thanks to the seamless integration of ChatGPT and strong collaboration with our partner, Cerence, we are offering our drivers added value and direct access to the AI-based research tool. This also underlines the innovative strength of our new products," says Kai Grünitz, Member of the Board of Management Volkswagen Brand for technical Development.


"We are proud to build on our automotive expertise and our long-standing partnership with Volkswagen to offer its customers new innovations that leverage generative AI and large language models – even after they have purchased a vehicle," says Stefan Ortmanns, CEO of Cerence. “With Cerence Chat Pro, VW is empowered with an automotive-grade ChatGPT integration that offers unmatched flexibility, customisation, and ease of deployment, while prioritising security and usability for drivers. As we look to the future, together Volkswagen and Cerence will explore collaboration to design a new, large-language-model-based (LLM) user experience as the foundation of Volkswagen’s next-generation in-car assistant.”


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The Volkswagen brand significantly increased its deliveries last year, with: around 4.87 million vehicles handed over to customers worldwide. The figures exceeded the previous year’s numbers in all regions. In total, the increase in deliveries was 6.7 per cent. Demand for electric mobility also grew: Volkswagen handed over about 394,000 fully electric vehicles to customers worldwide in 2023, which corresponds to an increase of 21.1 per cent compared to the previous year.


Imelda Labbé, Volkswagen Board Member for Sales, Marketing and After Sales: “The delivery figures show that we are on the right track as a brand and that our cars are well received by our customers. We expect the market environment to remain challenging in 2024. But with our revised and attractive product portfolio, we are in the right position.”

All-electric ID. models in high demand worldwide

Volkswagen was able to increase sales of its fully electric vehicles by 21.1 per cent to about 394,000 units in 2023. The largest markets for all-electric cars for the Volkswagen brand – in absolute figures – were China, Germany, the US, the UK, Sweden, France, Norway and Belgium.

In Germany, for example, about 30,000 ID.4 models were delivered (+ 62.9 per cent). Volkswagen’s first fully electric ‘world car’ was also well received in the US: about 38,000 examples of the ID.4 were delivered to customers here, which corresponds to an increase of 84.2 per cent compared to 2022. The ID.3 all-electric compact car was particularly popular in China: more than 75,000 were delivered in 2023 there – a over 200 per cent increase compared to the previous year.

T-Roc once again best-selling Volkswagen SUV in Europe

The SUV trend also continued in 2023: the share of SUVs in total Volkswagen deliveries remains very high at 54.2 per cent (+ 14.9 per cent compared to 2022). In the US, more than 81 per cent of Volkswagen cars sold were SUVs. In Europe, the T-Roc remains Volkswagen’s best-selling SUV: the model set a new delivery record in Germany, the UK, Spain and Turkey.

Forty-eight years and 20 million units after its debut, the Polo remains one of the most successful cars in its class: in Brazil, more than 110,000 of them were handed over to customers, which is a new record. In Germany, the number of Polo deliveries was about 33,500 – 44.1 per cent higher than in the previous year.

Volkswagen starts the new year with numerous newly launched bestsellers

Volkswagen is anticipating dynamic growth in demand due to new editions of some of its most important bestsellers: deliveries of the new generations of the Passat and Tiguan as well as the visually and technically enhanced T-Cross will begin in the first quarter of 2024. The ID.4 and ID.5 also recently received a major update with a completely new operating concept and new drive system. The new ID.7 Tourer, the estate version of the all-electric top model ID.7, will also launch this year. To meet the high demand for SUVs, Volkswagen is planning to produce a fully electric SUV in the high-volume A-segment from 2026.

Another highlight for 2024 will be that, 50 years after the first Golf, Volkswagen is presenting the next evolution of its eighth generation, which offers impressive visual refinements, new assistance systems and drive systems as well as next-generation infotainment and software. Pre-sales are scheduled to start in spring 2024.


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Volkswagen Financial Services are electrifying the fleet of Siemens AG together with the Volkswagen brand: the company's fleet will be gradually supplemented with up to 1,000 leased Volkswagen ID.4 vehicles. These all-electric vehicles are part of the electrification and sustainability strategy pursued by Siemens, one of the largest and longest established industrial companies in Germany.


"Fleets of companies and public authorities provide significant leverage for the market ramp-up of e-mobility. Therefore, the electrification of vehicle fleets is also of central importance to us at Volkswagen Financial Services. We are observing that more and more fleet managers are also electrifying their service vehicles. This shows how suitable and practical electric mobility has become for everyday use," said Armin Villinger, Chairman of the Management Board of Volkswagen Leasing GmbH.

"The fleet customer business is of great importance to Volkswagen. That is why we are pleased to continue our long-standing and trusting cooperation with Siemens into the era of electromobility," stressed Achim Schaible, Chairman and Spokesman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Germany.

Siemens has set ambitious goals for the electrification of its own fleet within the framework of its sustainability strategy. The company aims to make the entire fleet CO2-neutral and fully electric by 2030. "The electrification of our fleet is a clear commitment to achieving our climate goals. But we also want to be a pioneer in our industry and send a clear signal for sustainable fleet management in line with our DEGREE framework," explained Stefan Kurz, Head of Global Fleet Management at Siemens. He added: "We chose the Volkswagen ID.4 because, in our opinion, the vehicle offers a good combination of range, charging speed, trunk volume, and price."

The ID.4 is the first all-electric compact SUV from the Volkswagen brand. It is produced and offered for sale in China, the USA, and Europe. The modular electric drive matrix (MEB) forms the technical backbone of Volkswagen's electric offensive. In the case of the ID.4, the design of the MEB platform allows for a very spacious interior. At the same time, the car impresses with its strong driving performance and maximum ranges of up to 512 kilometers or 531 kilometers (the two versions in the WLTP cycle). Its quick-charging capability with up to 135 kW helps it cope with long distances.


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