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Nov 16, 2016

Herndon, Va. – The designers behind the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas, the new seven-passenger sport utility vehicle on display at Automobility LA, say the two-year process of crafting the boldest vehicle ever sold by the brand in America was driven by a well-researched look at how Americans live with their vehicles today.

“I think we developed something that takes us apart from the breed,” says Klaus Bischoff, Head of Volkswagen Design. “We looked deep into how Americans are living with their midsize SUVs, and we wanted to get the Atlas right.”

While the Atlas grew from the CrossBlue concept first displayed in 2013, it’s much larger and more substantial in appearance than the concept. “Size does matter, especially for families,” says Bischoff. “The first designs we showed were literally too small, too compact, designed too much out of a European perspective. We had to get used to the vehicle size that’s more appropriate for America. The roads are wider, the cities are bigger, and we grew into that.”

As interior designer Tomasz Bachorski said, the Volkswagen design philosophy of “simplicity and precision” drove the team at every stage of the design, from the grille and standard LED headlights to the stitching in the seats. As one example, the designers integrated the LED Daytime Running Lights into the grille with a generous amount of chrome and detail for a robust look.

“The facial expression of a car defines its character. We wanted to give the car a wide appearance, and an earnest look,” says Bischoff. “It should look substantial, without looking too aggressive.”

Exterior designer Oliver Stefani says the character lines that flow from the nose to the tail of the Atlas were drawn to highlight the precision of the car’s bodywork without creating an overly complicated surface, nor an appearance that would spoil quickly on the road.” We have a few lines on the car, but every line has a purpose; there’s always the idea to guide the eye around the car,” says Stefani. “The car has to grow into time; it should not go out of fashion in two or three years. Whenever you look at a Volkswagen from the past, it’s still modern on the road.”

Bachorski adds that the same ethos mandated the interior design choices, from the clean switchgear to flowing and high-quality surfaces on the dashboard and instrument panel. That perspective didn’t just apply to the hardware of the vehicle, but also the software interfaces, such as the available Volkswagen Digital Cockpit. “Everything’s well balanced with no complicated corners and no clutter,” says Bachorski. “This was really important to us to make this really simple, because our lives outside the car are complicated enough.”

The functionality of the seven-seat layout was paramount in the Atlas’ development, with third-row seats that do not suffer in comfort compared to the second-row location, and an easy-access system to the third row that is usable even if car seats are installed in the second row. Color and Trim designer Johanna Hoch notes that the Atlas draws some of its inspiration from high-end furniture, to create a welcoming atmosphere that still meets the demands of a modern family. “We are giving a soul to the car through the materials and the colors,” Hoch said. “The first language is touch, and it’s very important to make small details, like paint or frames, very high quality.”


To watch the second part of the Volkswagen of America video series, Atlas Origins, follow this link:


About Volkswagen of America, Inc.
Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc., an operating unit of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (VWoA) is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. VWoA’s operations in the United States include research and development, parts and vehicle processing, parts distribution centers, sales, marketing and service offices, financial service centers, and its state -of-the- art manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Volkswagen Group is one of the world's largest producers of passenger cars and Europe's largest automaker. VWoA sells the Beetle, Beetle Convertible, CC, e-Golf, Golf, Golf Alltrack, Golf GTI, Golf R, Golf SportWagen, Jetta, Passat, Tiguan and Touareg vehicles through approximately 652 independent U.S. dealers. Visit Volkswagen of America online at or to learn more.

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Mark Gillies

Jessica Anderson