How one gourmet coffee shop gets up and goes with an Atlas

Looking for an excuse to indulge in a better-than-average cup of joe? You don’t have to go any further than National Gourmet Coffee Day, which takes place this Saturday. In honor of the caffeinated holiday, Volkswagen chose to spotlight Dom’s Coffee, a family-run coffee business out of Avon, CT. The European-style coffee store opened in May of 2015 by Andrius Plankis and Asta Plankiene, who both emigrated to America from Lithuania with their family in 2013. Named after their 8-year-old son, Dominykas, specialties of Dom’s Coffee include craft brews and locally sourced, scratch-made treats. Their artistically crafted drinks include espressos, affogatos, specialty lattes (honey, maple, matcha, and charcoal, just to name a few), cold brews and hot chocolates. Dominykas poses with a cup of joe from Dom’s Coffee. The beloved European-style coffee store was opened by his parents, Andrius Plankis and Asta Plankiene, in May 2015. The bright, minimalist brewhouse was recently recognized as the most beautiful coffee shop in the state by a national architectural magazine. “It’s really been an amazing adventure, and a lot of that is thanks to our community,” says Plankiene. “They are really supportive [of us] and people really appreciate what we offer.” In addition to their popular brick-and-mortar shop in Farmington Valley, the family has a fully-equipped mobile espresso bar, which can be set-up and operated out of the trunk of their Volkswagen Atlas R-Line, when the car is parked. The mobile bar components are securely stored away in the vehicle when the car is in motion.1 The Volkswagen Atlas R-Line offers “a beautiful, modern, European-feel that is authentic to our brand,” Plankis said. Also, he loves that the car is spacious, and can be used for both business and family trips. “Our Atlas is a large part of our lives,” he says. Dom’s Coffee built a fully-equipped mobile espresso bar that can be set-up and operated out of the trunk of their Volkswagen Atlas R-Line when the car is parked. Disclaimer: Professional installation required to minimize risk of injuries in a crash event and reduce the chance of an accidental fire. A regular fixture at their local Volkswagen dealership, the couple participate in regular Cars and Coffee events hosted by the Volkswagen’s showroom on Sundays. They serve espresso drinks from the trunk of their Atlas-R Line and answer questions about their Volkswagen to interested parties. “Most people are shocked because they had never seen anything like that before,” Plankiene says. In addition to their Atlas, their roster of former Volkswagen vehicles include a Passat and two Jetta cars, including a Jetta GLI 35th Anniversary Edition. With their portable coffee bar, the couple has the chance to grow in their community steadily and economically. “We know from our experience that opening a new coffee shop is quite expensive because of all the equipment, staffing, and rent,” Plankis said. By adding a mobile component to their brick-and-mortar enterprise, they can reach new audiences and build new customers. They hope that their unique set-up helps them inspire future baristas to enter the coffee business as well. “We want it to be an inspiration to people,” said Plankiene. “You don’t need to start big to start a business. You can start small.”

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Driving imagination with the new MoMA

Artists at the People’s Studio at the Paula and James Crown Creativity Lab. Photo courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Credit: Beatriz Meseguer/onwhitewalls.com. Arts education takes center stage at the newly reopened Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City. As a partner since 2011 and the lead sponsor of MoMA education since 2015, Volkswagen is proud to support new, outstanding enrichment opportunities for museum-goers. The new MoMA opened its doors in the fall with an expanded campus, a groundbreaking new curatorial approach, and the centering of education—both physically and programmatically—as part of its new vision. Of the new MoMA’s educational experience, Wendy Woon, MoMA’s Edward John Noble Foundation Deputy Director for Education at MoMA, says: “Art museums are not just repositories of great objects from the past, they are vital public spaces for questioning, investigation, and for people to come together and connect to something bigger than themselves. That’s why as part of the new MoMA, education is infused throughout the entire museum experience. Now more than ever, we need the kind of empathy that is derived from imagining bigger. Arts education is essential to this process and Volkswagen’s support makes that a reality for every visitor who walks through our doors.” Particularly notable in the new MoMA is the Paula and James Crown Creativity Lab, a dedicated space for arts education at the heart of the museum. The new Crown Creativity Lab creates a welcoming and experimental space for visitors to engage with and reflect upon their experiences with art, learn about artists’ processes and explore their own creativity. An artist at work at the Paula and James Crown Creativity Lab. Photo courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Credit: Beatriz Meseguer/onwhitewalls.com. “We chose ‘The People’s Studio: Collective Imagination’ as our theme for the first experiment in the Crown Creativity Lab because we believe that imagining bigger means imagining together,” Woon says. “The challenge to ‘imagine bigger’ is not about ‘more’ in the sense of accumulating or taking over new territory or expanding and setting boundaries that divide us. Rather, it is a challenge to step back, take a bird’s eye view, and to see the interconnectedness of all people and of nature, and to know that we all play a part in the health and well-being of our world.” Beyond the Crown Creativity Lab, education filters into MoMA’s galleries and is infused throughout the entire museum experience. From imaginative gallery experiences, school tours, and teacher workshops, to community programs, art spaces for LGBTQ students and allies and family tours, there is something for everyone. The Volkswagen-sponsored education opportunities even expand into the online space, as MoMA recently launched its free, six-week online course, What is Contemporary Art? The online class, available on Coursera, explores art created between 1980 and today, and provides an in-depth look at over 70 pieces from MoMA’s collection. Learners can hear directly from the artists, designers, and architects during each class and can focus their studies across five different themes. The People’s Studio at the Paula and James Crown Creativity Lab. Photo courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Credit: Beatriz Meseguer/onwhitewalls.com.

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Science fiction becomes real as Volkswagen puts quantum computing to work

Chances are, if you didn’t use your smartphone to navigate traffic today, you will soon. Millions of people rely on their navigation apps to not just point them in the right direction, but plot out a route around traffic on the road. These systems all work well, but they’re limited in their ability to map only individual vehicles rather than taking the entire system into account. What if a more powerful computing system could provide navigation that anticipated where traffic was building up and adjusted its recommendations on the fly? That’s the concept behind a test Volkswagen Group ran last month to demonstrate one of the first real-world uses of quantum computing. Over the past couple of years, quantum computing has taken the first steps from theoretical papers and science fiction into reality. A typical computer processor basically handles data as a series of math equations that it has to work through in order to find a single answer. Modern computers grow more powerful by performing that math faster; your newest smartphone can handle 600 billion operations every second. But there are some problems that are so complex that even the fastest processors would need years to solve them. Quantum computing uses the oddity of quantum physics to handle far more complex math problems far faster than traditional machines — allowing them to tackle new types of challenges. One of those: How do you route a vehicle through traffic without creating more backups? Volkswagen researchers in the United States and Germany have been working for the past three years on a potential answer that uses the power of quantum computing. They call it “quantum routing.” Last month, Volkswagen performed its first real-world test of the system during the WebSummit conference in Lisbon, Portugal. Working with the city’s transit system, Volkswagen outfitted nine buses with tablets linked to the quantum routing system. The buses were assigned routes from the airport to the convention center with 26 stops. Before each trip, the quantum routing system provided them a custom route that accounted for not just existing traffic, but the other eight buses it was routing as well. Volkswagen’s system relies on the D-Wave quantum annealer, a different kind of machine than the universal quantum computers under development by other firms, including Google. Quantum annealers can only solve very specific distribution problems, and researchers at VW Data Labs in San Francisco and Munich believe traffic optimization can be one of them. “Traffic in major cities is highly complex due to a large number of road users,” says Abdallah Shanti, Global CIO Volkswagen Brand and CIO Region Americas. “That’s why we’ve tried to solve this problem with D-Wave’s quantum computers.” Based on the successful test, Volkswagen plans to continue developing quantum computing and quantum routing applications. Volkswagen developers have designed the system so that it can work in any city and with vehicle fleets of any size. Such a system could be used by public transport companies, taxi companies or other fleet operators. “The biggest challenge is to solve the vehicle distribution problem under consideration of all other vehicles in the traffic system quickly. Traffic optimization, due to the dynamics of traffic and quick changes, requires us to solve this problem in the shortest possible time,” said Florian Neukart, Volkswagen Director for Advanced Technologies in San Francisco.

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Megan Rapinoe goes from soccer hero to Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year

It was impossible to ignore soccer superstar and social activist Megan Rapinoe in 2019. She led the U.S Women’s National Soccer Team to a monumental world championship victory in July and made repeated headlines for her unapologetic stance against gender discrimination and racism. And now she can add one more honor to her banner year: Being named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsperson of the Year, the fourth woman in the award’s 66-year history to win it unaccompanied. Rapinoe is the only woman in history to start in three consecutive women’s world championship finals, helping lead the United States to victory in the 2019 world championship this past July. Rapinoe’s multiple accolades include earning awards for top scorer and most valuable player at her sport’s highest level. On and off the field, Rapinoe has made it her mission to stand for something bigger than herself, her team and her sport, striving to rectify inequalities and promote social change. “I think my success bears witness to, not only the necessity of speaking truth to power, but also the power of truth,” Rapinoe said during her acceptance speech. “Not only do I believe we can be better; I believe that we together — we are just better.” Volkswagen has recognized Rapinoe’s accomplishments and most recent award with a campaign using the people she inspires every day — her fans. The work features fans in Rapinoe’s signature pose, which has become synonymous with the confidence of the U.S. Women’s National Team and the fight for equality that has engaged people around the world. “It’s clearly more than a celebration,” Rapinoe told SI about her signature pose. “I’m still trying to articulate exactly the way I feel in it. This is me in the full. We’re not going to be a certain way for anyone. This is me, and you know you love it.” Volkswagen’s ambassadorship with Rapinoe is an extension of an existing program — this past summer, VW announced a similar collaboration with Alex Morgan, Rapinoe’s teammate on the U.S. Women’s National Team. As the presenting partner of U.S. Soccer through 2022, Volkswagen plans to help U.S. Soccer in its mission to become the preeminent sport in the United States through increased visibility, player and coach development, and promoting greater fan engagement across the country.  

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Volkswagen reveals why Americans love SUVs – and why they’re the future

Sport utility vehicles are having more than a moment. Accounting for more than half of all new U.S. vehicle sales, Americans’ appetite for SUVs have steered automakers into an arms race to produce more and more of them, in increasing numbers of niches. It is no coincidence that Ford and Volkswagen will enter the long-range EV market with compact SUVs rather than conventional passenger sedans. Volkswagen predicts this trend is unlikely to end, barring a severe economic shock In a survey 1 polling 1,000 U.S. SUV drivers, Volkswagen found that nine out of every 10 current SUV owners (87 percent) plan to stick with the vehicles for life, citing safety and comfort as two key features driving their SUV purchases. Ninety-four percent also agreed that they feel more confident on the road overall when driving an SUV— a big driver in their purchasing decisions. “This survey confirms that our current portfolio of SUVs aligns with what consumers are prioritizing here in the U.S.,” said Hein Schafer, Senior Vice President, Product Marketing and Strategy for Volkswagen of America, Inc. “All of our SUVs rank high on independent measures of comfort, safety and passenger space within their classes, and we’re focused on those priorities as we develop new entries like our upcoming compact SUV that will slot in below the Tiguan.” In addition to the rise in public SUV sentiment, the survey uncovered two additional trends with major implications for the next generation of automotive consumers: Gen Z and Millennial Drivers’ most valued features aren’t design or performance, but safety For Gen Z and young Millennial SUV drivers (ages 18-34), safety ranks first as the most important feature of their SUVs. The Volkswagen survey found that 43 percent of younger SUV drivers are more likely than other generations to value their SUV’s handling on rough roads and overall safety. Comparatively, 76 percent of SUV owners over 55 years old value comfortable seating foremost among vehicle features. Families are foregoing living room discussions for SUV dialogues The survey also found that the location for important family discussions has literally hit the road. Rather than resorting to the living room or dining room table, more than eight in 10 parents say they are having important family discussions in their SUVs, creating a new space for family time, whether they are on the way to school or on a family road trip. Ninety percent of parents who took the survey agreed that they expect to continue to own an SUV from now on and use their SUV as a place for family discussions. Along that same vein, the survey found that SUV owners with a third row are more likely to have family discussions take place in their SUV (75 percent vs. 60 percent of owners without a third row), while younger SUV owners (18-34 and 35-54) and parents are more likely to use their third row on a daily basis. “As we look to the future of Volkswagen, and the direction we are mapping out for our lineup, we understand that appetites for certain capabilities of SUVs evolve. This includes EV options in the SUV market,” said Schafer. “Taking into account the features that we know consumers are looking for in upcoming models, we’re eager to bring a price-conscious, thoughtfully-designed, and long-range electric SUV to the U.S. market in the near future.”

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Tips for getting your holiday tree home securely without damaging your vehicle

A time-honored tradition in millions of households this time of year is holiday tree buying. However, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, an estimated 20 million Americans who purchased a live holiday tree in the last three years failed to properly secure it to their vehicle. Damage resulting from improperly loaded trees can lead to serious vehicle damage, including scratched paint, torn door seals and warped window frames, and dangerous road debris. Whether you’re at a cut-your-own tree farm or a local tree lot, we want to make sure you are transporting your perfect holiday tree home securely without damaging your car. To help, follow our handy tips and tricks below. Take measurements. Write down the measurements of the space where you plan to display your holiday tree at home, as well as the size of the roof area or back seat of the car you plan to transport it in. Keep in mind that holiday trees can be deceptively wide, and “you may underestimate how much room you actually have,” says Robert Gal, a Senior Manager of Performance and Accessories at Volkswagen. “You don’t want to get too ambitious with what your home allows.” Dress appropriately. Handling a holiday tree can be difficult, uncomfortable and sticky, thanks to the tree’s scratchy and sappy pine needles. To protect your hands, it’s best to pack a pair of utility gloves. Also, be sure to check the weather before you leave to your neighborhood tree lot, especially if you are planning to transport on the roof of your vehicle. Bring the right supplies. Regardless of whether you plan to haul the tree inside or outside of the vehicle, you should come prepared with the right equipment, including some dedicated ratcheting straps to secure the tree and prevent it from shifting in transit. If you plan to mount the tree to the roof of your car, you should ensure that you have crossbars or roof rails installed prior to your trip to help keep the tree in place. Bars can help protect your painted roof and sunroof from potential damage and rails will add additional support. Lightweight twine, often provided for free by tree lots, should not be used to secure the tree to the roof as twine wrapped through door jams or open windows can cause damage to the car’s window frames and water seals, and could obstruct the performance of the car’s side airbags. Securely load your tree. Before you load the tree into or onto your vehicle, ask the tree lot to wrap the tree in netting as tightly as possible. If netting is unavailable, contain loose branches by wrapping the tree in an old blanket or tarp. Using ratcheting straps, tie the bundled tree to the crossbars or roof rails. “People will often secure the tree, but forget to secure the tarp, and when they drive off it flies off,” says Roger Chung, Manager, Accessories Development at Volkswagen. Always travel with the bottom of the tree trunk facing the front of the vehicle while transporting on the roof and within the cabin. Taking these precautions will keep features like the Panoramic Sunroof in the Volkswagen Atlas from becoming damaged and in working shape. Adjust the interior to fit smaller trees. Large SUVs like the Atlas allow for its second and third row to be folded down to allow a smaller tree to sit flat, which should be holstered with straps tied to anchor points in the trunk to keep it securely in place. Before you leave the lot, give the tree a firm tug from various directions to make sure it is properly secured. If the tree budges, pull the ratcheting straps tighter. Drive carefully and cautiously. Stay on local roads and avoid driving at high speeds. Watch out for large potholes and bumps in the road. Higher speeds can create significant airflow that can damage your holiday tree and challenge even the best tie-down methods. Avoid sudden and abrupt maneuvers, such as hard braking, and accelerating quickly. Spot-check the vehicle. Check for tree sap and residue in and outside the car, and, if found, clean immediately. If found on the exterior, use bug and tar remover with a clean cloth to wash.

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Volkswagen teams with The Conservation Fund to increase the Cherokee National Forest

From fresh drinking water and wildlife habitats, to helping fight climate change and providing natural resources, American forests play an essential role in our daily lives. To help protect forests in the United States from development and fragmentation, Volkswagen, through a sponsorship of The Conservation Fund, will donate $1.2 million to help increase the Cherokee National Forest in Tennessee by roughly 1,500 acres and support other woodlands projects. “We are excited about our partnership with Volkswagen and the opportunity to help 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.” The goal is for the additional public lands, located near the Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly Plant, to be open to the public for recreational use and used to help protect the habitats of local animal populations, including the black bear and the endangered Indiana bat. The Conservation Fund is currently negotiating with private landowners to acquire the properties, which will be held until they can be transferred to the USDA Forest Service for long-term stewardship over the next few years. “Our support of 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.” Located on the outer edge of the Great Smoky Mountains, the Cherokee National Forest stretches the length of eastern Tennessee’s border. The forest’s acreage includes the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, several whitewater rivers and 12 designated wildernesses. In addition to supporting land conservation, Volkswagen’s donation will go toward helping to preserve and protect natural resources in Tennessee, with The Conservation Fund developing a grant program of $200,000 to support the state’s environmental objectives and goals.  The Conservation Fund, will solicit grant requests of up to $50,000 from qualified nonprofits, schools and public agencies working in eastern Tennessee to help improve water quality, increase access to outdoor recreation and advance environmental education. For more information and an application, visit to conservationfund.org.

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