Volkswagen has a "secret" project, and it was revealed by Oliver Schmidt, General Manager of the Engineering and Environmental
office of Volkswagen of America, in the posting is the short story of
the automaker's Moonraker project.
Read it for yourself below:
My Moonraker memories by Oliver Schmidt General Manager of the Engineering and Environmental office of Volkswagen of America In my intro post, I talked a little about the Moonraker project. I’ve worked on a lot of cool things since I started with Volkswagen in 1997, but Moonraker was very special to me for several reasons.
The Moonraker project consisted of 23 team members: 19 Germans (including me), three Americans, and one Malaysian. We spent all of 2005 and part of 2006 based just outside Malibu, California, and traveled across the United States to gather insights. Originally, the goal of the project was to come up with a concept for a single car that would sell well in the US, so we set out to find what Americans really want. But a few months in, the goal changed: we set out to find input for as many projects as possible.
The insights we gathered for Moonraker ended up working on 42 projects in all. Most importantly, this information helped us create the basic description of the Jetta and Passat we now have in the States. We learned that Americans wanted a different body style for the Jetta and Golf. Rear leg space was also an important feature, which is why we now have best-in-class rear legroom on the Passat. Americans also felt there was something different about being inside a VW, so we’ve always paid special attention to our interior look and feel, all while maintaining quality.
Another important takeaway was that Americans saw value in having cars built here in the US. While not a direct output of our findings, I’m proud to see Volkswagen’s commitment to the US with the Chattanooga plant.
Over the 18 months I spent here, I learned a lot; along the way, I also fell more in love with America. Ever since I was a child, I’d always wanted to visit the US, but I never could afford it. When I got my first job which was already with Volkswagen, I saved my money and took my first three vacations in the US. What was different about my time here with Moonraker was that I really got to interact with the American people. That’s when I knew I wanted to move here for good.
I also want to clear up one popular misconception about Moonraker: contrary to popular belief, the project was not named after the novel that went on to become a spy movie. After all, we were not here as spies! We had heard a story that Moonraker was the original name of the Apollo project, which was responsible for the first manned flight to the moon. In a famous 1961 speech, the president said that America chose to go to the moon not because it is easy, but because it is hard, and because that goal would make the most of the nation’s energies and skills.
We felt the same way about our Moonraker project, and while we didn’t get to go the moon, we did get to explore a pretty great place.
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