Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF), Audi of America and Volkswagen of America announced that they have partnered to donate 78 Audi and Volkswagen vehicles to collision repair programs throughout the U.S. These donations will enhance the education of thousands of collision repair students and support the next generation of the automotive workforce. In a rapidly changing industry, it’s critical that students have access to the latest vehicles and technology.
The donated Audi and Volkswagen vehicles were damaged during shipping to the point that they could no longer be sold to customers. Upon evaluation, a group of Audi and Volkswagen employees knew this wasn’t the end for these vehicles as they were still functioning and intact. The CREF team got to work with Audi and Volkswagen on how these vehicles could serve a new purpose. Months of planning, coordinating and reviews among this dedicated group of Audi and Volkswagen employees, CREF and schools resulted in the donation of these vehicles to automotive training programs throughout the country.
“We want to advance the next generation of technicians, and we’re committed to a more sustainable future,” said Mark Allen, manager of Collision, Equipment & EV After-Sales Service at Audi of America. “This was an opportunity where creativity and an open mind enabled us to live our sustainability values and map out a new way to help our industry.”
Allen partnered with Tony Russo, senior specialist for Damage Prevention & Port Policies, Volkswagen Group of America, to reimagine the use of many vehicles damaged beyond reasonable repair. The Audi and Volkswagen team worked directly with CREF to help facilitate the donation of these vehicles. Allen and Russo also coordinated with Audi and Volkswagen dealerships and collision centers near the various schools to ensure there is support for both the students and the schools by providing career opportunities for students and sourcing parts and addressing any technical questions for the school.
“Audi and Volkswagen are giving back to the industry and the communities they work in by connecting their certification programs to the donation,” said Amber Ritter, director of marketing and project management for CREF. “They aren’t just donating the cars; they are also connecting local dealerships and national training staff to the schools receiving the donations to ensure the sustainability of these programs. The foundation is incredibly grateful for this donation, and we are looking forward to seeing how the donation of both ICE [internal combustion engine] vehicles and EVs benefit students’ ability to better prepare for industry careers.”
The donated vehicles range from large SUVs like the Audi Q7 to comparatively smaller cars like the Audi A3. There is also a mix of both ICE vehicles and electric vehicles (EVs), including the Volkswagen ID.4 and Audi e-tron. The schools benefiting from these Audi and Volkswagen donations include the following:
- Center of Applied Technology North (Severn, Md.)
- Center of Applied Technology South (Edgewater, Md.)
- Gaithersburg High School (Gaithersburg, Md.)
- Oakland Community College (Rochester Hills, Mich.)
- Oakland School Technical Campus (OSTC) — OSTC Southeast- (Clarkston, Mich.), OSTC Northeast (Pontiac, Mich.), OSTC Southeast (Royal Oak, Mich.), OSTC Southwest (Wixom, Mich.)
- Passaic County Technical Institute (Wayne, N.J.)
- Bradley Central High School (Cleveland, Tenn.)
- Chattanooga State Community College (Chattanooga, Tenn.)
- Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) — TCAT (Crossville, Tenn.), TCAT (Knoxville, Tenn.), TCAT (Livingston, Tenn.), TCAT (Morristown, Tenn.)
- JB Hensler College and Career (Manvel, Texas)
- Academies of Loudon (Leesburg, Va.)
- Northern Virginia Community College (Alexandria, Va.)
Leaders from the various schools emphasized the importance of their students having the opportunity to work on newer vehicles with current technology. Having this access will put their students in a position to become higher skilled entry-level technicians when they graduate.
“The donations will have a major impact on providing engaging, hands-on instruction for 480 students across four CTE [Career and Technical Education] campuses throughout Oakland County,” said Christopher Vraniak, campus dean for Oakland Schools Technical Campus Southwest. “The donated vehicles that are assembled and equipped with the newest technology provide our students with the opportunity to train on the cutting-edge of the industry. Moreover, the EVs will put our students well ahead of the curve when it comes to the latest industry trends. This is greatly important; our advisory committee has shared that the industry is rapidly moving towards EVs, so the donation of four EVs to our campuses was a very significant donation for which we are very, very grateful. This is one of the largest donations we have ever received and will be a foundation for our students moving forward.”
“It is important to always be ahead and prepared for what is coming in the industry as our graduates are employed by companies throughout Tennessee and the nation,” said Cris Perkins, associate vice chancellor for Strategic Advancement and executive director of the Foundation for the College System of Tennessee, which supports the public Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology and the state’s community colleges. “This partnership and donation helps further the mission of the foundation for the College System of Tennessee to continually look for ways to bring in equipment and funding to help train our students as they learn at our colleges and make great employees.”
“All of these programs are often underfunded, so finding parts and cars is the hardest aspect these instructors face when reviewing their budgets,” said Tim Pfeifle of Tysons Corner Collision Center in Vienna, Va. “They operate on a shoestring of funds, making it incumbent on the instructor’s ability to trade, buy and sell cars or have fundraising events to fund their program. This donation will help many local programs, and I am so proud my supporting manufacturer is making this very generous donation, which will pay dividends to our industry for years to come.”
Audi and Volkswagen also recognize the need for students to receive the proper training on these modern vehicles, especially at a time when the nation is experiencing a major shortage of collision repair specialists. These donations further the goals of Audi and Volkswagen to attract and educate technicians on state-of-the-art vehicles.
“We have paired these learning institutions with local Audi Authorized Collision Center or VW Certified Collision Centers as well Audi and VW Dealers,” said Tony Russo of Volkswagen. “These relationships will provide opportunities for mentoring and opportunities for future employment. The schools will use the vehicles for both technical and collision classes until the vehicles can no longer provide any additional training value.”
Once the vehicles can no longer provide value to classrooms, learning institutions will contact their local first responders who will utilize the vehicles for further training. First responders look for the latest equipment to use during training, allowing them to learn the cut points and other hazards when conducting extrication drills. The remains will then be sent off for recycling.
Industry members interested in getting involved and supporting CREF’s efforts to assist secondary and post-secondary collision repair training programs can click here to learn about the many ways to get involved. Monetary donations can be made online.