Volkswagen has been producing automobiles since the 1930s and has since then become a leader in the automotive industry. One of the most important elements of driving a car is the braking system, and Volkswagen has been continuously pushing the boundaries of brake innovation, creating safer and more reliable braking systems. Here, we take a look at how Volkswagen braking technology has evolved throughout the decades.
In the era of classic VWs like the Beetle, Karmann-Ghia, and Thing, braking technology was still primitive. Volkswagen used a leading-trailing drum brake system, consisting of steel drums which were filled with brake shoes and two hydraulic cylinders that pressed the pads against the drums. This system was simple, but not very reliable or responsive. Brake fade was a common problem and drivers of these cars often had to do a lot of pre-braking on hills or wet roads, and had to plan the braking very carefully in order to avoid any mishaps.
As time passed and more advanced vehicles began to appear on the road, Volkswagen had to upgrade its braking systems as well. In the 1970s, it introduced the disc brake, which improved braking performance. A fixed caliper was attached to the hub that contained a friction material on the contact surface. This braking system performed better than the drum brakes as it allowed for a better cooling effect and also increased contact area for more effective braking power.
The coming decades saw massive improvements in the brake technology. Anti-lock brake systems (ABS) were introduced in the 1980s, which utilize speed sensors to detect tire skidding and apply force to brakes to prevent it, allowing the driver to maintain control over the vehicle even on slippery roads. However, Volkswagen’s flagship was its Electronic Stabilization Program (ESP