Audi & Volkswagen donate vehicles to Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology collision repair programs
The Collision Repair Education Foundation, Audi of America, and Volkswagen Group of America announced that they have partnered to donate 25 Audi and Volkswagen vehicles to collision repair programs at Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology in East Tennessee.
These donations will enhance the education of collision repair students and support the next generation of the automotive workforce in Tennessee. In a rapidly changing industry, it is 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 Collision Repair Education Foundation (CREF) team worked 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 a total of 78 vehicles to collision repair programs at institutions in six states across the U.S. Twenty-five of them were donated to Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCATs) – public technical colleges that are part of the College System of Tennessee. They are:
- Chattanooga State Community College's College of Applied Technology
- Tennessee College of Applied Technology Crossville
- Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville
- Tennessee College of Applied Technology Livingston
- Tennessee College of Applied Technology Morristown
"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, Volkswagen Group of America Damage Prevention & Port Policies Senior Specialist, to reimagine the use of many vehicles damaged beyond reasonable repair. The Audi and Volkswagen team worked directly with CREF and the TCATs to help facilitate the donation of these vehicles.
Allen and Russo also coordinated with Audi and Volkswagen dealerships and collision centers near the colleges, 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. 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," CREF Director of Marketing and Project Management Amber Ritter said. "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.
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.
"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 TCATs 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,” Perkins said.
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.
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.
The College System of Tennessee is the state’s largest public higher education system, with 13 community colleges, 24 colleges of applied technology and the online TN eCampus serving approximately 140,000 students. The system is governed by the Tennessee Board of Regents.