Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc., an operating unit of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (VWoA) is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. VWoA’s operations in the United States include research and development, parts and vehicle processing, parts distribution centers, sales, marketing and service offices, financial service centers, and its state -of-the- art manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Volkswagen Group is one of the world's largest producers of passenger cars and Europe's largest automaker.
In 2011, Freakonomics Radio reviewed sparse data about hitchhiking, and identified a decline in hitchhiking in the USA since the 1970s, which it attributed to a number of factors, including lower air travel costs due to deregulation, the presence of more money in the economy to pay for travel, more numerous and more reliable cars, and a lack of trust of strangers.  Fear of hitchhiking is thought to have been spurred by movies such as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and a few real stories of imperiled passengers, notably the kidnapping of Colleen Stan in California.  See § Safety , below.