On Cybertron, the resistance of Autobots, run by Optimus Prime, is about to be defeated in the civil war against Decepticons and they have no choice but to leave the planet. A Decepticon force, led by Soundwave and Shockwave, intercepts them during the evacuation, and Optimus sends the Autobot B-127 scout on Earth with a run-off capsule to establish a base of operations where Autobots can regroup. However, Decepticons destroy their launch system during escape.
In 1987, the B-127 arrived alone on Earth and landed somewhere in California, interrupting an exercise by Sector 7, a government secret agency that monitors alien activity on Earth. Colonel Jack Burns assumes that the B-127 is a hostile invader and attacks him, banishing him in the woods where the Blitzwing Decepticon finds him in an ambush. When the B-127 refuses to reveal Optimus’s intentions, Blitzwing destroys his voice box and damages his memory source. Before he fails, he scans a 1967 Volkswagen Beetle nearby.
Meanwhile, adolescent Charlie Watson is still traumatized by her father’s death and beating his mother for remarrying. Charlie finds a Volkswagen Yellow Beetle in a car cemetery belonging to Hank, and he offers it as a gift for the 18-year-old. Charlie, without knowing it, activates a signal that is detected by Deathcrackers Shatter and Dropkick on one of Saturn’s moons. They are heading to Earth in an attempt to recover the B-127.