Volkswagen History

 

History of Volkswagen

On May 28th, 1937, the seedling that would eventually become Volkswagen was announced to the people of Germany by their government. After World War I - then simply called the Great War - Germany experienced an economic crisis, and German currency became nearly worthless. During this time, one of these promises of the ruling party was that of providing an affordable car for the masses; their goal in founding Volkswagenwerk, or "The People's Car Company," was to create a vehicle that would cost only 1,000 Reich, or roughly $140.

Headquarters were established in Wolfsburg, Germany, and even automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche was recruited to help in the design of the car. The first Volkswagen made its debut at the 1939 Berlin Motor Show. However, World War II began shortly after, and production of the car was temporarily halted.

After the war ended and left Germany in ruins, the Allies sought a way to help Germany in the reconstruction of their country - and stumbled across the Volkswagen factory. This would eventually become the way the German auto industry rose from its grave, but at first, sales were slow due to the car's negative connections and unusual rounded shape.

Things looked brighter in 1959, when the advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach renamed the car, titling it the "Beetle," and touted its size as being advantageous. The VW quickly became one of the best-selling import cars in the US. Within 12 years the Beetle had surpassed the record of 15 million vehicles produced, previously set by the Ford Model T.

With the Rabbit and eventually the Golf introduced throughout the next few decades, VW kept up with the sporty trends in the 70s and 80s and continued to find success in the American market. The original Beetle continued to be produced until 2003 - 70 years and 21 million units later.