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The History of Volkswagen

Volkswagen was founded in 1937 by the German Labour Front. Only 1 in 50 people owned a car in the late thirties. Volkswagen intended to seek a new market, and the labour front began a 'people's car' project in order to do just that- create a car that many people would be able to afford. Volkswagen is in fact German for 'people's car', and this was to be the beginning of one of the most successful automotive stories in history.

Volkswagen Timeline

1948: After the second world war, Volkswagen became symbolically and economically very important for Germany with the production of their first car- the humble Beetle. By 1949, Volkswagen had already introduced the 'Bug' to the United States. Despite a slow start, selling only two vehicles in the first year, by 1955, Volkswagen had manufactured one million VW Beetles. The German manufacturer was dominating the market.

1961-1973: Volkswagen expand their product lines with the introduction of the type 3 and type 4 Beetles. These differ greatly to their predecessor with the new unibody construction and electronic fuel injection.
1972: After nearly twenty years at the top of their game, and with the help from some clever advertising from a top New York firm, Volkswagen could claim the world record for the most produced, single car of any make in history. It was the Beetle that gave it its victory.

1974: Unfortunately, the abundance of success did not last long. After the introduction of the Type 3 and Type 4 Beetle models, sales just didn't match the success of it's predecessor. Volkswagen needed to revolutionise the way they were thinking. Volkswagens ownership of Audi proved to be the element that would put them back on top. Audi influences and technology assisted in the creation of a new generation of Volkswagens, such as the Scirocco, Golf and Polo. It would be the Golf that would prove the most successful (and still to this day).

1974–1990: 1975 was a pivotal year for Volkswagen as it introduced the Polo into the supermini market. This 3-door hatchback was stylish and spacious. It was a strong seller in West Germany and Western Europe, being one of the first foreign small cars to gain popularity in Britain. It's second generation model, which was introduced in 1981 sold as a hatchback and "coupe" and proved to be an even greater success for  Volkswagen. It was given a revamp in 1990 and sales figures were still high after 13 years, when it was finally replaced by the third generation Polo in 1994.

1991–1999: The late 1990s witnessed a shift in the perception of the company's products. Audi had refined itself and was now in the same league as Mercedes and BMW. Volkswagen moved upmarket to fill the void left by Audi. In 1997 the Golf MK 4 went into production and it's chassis was to be the template for many other VW's to follow such as the Bora, SEAT Leon and the Audi TT.

In the UK, Volkswagen's market share grew throughout the 1990s. In 1990, the Golf was Britain's 12th most popular car with nearly 50,000 units sold.

2000–present: Volkswagen began extending its collection of models after Bernd Pishetsrider became the CEO in 2002. The sixth-generation VW Golf hit the roads in 2008, and many models have been produced since off the back of the Golf's success, such as the Scirocco.  Volkswagens latest unveiling was for the new Passat, the eighth in it's generation. Everything in this car is new: its design, technologies and engines, and it's fuel economy figures show an improvement of up to 20%, indicating a significant stride into the future.

From its humble beginnings as a project in Germany, Volkswagen has strategically gone from strength to strength over the years. This is due to several factors: They are the top spenders in research and development of any car manufacturer, they understand their market, and essentially, the know how to make a 'people's car'.

VOLKSWAGEN  01/08/2014 09:20:51

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