VOLKSWAGEN Automobiles and Vans

VOLKSWAGEN cars – vans



Industry Automotive
Founded 28 May 1937; 81 years ago
Founder German Labor Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront, DAF) Adolf Hitler
Headquarters WolfsburgGermany
Area served
Key people
Herbert Diess (Chairman of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand)
Products Automobiles
Production output
Increase6.073 million units (2016 annual report)
Revenue Decrease105.651 billion (2016 annual report)
Decrease€1.869 billion (2016 annual report)
Number of employees
626,715 (end of 2016)
Parent Volkswagen Group

Volk­swa­gen (Ger­man pro­nun­ci­a­tion: [ˈfɔlksˌvaːɡn̩] (About this soundlis­ten)), short­ened to VW, is a Ger­man au­tomaker founded on 28 May 1937 by the Ger­man Labour Front under Adolf Hitler and head­quar­tered in Wolfs­burg. It is the flag­ship mar­que of the Volk­swa­gen Group, the largest au­tomaker by world­wide sales in 2016.

Volk­swa­gen is Ger­man for “peo­ple’s car”, and the com­pany’s cur­rent in­ter­na­tional ad­ver­tis­ing slo­gan is just “Volkswagen”. Amer­i­can Eng­lish pro­nun­ci­a­tion is ap­prox­i­mately “volks wagon” (About this soundlis­ten).


1932–1938: People’s Car project

Model of Porsche Type 12 (Zündapp), Museum of Industrial Culture, Nuremberg

Volk­swa­gen was orig­i­nally es­tab­lished in 1932 by the Ger­man Labour Front (Deutsche Ar­beits­front) in Berlin. In the early 1930s, the Ger­man auto in­dus­try was still largely com­posed of lux­ury mod­els, and the av­er­age Ger­man could rarely af­ford any­thing more than a mo­tor­cy­cle. As a re­sult, only one Ger­man out of 50 owned a car. Seek­ing a po­ten­tial new mar­ket, some car mak­ers began in­de­pen­dent “peo­ple’s car” pro­jects – the

Mer­cedes 170H,

Adler Au­to­Bahn,

Steyr 55, and

Hanomag 1.3L, among oth­ers.

The trend was not new, as Béla Barényi is cred­ited with hav­ing con­ceived the basic de­sign in the mid-1920s. Josef Ganz de­vel­oped the Stan­dard Su­pe­rior (going as far as ad­ver­tis­ing it as the “Ger­man Volk­swa­gen”). In Ger­many, the com­pany Hanomag mass-pro­duced the

2/10 PS “Kom­miss­brot”, a small, cheap rear en­gined car, from 1925 to 1928. Also, in Czecho­slo­va­kia, the Hans Led­winka‘s penned

Tatra T77, a very pop­u­lar car amongst the Ger­man elite, was be­com­ing smaller and more af­ford­able at each re­vi­sion. Fer­di­nand Porsche, a well-known de­signer for high-end ve­hi­cles and race cars, had been try­ing for years to get a man­u­fac­turer in­ter­ested in a small car suit­able for a fam­ily. He felt the small cars at the time were just stripped down big cars. In­stead he built a car he called the “Volk­sauto” from the ground up in 1933, using many of the ideas float­ing around at the time and sev­eral of his own, putting to­gether a car with an air-cooled rear en­gine, tor­sion bar sus­pen­sion, and a “bee­tle” shape, the front hood rounded for bet­ter aero­dy­nam­ics (nec­es­sary as it had a small engine).

VW logo during the 1930s, initials surrounded by a stylized cogwheel and swastika wings[8]

VW logo during the 1930s, initials surrounded by a stylized cogwheel and swastika wings
Josef Ganz with his Standard Superior in 1935

In 1934, with many of the above pro­jects still in de­vel­op­ment or early stages of pro­duc­tion, Adolf Hitler be­came in­volved, or­der­ing the pro­duc­tion of a basic ve­hi­cle ca­pa­ble of trans­port­ing two adults and three chil­dren at 100 km/h (62 mph). He wanted all Ger­man cit­i­zens to have ac­cess to cars. The “Peo­ple’s Car” would be avail­able to cit­i­zens of the Third Reich through a sav­ings plan at 990 Re­ichs­mark ($396 in 1930s U.S. dol­lars)—about the price of a small mo­tor­cy­cle (the av­er­age in­come being around 32 RM a week).

1936 Volkswagen Beetle Type 60 V3 Prototype

De­spite heavy lob­by­ing in favor of one of the ex­ist­ing pro­jects, it soon be­came ap­par­ent that pri­vate in­dus­try could not turn out a car for only 990 RM. Thus, Hitler chose to spon­sor an all-new, state-owned fac­tory using Fer­di­nand Porsche’s de­sign (with some of Hitler’s de­sign con­straints, in­clud­ing an air-cooled en­gine so noth­ing could freeze). The in­ten­tion was that or­di­nary Ger­mans would buy the car by means of a sav­ings scheme (Fünf Mark die Woche musst du spa­ren, willst du im ei­ge­nen Wagen fahren” – “Five marks a week you must put aside, if you want to drive your own car“), which around 336,000 peo­ple even­tu­ally paid into. How­ever, the en­tire pro­ject was fi­nan­cially un­sound, and only the Nazi party made it pos­si­ble to pro­vide funding.

Pro­to­types of the car called the “KdF-Wa­gen” (Ger­man: Kraft durch Freude – “Strength through Joy”), ap­peared from 1938 on­wards (the first cars had been pro­duced in Stuttgart). The car al­ready had its dis­tinc­tive round shape and air-cooledflat-fourrear-mounted en­gine. The VW car was just one of many KdF pro­grams, which in­cluded things such as tours and out­ings. The pre­fix Volks— (“Peo­ple’s”) was not just ap­plied to cars, but also to other prod­ucts in Ger­many; the “Volk­sempfänger” radio re­ceiver for in­stance.

1937-5-28 Hitler and Ferdinand Porsche are looking at the prototype of VW Beetle on birthday VW

On 28 May 1937 The birthday of VolkswagenGesellschaft zur Vor­bere­itung des Deutschen Volk­swa­gens mbH (“Com­pany for the Prepa­ra­tion of the Ger­man Volk­swa­gen Ltd.”), or Gezu­vor for short, was es­tab­lished by the Deutsche Ar­beits­front in Berlin. More than a year later, on 16 Sep­tem­ber 1938, it was re­named to Volk­swa­gen­werk GmbH.

VW Type 82E

Erwin Komenda, the long­stand­ing Auto Union chief de­signer, part of Fer­di­nand Porsche’s hand-picked team, de­vel­oped the car body of

1939 vw proto 01

the pro­to­type, which was rec­og­niz­ably the Bee­tle known today. It was one of the first cars de­signed with the aid of a wind tun­nel—a method used for Ger­man air­craft de­sign since the early 1920s. The car de­signs were put through rig­or­ous tests, and achieved a record-break­ing mil­lion miles of test­ing be­fore being deemed fin­ished.

The con­struc­tion of the new fac­tory started in May 1938 in the new town of “Stadt des KdF-Wa­gens” (mod­ern-day Wolfs­burg), which had been pur­pose-built for the fac­tory workers. This fac­tory had only pro­duced a hand­ful of cars by the time war started in 1939. None were ac­tu­ally de­liv­ered to any holder of the com­pleted sav­ing stamp books, though one Type 1 Cabri­o­let was pre­sented to Hitler on 20 April 1944 (his 55th birthday).

War changed pro­duc­tion to mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles—

the Type 82 Kübel­wa­gen (“Bucket car”) util­ity ve­hi­cle (VW’s most com­mon wartime model), and

the am­phibi­ous Schwimmwa­gen—man­u­fac­tured for Ger­man forces. As was com­mon with much of the pro­duc­tion in Nazi Ger­many dur­ing the war, slave labor was uti­lized in the Volk­swa­gen plant, e.g. from Ar­beits­dorf con­cen­tra­tion camp. The com­pany would admit in 1998 that it used 15,000 slaves dur­ing the war ef­fort. Ger­man his­to­ri­ans es­ti­mated that 80% of Volk­swa­gen’s wartime work­force was slave labor. Many of the slaves were re­ported to have been sup­plied from the con­cen­tra­tion camps upon re­quest from plant man­agers. A law­suit was filed in 1998 by sur­vivors for resti­tu­tion for the forced labor. Volk­swa­gen would set up a vol­un­tary resti­tu­tion fund.

Volkswagen factory

1945–1948: British Army intervention, unclear future

The com­pany owes its post-war ex­is­tence largely to one man, War-time British Army of­fi­cer Major Ivan HirstREME. In April 1945, KdF-Stadt and its heav­ily bombed fac­tory were cap­tured by the Amer­i­cans, and sub­se­quently handed over to the British, within whose oc­cu­pa­tion zone the town and fac­tory fell. The fac­to­ries were placed under the con­trol of Sad­dle­worth-born Hirst, by then a civil­ian Mil­i­tary Gov­er­nor with the oc­cu­py­ing forces. At first, one plan was to use it for mil­i­tary ve­hi­cle main­te­nance, and pos­si­bly dis­man­tle and ship it to Britain. Since it had been used for mil­i­tary pro­duc­tion, (though not of KdF-Wa­gens) and had been in Hirst’s words, a “po­lit­i­cal an­i­mal” rather than a com­mer­cial enterprise — tech­ni­cally mak­ing it li­able for de­struc­tion under the terms of the Pots­dam Agree­ment — the equip­ment could have been sal­vaged as war repa­ra­tions. Al­lied dis­man­tling pol­icy changed in late 1946 to mid-1947, though heavy in­dus­try con­tin­ued to be dis­man­tled until 1951.

One of the fac­tory’s War-time ‘KdF-Wa­gen’ cars had been taken to the fac­tory for re­pairs and aban­doned there. Hirst had it re­painted green and demon­strated it to British Army head­quar­ters. Short of light trans­port, in Sep­tem­ber 1945 the British Army was per­suaded to place a vital order for 20,000 cars. How­ever, pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties had been mas­sively dis­rupted, there was a refugee cri­sis at and around the fac­tory and some parts (such as car­bu­re­tors) were un­avail­able. With strik­ing hu­man­ity and great en­gi­neer­ing and man­age­ment in­ge­nu­ity, Hirst and his Ger­man as­sis­tant Hein­rich Nord­hoff (who went on to run the Wolfs­burg fa­cil­ity after Mil­i­tary Gov­ern­ment ended in 1949) helped to sta­bi­lize the acute so­cial sit­u­a­tion while si­mul­ta­ne­ously re-es­tab­lish­ing pro­duc­tion. Hirst, for ex­am­ple, used his fine en­gi­neer­ing ex­pe­ri­ence to arrange the man­u­fac­ture of car­bu­re­tors, the orig­i­nal pro­duc­ers being ef­fec­tively ‘lost’ in the Russ­ian zone. The first few hun­dred cars went to per­son­nel from the oc­cu­py­ing forces, and to the Ger­man Post Of­fice. Some British Ser­vice per­son­nel were al­lowed to take their Bee­tles back to the United King­dom when they were de­mo­bilised.

In 1986, Hirst ex­plained how it was com­monly mis­un­der­stood that he had run Wolfs­burg as a British Army Major. The de­feated Ger­man staff, he said, were ini­tially sullen and un­re­spon­sive, hav­ing been con­di­tioned by many years of Nazism and they were some­times un­re­spon­sive to or­ders. At Nord­hoff’s sug­ges­tion, he sent back to Eng­land for his of­fi­cer’s uni­form and from then on, had no dif­fi­culty in hav­ing his in­struc­tions fol­lowed. Hirst can be seen pho­tographed at Wolfs­burg in his uni­form, al­though he was not ac­tu­ally a sol­dier at the time but a civil­ian mem­ber of the Mil­i­tary Gov­ern­ment. The title of ‘Major’ was some­times used by some­one who had left the Army as a cour­tesy title. In fact, Hirst chose not to do so.

The post-war In­dus­trial plans for Ger­many set out rules that gov­erned which in­dus­tries Ger­many was al­lowed to re­tain. These rules set Ger­man car pro­duc­tion at a max­i­mum of 10% of 1936 car production. By 1946, the fac­tory pro­duced 1,000 cars a month—a re­mark­able feat con­sid­er­ing it was still in dis­re­pair. Owing to roof and win­dow dam­age, pro­duc­tion had to stop when it rained, and the com­pany had to barter new ve­hi­cles for steel for production.

The car and its town changed their Sec­ond World War-era names to “Volk­swa­gen” and “Wolfs­burg” re­spec­tively, and pro­duc­tion in­creased. It was still un­clear what was to be­come of the fac­tory. It was of­fered to rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Amer­i­can, Aus­tralian, British, and French motor in­dus­tries. Fa­mously, all re­jected it. After an in­spec­tion of the plant, Sir William Rootes, head of the British Rootes Group, told Hirst the pro­ject would fail within two years, and that the car “…​is quite un­at­trac­tive to the av­er­age mo­tor­car buyer, is too ugly and too noisy … If you think you’re going to build cars in this place, you’re a bloody fool, young man.” The of­fi­cial re­port said “To build the car com­mer­cially would be a com­pletely un­eco­nomic enterprise.” In an ironic twist of fate, Volk­swa­gen man­u­fac­tured a lo­cally built ver­sion of Rootes’s Hill­man Avenger in Ar­gentina in the 1980s, long after Rootes had gone bank­rupt at the hands of Chrysler in 1978—the Bee­tle out­liv­ing the Avenger by over 30 years.

Ford rep­re­sen­ta­tives were equally crit­i­cal. In March 1948, the British of­fered the Volk­swa­gen com­pany to Ford, free of charge. Henry Ford II, the son of Edsel Ford, trav­eled to West Ger­many for dis­cus­sions. Heinz Nord­hoff was also pre­sent, and Ernest Breech, chair­man of the board for Ford Motor Com­pany. Henry Ford II looked to Ernest Breech for his opin­ion, and Breech said, “Mr. Ford, I don’t think what we’re being of­fered here is worth a dime!” Ford passed on the offer, leav­ing Volk­swa­gen to re­build it­self under Nord­hoff’s leadership.

1948–1961: Icon of post war West Germany

1949 Volkswagen “split rear window” Sedan
Volkswagen Cabriolet (1953)
An original 1300 Deluxe, circa 1966.
In the later 1960s, as worldwide appetite for the Beetle finally began to diminish, a variety of successor designs were proposed and, in most cases, rejected by management.

From 1948, Volk­swa­gen be­came an im­por­tant el­e­ment, sym­bol­i­cally and eco­nom­i­cally, of West Ger­man regeneration. Hein­rich Nord­hoff (1899–1968), a for­mer se­nior man­ager at Opel who had over­seen civil­ian and mil­i­tary ve­hi­cle pro­duc­tion in the 1930s and 1940s, was re­cruited to run the fac­tory in 1948. In 1949, Major Hirst left the com­pany—now re-formed as a trust con­trolled by the West Ger­man gov­ern­ment and gov­ern­ment of the State of Lower Sax­ony. The “Bee­tle” sedan or “peo­ples’ car” Volk­swa­gen is the Type 1. Apart from the in­tro­duc­tion of

the Volk­swa­gen Type 2com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle (van, pick-up and camper), and

the VW Kar­mann Ghia sports car, Nord­hoff pur­sued the one-model pol­icy until shortly be­fore his death in 1968.

Volk­swa­gens were first ex­hib­ited and sold in the United States in 1949, but sold only two units in Amer­ica that first year. On entry to the U.S. mar­ket, the VW was briefly sold as a Vic­tory WagonVolk­swa­gen of Amer­ica was formed in April 1955 to stan­dard­ise sales and ser­vice in the United States. Pro­duc­tion of the Type 1 Volk­swa­gen Bee­tle in­creased dra­mat­i­cally over the years, the total reach­ing one mil­lion in 1955.

The UK’s first of­fi­cial Volk­swa­gen Im­porter, Col­borne Garages of Rip­ley, Sur­rey, started with parts for the mod­els brought home by sol­diers re­turn­ing from Germany.

Cana­dian Mo­tors, Lim­ited brought in Canada’s first ship­ment of Volk­swa­gens on 10 July 1952 (ship­ping order 143075). The order con­sisted of 12 ve­hi­cles, (3) model 11C, a black, green, and sand­color (3) 11GS, a chest­nut brown and two azure blue, (2) 24A-M51 in red, (1)21A in blue, (1) 23A in blue, (1) 22A beige color, and one ambulance. Volk­swa­gens were seen in Canada for the first time at the Cana­dian Na­tional Ex­hi­bi­tion in Au­gust 1952 and were ac­cepted en­thu­si­as­ti­cally. (At least one Type 2 bus from this order still ex­ists, and is cur­rently in France un­der­go­ing restoration). The first ship­ment for Volk­swa­gen Canada reached Toronto in early De­cem­ber 1952. (At least one Type 1 from this first ship­ment still ex­ists, and was dri­ven on a na­tion­wide tour for Volk­swa­gen Canada’s 60th year of busi­ness fes­tiv­i­ties in 2012).

By 1955, sales were on a basis that war­ranted the build­ing of the Volk­swa­gen plant on a 32-acre (130,000 m2) site on Scar­boro’s Golden Mile. To this, a 60,000-square-foot (5,600 m2) build­ing with ad­min­is­tra­tion, show­rooms, ser­vice, re­pairs and parts was built in 1957, with stor­age for $4,000,000 of parts.

In 1959, VW started pro­duc­tion at a plant near São Paulo in Brazil. Volk­swa­gen do Brasil was ac­cused of spy­ing on work­ers dur­ing the time of the mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship in the 1970´s and in­form­ing po­lice on op­po­si­tional ac­tiv­i­ties. In 1976, mass ar­rests oc­curred and some VW em­ploy­ees were tor­tured. In 1979, Brazil­ian VW work­ers trav­eled to Wolfs­burg to in­form the CEO in per­son. In 2015, ac­tivists and for­mer VW em­ploy­ees in Brazil spoke out in pub­lic ac­cused the com­pany´s si­lence about per­se­cu­tion of its work­ers. In fall 2016, VW com­mis­sioned an ex­pert re­view of the sit­u­a­tion due end of 2017.

On 22 Au­gust 1960, Volk­swa­gen­werk GmbH was re­named to Volk­swa­gen­werk AG.

Sales soared, through­out the 1960s, peak­ing at the end of the decade, thanks in part to the fa­mous ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paigns by New York ad­ver­tis­ing agency Doyle, Dane Bern­bach. Led by art di­rec­tor Hel­mut Krone, and copy­writ­ers Ju­lian Koenig and Bob Levin­son, Volk­swa­gen ad­ver­tise­ments became as pop­u­lar as the car, using crisp lay­outs and witty copy to lure the younger, so­phis­ti­cated con­sumers with whom the car be­came associated. Even though it was al­most uni­ver­sally known as the Bee­tle (or the Bug), it was never of­fi­cially la­belled as such by the man­u­fac­turer, in­stead re­ferred to as the Type 1.

Al­though the car was be­com­ing out­dated, dur­ing the 1960s and early 1970s, Amer­i­can ex­ports, in­no­v­a­tive ad­ver­tis­ing, and a grow­ing rep­u­ta­tion for re­li­a­bil­ity helped pro­duc­tion fig­ures sur­pass the lev­els of the pre­vi­ous record holder, the Ford Model T. On 17 Feb­ru­ary 1972 the 15,007,034th Bee­tle was sold. Volk­swa­gen could now claim the world pro­duc­tion record for the most-pro­duced, sin­gle make of car in his­tory. By 1973, total pro­duc­tion was over 16 mil­lion.

To com­mem­o­rate its pass­ing the Ford Model T’s record sales mark and its vic­to­ries in the Baja 1000 Mex­i­can races from 1967 to 1971, Volk­swa­gen pro­duced its first lim­ited-edi­tion Bee­tle. It was mar­keted as the “Baja Cham­pion SE” in the United States and the “Marathon” Su­per­bee­tle in the rest of the world. It fea­tured unique “Marathon Blau” metal­lic blue paint, steel-pressed 10-spoke 15-inch (38 cm) mag­ne­sium-al­loy wheels, a com­mem­o­ra­tive metal plate mounted on the glove­box and a cer­tifi­cate of au­then­tic­ity pre­sented to the orig­i­nal pur­chaser. Dealer-in­stalled op­tions for this lim­ited-edi­tion Su­per­bee­tle in­cluded the fol­low­ing: white stripes run­ning the length of the rocker-panel, a spe­cial shifter knob, bumper over­rid­ers, ta­pered ex­haust tips, fake wal­nut in­serts in the dash­board (be­hind the steer­ing wheel and the glove­box cover) as well as Bosch fog lights mounted on the front bumper.

1961–1973: Beetle to Golf

The 1961 Type 1 Bee­tle had a 36 hp 1200cc four cylin­der air-cooled flat-four op­posed OHV en­gine made of alu­minum alloy block and heads. By 1966, the Type 1 came with a 1300 en­gine. By 1967 the Type 1 had a 1500 en­gine, and 1600 in 1970. The air-cooled en­gine lost favor in the USA mar­ket with the ad­vent of non-leaded gaso­line and smog con­trols. These air-cooled en­gines were com­monly tuned to be fuel rich in order to con­trol en­gine over-heat­ing, and this led to ex­ces­sive car­bon monox­ide emis­sions. VW Pro­duc­tion equip­ment was even­tu­ally moved to Mex­ico where ve­hi­cle emis­sions were not reg­u­lated. Bee­tles were pop­u­lar on the USA West Coast where the lim­ited-ca­pac­ity cabin heat­ing was less in­con­ve­nient. Bee­tles were pop­u­lar­ized on the USA West Coast as beach bug­gies and dune bug­gies.

VW ex­panded its prod­uct line in 1961 with the in­tro­duc­tion of four Type 3 mod­els (Kar­mann Ghia, Notch­back, Fast­back, and Vari­ant) based on the new Type 3 me­chan­i­cal un­der­pin­nings. The name ‘Square­back’ was used in the U.S.A for the Vari­ant.

In 1969 the larger Type 4 (411 and 412) mod­els were in­tro­duced. These dif­fered sub­stan­tially from pre­vi­ous ve­hi­cles, with the no­table in­tro­duc­tion of mono­coque/uni­body con­struc­tion, the op­tion of a fully au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, elec­tronic fuel in­jec­tion, and a stur­dier pow­er­plant.

Volk­swa­gen added a “Super Beetle” (the Type 131) to its lineup in 1971. The Type 131 dif­fered from the stan­dard Bee­tle in its use of a MacPher­son strut front sus­pen­sion in­stead of the usual tor­sion bars. The Super Bee­tle fea­tured a new hooded, padded dash and curved wind­shield (from 1973 model year on up). Rack and pin­ion steer­ing re­placed re­cir­cu­lat­ing ball steer­ing gears in model year 1975 and up. The front of the car was stretched 2 inches (51 mm) to allow the spare tire to lie flat, and the com­bi­na­tion of these two fea­tures in­creased the us­able front lug­gage space.

In 1973, Volk­swa­gen in­tro­duced the mil­i­tary-themed Type 181, or “Trekker” in Eu­rope, “Thing” in Amer­ica, re­call­ing the wartime Type 82. The mil­i­tary ver­sion was pro­duced for the NATO-era Ger­man Army dur­ing the Cold War years of 1970 to 1979. The U.S. Thing ver­sion only sold for two years, 1973 and 1974.

VW-Werk, Wolfsburg
Montage 412
1969 VW Squareback (Type III)

In 1964, Volk­swa­gen ac­quired Auto Union, and in 1969, NSU Mo­toren­werke AG (NSU). The for­mer com­pany owned the his­toric Audi brand, which had dis­ap­peared after the Sec­ond World War. VW ul­ti­mately merged Auto Union and NSU to cre­ate the mod­ern Audi com­pany, and would go on to de­velop it as its lux­ury ve­hi­cle mar­que. The pur­chase of Auto Union and NSU was a piv­otal point in Volk­swa­gen’s his­tory, as both com­pa­nies yielded the tech­no­log­i­cal ex­per­tise that proved nec­es­sary for VW to sur­vive when de­mand for its air-cooled mod­els went into de­cline.

By late 1972, Volk­swa­gen had de­cided to can­cel the nearly fin­ished typ 266, a pro­ject for a mid-en­gined car to re­place the Bee­tle, and to focus on front-wheel-drive, wa­ter-cooled cars. Rudolf Lei­d­ing, re­cently made head of Volk­swa­gen, cited noise, heat, and ser­vic­ing prob­lems with the mid-en­gine lay­out, as well as the dif­fi­culty of mak­ing it a sta­tion wagon.

Volkswagen Passat (1973–1977 model)

Volk­swa­gen was in se­ri­ous trou­ble by 1973. The Type 3 and Type 4 mod­els had sold in much smaller num­bers than the Bee­tle and the NSU-based K70 also failed to woo buy­ers. Bee­tle sales had started to de­cline rapidly in Eu­ro­pean and North Amer­i­can mar­kets. The com­pany knew that Bee­tle pro­duc­tion had to end, but faced a co­nun­drum of how to re­place it. VW’s own­er­ship of Audi/Auto Union proved ben­e­fi­cial. Its ex­per­tise in front-wheel drive, and wa­ter-cooled en­gines would help Volk­swa­gen pro­duce a cred­i­ble Bee­tle suc­ces­sor. Audi in­flu­ences paved the way for this new gen­er­a­tion of Volk­swa­gens: the Pas­sat, Scirocco, Golf, and Polo.

First in the se­ries was the Volk­swa­gen Pas­sat (Dasher in the US), in­tro­duced in 1973, a fast­back ver­sion of the Audi 80, using many iden­ti­cal body and me­chan­i­cal parts. Es­tate/wagon ver­sions were avail­able in many mar­kets. In Eu­rope, the es­tate/wagon ver­sion dom­i­nated in mar­ket share for many years.

In spring 1974, the Scirocco fol­lowed. The coupe was de­signed by Gior­getto Giu­giaro. Based on the plat­form of the not yet re­leased Golf, it was built at Kar­mann due to ca­pac­ity con­straints at Volk­swa­gen.

The piv­otal model emerged as the Volk­swa­gen Golf in 1974, mar­keted in the United States and Canada as the Rab­bit for the 1st gen­er­a­tion (1975–1985) and 5th gen­er­a­tion (2006–2009). Its an­gu­lar styling was de­signed by the Ital­ian Gior­getto Giu­giaro). Its de­sign fol­lowed trends for small fam­ily cars set by the 1959 Mini – the Golf had a trans­versely mounted, wa­ter-cooled en­gine in the front, dri­ving the front wheels, and had a hatch­back, a for­mat that has dom­i­nated the mar­ket seg­ment ever since. Bee­tle pro­duc­tion at Wolfs­burg ended upon the Golf’s in­tro­duc­tion. It con­tin­ued in smaller num­bers at other Ger­man fac­to­ries (Hanover and Emden) until 1978, but main­stream pro­duc­tion shifted to Brazil and Mex­ico.

In 1975, the Volk­swa­gen Polo fol­lowed. It was a re-badged Audi 50, which was soon dis­con­tin­ued in 1978. The Polo be­came the base of

the Volk­swa­gen Derby, which was in­tro­duced 1977. The Derby was for all in­tents and pur­poses a three-box de­sign of the Polo. After a sec­ond model gen­er­a­tion, the Derby was dis­con­tin­ued in 1985, al­though the bodystyle lived on in the form of the polo clas­sic/polo sa­loon until 1991.

Pas­sat, Scirocco, Golf, and Polo shared many char­ac­ter defin­ing fea­tures, as well as parts and en­gines. They built the basis for Volk­swa­gen’s turn-around.

1974–1990: Product line expansion

Volkswagen Polo (1975–1979 model)

While Volk­swa­gen’s range of cars soon be­came sim­i­lar to that of other large Eu­ro­pean au­tomak­ers, the Golf has been the main­stay of the Volk­swa­gen lineup since its introduction, and the me­chan­i­cal basis for sev­eral other cars of the com­pany. There have been seven gen­er­a­tions of the Volk­swa­gen Golf, the first of which was pro­duced from the sum­mer of 1974 until the au­tumn of 1983 (sold as the Rab­bit in the United States and Canada and as the Caribe in Latin Amer­ica). Its chas­sis also spawned the Volk­swa­gen Scirocco sport coupeVolk­swa­gen Jetta sa­loon/sedan, Volk­swa­gen Golf Cabri­o­let con­vert­ible, and Volk­swa­gen Caddy pick-up. North Amer­i­can pro­duc­tion of the Rab­bit com­menced at the Volk­swa­gen West­more­land As­sem­bly Plant near New Stan­ton, Penn­syl­va­nia in 1978. It would be pro­duced in the United States as the Rab­bit until the spring of 1984.The sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Golf hatch­back/Jetta sedan ran from Oc­to­ber 1983 until the au­tumn of 1991, and a North Amer­i­can ver­sion pro­duced at West­more­land As­sem­bly went on sale at the start of the 1985 model year. The pro­duc­tion num­bers of the first-gen­er­a­tion Golf has con­tin­ued to grow an­nu­ally in South Africa as

the Citi Golf, with only minor mod­i­fi­ca­tions to the in­te­rior, en­gine and chas­sis, using tool­ing re­lo­cated from the New Stan­ton, Penn­syl­va­nia plant when that site began to build the Sec­ond Gen­er­a­tion car.

In the 1980s, Volk­swa­gen’s sales in the United States and Canada fell dra­mat­i­cally, de­spite the suc­cess of mod­els like the Golf else­where. The Japan­ese and the Amer­i­cans were able to com­pete with sim­i­lar prod­ucts at lower prices. Sales in the United States were 293,595 in 1980, but by 1984 they were down to 177,709. The in­tro­duc­tion of the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Golf, GTI and Jetta mod­els helped Volk­swa­gen briefly in North Amer­ica. Motor Trend named the GTI its Car of the Year for 1985, and Volk­swa­gen rose in the J.D. Power buyer sat­is­fac­tion rat­ings to eighth place in 1985, up from 22nd a year earlier. VW’s Amer­i­can sales broke 200,000 in 1985 and 1986 be­fore re­sum­ing the down­ward trend from ear­lier in the decade. Chair­man Carl Hahn de­cided to ex­pand the com­pany else­where (mostly in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries), and the New Stan­ton, Penn­syl­va­nia fac­tory closed on 14 July 1988. Mean­while, four years after sign­ing a co­op­er­a­tion agree­ment with the Span­ish car maker SEAT in 1982, Hahn ex­panded the com­pany by pur­chas­ing a ma­jor­ity share of SEAT up to 75% by the end of 1986, which VW bought out­right in 1990. On 4 July 1985, Volk­swa­gen­werk AG was re­named to Volk­swa­gen AG.

Volk­swa­gen en­tered the su­per­mini mar­ket in 1975 with the Volk­swa­gen Polo, a styl­ish and spa­cious three-door hatch­back de­signed by Bertone. It was a strong seller in West Ger­many and most of the rest of West­ern Eu­rope, being one of the first for­eign small cars to prove pop­u­lar in Britain. It had started out in 1974 as the Audi 50, which was only avail­able in cer­tain mar­kets and was less pop­u­lar. The Polo en­tered a mar­ket sec­tor al­ready being dom­i­nated by the Fiat 127 and Re­nault 5, and which be­fore long would also in­clude the Austin Metro and Ford Fi­esta.

In 1981, the sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion Polo launched and sold as a hatch­back and “coupe” (with the hatch­back re­sem­bling a small es­tate car and the coupe being sim­i­lar to a con­ven­tional hatch­back), was an even greater suc­cess for Volkswagen. Its prac­ti­cal­ity, de­spite the lack of a five-door ver­sion, helped en­sure even stronger sales than its pre­de­ces­sor, and it con­tin­ued to sell well after a makeover in 1990, fi­nally being re­placed by an all-new ver­sion in 1994. Also ar­riv­ing in 1981 were the sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of the larger Pas­sat and a sec­ond gen­er­a­tion of the Volk­swa­gen Scirocco coupe. The orig­i­nal Scirocco had been launched in 1974 to com­pete with af­ford­able four-seater coupes like the Ford Capri.

In 1983 the MK2 Golf was launched. At the be­gin­ning of 1988, the third gen­er­a­tion Pas­sat was the next major car launch and Volk­swa­gen did not pro­duce a hatch­back ver­sion of this Pas­sat, de­spite the ris­ing pop­u­lar­ity of the hatch­back bodystyle through­out Eu­rope. Just after launch­ing the B3 Pas­sat, Volk­swa­gen launched the Cor­rado, re­place­ment for the Scirocco, al­though the Scirocco re­mained in pro­duc­tion until 1992.


Volkswagen Golf, in North American form

In 1991, Volk­swa­gen launched the third-gen­er­a­tion Golf, which was Eu­ro­pean Car of the Year for 1992. The Golf Mk3 and Jetta ar­rived in North Amer­ica in 1993. The sedan ver­sion of the Golf was badged Vento in Eu­rope, but re­mained Jetta in the U.S. The Scirocco and the later Cor­rado were both Golf-based coupés.

In 1994, Volk­swa­gen un­veiled the J Mays-de­signed Con­cept One, a “retro”-themed con­cept car with a re­sem­blance to the orig­i­nal Bee­tle, based on the plat­form of the Polo. Due to a pos­i­tive re­sponse to the con­cept, a pro­duc­tion ver­sion was de­vel­oped as the New Bee­tle, based on the Golf’s larger platform.

In 1995 the Sha­ran was launched in Eu­rope, the re­sult of a joint ven­ture with Ford, which also re­sulted in the Ford Galaxy and SEAT Al­ham­bra.

The com­pany’s evo­lu­tion of its model range was con­tin­ued with the Golf Mk4, in­tro­duced at the end of 1997 (and in North Amer­ica in 1999), its chas­sis spawned a host of other cars within the Volk­swa­gen Group; the Volk­swa­gen Bora (the sedan called Jetta in the U.S.), SEAT Toledo, SEAT León, Audi A3Audi TT, and Škoda Oc­tavia. Other main mod­els dur­ing the decade in­clude the Polo, a smaller car than the Golf, and the larger Pas­sat for the seg­ment above the Golf.

In 1998 the com­pany launched the new Lupo city car. In 1999 they an­nounced the first “3-litre” car, a light­weight ver­sion of the Lupo that could travel 100 km with only 3-litres of diesel—mak­ing it the world’s most fuel ef­fi­cient car at the time.

2000–present: Further expansion

The fifth generation Volkswagen Jetta

Volk­swa­gen began in­tro­duc­ing an array of new mod­els after Bernd Pis­chet­srieder be­came Volk­swa­gen Group CEO (re­spon­si­ble for all Group brands) in 2002. The sixth-gen­er­a­tion VW Golf was launched in 2008, came run­ner-up to the Opel/Vaux­hall In­signia in the 2009 Eu­ro­pean Car of the Year, and has spawned sev­eral cousins: VW JettaVW Scirocco, SEAT León, SEAT Toledo, Škoda Oc­tavia and Audi A3 hatch­back ranges, as well as a new mini-MPV, the SEAT Altea. The GTI, a “hot hatch” per­for­mance ver­sion of the Golf, boasts a 2.0 L Tur­bocharged Fuel Strat­i­fied In­jec­tion (FSI) di­rect in­jec­tion en­gine. VW began mar­ket­ing the Golf under the Rab­bit name once again in the U.S. and Canada in 2006.

The sixth-gen­er­a­tion Pas­sat and the fifth-gen­er­a­tion Jetta both de­buted in 2005, and VW an­nounced plans to ex­pand its lineup fur­ther by bring­ing back the Scirocco by 2008. Other mod­els in Wolf­gang Bern­hard‘s (Volk­swa­gen brand CEO) “prod­uct of­fen­sive” in­clude the Tiguan mid-sized SUV in 2008 and a Pas­sat Coupé. In No­vem­ber 2006 Bernd Pis­chet­srieder an­nounced his res­ig­na­tion as Volk­swa­gen Group CEO, and was re­placed by Audi world­wide CEO Mar­tin Win­terkorn at the be­gin­ning of 2007.

The third generation Volkswagen Scirocco

Volk­swa­gen in 2005 main­tained North Amer­i­can sales of 224,195. Mo­men­tum con­tin­ued for fis­cal 2006, as VW’s North Amer­i­can sales for the year were 235,140 ve­hi­cles, a 4.9 per­cent in­crease over 2005, de­spite a slump in do­mes­tic North Amer­i­can man­u­fac­turer’s sales. In con­junc­tion with the in­tro­duc­tion of new mod­els, pro­duc­tion lo­ca­tion of Volk­swa­gen ve­hi­cles also un­der­went great change. The 2007 Eos, a hard­top con­vert­ible, is pro­duced in a new fa­cil­ity in Por­tu­gal. All Golfs/Rab­bits and GTIs as of 2006 are man­u­fac­tured in Wolfs­burg, Ger­many, rather than VW’s Mex­i­can fac­tory in Puebla, where Golfs and GTIs for the North Amer­i­can mar­ket were pro­duced from 1989 to 1998, and the Brazil­ian fac­tory in Cu­ritiba, where Golfs and GTIs were pro­duced from 1999 to 2006 (the Jetta has pri­mar­ily been made in Mex­ico since 1989). VW is also in the process of re­con­fig­ur­ing an au­to­mo­tive as­sem­bly plant in Bel­gium. The new mod­els and in­vest­ments in man­u­fac­tur­ing im­prove­ments were no­ticed im­me­di­ately by au­to­mo­tive crit­ics. Fa­vor­able re­views for VW’s newest cars in­clude the GTI being named by Con­sumer Re­ports as the top sporty car under $25,000, one of Car and Dri­ver mag­a­zine’s “10 Best” for 2007, Au­to­mo­bile Mag­a­zine’s 2007 Car of the Year, as well as a 2008 Motor Trend com­par­i­son rank­ing the mid-size Pas­sat first in its class.

The seventh generation Volkswagen Golf

Volk­swa­gen part­nered with Daim­ler AG and other com­pa­nies to mar­ket the BlueTec clean dieseltech­nol­ogy on cars and trucks from Mer­cedes-Benz, Volk­swa­gen, and other com­pa­nies and brands. Ac­cord­ing to the United States En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, four of the ten most fuel-ef­fi­cient ve­hi­cles avail­able for sale in the U.S. are pow­ered by Volk­swa­gen diesel engines. Volk­swa­gen has of­fered a num­ber of its ve­hi­cles with a TDI (Tur­bocharged Di­rect In­jec­tion) en­gine, which lends class-lead­ing fuel econ­omy to sev­eral mod­els. They were a three-way tie for 8th (TDI Bee­tle, TDI Golf, TDI Jetta) and ninth, the TDI Jetta Wagon. In ad­di­tion, all Volk­swa­gen TDI diesel en­gines pro­duced from 1996 to 2006 can be dri­ven on 100% biodiesel fuel. For the 2007 model year, how­ever, strict U.S. gov­ern­ment emis­sions reg­u­la­tions have forced VW to drop most diesels from their U.S. en­gine lineup, but a new lineup of diesel en­gines com­pat­i­ble to U.S. stan­dards re­turned to the Amer­i­can mar­ket start­ing with Model Year 2009. These post-2009 Clean Diesel en­gines are lim­ited to run­ning on 5% (B5) biodiesel only to main­tain Volk­swa­gen’s war­ranty. Volk­swa­gen long re­sisted adding a SUV to its lineup, but re­lented with the in­tro­duc­tion of

the Touareg, made in part­ner­ship with Porsche, while they worked on the Porsche Cayenne and later the Audi Q7. Though ac­claimed as a fine han­dling ve­hi­cle, the Touareg has been a mod­est seller at best, and it has been crit­i­cised by auto re­view­ers for its ab­sence of a third-row seat, the rel­a­tively poor fuel econ­omy, and the high ve­hi­cle mass. VW set plans to add a com­pact SUV with styling in­flu­ences from the “Con­cept A” con­cept ve­hi­cle in­tro­duced at the 2006 Geneva Auto Show, and on 20 July 2006, VW an­nounced that the new ve­hi­cle, called

the Tiguan.

Since the dis­con­tin­u­ance of the T4 in 2003 and de­ci­sion not to bring the T5 to the US mar­ket, Volk­swa­gen, iron­i­cally, lacked a van in its North Amer­i­can lineup. To change this, Volk­swa­gen launched the Volk­swa­gen Routan, a badge-en­gi­neered Dodge Grand Car­a­van made for the Amer­i­can and Cana­dian mar­kets, in 2008.

In Sep­tem­ber 2006, Volk­swa­gen began of­fer­ing the City Golf and City Jetta only for the Cana­dian mar­ket. Both mod­els were orig­i­nally the Mk4 Golf and Jetta but were later re­placed with the Brazil­ian ver­sions of the Golf Mk4 and Bora. Volk­swa­gen’s in­tro­duc­tion of such mod­els is seen as a test of the mar­ket for a sub­com­pact and, if suc­cess­ful, may be the be­gin­nings of a thriv­ing sub­com­pact mar­ket for Volk­swa­gen.

In May 2011, Volk­swa­gen com­pleted Chat­tanooga As­sem­bly in the US state of Ten­nessee. The fa­cil­ity has pro­duced Volk­swa­gen cars and SUVs specif­i­cally de­signed for North Amer­i­can mar­kets, be­gin­ning with the Pas­sat B7 in 2011. The com­pany re­cently an­nounced plans to ex­pand fur­ther by in­vest­ing $900 mil­lion to add floor space to the factory.

The VW XL1 began a lim­ited pro­duc­tion run in 2013. The XL1 is a light­weight and fuel ef­fi­cient two-per­son ve­hi­cle (only 795 kg).

The Volk­swa­gen Atlas (a large crossover SUV) be­gins pro­duc­tion in late 2016, and aims to help end sev­eral years of losses for Volk­swa­gen in the US, the world’s sec­ond-largest auto market.

On 14 Sep­tem­ber 2016, Volk­swa­gen an­nounced its part­ner­ship with three Is­raeli cy­ber­se­cu­rity ex­perts to cre­ate a new com­pany, Cy­mo­tive, ded­i­cated to au­to­mo­tive security.

VW calls their shift to­wards elec­tric ve­hi­cles “Trans­form 2025+”. As part of the strat­egy, VW aims to launch more than 30 elec­tric ve­hi­cles until 2025, and is an­tic­i­pat­ing yearly sales of 2 to 3 mil­lion elec­tric VW cars by 2025, which would make up 20 to 25 per­cent of their total yearly sales volume. In Sep­tem­ber 2017, CEO Matthias Mueller an­nounced plans to have elec­tric ver­sion of all of VW’s 300 au­to­mo­tive mod­els by 2030. The com­pany vows to spend 20 bil­lion euros by 2030 to roll out the cars and des­ig­nated an­other 50 bil­lion euros to buy the bat­ter­ies needed to power the vehicles.

In April 2018, Volk­swa­gen has fi­nally whipped the cov­ers of its first all-elec­tric race car, the I.D. R Pikes Peak, which has been built to con­quer the road race of the same name. The I.D. R Pikes Peak was un­veiled in Alès, France, and should be ready to roll in two short months. It will be pow­ered by twin en­gines, though this time around they’ll be strictly elec­tric. With a lithium-ion bat­tery sys­tem on board, the car gen­er­ates 680 hp and 479 lb-ft of torque.


Volk­swa­gen is the found­ing and name­sake mem­ber of the Volk­swa­gen Group, a large in­ter­na­tional cor­po­ra­tion in charge of mul­ti­ple car and truck brands, in­clud­ing AudiSEATPorscheLam­borgh­iniBent­leyBugattiSca­niaMAN, and Škoda. Volk­swa­gen Group’s global head­quar­ters are lo­cated in Volk­swa­gen’s his­toric home of Wolfs­burg, Germany.

Volk­swa­gen Group, as a unit, is Eu­rope’s largest automaker. For a long time, Volk­swa­gen has had a mar­ket share over 20 percent.

In 2010, Volk­swa­gen posted record sales of 6.29 mil­lion ve­hi­cles, with its global mar­ket share at 11.4%. In 2008, Volk­swa­gen be­came the third largest au­tomaker in the world, and, as of 2012, Volk­swa­gen is the sec­ond largest man­u­fac­turer worldwide. Volk­swa­gen has aimed to dou­ble its US mar­ket share from 2% to 4% in 2014, and is aim­ing to be­come, sus­tain­ably, the world’s largest car maker by 2018. Volk­swa­gen Group’s core mar­kets in­clude Ger­many and China.

Worldwide presence

Volk­swa­gen has fac­to­ries in many parts of the world, man­u­fac­tur­ing or as­sem­bling ve­hi­cles for local mar­kets. In ad­di­tion to plants in Ger­many, Volk­swa­gen has man­u­fac­tur­ing or as­sem­bly fa­cil­i­ties in Mex­ico, the US, Slo­va­kia, China, India, Indonesia, Rus­sia, Malaysia, Brazil, Ar­gentina, Por­tu­gal, Spain, Poland, the Czech Re­pub­lic, Bosnia and Herze­gov­ina, Kenya and South Africa. In 2011, Volk­swa­gen was named in the top 25 largest com­pa­nies in the world by the Forbes Global 2000.

Volk­swa­gen is set­ting up a new fac­tory in West Java, In­done­sia, which started con­struc­tion in mid-2013. The in­vest­ment into the new plant, which will pro­duce large trans­porters and mul­ti­vans, is val­ued at $140 mil­lion.

As of May 2014, Volk­swa­gen is plan­ning to start as­sem­bling cer­tain en­gines in India to in­crease lo­cal­i­sa­tion from 70% to 90%.

In Jan­u­ary 2016, Volk­swa­gen an­nounced launch­ing a new fac­tory in Al­ge­ria dur­ing a sum­mit be­tween An­gela Merkel and Al­ger­ian prime min­is­ter Ab­del­malek Sel­lal.

Work–life balance

Volk­swa­gen agreed in De­cem­ber 2011 to im­ple­ment a rule passed by the com­pany’s works coun­cil aimed at im­prov­ing work–life bal­anceby re­strict­ing com­pany email func­tion­al­ity on the firm’s Black­Berry smart­phones from 6:30 pm to 7:30 am. The change was a re­sponse to em­ploy­ees’ com­plaints about high stress lev­els at work and the ex­pec­ta­tion that em­ploy­ees would im­me­di­ately an­swer af­ter-hours email from home. About 1,150 of Volk­swa­gen’s more than 190,000 em­ploy­ees are af­fected by the email restriction.

Relationship with Porsche and the Volkswagen Law

Volk­swa­gen has al­ways had a close re­la­tion­ship with Porsche, the Zuf­fen­hausen-based sports car man­u­fac­turer founded in 1931 by Fer­di­nand Porsche, the orig­i­nal Volk­swa­gen de­signer and Volk­swa­gen com­pany co-founder, hired by Adolf Hitler for the pro­ject. The first Porsche car, the Porsche 64 of 1938, used many com­po­nents from the Volk­swa­gen Bee­tle. The 1948 Porsche 356 con­tin­ued using many Volk­swa­gen com­po­nents, in­clud­ing a tuned en­gine, gear­box and sus­pen­sion.

The two com­pa­nies con­tin­ued their col­lab­o­ra­tion in 1969 to make the VW-Porsche 914 and Porsche 914-6. (The 914-6 had a 6-cylin­der Porsche en­gine, and the stan­dard 914 had a Volk­swa­gen en­gine.) Volk­swa­gen and Porsche would col­lab­o­rate again in 1976 on the Porsche 912-E (USA only) and the Porsche 924, which used many Audi com­po­nents and was built at Audi’s Neckar­sulm fa­cil­i­ties. The 924 was orig­i­nally des­ig­nated for AUDI. Most Porsche 944 mod­els were built there, al­though they used far fewer VW com­po­nents.

The Porsche Cayenne, in­tro­duced in 2002, shares its en­tire chas­sis with the Volk­swa­gen Touareg and Audi Q7, and is built at the same Volk­swa­gen fac­tory in Bratislava that the other SUV’s are built.

In Sep­tem­ber 2005, Porsche an­nounced it would in­crease its 5% stake in Volk­swa­gen to 20% at a cost of €3 bil­lion, with the in­ten­tion that the com­bined stakes of Porsche and the gov­ern­ment of Lower Sax­ony would en­sure that any hos­tile takeover by for­eign in­vestors would be impossible. Spec­u­lated suit­ors in­cluded Daim­ler­ChryslerBMW, and Re­nault. In July 2006, Porsche in­creased their own­er­ship again to 25.1%.

On 4 March 2005, the Eu­ro­pean Com­mis­sion brought an ac­tion against the Fed­eral Re­pub­lic of Ger­many be­fore the Eu­ro­pean Court of Jus­tice, claim­ing that the Volk­swa­gen Law, which pre­vents any share­holder in Volk­swa­gen from ex­e­cut­ing more than 20% of the total vot­ing rights in the firm, was il­le­gally re­strict­ing the flow of cap­i­tal in Europe. On 13 Feb­ru­ary 2007, Ad­vo­cate Gen­eral Dámaso Ruiz-Jarabo Colomer sub­mit­ted an opin­ion to the court in sup­port of the action. This again opened the pos­si­bil­ity of a hos­tile takeover of VW and so on 26 March of the same year Porsche took its hold­ing of Volk­swa­gen shares to 30.9%. Porsche for­mally an­nounced in a press state­ment that it did not in­tend to take over Volk­swa­gen, but in­tended the move to avoid a com­peti­tor’s tak­ing a large stake and to stop hedge funds from dis­man­tling VW. As ex­pected, on 22 Oc­to­ber 2007, the Eu­ro­pean Court of Jus­tice ruled in agree­ment with Ruiz-Jarabo and the law was struck down. In Oc­to­ber 2007, the Eu­ro­pean Court of Jus­tice ruled that the VW law was illegal be­cause it was pro­tec­tion­ist. At that time, Porsche held 31% of VW shares — al­though a smaller pro­por­tion of vot­ing rights, due to the Volk­swa­gen Law — and there had been spec­u­la­tion that Porsche would be in­ter­ested in tak­ing over VW if the law did not stand in its way. The court also pre­vented the gov­ern­ment from ap­point­ing Volk­swa­gen board members. The Ger­man gov­ern­ment then rewrote the Volk­swa­gen law, only to be sued again. In Oc­to­ber 2013, the EU Court of Jus­tice in Lux­em­bourg ruled that the rewrit­ten Volk­swa­gen law “com­plied in full” with EU rules.

On 26 Oc­to­ber 2008, Porsche re­vealed its plan to as­sume con­trol of VW. As of that day, it held 42.6% of Volk­swa­gen’s or­di­nary shares and stock op­tions on an­other 31.5%. Com­bined with the state of Lower Sax­ony’s 20.1% stake, this left only 5.8% of shares on the mar­ket—mostly with index funds that could not legally sell. Hedge funds des­per­ate to cover their short po­si­tions forced Volk­swa­gen stock above one thou­sand euros per share, briefly mak­ing it the world’s largest com­pany by mar­ket cap­i­tal­i­sa­tion on 28 Oc­to­ber 2008. By Jan­u­ary 2009, Porsche had a 50.76% hold­ing in Volk­swa­gen AG, al­though the “Volk­swa­gen Law” pre­vented it from tak­ing con­trol of the company.

On 6 May 2009, the two com­pa­nies de­cided to join to­gether, in a merger.

On 13 Au­gust, Volk­swa­gen Ak­tienge­sellschaft’s Su­per­vi­sory Board signed the agree­ment to cre­ate an in­te­grated au­to­mo­tive group with Porsche led by Volk­swa­gen. The ini­tial de­ci­sion was for Volk­swa­gen to take a 42.0% stake in Porsche AG by the end of 2009, and it would also see the fam­ily share­hold­ers sell­ing the au­to­mo­bile trad­ing busi­ness of Porsche Hold­ing Salzburg to Volkswagen. In Oc­to­ber 2009 how­ever, Volk­swa­gen an­nounced that its per­cent­age in Porsche would be 49.9% for a cost of €3.9 bil­lion (the 42.0% deal would have cost €3.3 bil­lion). On 1 March 2011, Volk­swa­gen has fi­nal­ized the pur­chase of Porsche Hold­ing Salzburg (PHS), Aus­tria’s lead­ing spe­cialty au­to­mo­bile dis­trib­u­tor, for €3.3 bil­lion ($4.55 bil­lion).


Since 1985, Volk­swa­gen has run the Volk­swa­gen Au­to­Mu­seum in Wolfs­burg, a mu­seum ded­i­cated specif­i­cally to the his­tory of Volkswagen. In ad­di­tion to vis­it­ing ex­hibits in per­son, own­ers of vin­tage Volk­swa­gens any­where in the world may order what the mu­seum refers to as a “Birth Cer­tifi­cate” for a set fee of €50—this for­mal “Zer­ti­fikat” in­di­cates basic in­for­ma­tion known at the time of man­u­fac­ture (col­ors, op­tions, port of des­ti­na­tion, etc.).

Global sales figures, 2006-2016

Year Global sales (in millions)
2006 5.7
2007 6.2
2008 6.3
2009 6.3
2010 7.3
2011 8.4
2012 9.3
2013 9.7
2014 10.2
2015 10.0
2016 10.3

Current models

2012 Volkswagen up! (AA MY13) 5-door hatchback (2015-11-11) 01

Up!           City Car        Hatchback

2014-present Volkswagen Gol Mk6 Sedan

Gol        City Car       Hatchback  –  Sedan  –  Coupé Utility

2017 VW Ameo rear view

Ameo       City Car      Sedan

2015 Volkswagen Fox in Punta del Este 01

Fox (South America)      Supermini        Hatchback  –  Estate

2005-2010 Volkswagen Polo IV (9N3) GTI 3-door hatchback

Polo       Supermini       Hatchback  –  Coupé  –  Estate

2015 Vento Highline

Vento      Subcompact car     Sedan

2012 Volkswagen Beetle

Beetle       Small family car        Hatchback  –  Convertible

2017 VW Golf Variant 1.4 TSI BlueMotion Technology Highline (VII, Facelift)

Golf     Small family car     Hatchback  –  Estate  –  Convertible

2018 VW Jetta VII P4220677
Jetta     Small family car    Sedan
2017 Volkswagen Arteon SCR 4MOTION R-Line 2.0 Front
Arteon     Large family car      Sedan2014 VW Passat B8 Limousine 2.0 TDI Highline
Passat      Large family car     Sedan

GTI models

Polo GTI     Supermini      Hatchback

2015 Volkswagen Golf GTi (16460156619)

Golf GTI     Small family car     Hatchback

Electric models

GTE models

GTE are plug-in hy­brid elec­tric ve­hi­cles The GTE’s en­gine, elec­tric motor, and trans­mis­sion are fully shared with the Audi A3 Sport­back e-tron:

2015 Black VW Golf GTE charging

Golf GTE     Small family car    Hatchback     1.4l and an electric motor can travel for a full 50km on electricity only

2014 Volkswagen Passat GTE Variant – Mondial de l’Automobile de Paris

Passat GTE     Large family car     Estate


VW e-mod­els are all-elec­tric ve­hi­cles.

Volkswagen e-up! at Hannover Messe


2013 VW e-Golf LA Auto Show


R models

R mod­els are ex­otic and sport ve­hi­cles.

2014 VW Golf R (VII)

Golf R     Small sports car     Hatchback

2015 Volkswagen Scirocco R (15977639104)

Scirocco R      Small sports car      Coupé

Historic models

Kübelwagen         1940–1945

Schwimmwagen         1942-1944

Sedan, ”Beetle, Bug”           1938 – 2003

Karmann Ghia          1955–1974
1500/1600          1961–1973
181         1969–1983
Country Buggy          1967–1969
411          1968–1972
K70        1970–1974
412           1972–1974
Scirocco         1974–1981
Derby          1977–1981
Corrado        1988–1995

Vw lupo v sst

Lupo          1998–2004

2006-2007 Volkswagen New Beetle

New Beetle          1998–2010
Golf +         2004-2009
2009 Volkswagen Routan SE
Routan           2009-2013
2012 Volkswagen Eos — 04-01-2011 1
Eos          2006-2015
Phaeton          2003-2016
CC         2008-2017

Electric and alternative fuel vehicles

Neat ethanol vehicles

Industriemesse Hannover 1978
Staatssekretär Erwin Stahl besichtigt den Innovationsmarkt
VW neat ethanol prototype car developed by Volkswagen do Brasil in 1978.

Volk­swa­gen do Brasil pro­duced and sold neat ethanol-pow­ered, (E100 only), ve­hi­cles in Brazil, and pro­duc­tion was dis­con­tin­ued only after they were sup­planted by more mod­ern Flex Fuel tech­nol­ogy. As a re­sponse to the 1973 oil cri­sis, the Brazil­ian gov­ern­ment began pro­mot­ing bioethanol as a fuel, and the Na­tional Al­co­hol Pro­gram –Pró-Álcool– (Por­tuguesePro­grama Na­ci­onal do Álcool) was launched in 1975. Com­pelled by the 1979 en­ergy cri­sis, and after de­vel­op­ment and test­ing with gov­ern­ment fleets by the CTA at São José dos Cam­pos, and fur­ther test­ing of sev­eral pro­to­types de­vel­oped by the four local car­mak­ers, in­clud­ing Volk­swa­gen do Brasil, neat ethanol ve­hi­cles were launched in the Brazil­ian market. Gaso­line en­gines were mod­i­fied to sup­port hy­drous ethanol char­ac­ter­is­tics and changes in­cluded com­pres­sion ratio, amount of fuel in­jected, re­place­ment of ma­te­ri­als that would get cor­roded by the con­tact with ethanol, use of colder spark plugs suit­able for dis­si­pat­ing heat due to higher flame tem­per­a­tures, and an aux­il­iary cold-start sys­tem that in­jects gaso­line from a small tank in the en­gine com­part­ment to help start­ing when cold. Within six years, around 75% of all Brazil­ian pas­sen­ger cars were man­u­fac­tured with ethanol engines.

Pro­duc­tion and sales of neat ethanol ve­hi­cles tum­bled be­gin­ning in 1987 owing to sev­eral fac­tors, in­clud­ing a sharp de­cline in gaso­line prices as a re­sult of the 1980s oil glut, and high sugar prices in the world mar­ket, shift­ing sug­ar­cane ethanol pro­duc­tion from fuel to sugar. By mid-1989, a short­age of ethanol fuel sup­ply in the local mar­ket left thou­sands of ve­hi­cles in line at gas sta­tions or out of fuel in their garages, forc­ing con­sumers to aban­don ethanol vehicles.

Flexible-fuel vehicles

The 2003 VW Gol 1.6 Total Flex was the first full flex­i­ble-fuel ve­hi­cle launched in Brazil, ca­pa­ble of run­ning on any blend of gaso­line and E100. In March of that year, on its fifti­eth an­niver­sary, Volk­swa­gen do Brasil launched in the local mar­ket the Gol 1.6 Total Flex, the first Brazil­ian com­mer­cial flex­i­ble fuel ve­hi­cle ca­pa­ble of run­ning on any mix of E20-E25 gaso­line and up to 100% hy­drousethanol fuel (E100). After the neat ethanol fi­asco, con­sumer con­fi­dence in ethanol-pow­ered ve­hi­cles was re­stored, al­low­ing a rapid adop­tion of the flex tech­nol­ogy. This was fa­cil­i­tated by the fuel dis­tri­b­u­tion in­fra­struc­ture al­ready in place through­out Brazil, with more than 30 thou­sand fu­el­ing sta­tions, a her­itage of the Pró-Álcool pro­gram

Owing to the suc­cess and rapid con­sumer ac­cep­tance of the flex-fuel ver­sions, by 2005 VW had sold 293,523 flex-fuel cars and light-duty trucks, and only 53,074 gaso­line-only automobiles, jump­ing to 525,838 flex-fuel ve­hi­cles and only 13,572 gaso­line-only cars and 248 gaso­line-only light trucks in 2007, and reach­ing new car sales of 564,959 flex-fuel ve­hi­cles in 2008, rep­re­sent­ing 96% of all new cars and light-duty trucks sold in that year. VW do Brasil stopped man­u­fac­tur­ing gaso­line-only ve­hi­cles mod­els for the local mar­ket in 2006, and all of the re­main­ing gaso­line-only Volk­swa­gen mod­els sold in Brazil are im­ported. The flex-fuel mod­els cur­rently pro­duced for the local mar­ket are the Gol, Fox, Cross­Fox, Parati, Polo Hatch, Polo Sedan, Saveiro, Golf, and Kombi. By March 2009, Volk­swa­gen do Brasil had at­tained the mile­stone mark of two mil­lion flex-fuel ve­hi­cles pro­duced since 2003.

Hybrid vehicles

The Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid gets 48 mpg highway.

Volk­swa­gen and Sanyo have teamed up to de­velop a bat­tery sys­tem for hy­brid cars. Volk­swa­gen head Mar­tin Win­terkorn has con­firmed the com­pany plans to build com­pact hy­brid elec­tric ve­hi­cles. He has stated “There will def­i­nitely be com­pact hy­brid mod­els, such as Polo and Golf, and with­out any great delay”, with gaso­line and diesel power. For ex­am­ple, Golf is the ideal model to go hy­brid as the Golf 1.4 TSI was re­cently awarded the “Auto En­vi­ron­ment Cer­tifi­cate” by the Oko-Trend In­sti­tute for En­vi­ron­men­tal Re­search, and was con­sid­ered as one of the most en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly ve­hi­cles of 2007. Also un­der­way at Volk­swa­gen’s Braun­schweig R&D fa­cil­i­ties in North­ern Ger­many is a hy­brid ver­sion of the next-gen­er­a­tion Touareg.

VW in­tends all fu­ture mod­els to have the hy­brid op­tion. “Fu­ture VW mod­els will fun­da­men­tally also be con­structed with hy­brid con­cepts,” VW head of de­vel­op­ment Ul­rich Hack­en­berg told Au­to­mo­bil­woche in an in­ter­view. Hack­en­berg men­tioned that the car based on the Up! con­cept seen at Frank­furt Motor Show, as well as all fu­ture mod­els, could be of­fered with ei­ther full or par­tial hy­brid op­tions. The rear-en­gine up! will go into pro­duc­tion in 2011. Noth­ing has been said about plug-in hy­brid op­tions.

Volk­swa­gen an­nounced at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show the launch of the 2012 Touareg Hy­brid, sched­uled for 2011. VW also an­nounced plans to in­tro­duce diesel-elec­tric hy­brid ver­sions of its most pop­u­lar mod­els in 2012, be­gin­ning with the new Jetta, fol­lowed by the Golf Hy­brid in 2013 to­gether with hy­brid ver­sions of the Pas­sat. In 2012, the Volk­swa­gen Jetta Hy­brid set the world record to be­come the fastest hy­brid car at 187 mph.

Plug-in electric vehicles

In No­vem­ber 2009, Volk­swa­gen an­nounced it has hired Karl-Thomas Neu­mann as its group chief of­fi­cer for elec­tric trac­tion. VW’s Chief of re­search, Jürgen Leo­hold, said in 2010 the com­pany has con­cluded hy­dro­gen fuel-cell cars are not a vi­able option.

As of May 2016, the Volk­swa­gen Group of­fers for re­tails cus­tomers nine plug-in elec­tric cars, of which, three are all-elec­tric cars: the Volk­swa­gen e-Up!e-Golf and Audi R8 e-tron, and six are plug-in hy­brids: the Volk­swa­gen Golf GTEPas­sat GTEAudi A3 Sport­back e-tronQ7 e-tron quat­troPorsche Panam­era S E-Hy­brid and Cayenne S E-Hy­brid. Also two lim­ited pro­duc­tion plug-in hy­brids were man­u­fac­tured be­gin­ning in 2013, the Volk­swa­gen XL1 (250 units) and the Porsche 918 Spy­der (918 units). Total cu­mu­la­tive sales of all Volk­swa­gen brand elec­tri­fied cars since the start of their re­spec­tive pro­duc­tion is ex­pected to reach about 103,000 by the end of 2016.

In order to com­ply with in­creas­ingly strict car­bon diox­ide emis­sion lim­its in major mar­kets, the VW Group ex­pects to sell about one mil­lion all-elec­tric and plug-in hy­brid ve­hi­cles a year world­wide by 2025. The Group plans to ex­pand its plug-in range with 20 new pure elec­tric and plug-in hy­brid cars, in­clud­ing two cars to com­pete with Tesla Mo­tors, the Porsche Mis­sion E all-elec­tric car and the Audi e-tron quat­tro, which is ex­pected to be­come the brand’s first mass pro­duc­tion elec­tric ve­hi­cle. Ac­cord­ing to Thomas Ul­brich, VW brand pro­duc­tion chief, the car­maker has ca­pacitty to build as many as 75,000 bat­tery elec­tric and plug-in hy­brids a year if de­mand rises. Volk­swa­gen an­nounced in Oc­to­ber 2015 that “it will de­velop a mod­u­lar ar­chi­tec­ture for bat­tery elec­tric cars, called the MEB. The stan­dard­ized sys­tem will be de­signed for all body struc­tures and ve­hi­cle types and will allow the com­pany to build emo­tion­ally ap­peal­ing EVs with a range of up to 310 mi (500 km).” In June 2016, VW launched a pro­gram to de­velop 30 all-elec­tric cars in 10 years, and sell 2-3 mil­lion elec­tric cars per year by 2025. Due to lower man­power re­quire­ments for elec­tric mo­tors than for pis­ton en­gines, VW ex­pects a grad­ual work­force re­duc­tion as num­bers of elec­tric cars increase. VW con­sid­ers bat­tery fac­tory own­er­ship as too expensive.

Environmental record

The Volkswagen XL1, with potential mileage as high as 261 mpg, is the most fuel-efficient car in the world

In 1974 Volk­swa­gen paid a $120,000 fine to set­tle a com­plaint filed by the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency over the use of so-called “de­feat de­vices” that dis­abled cer­tain pol­lu­tion-con­trol sys­tems. The com­plaint said the use of the de­vices vi­o­lated the U.S. Clean Air Act.

In 1996, Volk­swa­gen first im­ple­mented its seven en­vi­ron­men­tal goals in Tech­ni­cal De­vel­op­ment with themes in­volv­ing cli­mate pro­tec­tion, re­source con­ser­va­tion, and health­care, through ob­jec­tives such as re­duc­ing green­house emis­sions and fuel con­sump­tion, en­abling al­ter­na­tive fuels, and avoid­ing haz­ardous materials. The goals have been re­vised in 2002 and 2007. Volk­swa­gen was the first car man­u­fac­turer to apply ISO 14000, dur­ing its draft­ing stage and was re-cer­ti­fied under the stan­dards in Sep­tem­ber 2005.

In 2011, Green­peace began crit­i­cis­ing Volk­swa­gen’s op­po­si­tion to leg­is­la­tion re­quir­ing tighter con­trols on CO2 emis­sions and en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, and launched an ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign par­o­dy­ing VW’s se­ries of Star Wars-based commercials.

In 2013, the Volk­swa­gen XL1 be­came the most fuel-ef­fi­cient pro­duc­tion car in the world, with a claimed com­bined fuel con­sump­tion of 261 mpg (0.90 liter/100 km). Dri­ving style has huge im­pact on this re­sult – “nor­mal” dri­ving pro­duces mileage in the 120 mpg range (1.96 liter/100 km).

As of 2014, VW is reg­is­tered with a Cor­po­rate Av­er­age Fuel Econ­omy (CAFE) of 34-38 mpg in USA.

Diesel emission violations

On 18 Sep­tem­ber 2015, the United States En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA) said be­gin­ning in 2008 the au­tomaker im­prop­erly in­stalled en­gine con­trol unit (ECU) soft­ware de­ter­mined to be a “de­feat de­vice”, in vi­o­la­tion of the Clean Air Act to cir­cum­vent en­vi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions of NOxemis­sions by diesel en­gine 2009-2015 model year Volk­swa­gen and Audi cars. The soft­ware de­tects when the cars were being sub­ject to emis­sions test­ing, and then fully en­abled ECU emis­sion con­trols to suc­cess­fully pass. How­ever, dur­ing nor­mal dri­ving con­di­tions, emis­sion con­trol soft­ware was shut off in order to at­tain greater fuel econ­omy and ad­di­tional power, re­sult­ing in as much as 40 times more pol­lu­tion than al­lowed by law. Con­sumer Re­ports tested a 2011 Jetta Sport­Wa­gen TDI and found in emis­sions mode its 0-60 mph time in­creased by 0.6 sec­onds and its high­way fuel econ­omy dropped from 50 mpg to 46 mpg. Volk­swa­gen ad­mit­ted to using the de­feat de­vice, and has been or­dered to re­call ap­prox­i­mately 482,000 cars with four-cylin­der 2.0-liter TDI en­gines. United States fed­eral penal­ties may in­clude fines rang­ing up to US$18bil­lion, and pos­si­bly crim­i­nal charges. On 28 June 2016, Volk­swa­gen agreed to pay a set­tle­ment of $15.3 bil­lion, the largest auto-re­lated con­sumer class-ac­tion law­suit in the United States history.

In May 2014, the EPA was first alerted to the issue by the In­ter­na­tional Coun­cil on Clean Trans­porta­tion (ICCT), re­port­ing results of re­search com­mis­sioned for them by West Vir­ginia Uni­ver­sity‘s Cen­ter for Al­ter­na­tive Fuels, En­gines and Emis­sions (CAFEE). After 15 months of deny­ing the emis­sions con­trol sys­tems were de­lib­er­ately gamed and in­stead claim­ing dis­crep­an­cies due to “tech­ni­cal” rea­sons, on Au­gust 21 Volk­swa­gen ac­knowl­edged to the EPA and Cal­i­for­nia Air Re­sources Board (CARB) their emis­sion con­trols sys­tems were rigged. This was fol­lowed by a for­mal an­nounce­ment of ad­mis­sion to reg­u­la­tors on Sep­tem­ber 3 which took place im­me­di­ately after the EPA threat­ened to with­hold ap­proval for their 2016 cars. Volk­swa­gen’s ini­tial pub­lic re­sponse came on 20 Sep­tem­ber, when a spokesman said they would stop all US sales of the diesel mod­els af­fected. Chair­man Mar­tin Win­terkorn is­sued an apol­ogy and said Volk­swa­gen would co­op­er­ate with investigators. Since emis­sion stan­dards in Canada are close to those in the US, Volk­swa­gen Canada also halted sales of the af­fected diesel models. on 22 Sep­tem­ber 2015, Volk­swa­gen spokesman ad­mit­ted that the de­feat de­vice is in­stalled in ~11 mil­lion ve­hi­cles with Type EA 189 diesel en­gines worldwide.

On the first busi­ness day after the news, Volk­swa­gen’s stock price de­clined 20% and de­clined an­other 17% the fol­low­ing day, the same day a so­cial media ad­ver­tise­ment with Wired about “how diesel was re-en­gi­neered” was re­moved as well as a se­ries of YouTube ads ti­tled “Diesel Old Wives’ Tales”. On Wednes­day, 23 Sep­tem­ber, Volk­swa­gen chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Mar­tin Win­terkorn re­signed. Volk­swa­gen hired Kirk­land & Ellis law firm for de­fense, the same firm that de­fended BP dur­ing the Deep­wa­ter Hori­zon oil spill.

On 2 No­vem­ber 2016, the EPA is­sued a sec­ond no­tice of vi­o­la­tion (NOV) per­tain­ing to cer­tain diesel 3.0-liter V6 equipped Audis, Volk­swa­gen Touaregs and Porsche Cayennes. The EPA found be­gin­ning with the 2009 model year all ve­hi­cles pow­ered by the V6 were non-compliant. Dur­ing test­ing the EPA, CARB and Trans­port Canada dis­cov­ered soft­ware that ac­ti­vates pol­lu­tion re­duc­tion sys­tems when the au­to­mo­biles are being dri­ven under fed­eral test con­di­tions, oth­er­wise dur­ing real world dri­ving these de­vices are inactive. Volk­swa­gen dis­puted the EPA’s find­ings stat­ing their soft­ware was legally permitted, how­ever shortly after Volk­swa­gen is­sued a stop-sale for the EPA’s dis­puted ve­hi­cles and ad­di­tional mod­els the EPA did not question.

In March 2016, the US Fed­eral Trade Com­mis­sion sued Volk­swa­gen for false ad­ver­tis­ing, be­cause Volk­swa­gen’s “clean diesel” ve­hi­cles were less en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly than advertised.

In No­vem­ber 2016, Volk­swa­gen and its labour unions agreed to re­duce the work­force by 30,000 peo­ple until 2021 as a re­sult of the costs from the vi­o­la­tions. How­ever, 9,000 new jobs would come by pro­duc­ing more elec­tric cars. Volk­swa­gen also an­nounced plans to be­come the world leader in elec­tric cars, pro­duc­ing 1 mil­lion VW-EVs by 2025 and 3 mil­lion by the group, and a VW man­ager stated that its diesel cars would not be­come avail­able in USA.

On 11 Jan­u­ary 2017, Volk­swa­gen agreed to plead guilty to the emis­sions-cheat­ing scan­dal and to pay $4.3 bil­lion in penal­ties. Six Volk­swa­gen ex­ec­u­tives were charged. The fol­low­ing day, one of the in­dicted ex­ec­u­tives was or­dered to be held with­out bail pend­ing trial as it was feared that he would flee to Ger­many and ex­tra­di­tion would be impossible. Se­nior VW man­age­ment staff were warned not to travel to the US. On 23 Jan­u­ary 2017, a US judge ap­proved a $1.2 bil­lion set­tle­ment in which 650 Amer­i­can deal­ers, “who, like con­sumers, were blind­sided by the brazen fraud that VW per­pe­trated,” would re­ceive an av­er­age of $1.85 million.


The Volkswagen Polo in Christchurch, New Zealand. The Volkswagen Polo won the 2010 World Car of the Year
The Volkswagen up! won the 2012 World Car of the Year

Volk­swa­gen was named the fourth most in­flu­en­tial car of the 20th cen­tury in the 1999 Car of the Cen­tury com­pe­ti­tion, for its Volk­swa­gen Type 1 ’Bee­tle” model. It trailed only the Ford Model T, BMC Mini, and Citroën DS.

Volk­swa­gen has pro­duced three win­ners of the 50-year-old Eu­ro­pean Car of the Year award.

Volk­swa­gen has pro­duced five win­ners of the United States Motor Trend Car of the Year award — the orig­i­nal Car of the Year des­ig­na­tion, which began in 1949.

Volk­swa­gen has al­ready pro­duced four win­ners of the re­cently de­vel­oped World Car of the Year award.


Formula racing

  • In 1963, Formula Vee circuit racing, with cars built from easily available Beetle parts, started in the United States. It quickly spread to Europe and other parts of the world. It proved very popular as a low-cost route into formula racing.
  • In 1971, Volkswagen of America started the more powerful Formula Super Vee, which became famous for hothousing new talent. In the 11 years it ran, until 1982, it produced a stable of world-famous Formula One drivers—names like Niki LaudaJochen MassNelson PiquetJochen Rindt and Keke Rosberg. Volkswagen also notched up several victories, and the championship in Formula Three.
  • In July 2011 Wolfgang Dürheimer, the director of Bugatti and Bentley, told German magazine Auto, Motor und Sport that “if [the VW group] is at the forefront of the auto industry, I can imagine us competing in Formula 1 in 2018. We have enough brands to pull it off.” They did not compete in F1 in 2018.

World Rally Championship

Dakar Rally

  • In 1980, Volkswagen competed with the Audi-developed Iltis, placing 1st, 2nd, 4th and 9th overall.
  • In 2003, the Hanover-based team entered with a 2WD buggy named Tarek, finishing 6th overall and 1st in the 2WD and Diesel class.
  • In 2005, an updated Race-Touareg with slightly more power entered, with driver Bruno Saby finishing 3rd overall and 1st in the Diesel class.
  • In 2006, the revised Race-Touareg entered, with driver Giniel de Villiers finishing 2nd overall and 1st in the Diesel class.
  • Volkswagen won the 20092010 and 2011 Dakar Rally, held in South America.

Volkswagen motorsport worldwide

  • Europe: In 1998 the company founded the ADAC Volkswagen Lupo Cup, founded in 1998 (renamed Polo Cup in 2003, and Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup from 2010 to 2014), and started the ADAC New Beetle Cup in 2000. In 2004, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles entered the European Truck Racing series with the Volkswagen Titan truck – it became a back-to-back champion for the 2004 and 2005 series.
  • United States: In 1976, Volkswagen entered the under-2000-cc Trans-Am Series, with the Scirocco, and they won their class outright. Beginning in 2008 Volkswagen introduced the Jetta TDI Cup. The Jetta TDI Cup is a SCCA sanctioned race series that features 25 drivers between the ages of 16 and 26 driving slightly modified 2009 Jetta TDIs. The series features 10 events at 8 different road courses across North America. There is $50,000 prize money at stake over the course of the series in addition to the $100,000 prize awarded to the champion of the series at the conclusion of the last race.
  • Argentina: Many Volkswagen models have competed in TC 2000, including the 1980 to 1983 champion Volkswagen 1500 and the 1994 champion Volkswagen Gol.
  • In 1999 and 2000, VW won the F2 Australian Rally Championship with the Golf GTI.
  • Finland: In 2002, VW won the Finnish Rally Championship in a7/(F2), with a Golf Mk4 KitCar, with Mikko Hirvonen. In 1999 and 2000, VW won the Finnish Rally Championship in a7/(F2) with a Golf Mk3 KitCar. In 2000, 2001 and 2002, VW won the Finnish Racing Championship in Sport 2000 with a Golf Mk4.
  • Austria: From 1967 until 1974, the Austrian sole distributor Porsche Salzburg entered the VW Beetle (1500, 1302S and 1303S) in Europe-wide rallies. Victories were achieved in 1972 and 1973 in the overall Austrian championship, on Elba, in the Acropolis rally (first in class). Top drivers were Tony Fall (GB), Achim Warmbold (D), Günter Janger (A), Harry Källström(S).


  • Jonas Kiefer: VW Typenatlas, Serienfahrzeuge. 2. Auflage. Delius Klasing, Bielefeld 2002, ISBN 3-7688-1271-5.
  • Rudi Heppe: VW Personenwagen. Podszun, Brilon 2001, ISBN 3-86133-209-4.
  • Halwart Schrader: VW Personenwagen seit 1945, Band 1, Typenkompass. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-613-02105-6.
  • Halwart Schrader: VW Personenwagen seit 1945, Band 2, Typenkompass. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-613-02186-2.
  • Werner Oswald: Deutsche Autos, Band 2, 1920–1945. 2. Auflage. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2005, ISBN 3-613-02170-6.
  • Werner Oswald: Deutsche Autos, Band 3, 1945–1990, Ford, Opel und Volkswagen. 1. Auflage. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-613-02116-1.
The pictures I collected the last years, my own pictures and the ones from the worldwideweb:

Zentralbild Junge 20.3.1957 Ehemalige Botschaft der USA, Berlin Blick auf die Ruine der ehemaligen Botschaft der USA in Berlin, Pariser Platz 2 Ecke Friedrich-Ebert-Straße 21. (Aufgenommen am 18. März 1957)

VW-Werk, Wolfsburg
VW-Werk, Wolfsburg
Montage 412
VW-Werk, Wolfsburg
Forschung und Entwicklungsabteilung
VW-Werk, Wolfsburg
Forschung und Entwicklungsabteilung
VW-Werk Salzgitter
Salzgitter Endmontage 412 und K70
VW-Werk, Wolfsburg
Montage 412

VW-Werk, Wolfsburg

VW-Werk, Wolfsburg
Montage 412

VW-Werk, Wolfsburg
Forschung und Entwicklungsabteilung
VW-Werk, Wolfsburg
Forschung und Entwicklung
PKW-Versuch/Abt. Sicherheit, Prüfgerät zur Belastung von Fahrzeugbauteilen mit Kräften, wie sie bei einem Crash auftreten.
1. März 1973

VW-Werk Wolfsburg
Endmontage Passat

VW-Werk, Wolfsburg
Forschung und Entwicklung
Fahrzeug im Klimawindkanal, Messungen des aerodynamischen Verhaltens, Heizungs- und Belüftungseigenschaften bei unterschiedlichen Klimabedingungen