Founded in May of 1937, Volkswagen is recognized as a distinct leader in automotive technology. What many do not know is that the company actually originated when a Nazi trade union felt that it was appropriate to design new automobiles that were more affordable to a broader variety of consumers.
Adolf Hitler played a role in the company’s foundation as well, as he felt that a simple automotive that transported at least five people was crucial for the Nazi military. The most common vehicle that was used by the Germans during World War II was the Type 82 Kübelwagen (a Volkswagen model), and the demand for this automobile helped sales for Volkswagen surge.
Political factors paved the way for Volkswagen in years after the war. The German government laid out a plan for industrial growth, and Volkswagen was required to manufacture and sell at least ten percent of the market share of automobiles. British military officials took over the business for a brief period but did not feel that the operations would be a lucrative opportunity in their country. Though they continued to utilize the Volkswagen assets to provide military vehicles, the business never quite expanded to the general public. In contrast,West Germany relied heavily on the company to fuel its economic growth and many attribute Volkswagen as one of the most vital influences after World War II that revived Ally-occupied Germany.
In addition to the presence in Germany, Volkswagen started conducting regular business in American the late 1940s. Units were sold in the United States for several years, as the company at first wanted to get a feel for consumer demand. It was later decided that a business entity should be established in the region, which led to the formation of Volkswagen of America in 1955. Around the same period, the business grew prominent in Canada as well. While the automobiles were known to represent nothing short of quality, the key component of Volkswagen’s success during this time was its marketing. Doyle, Dane Bernbach, an advertising agency that existed during this period, was responsible for designing the company’s advertisements, which featured sophisticated Americans standing next to the models.
In the 1970s, Volkswagen started noticing that sales of its more popular automobiles, specifically the Beetle, were declining. Analysts felt that there was no specific reason for the decline other than normal market saturation. In other words, the acceleration of sales in the previous years led to fewer consumers demanding the automobiles during the current period. Responding to this market effect, the company came out with several new models, including the Passat, Scirocco, Golf, and Polo. The Golf model would soon become the cornerstone of the business, as there were six different generations of the model. However, sales were steadily declining into the 1980’s forcing Volkswagen to release another line of vehicles. This time around, consumers got their first taste of the GTI and Jetta.
Today, most of the models previously mentioned are still in existence, and Volkswagen continues to take strides as the industry’s leader in technological advancement. Probably the most noted development of the company in recent years has been its integration of small diesel engines into its vehicles. These engines are known to be relatively fuel efficient, which leads to decreased costs to consumers. Another recent development by the company has been the VW 1L model, a two-person automobile that is regarded as one of the lightest vehicles on today’s market.