You might know that Volkswagen is the world’s largest automobile manufacturer. It also owns popular subsidiaries like Audi, Skoda, and Porsche etc. With around 590,000 employees Volkswagen manufactures nearly 41,000 vehicles every day. But how Volkswagen started in the first place to gain such success? Today, MerrySpell team is here to enlighten you about the people’s car and history of Volkswagen.
The Story of People's Car
The Nazi connection
It is quite interesting that Volkswagen had it’s beginning with Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. It was him who had the vision for the Germans families to have a car of their own. During Hitler’s time, very few wealthy Germans owned cars. Hitler wanted to create a “people’s car” which was able to carry two adults and three children. It could travel at a speed of 100 km/h but cheap as well. The Beetle was the answer to all these demands made by Hitler. It was Ferdinand Porsche (also the founder of Porsche) who designed the first model called KdF-Wagen which supported an air-cooled rear engine. The engine was quite small but powerful enough to power the car. This made the chassis and the body to less expensive than other cars of the time. Later Hitler released a campaign to buy the people’s car to the German citizens. Around 336,000 people subscribed to the program to buy their first car (Volkswagen Beetle). However, the sudden outbreak of the Second World War broke all the dreams and none of the cars were delivered to customers. Germany had lost the war and now their territory was under British control. Thus, the Germans factories were used as an army maintenance depot. It was Major Ivan Hirst who saw the potential of the car.
The British and American takeover
The British saw a great potential in the vehicle for its compact size and reliability. Soon, the British Army placed an order for 20,000 vehicles for its post-war army. Soon the Americans and Australians also paid a great interest in the new car. Bulks of orders were given and people had found their affordable and reliable car of the time. The sales numbers had outstripped the legacy of Ford Model T when the 15,007,034th Beetle was rolled out of the factory. By 2003, more than 21.5 million Beetles were ever produced. The car is definitely one of the most iconic figures of all time. It has been featured in numerous Hollywood movies like “The Love Bug (1968)”. It is quite ironic and weird to think that Germany might have lost the Second World War but the Beetle had conquered most of the countries with its popularity.
The Counterculture and the Beetle
Despite the Beetle’s connection with its Nazi past, it successfully became the symbol of 60s Hippie culture. The Volkswagen Beetle and the Volkswagen Van became the tool of protest against materialism and the oil-hungry cars produced by the big American car manufacturers of the time. Celebrities and Sports stars would often buy a beetle just for a symbol of culture. The beetle was entirely discontinued by 2003 (last models were manufactured in Mexico). However, the new Beetle was already there by 1997 which revived the sense of nostalgia again.
"The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance;
it is the illusion of knowledge."-Daniel J. Boorstin