History[ edit ] For vehicle timeline tables, see Volkswagen timeline. This section contains content that is written like an advertisement. Please help improve it by removing promotional content and inappropriate external linksand by adding encyclopedic content written from a neutral point of view.
This section contains content that is written like an advertisement. Please help improve it by removing promotional content and inappropriate external linksand by adding encyclopedic content written from a neutral point of view. As a result, only one German out of 50 owned a car.
Josef Ganz developed the Standard Superior going as far as advertising it as the "German Volkswagen". Ferdinand Porschea 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 inusing 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.
He wanted all German citizens to have access to cars. 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 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. More than a year later, on 16 Septemberit was renamed to Volkswagenwerk GmbH. 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 s.
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 in the new town of "Stadt des KdF-Wagens" modern-day Wolfsburgwhich had been purpose-built for the factory workers. 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 his 55th birthday.
As was common with much of the production in Nazi Germany during the war, slave labor was utilized in the Volkswagen plant, e.
The company would admit in that it used 15, slaves during the war effort. A lawsuit was filed in by survivors for restitution for the forced labor. In AprilKdF-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[ citation needed ] — technically making it liable for destruction under the terms of the Potsdam Agreement — the equipment could have been salvaged as war reparations.
Hirst had it repainted green and demonstrated it to British Army headquarters. Short of light transport, in September the British Army was persuaded to place a vital order for 20, cars. However, production facilities had been massively disrupted, there was a refugee crisis at and around the factory and some parts such as carburretors 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 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 carburretors, the original producers being effectively 'lost' in the Russian zone. Some British Service personnel were allowed to take their Beetles back to the United Kingdom when they were demobilised. 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, but Hirst chose not to do so. 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.
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 Rooteshead of the British Rootes Grouptold Hirst the project would fail within two years, and that the car " If you think you're going to build cars in this place, you're a bloody fool, young man.
Ford representatives were equally critical. In Marchthe British offered the Volkswagen company to Ford, free of charge. Ford, I don't think what we're being offered here is worth a dime!
In the later s, as worldwide appetite for the Beetle finally began to diminish, a variety of successor designs were proposed and, in most cases, rejected by management.
FromVolkswagen became an important element, symbolically and economically, of West German regeneration.New Golf Models only. With Solutions Personal Contract Plan. 18s+. Subject to availability and status.
T&Cs apply. Offer available when ordered by 18/12/18 from participating Retailers. Golf Hatch models only. Excludes all other engines which have a £1, deposit contribution. Golf SE and SE Nav are only available from stock only. Volkswagen was originally established in by the German Labour Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront) in Berlin.
In the early s, the German auto industry was still largely composed of luxury models, and the average German could rarely afford anything more than a motorcycle.
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