This article was written by Samuel Phineas Upham
Cruising down any freeway in America, or the world, you’re likely to find a Volkswagen. From the iconic Beetle of the 50s and 60s to the futuristic designs of today, the Volkswagen group has designed and built passenger automobiles since 1937. Volkswagen was originally called Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens, which translates to the “Society for the preparation for the German People’s Car.”
The Volkswagen Group sells autos under eight major brands: Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, SEAT, Skoda, and Volkswagen. It also owns Ducati, the popular motorcycle brand. The company is divided into two major areas, the automotive division designs and produces cars while the financial division handles loans and financing.
As of today, the company has at least 100 production companies that are spread across 27 different countries.
The Beetle was the company’s first car, then called Porsche Type 60 and then Volkswagen Type 1. It received initial financial backing from Hitler himself, as well as funds from the Porsche consulting firm. During war time, the plant also manufactured bomber airplanes. This turned Volkswagen, for a brief time, into a military target.
After the war, it was the British Royal Army who took control of the bombed out factory. The expected outcome was disposal of the entire facility, and ownership of the factory was in such a state of dispute that the CEO of Ford proclaimed the company “wasn’t worth a damn.” Volkswagen was part of the German economic recovery effort after World War II, but production output was tightly capped at 10%. The British Army eventually did hand control back over to Germany in 1948, when Heinrich Nordhoff took over operations.