Volkswagen – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

27 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Volkswagen – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Volkswagen has three cars in the top 10 list of best-selling cars of all time compiled by the website 24/7 Wall St . the Volkswagen Golf. the Volkswagen Beetle. and the Volkswagen Passat. With these three cars, Volkswagen has the most cars of any automobile manufacturer in the list that are still being manufactured. [ 1 ] Volkswagen ranks first in spending the most money of any automaker on research and development as of 2011. [ 2 ]

1937–45: People’s Car project becomes Kübelwagen [ edit ]

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

Volkswagen was originally founded in 1937 by the Nazi trade union, the German Labour Front ( Deutsche Arbeitsfront ). [ 3 ] In the early 1930s German auto industry was still largely composed of luxury models, and the average German rarely could 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 peoples’ car projects – Mercedes’ 170H, Adler’s AutoBahn, Steyr 55, Hanomag 1,3L, among others.

The trend was not new, as Béla Barényi is credited with having conceived the basic design in the middle 1920s. Josef Ganz developed the Standard Superior (going as far as advertising it as the German Volkswagen). [ 4 ] 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 1931, 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). [ 5 ]

In 1933, with many of the above projects still in development or early stages of production, Adolf Hitler got involved, demanding the production of a basic vehicle capable of transporting two adults and three children at 100#160;km/h (62#160;mph). He wanted his German citizens to have the same access to a car as the Americans. [ 5 ] The People’s Car would be available to citizens of the Third Reich through a savings plan at 990 Reichsmark (US$ 396 in 1930s dollars)—about the price of a small motorcycle (the average income being around 32RM a week). [ 6 ] [ 7 ]

Despite heavy lobbying in favour of one of the existing projects, it soon became apparent that private industry could not turn out a car for only 990RM. 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 in your own car to ride ), which around 336,000 people eventually paid into. The savings of these 336,000 people were seized by the Russians in 1945 when they captured Berlin.

Prototypes of the car called the KdF-Wagen (German: Kraft durch Freude – strength through joy), appeared from 1936 onwards (the first cars had been produced in Stuttgart ). The car already had its distinctive round shape and air-cooled. flat-four. rear-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. On 28 May 1937, the Gesellschaft zur Vorbereitung des Deutschen Volkswagens mbH (sometimes abbreviated to Gezuvor [ 8 ] ) was established by the Deutsche Arbeitsfront . It was later renamed Volkswagenwerk GmbH on 16 September 1938. [ 9 ]

VW Type 82E

Erwin Komenda. the longstanding Auto Union chief designer, part of Ferdinand Porsche’s hand-picked team, [ 5 ] developed the car body of the prototype, which was recognizably the Beetle known today. It was one of the first to be evolved with the aid of a wind tunnel. in use in Germany since the early 1920s. The cars were put through many rigorous tests, and achieved a record-breaking million miles of testing before being deemed finished.

War meant production changed to military vehicles, the Type 82 Kübelwagen (Bucket car) utility vehicle (VW’s most common wartime model), and the amphibious Schwimmwagen which were used to equip the German forces. As was common with much of the production in Nazi Germany during the war, slave labor was utilized in the Volkswagen plant. 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. [ citation needed ] 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. [ 10 ] Volkswagen would set up a voluntary restitution fund. [ 11 ]

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