Volkswagen is one of the largest car manufacturers in the world famous for models such as the Beetle, Golf and Passat.
Founded in 1937 the company quickly set about producing an automotive legend. Developed by Auto Union chief designer Erwin Komenda, the prototype which quickly became recognisable as the Beetle was created.
As with many European car manufacturer production was shifted to help the war efforts in the early forties. The companies post war existence can be accredited to one man, British Army Major, Ivan Hirst. With the factories falling within the British occupation zone of Germany control of the factories was Oldham born Hirsts was responsibility.
An order from the British Army for 20000 light transport 'green' cars proved pivotal in helping get Volkswagen back on its feet.
The late forties and fifties saw Volkswagen continue to grow including albeit a small expansion into North America. 1961 saw Volkswagen expand its production line and introduce models such as the Type 3 and larger Type 4. These models substantially differed from previous models with a monocoque body, fuel injection and the option of automatic transmission.
In 1964 Volkswagen purchased Auto Union and in 1969 NSU Motorenwerke AG the former of which owned the historic Audi brand. Volkswagen then went on to merge the two companies and form the modern day Audi brand.
The purchases of Auto Union and NSU gave Volkswagen access to technological expertise that enabled Volkswagen to update its models and technology. This led to the launch of new front wheel drive vehicles with water cooled rather than air cooled engines like the Volkswagen Passat in 1973.
1974 saw the launch of a number of important models for Volkswagen, initially the Scirocco Coupe which was soon followed by the now iconic Golf. The Golf proved a pivotal car for Volkswagen and continues to be at the forefront of family cars today. The Golf was followed by the Polo in 1975.
The eighties saw Volkswagen struggle in North America where sales dropped by almost 50% by the mid-eighties. This led Volkswagen to the decision to expand elsewhere and in 1986 the company bought 75% of Spanish car maker Seat which became 100% in 1990.
The nineties saw the company move upmarket with Audi now in the same bracket as Mercedes and BMW, Volkswagen moved to fill the gap left by Audi. This meant the lower end of the market being catered for by Seat and the newly acquired Skoda.
Also in the late nineties Volkswagen acquired three luxury brands, Lamborghini, (Audi Owned), Bentley and Bugatti thus giving Volkswagen the ability to offer vehicles for markets.
The 21st Century has seen Volkswagen look to expand its range through niche models and platform sharing throughout the Volkswagen group. In addition Volkswagen is one of the leading manufacturers in clean technology with its Blue Motion low emission vehicles.