VW celebrates 70 years since the start of the mass-production of the model which eventually became our beloved Beetle.
Short after the first post-war Christmas of 1945, the first Volkswagen Type 1 or Saloon rolled off the production line in the plant which became today’s Wolfsburg facility. By the end of 1945, just 55 vehicles were produced, with the factory facing material shortages and the massive undertake of the mass-production procedure.
By the end of World War II, just 630 units of the car known as the KdF-Wagen were produced before the plant went under British control. Prior to this, the facilities were used for producing military goods for the German army up until it was occupied by the US troops on April 11th, 1945.
The British converted the factory to civilian manufacturing and focused on the quality of the cars and the establishment of a dealer network, launching exports in October 1947. More than 21 million units were eventually sold on a global scale, with the Beetle eventually becoming a positive icon for VW and post-war Germany, despite its ties with the Nazi regime and Adolf Hitler.
“Volkswagen was very fortunate in that the robust Saloon helped the British Military Government to carry out its administrative functions, and that in Ivan Hirst it had the right man at the helm,” said Dr. Manfred Grieger, Head of the Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft Corporate History Department. “The skillful pragmatist gave the factory and the workforce a vision, motivating British military personnel and German workers alike to turn the languishing works into a successful market-driven business. He knew the qualities of the Volkswagen Saloon, and was able to realise them on the road.”
The production run ended in July 2003, in the Beetle’s last manufacturing facility in Puebla, Mexico. Happy 70th birthday Bug!