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14 Things You NEVER Knew about Volkswagen

Mar 4, 2015


We flock to our models by manufacturer.   Excitement flourishes around super car brands at the sheer mention of makers such as Bugatti and Lamborghini…  Wealth, class and luxury radiates from the name Bentley, while Porsche and Audi leave consumers drooling and jealous with envy.   But what do you think when you hear the name Volkswagen?   Are you blown away by its regal status in the car industry?   Are you pining over it’s super car models that go from zero to sixty in 3 seconds that you only get to drive in your dreams?   Does the presence of that silver VW circle mounted on your hood make your neighbors drool and cry with envy?   Or do you simply see a moderately priced, with its four door mid-sized sedans and a reliable automaker responsible for one of the most easily recognizable and novel cars of all time, the Volkswagen Beetle?  

Today we hope to change the way you look Volkswagen by teaching you the things about the company that you probably just don’t know!  

Fact 1: Germany’s LOVE BUG maker is in fact the world’s second largest automobile manufacturer.     When you turn your nose up at the Jetta, you are also giving the stink eye to the other brands that you just may not know are actually owned by the company - mentioned earlier they are Bentley, Porsche, Audi, SEAT, Skoda, and the ones that may be the hardest to swallow, Bugatti and Lamborghini. Yes, these blow-your-mind super cars are all produced under the watchful eye of the Volkswagen automotive umbrella the Volkswagen Aktiengesllchaft (Auto Group), a multinational company made of VW holdings.  


Fact 2: The original MOTOR CITY was created for Volkswagen.  An entire city was built just to manufacture Volkswagens.   Originally named KdF-Stadt, the city was built and designed to house the workers for the new VW Factory.  Since they were to be making the People’s Car, as well as other vehicles, “Volks-“ was added to to the name of everything in the town.  For example, the local radio station was called Volksempfanger.    After WWII the name of the city was changed to Wolfsburg.  


How it started: In the late 1930s, the Nazi party commissioned a young architect to design a whole new city out of thin air, one that would incorporate a life based around the automobile. At the time, the idea of a city based around the automobile had a science fiction feel to it because so few people actually owned cars. 

At the heart of the city was a giant automobile factory, the largest and grandest ever built in Europe, and one closely modeled on the Michigan factories of Henry Ford. The Nazi authorities promised millions of People's Cars (Volkswagens) would be produced in their new town. In reality, no cars were produced for civilians before the war broke out, and the city itself was only half-built and then abandoned. The Allies would soon come to the rescue, however, and a whole new generation of Germans would seek to atone and transform both the factory and the town. Today, the city of Wolfsburg is still the headquarters of Volkswagen, as well as an expansive glowing theme park known as the Autostadt.

Fact 3: The original Porsche was actually a Beetle.  And vise versa!  The original Beetle had a little help from one of the best known luxury sports cars in the US. Ferdinand Porsche was responsible for designing the iconic “Beetle” shape, along with other features to the car that are forever attached to the original VW Beetle.   At the same time they were creating the Beetle, Ferdinand, his son Ferry, and their team were simultaneously considering how those same technologies might create an improved racing car, and it was the merging of these two ideas (the Beetle and the racing car) that would eventually evolve into what we now consider the modern Porsche. In fact, the first Porsche was actually built on the platform of a Beetle. The result? A sweet, sleek 356, the very same car that would eventually evolve into "the cathedral of all cars", the Porsche 911.

Fact 4:  It’s illegal to own the company.   After VW was privatized, a law was enacted stating that no shareholder could have more than 20% of the company.  This ensured the government of Lower Saxony would always maintain a controlling share.   Porsche tried to buy the company outright, and even took Volkswagen to court, but to no avail.  

Fact 5:  They’re also made in America.  The Passat is a German car with an American accent.  Since 2011, production for the Passat started at the Volkswagen Chattanooga Assembly plant, which takes up 1,400 acres, employs 2,000 American workers, and is the first car factory in the world to be LEED Platinum certified.  

Fact 6: Volkswagen has the record of having the longest production car run for any model in the world. The VW Beetle was produced continuously between 1938 up to 2003 with more than 21 million of them built.  Many people thought the original Beetle had been discontinued but in fact, they were still being produced out of Pueblo, Mexico up until 2003.  The “Mexican Beetle” was a staple used in taxi fleets and as an affordable sedan.  The model was finally discontinued due to outdated safety regulations.  

Fact 7: VW is a little green.  Keeping up with their hippie ways from the 70’s VW cares about the planet, being the huber one manufacturer for small diesel engines.   The Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI) is available for many different models, offering some of the most fuel-efficient cars on the planet.  All VW TDI models have been able to run on 100% biodiesel fuel since 1996.  


Fact 8: VW cares about their employee’s free time.   No overtime or late night stress for Volkswagen employees - in 2011 they launched a company initiative called “Work-Life-Balance” aimed at helping employees reduce stress, to leave work at work, and to enjoy their time away from work.   A huge part of this campaign was blocking email access from 6:30 pm until 7:30 am the next morning.  

Fact 9: You can get a birth certificate for your original classic of vintage VW.  For 50 euros, an owner can purchase a Zertifikat form the Volkswagen AutoMuseum in Wolfsburg containing all information known about their vehicle, including paint, port of delivery, options and other info.  

Fact 10: Volkswagen is involved in the worlds most popular sport, soccer.   Volkswagen AG completely owns, (not just sponsors) VfL Wolfsburg, a side in Bundesliga.  

Fact 11: You can actually buy your own Volkswagen right from the factory.  If you visit the Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg (or even online) and order your car direct, your car will be delivered ceremoniously to you by robots!  


Fact 12: Even though he made requests, Hitler did not create the Love Bug.   In 1938, "The New York Times" called the fledgling new Volkswagen "the baby Hitler." Until that point, many around the world (including many in Germany) had not understood, or admitted to, the extent of evil being unleashed by Hitler and his supporters. But by 1938, a year that would end with the horrendous Kristallnacht, Hitler's name -- and all projects associated with that name, including the VW -- were showing the darkest of stains. It would take a decade - and a handful of heroes - for the Beetle to pull itself out of that darkness; perhaps it would never fully live down its title as "the car that Hitler built". 

In truth, however, the idea of the Volkswagen existed long before the Nazis, and Hitler had no hand in the actual design of the Bug. When Hitler came to power, with cars on his mind and his agenda, he co-opted the idea of the Volkswagen for his own purposes, much as he did with other longstanding gestures or symbols.

Fact 13: Hilter tired to name the original Beetle the “Strength through Joy Car.”  We’re grateful that name didn’t stick.   That man knew nothing about strength through joy, clearly.  


Fact 14: Adolf Hilter was Volkswagen’s first customer.  The father of Volkswagen was none other than Dr Ferdinand Porsche, who received a commission to design a people’s car to set criteria from Volkswagen’s first (and most controversial) customer: Adolf Hitler. The initial prototype was completed in 1935, but Volkswagen then found that their eccentric client had changed his original brief and for some reason wanted a load of military vehicles instead. Sensing that something extremely dodgy was in the offing, Ferdinand Porsche eventually moved his business out to Austria and concentrated on building high-class sports cars.  The factory was actually saved by the American military who ordered the production of cars post war.  

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