Volkswagen, shortened to VW, is a German automaker founded on 28 May 1937 by the German Labour Front, and headquartered in Wolfsburg. It is the flagship marque of the Volkswagen Group, the largest automaker by worldwide sales in 2016 and 2017. The group's main market is in China, which delivers 40% of its sales and profits.
Volkswagen translates to "folk's wagon" in German, meaning "people's car". The company's current international advertising slogan is just "Volkswagen", referencing the name's meaning.
On 18 September 2015, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said beginning in 2008 the automaker improperly installed engine control unit (ECU) software determined to be a "defeat device", in violation of the Clean Air Act to circumvent environmental regulations of NOx emissions by diesel engine 20092015 model year Volkswagen and Audi cars. The software detects when the cars were being subject to emissions testing, and then fully enabled ECU emission controls to successfully pass. However, during normal driving conditions, emission control software was shut off in order to attain greater fuel economy and additional power, resulting in as much as 40 times more pollution than allowed by law. Consumer Reports tested a 2011 Jetta SportWagen TDI and found in emissions mode its 060 mph time increased by 0.6 seconds and its highway fuel economy dropped from 50 mpg to 46 mpg. Volkswagen admitted to using the defeat device, and has been ordered to recall approximately 482,000 cars with four-cylinder 2.0-liter TDI engines. United States federal penalties may include fines ranging up to US$18 billion, and possibly criminal charges. On 28 June 2016, Volkswagen agreed to pay a settlement of $15.3 billion, the largest auto-related consumer class-action lawsuit in the United States history.
As of May 2016, the Volkswagen Group offers for retails customers nine plug-in electric cars, of which, three are all-electric cars: the Volkswagen e-Up!, e-Golf and Audi R8 e-tron, and six are plug-in hybrids: the Volkswagen Golf GTE, Passat GTE, Audi A3 Sportback e-tron, Q7 e-tron quattro, Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid and Cayenne S E-Hybrid. Also two limited production plug-in hybrids were manufactured beginning in 2013, the Volkswagen XL1 (250 units) and the Porsche 918 Spyder (918 units). Total cumulative sales of all Volkswagen brand electrified cars since the start of their respective production is expected to reach about 103,000 by the end of 2016.
Volkswagen was named the fourth most influential car of the 20th century in the 1999 Car of the Century competition, for its Volkswagen Type 1 'Beetle" model. It trailed only the Ford Model T, BMC Mini, and Citroen DS.
Volkswagen has produced three winners of the 50-year-old European Car of the Year award.
1992 Volkswagen Golf
2010 Volkswagen Polo
2013 Volkswagen Golf
Volkswagen has produced five winners of the United States Motor Trend Car of the Year award the original Car of the Year designation, which began in 1949.
1985 Volkswagen GTI
1999 Volkswagen New Beetle (Import COTY subgroup)
2004 Volkswagen Touareg (Sport Utility Vehicle COTY subgroup)
2012 Volkswagen Passat
2015 Volkswagen Golf line-up
Volkswagen has already produced four winners of the recently developed World Car of the Year award.
2009 Volkswagen Golf
2010 Volkswagen Polo
2012 Volkswagen up!
2013 Volkswagen Golf
From 1948, Volkswagen became an important element, symbolically and economically, of West German regeneration. Heinrich Nordhoff (1899ε1968), a former senior manager at Opel who had overseen civilian and military vehicle production in the 1930s and 1940s, was recruited to run the factory in 1948. In 1949, Major Hirst left the company+now re-formed as a trust controlled by the West German government and government of the State of Lower Saxony. The "Beetle" sedan or "peoples' car" Volkswagen is the Type 1. Apart from the introduction of the Volkswagen Type 2commercial vehicle (van, pick-up and camper), and the VW Karmann Ghia sports car, Nordhoff pursued the one-model policy until shortly before his death in 1968.
Volkswagen entered the supermini market in 1975 with the Volkswagen Polo, a stylish and spacious three-door hatchback designed by Bertone. It was a strong seller in West Germany and most of the rest of Western Europe, being one of the first foreign small cars to prove popular in Britain. It had started out in 1974 as the Audi 50, which was only available in certain markets and was less popular. The Polo entered a market sector already being dominated by the Fiat 127 and Renault 5, and which before long would also include the Austin Metro and Ford Fiesta.
In 1981, the second-generation Polo launched and sold as a hatchback and "coupe" (with the hatchback resembling a small estate car and the coupe being similar to a conventional hatchback), was an even greater success for Volkswagen. Its practicality, despite the lack of a five-door version, helped ensure even stronger sales than its predecessor, and it continued to sell well after a makeover in 1990, finally being replaced by an all-new version in 1994. Also arriving in 1981 were the second generation of the larger Passat and a second generation of the Volkswagen Scirocco coupe. The original Scirocco had been launched in 1974 to compete with affordable four-seater coupes like the Ford Capri.
In 1964, Volkswagen acquired Auto Union, and in 1969, NSU Motorenwerke AG (NSU). The former company owned the historic Audi brand, which had disappeared after the Second World War. VW ultimately merged Auto Union and NSU to create the modern Audi company, and would go on to develop it as its luxury vehicle marque. The purchase of Auto Union and NSU was a pivotal point in Volkswagen's history, as both companies yielded the technological expertise that proved necessary for VW to survive when demand for its air-cooled models went into decline.