The second largest automobile manufacturer in the world, Volkswagen literally means ‘people’s car’, with the first model designed by Ferdinand Porsche in 1931 at the behest of Adolf Hitler. After World War II the company was offered to Australian, British, French and American manufacturers or free, including Ford, but they all passed citing ugliness and noise, so Volkswagen stayed in German hands. The most famous Volkswagen, the Beetle, was in production from 1938 to 2003 and sold over 21.5 million units. In the early 70’s Volkswagen was in financial trouble, but their ownership of Audi led to the development of the Passat, Scirocco, Golf and Polo, the final two in particular giving the company an enormous boost. Volkswagen models have been named World Car of the Year four times, and European Car of the Year three times.
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