Vintage Friday: Meet the millionaires OR from the gold Beetle to the blue Golf.



The 150 millionth car built by Volkswagen since production began some 72 years ago rolled off the assembly line on August 24, 2017. The anniversary vehicle – a Golf GTE* – marks the start of the movement towards e-mobility and service provider for mobility in general.

Flashback: the day is overcast, rainclouds scud across the land, but here and there the sun is peeping through the clouds. It is the morning of August 5th, 1955, and a buzz of excitement banishes the morning chill. This is a day of celebration at the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg. Almost ten years after production started, about 150,000 guests from home and abroad, celebrities and politicians, managers and employees, jostle through the streets of the city, heading for the factory – to celebrate the one millionth Volkswagen.
 
Dressed up in gold today
This is the decade of the economic miracle. The post-war era stands for a new beginning and economic momentum in the still young Federal Republic of Germany. This era is shaped so deeply by one particular car – the Volkswagen Beetle – that the paintwork of the anniversary model glitters in gold metallic. Hardly anyone around Managing Director Heinrich Nordhoff on that day could have looked so far into the future as to know that the Beetle would break several more records and celebrate several more anniversaries. All in all, 21 million of this much-loved small car were built before the production line was finally closed in Mexico in 2003.
 

More than 21.5 million Beetle were sold, making it the world's bestselling car until it was overtaken by the VW Golf in June 2002.
 
Joachim Lattke was one of those taking part in the celebrations. Now aged 81, the motor journalist worked on the Volkswagen assembly line in Production Hall 12. The money he earned went to financing his engineering studies later on. "The mood was euphoric and we were all incredibly proud of this achievement. After all, it was the first time in Germany that anyone had built so many cars. Delegations from dealer organizations all over the world had came to Wolfsburg: Brazil, South Africa, the UK, or even the Netherlands – it was a fabulous party. For us as employees, we never imagined the Beetle would turn into a multi-million bestseller, but we definitely knew that the future belonged to this car."
 

Contemporary witness Joachim Lattke (see circle) watching the one millionth Volkswagen leave the assembly line in 1955.
 
A class of its own
What followed was the unparalleled success story. This was one of many occasions when the car manufacturer celebrated its plants, its people, its models and its engines. While it took almost ten years to sell one million Volkswagen Beetle in the post-war period, the Beetle's successor – the Golf – topped the million mark in just two years from the start of production in 1974. 

But the Golf did need until 2002 to beat the Beetle sales record of 21 million. More than 135,000 employees celebrated 25 million Volkswagen Golf at a mega-party at the Wolfsburg plant. Volkswagen is currently building the seventh generation of the bestseller, and has sold more than 37.6 million Golf worldwide. Right from the start, the Golf set the bar in its class high – so it is hardly surprising that over the years, the compact segment has gained a second name: the "Golf class".

From the factory in Wolfsburg to all four corners of the world: today, the Volkswagen Passengers Cars are being sold in more than 150 markets. More than 50 production facilities are being operated in 14 countries. While there was only one bestseller once, the Beetle, to start with, this number has since grown by leaps and bounds: Golf, Tiguan, Jetta or Passat have captured many markets. Quite frequently they are also at the top of the registration statistics. But what would all these records be worth without the people who helped make them? Today, Volkswagen has a headcount of 196,000, with a further 74,000 on the payroll at over 7,700 dealerships.
 

The 100 millionth Volkswagen has been built: A Touran with a 1.9 Liter TDI-engine. As a donation, Former Volkswagen CEO Dr. Bernd Pischetsrieder hands the keys on the very same day in Berlin to Eva Luise Köhler (left). She is the wife of the head of state and patron to a charity organization for rare chronic illnesses. Anne Kreiling (right), also from this charity organization.
 
Success models
And it is each and every one of these employees, who contributed his share to this darkblue Golf GTE, with the nine digits on the liscence plate. And of course to all the other models which were built world wide so far: Polo, Tiguan, Passat, and co. If you would line them up all in a row, it would span the globe sixteen times!

In his words of welcome at the Volkswagen brand's celebrations to mark this special anniversary, Dr. Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand and member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG, said a special thank you to employees for their service to the company and their long-standing loyalty. "You give your very best every day to build our Volkswagen. You show enormous commitment and dedication – I have great respect for your achievements."
 

A symbol for a new era
As has been in the past, each record and every anniversary offer an opportunity to adjust the course of this global player. After internationalization and mass production, the 1980s saw expansion to become a multi-brand network. The turn of the millennium brought globalization and evolution into a mobility group. Now, Volkswagen is once again taking a bold step towards a new future: e-mobility.

With the anniversary car, the blue Golf GTE, Volkswagen shows a symbol for clean and low-emission mobility. "We intend to take the lead in the new world of mobility, too," a confident Diess states. And he shows his pride: "We have strong products. We know our goal. And we have the best team anyone could imagine."



 

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