Volkswagen – The largest car maker in the world

Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.

Now the largest car maker in the world, Volkswagen was founded in January of 1937 by the German Labor Front in Wolfsburg, Germany.  The name Volkswagen actually translates to “People’s Automobile” in German and their original focus was to design a simple vehicle that everyone could afford, now known as the Beetle.  Unfortunately, the cost of automobiles at the time, regardless on how simple they were designed, still cost more than the average worker’s yearly salary.

When the company finally finished construction of its factory, World War II began and Volkswagen turned its focus toward manufacturing military vehicles.  After the war, in 1949, Volkswagen was transferred to the Government of Germany who decided to go global in 1953, establishing  factories in country such as Brazil, America, Sweden, and China.  Volkswagen’s operations continued to expand throughout the years, but it wasn’t until 1990 that Volkswagen had completely overtaken SEAT, a Spanish car manufacturer, establishing its first non-German subsidiary.

In 2013, Fortune Global 500 announced Volkswagen the 9th largest company in the world, third-largest vehicle manufacturer in the world, and second largest market share in Europe.  Volkswagen at this time had over 300,000 employees globally and sold a record 9.7 million vehicles.  Now, Volkswagen spans 153 countries and has major subsidiaries including Audi AG, Bentley Motors Ltd, Bugatti Automobiles, Suzuki Motor Corporations, and Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A. [1].

As mentioned in my previous blog posting, Volkswagen’s next biggest push was to promote and push their campaign for “low emissions” diesel engines in the United States.  This would satisfy both the Obama Administrations high standards of mileage and emissions and American’s preference of larger vehicles.  Their ultimate goal was to become the largest automaker in the world.

Just to get an idea now…[2] & [3]

Vehicles delivered to customers in 2015: 9.931 million

Total revenue in 2015: €213 billion

Total employees in 2015: 610,000 employees

Vehicles delivered to customers in 2014: 10.137 million

Total revenue in 2014: €202 billion

Total employees in 2014: 593,000 employees


[1] Success Story

[2] The group

[3] Statista


4 thoughts on “Volkswagen – The largest car maker in the world

  1. It’s great to learn about the company’s background and the paths they have taken throughout the years. I knew that they were a German company but I didn’t know that during World War II they made military vehicles.Also, I was unaware that they owned Audi, Bentley Motors Ltd, Bugatti Automobiles, Suzuki Motor Corporations, and Ducati Motor Holding. Obviously this is a powerful company that wants to keep growing and becoming even more powerful. In the past have they shown unethical behavior to gain competitive advantage?


  2. After doing some digging, I was able to find some additional unethical behavior Volkswagen has shown in the past.

    In 2005: Senior Volkswagen executives were caught in what became known as the “perks and prostitution scandal” where members of the company’s powerful works council were bribes with all expense paid trips and sex parties with prostitutes. A senior VW executive was also bribed with a €2m payment when he promised to build a factory in the Andhra Pradesh state.

    In 2006: Volkswagen was accused of taking bribes from suppliers.

    Resources: Odell, Mark, 23 Sep. 2015, Financial Times, “Volkswagen: A History of Scandals,”


  3. is amazing the story that lies behind every company in the world. Personally I knew very little of this German Company. To mention a company so large as this one and know that had a participation in the WW II, Don’t you think that this will damaged a bit the image of the company if people knew about the history of the company?


  4. No, I don’t necessarily think Volkswagen’s history in WWII would damage their image if more people were to know about their involvement. I think it’s certainly interesting how they were involved, but I personally don’t feel negative or feel like their involvement hurts their image.


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