Volkswagen cars are produced by the Volkswagen Group, a German automobile manufacturer and currently the 4th largest automobile manufacturer in the world. Its core market is the European Union and its major subsidiaries include well-known brands like Audi, Bentley, Škoda, Lamborghini, Bugatti, SEAT and the brand Volkswagen itself. The Volkswagen Golf is the third bestselling car in the world, selling over 25 million cars through 2006. In 2006 the Volkswagen group sold 5.734 million automobiles claiming a 9.7% share of the world passenger car market.
Volkswagen's second-largest market is China where its subsidiary, Volkswagen Group China is by far the Second largest Joint venture automaker.
The archetypal people's car was designed by Ferdinand Porsche at the request of Adolf Hitler.
These cars had their beginnings in 1937 as a public concern by the then Nazi government to sell the Volkswagen Beetle. After the Second World War in 1945, the British Army took control of the bomb-shattered factory and restarted Beetle production for the difficult post-war years which Germany had to face. In 1948, the British Government handed the company back over to the German state, where it was managed by ex-Opel chief Heinrich Nordhoff.
By 1961, one million Volks cars had been made in just one year. That rate of development is a measure of the determination that existed at VW's home of Wolfsburg.
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(The emission scandal ensnaring German car manufacturers is a risk to Europe's largest economy, Germany’s finance ministry said. The issue broke out two years ago. This, UK's decision to leave the EU, and the perceived protectionist US trade policies all threaten Germany's 800,000 jobs).
In the early 1970s, VW acquired Audi and then NSU. It would be over ten years later before it acquired Seat in Spain and then another ten years before Skoda in the Czech Republic also came under the VW umbrella. But the landmarks for the company came in the early/mid-1970s, when the first generation Golf appeared. The Passat, Polo and the sporty Scirocco ranges followed it in close succession.
However, the company has continued to develop its brands and image to a level where "people's car" takes on a different relevance. VW is regarded as an obsessively high quality producer of an enormous number of Volkswagen cars and variance of models. It entered the super-luxury category in its own name with the Phaeton model. Now that the company also owns Lamborghini, Bugatti and Bentley, the sky is the limit for the German giant with such simple origins.
In October 2005, Porsche acquired an 18.53% stake in the business. In July 2006, Porsche increased their ownership to more than 25%.