In 2017, the Volkswagen brand turned 80 years old. According to the website, history.com, it was established by German Chancellor Adolf Hitler to build a car that was speedy and affordable. The company was decimated during World War II, but re-established by the Allies seeking to rebuild Germany. Today it is a popular car worldwide. Volkswagen models were first been imported into New York City in 1949, and they are now among the more popular imported cars in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, according to New York vehicle registration records. Read on for more about Volkswagen, its history and sales.
Volkswagen sales in the United States
According to Volkswagen Group of America, 339,676 of its vehicles were sold in the United States in 2017. Above, a Colorado dealership in 2016.
Popular on Long Island
According to New York Department of Motor Vehicle records, there were 45,276 Volkswagens registered in Nassau and Suffolk counties as of March 2017, with the most popular model being the Jetta with 18,012. This is Sunrise Volkswagen in Lynbrook on Aug. 29, 2014.
Volkswagen Group of America dealers
Volkswagen has more than 650 dealer locations in all 50 states, and sold 339,676 VWs in 2017, according to the group. It also delivered 625,100 of its brand vehicles to the United States that year.
Not only Volkswagens
Today, the Volkswagen Group not only sells VWs, but also Audis, Bentleys, Bugattis, Lamborghinis, Porsches, SEATs and Skodas. According to Audi, a record 226,511 Audis sold in the United States in 2017, and according to Bentley, 2,792 of its cars sold in the Americas in 2016. Lamborghini said that the U.S. is the automaker's top market, with 1,095 sold in 2017. Above, a Lamborghini Spider, foreground, and an Audi Cabriolet Spezial 225 built in 1935 shown at Audi headquarters in Germany in 2009.
Volkswagen Group cars on LI
According to New York Department of Motor Vehicle records, there were 31,479 Audis registered in Nassau and Suffolk counties as of March 2017, with the most popular model being the A4 with 8,655. There were also 799 Bentleys registered, with 657 being the Continental, and 158 Lamborghinis, with the most popular being the Gallardo with 67. DMV records show just 2 Bugattis on Long Island.
Volkswagen Group cars popular worldwide
According to Volkswagen, a record 10.7 million cars were delivered worldwide by Volkswagen Group in 2017. The most popular market was Asia, with 4,505,800 sold -- 4,184,200 in China alone -- and Europe close behind at 4,328,500 sold in 2017. Above, a dealership in Berlin.
Volkswagen started in Nazi Germany
Volkswagen got its beginnings in Germany in 1937, when German Chancellor Adolf Hitler commissioned what he called a people's car, capable of carrying a family of five efficiently, according to Volkswagen's United Kingdom website. Construction began in 1938 on the first Volkswagen factory in Wolfsburg, Germany, a town built for Volkswagen workers. This Beetle was photographed in August 1938. The company promised 35 mph and 60,000 miles without repairs. Estimates of its price converted from reichsmarks, range from $140 to $250 in U.S. currency.
Ferdinand Porche, left, and his son Ferdinand Porsche Jr., right, developed the vehicle that became the Volkswagen Beetle. Porche Jr. went on to designed race cars, and prototypes were made from 1936 to 1939, before the onset of World War II, according to Volkswagen. Porsche Jr. later founded the car brand bearing his name.
World War II
The new Volkswagen factory had produced only a modest number passenger cars when World War II began in 1939, and production shifted to making military vehicles for Germany, according to the company's United Kingdom site. The factory sustained heavy bombing from the Allies, and eventually was handed over to Britain in 1945. These German soldiers were pushing a Volkswagen out of the muck somewhere in Russia on Dec. 7, 1941.
Volkswagen arrives in the U.S.
After World War II, several automakers -- including Henry Ford II -- passed on the chance to take over Volkswagen, and the company was resurrected by the Allies. The vehicle known as Type I, which became popularly known as the Beetle, was built for Germans and exported. The first Volkswagens arrived in the United States in January 1949, when the first two arrived in New York City, according to Volkswagen's U.S. site.
Volkswagen production booms
The Beetle became one of the iconic cars of the world, and by the mid-1950s, there were 35,000 on the road in the United States. By 1960, there were 300,000 out on the expanding American highways, according to Volkswagen. This June 16, 1954, photo shows Beetles on the factory assembly line in Wolfsburg, West Germany. It built nearly 900 autos a day.
Beetle tops the Model T
The Beetle fit in well with the U.S. counterculture of the 1960s, and by 1968, more than 423,000 Beetles had been sold across the nation, according to VW. By 1972, the Type 1 Beetle became the best selling car model in history, passing the Ford Model T, and selling over 15 million worldwide.
Volkswagen adapts post-Beetle
Despite the Beetle's success, it's popularity waned in the 1970s, and the company began offering other models. While a couple of models had limited success, the Volkswagen Golf, Passat, Scirocco and Polo proved popular. This Golf was photographed on April 30, 1974, in preparation for the model's introduction in May 1974.
Production of the first-generation Beetle stopped in 1977, but Volkswagen introduced a new Beetle in 1998 without the air-cooled, rear-mounted engine of its namesake. In 2011, Volkswagen brought these features back to the model, and 2 years later, it had sold 43,000 Beetles in the United States, according to VW. This new Beetle was introduced on April 18, 2011 during a news conference in Berlin, Germany.
The most popular Volkswagen in film history is Herbie, who was featured in the 1968 Disney film "The Love Bug." The Beetle-turned-racer appeared in six films, the most recent was "Herbie: Fully Loaded," in 2005. It starred actress Lindsay Lohan. The photo is from May 13, 2005 at the Santa Monica Pier in California.
Volkswagen's world headquarters remain in Wolfsburg, Germany, where the first factory was built nearly 80 years ago. Because of its auto manufacturing, the city has among the highest incomes in Germany, according to The Local. Near the factor is the Autostadt, a museum featuring Volkswagen autos.
In 1955, Volkswagen established its U.S. headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., but the company moved its operations in 2008 to Herndon, Va., just outside of Washington. The Virginia headquarters is also the headquarters for Audi in the United States.
Volkswagen emissions cheating
In 2015, it was discovered that about 460,000 Volkswagens in the United States with 2-liter diesel engines would comply only with emissions standards during testing, and not during the course of normal use. U.S. officials charged that the company made its clean-burning engine claims fraudulently. The 2009 through 2015 models carried software that was designed to trick computers. On Oct. 25, 2016, a federal judge approved a $15 billion court settlement, the largest auto-scandal settlement in U.S. history.
Volkswagen's new midsize SUV
Volkswagen rolled out a new midsize SUV model in 2017, the Atlas, selling 27,119 that year, according to the company. The new model, which was tested in Tennessee before its unveiling, is being built at VW's plant in that state.
According to Volkswagen, a couple in Texas got married in 2016 with a Volkswagen-themed wedding, down to having toy GTIs at the reception.