Seventy-five years ago, a pair of Volkswagen Beetles were imported to this country, marking the start of this brand on our shores. Tempus fugit, VW plans to roll out numerous advertisement efforts to mark the milestone.
It was exactly 75 years ago today, according to VW, that those two Volkswagen Type 1 vehicles landed on the shores of New York, marking the first attempt to sell the thing to Americans. Better known as the Beetle today, the scamp eventually wove itself into the country, becoming a poster child for the 1960s peace-love-joy atmosphere before serving as a panacea to rising fuel prices a decade later. Some people loved the things, others reviled them for playing a part in decimating the Big Three – though one could successfully argue they were doing a good enough job of that on their own during the ‘70s.
As fodder for yer next trivia night, it was a Dutch businessman named Ben Pon who arrived in New York with those Type 1s in 1949, initially struggling to sell them before Americans warmed to the car’s quirky charms. Volkswagen of America was established in 1955 to organize dealers whilst providing parts and service. It was in 1959 that the brand ran its first of now-famous “Think Small” ads, ones touting the benefits of owing an air-cooled, easy-to-maintain Beetle.
Students of the industry know that Volkswagen opened its first U.S. plant in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania in 1978, eventually assembling more than 1.1 million Rabbits at that facility. There’s a joke about rabbits and multiplying in there, somewhere. The company broke ground on its Chattanooga assembly plant 30 years after the Westmoreland opening, investing more than $4 billion in its Tennessee operations. In July 2022, the plant began production of the ID.4, its first electric vehicle assembled in the United States, with the facility remaining home to the Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport SUVs.
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