Volkswagen AG is one of the leading automobile manufacturers in the world. Headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany, it is the flagship brand of the Volkswagen Group, which also includes other known brands for luxury and high-performance vehicles, namely Audi, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, Bentley, and Ducati, as well as Seat, Skoda, Scania, Man, and Commercial Vehicles.
Volkswagen AG mainly engages in the production of passenger cars. It maintains facilities in 14 countries and caters to more than 150 nations worldwide. Globally, the organization has 119,400 employees, excluding those employed at subsidiaries.
In 1937, the German Labour Front, a Nazi organization, established a new state-owned automobile company and initially named it Gesellschaft zur Vorberietung des Deutschen Volkswagen mbH. Later that year, the newly minted organization was renamed as simply Volkswagenwerk, which translates to "The People's Car Company." The company was tasked to carry out Adolf Hitler's plan to develop and mass-produce a speedy yet affordable vehicle. Austrian automotive engineer Ferdinand Porsche was hired to work on the design of the said "people's car," as early as 1934, although the construction of Volkswagen's new factory in Lower Saxony started only in 1938.
World War II, however, erupted in 1939 before Volkswagen AG could commence mass production. During the war, its factory was used to manufacture military vehicles and equipment, making it a target of attack from Allied bombers. After the war, the factory was rebuilt under the supervision of British forces. Mass production started in 1946, and, after three years, the West German government and the state of Lower Saxony obtained control of Volkswagen. By then, the company was supplying more than half of the demand for passenger cars in the country.
The organization saw rapid expansion in the 1950s, with the Transporter van and the Karmann Ghia coupe as some of its notable models during the said decade. While sales flourished in most countries where it was being exported, the brand received reluctant reception in the United States due to the car's small size and rounded appearance as well as its historical connection to the Nazis. American's perception of the car dramatically changed after a successful campaign spearheaded by advertising agency Doyle Dane Bernbach, which popularized the Volkswagen car as the "Beetle," a name that has stuck to the small, rounded Volkswagen car until today. The Beetle, which maintained its rear-engine design and rounded shape through numerous iterations became the most popular imported vehicle in the United States for a long period of time.
However, because of the Beetle's relatively unchanged design since the 1930s and the introduction of small cars with more modern designs from rival brands, business slowed down in the 1970s. This compelled Volkswagen to shift their product strategy toward producing more contemporary models. In 1970s, the organization phased out its rear-engine cars and introduced front-engine, front-wheel-drive models such as the K70, the Passat, and the highly successful the Golf, which eventually replaced the Beetle as the brands' bestselling model globally.
Fast forward to 1998, Volkswagen introduced a "new Beetle" while still manufacturing its predecessor. In 2003, after nearly 70 years in production, the last original Beetle came out of the Volkswagen factory in Puebla, Mexico.
Volkswagen was denationalized in 1960 with the sale of 60 percent of its stock to the public and enjoyed a generally strong business performance in the succeeding decades. In 2015, however, Volkswagen was found by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to have cheated in the emission tests of its diesel-powered cars. This led to Volkswagen recalling more than 10 million vehicles worldwide. The company rallied through the public relations crisis and has remained one of the leaders in the car manufacturing industry up to present.
Volkswagen's history in the Philippines dates back to 1958 with the appointment of DMG Inc. as the German carmaker's official assembler and distributor in the country. DMG released one of the first Filipino cars – the Volkswagen Sakbayan, a play on the words "sasakyan" and "bayan," which is in line with the original intention of the Volkswagen – to be the "people's car." The massive depreciation of the Philippine Peso against the Euro in the 1980s put Volkswagen at a disadvantage against more affordable Japanese cars. This led DMG to close shop.
Volkswagen returned to the Philippines in 1996, with the Polo and Caravelle manufactured at a new Proton Pilipinas plant in Alaminos, Pangasinan. The company, however, had to leave the Philippines again for a second time.
In 2013, Volkswagen re-entered the Philippine market after a long absence, appointing Automobile Central Enterprise, Inc. (ACEI) as its sole importer in the country. The first batch of Volkswagen vehicles introduced in the country included the Jetta Trendline, the Touran Comfort Line, the Tiguan Trendline, and the Toureg. Volkswagen Philippines' first dealership is in Bonifacio Global City. Today, the company has eight dealerships, which it aims to grow to 12 by the end of the year.
In 2018, Volkswagen introduced five new models in the Philippines, namely the Santana, Santana GTS, Lamando, Lavida, and Tiguan. In 2018, the bestselling vehicles in the country were the Santana and the Santana GTS. Apart from these five new models, the passenger car Passat and the van the Crafter remain in the Volkswagen Philippines' product lineup.
The Santana is Volkswagen's latest entry in the highly competitive subcompact sedan space, competing directly with the likes of the Toyota Vios, Honda City, and Hyundai Accent. Volkswagen is known to be a premium brand but one will be surprised to know that the Santa sells for only PhP686,000. This model uses a 1.4-liter, four-cylinder in-line gasoline engine that can generate 90 horsepower at 5,500 revolutions per minute (rpm) and a peak torque of 132 Nm at 3,800 rpm. It is not exactly the most powerful engine, but it boasts of a good fuel economy score.
The Santana GTS is a subcompact wagon that runs on a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder in-line Multi-Point Fuel Injection gasoline engine attached to a six-speed automatic transmission. This car boasts of a spacious interior, thanks to a generous wheelbase. The 60:40 split folding rear seats provides added flexibility to reallocate the cabin space to passengers and cargo. The Santana GTS also comes with a sunroof.
The Passat is a midsized luxury four-door sedan. Currently on its eight generation, this nameplate has been in production since 1973. This front-wheel drive car is powered by a 2.0-liter TSI gasoline engine attached to a six-speed dual-clutch DSG transmission. It has a top speed of 246 kilometer per hour and can go from 0 to 100 km/h in 6.2 seconds. One of this model's notable features is Adaptive Chassis Control with which the driver may adjust the running gear to normal, comfortable, or sporty tuning. It also boasts of ErgoComfort leather seats that allow for spinal-optimal seating postures along with 12-way front seats and driver seat memory.
The Lavida runs on a four-cylinder, in-line Turbo Fuel-injected gasoline engine outfitted with BlueMotion Technology that improves fuel economy and reduces emission. This front-wheel drive car uses a seven-speed DSG transmission gearbox. It comes outfitted with Cruise Control, which regulates speed, and climatronic airconditioning that ensures clean air in the cabin by using air quality sensor and an anti-allergenic filter.
The Lamando is a compact sedan that is between the Lavida and the midsize Passat in terms of dimensions. Under the hood, it has a 1.4-liter, in-line, Turbocharged Fuel-injected gasoline engine that is also equipped with BlueMotion Technology. It is paired with a seven-speed DSG transmission. This model also features 60:40 split folding rear seats with center armrest and boats of a generous string of safety features including side and head curtain airbags, Electric Parking Brake with Auto Hold, Electronic Stabilisation Program and Anti-slip Regulation, and Park Distance Control, among others.
Globally, Volkswagen produced 6.3 million passenger cars in 2018, which represents a miniscule drop from what it recorded in 2017. From a model perspective, the Tiguan, Polo/Virtus, and Golf were the bestsellers, of which had at least 800,000 units in production during the year. Combined, these models contributed 41 percent of the total production volume during the year. The Jetta/Sagitar and the Passat/Magotan also significantly contributed to the figure. Deliveries, on the other hand, totaled 6.2 million for the year.
In the Philippines, Volkswagen sold 1,363 units in 2018, which reflects a flat performance from the previous year. This is despite an industry-wide decline in sales due to the implementation of a new excise tax structure on cars. Passenger cars specifically increased by seven percent year-on-year in terms of sales. The Santana sedan and GTS models contributed 33 percent of the total sales volume during the year.
Volkswagen has a strong commitment to drive e-mobility moving forward. It has budgeted €34 billion up to the end of 2022 to pursue interests in e-mobility, digital connectivity, autonomous driving, and new mobility services. Additionally, joint ventures in China are expected to spend another €15 billion on the same areas. The company targets to sell up to three million all-electric cars annually by 2025, although it would closely monitor the market developments for such vehicles. By then, the car producer is expected to have launched over 80 new electric Group models, of which 50 would be purely electric-powered. Volkswagen's electric strategy is founded on the technology platform called modular electric drive matrix (MEB). The company plans to commence production of the Volkswagen I.D., the first series vehicle based on the MEB, by the end of 2019.