Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Volkswagen Beetle - Production boom
After the end of World War II, a shortage of local jobs led to the Wolfsburg factory being re-opened by Allied forces and production of the Type 1 recommencing. From there, production increased dramatically over the following decade, with the one-millionth car coming off the assembly line by 1955. The Beetle had superior performance in its category with a top speed of 115km/h (72mph) and 0-100km/h (0-60mph) in 27.5 seconds on 7.6 l/100 km (31mpg) for the standard 25kW (34hp) engine. This was far superior to the Citroen 2CV and Morris Minor and even competitive with more modern small cars like the Mini. The engine fired up immediately without a choke and could only be heard in the car when idling. It had excellent road-handling for a small car. It was economical to maintain and, for many, a joy to drive. However, the opinion of some in the United States was not as flattering. Henry Ford II once described the car as 'A little shit box' out of frustration that it was the top-selling foreign car in the US market. During the 1960s and early 1970s, innovative advertising campaigns and a glowing reputation for reliability and sturdiness helped production figures to surpass the levels of the previous record holder, the Ford Model T, when Beetle No. 15,007,034 was produced on February 17, 1972. By 1973 total production was over 16 million, and by June 23, 1992 there had been over 21 million produced.