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Nationwide Vehicle Contracts Ltd is an appointed representative of Lombard Vehicle Management, Network Vehicles, Renault Financial Services.
Before 1930 almost all cars cost significantly more than the average persons wage. It was in 1931 that the German motorcycle company Zundapp approached Ferdinand Porsche and asked him if he could design a car for them. Ferdinand Porsche had just set up an automotive design company which was to become the Porsche Buro. They were engaged in producing highly innovative automotive designs and had recently patented a new and advanced light weight front suspension system.
In response to the brief from Zundapp Ferdinand Porsche came up with a 2 door sedan called the type 12. It had a similar streamlined design to that which was later to be used for the Beetle. In 1933 Porsche went on to design a car for NSU that was to be called the Type 32. This vehicle had striking similarities to the Tatra V570. The Tatra V570 vehicle was the result of development carried out by Erich Ledwinka and Erich Ubelacker. They had started work to develop a small people’s car with a rear-mounted engine in a rigid backbone based frame in the early 1930s. Mounting the engine at the read meant improved efficiency, less noise and vibration and a more comfortable passenger space. An air cooled engine overcame the problems of frozen radiators during the winter and overheating during hot summer months. The V570 was the first prototype from this design work, available in 1931. It had a rear-mounted air-cooled two cylinder 854cc engine.
It was in 1933 that Adolf Hitler met with Ferdinand Porsche to discuss his idea for a people’s car or Volkswagen. His requirements proposed a vehicle with a capacity for 5 people with a speed of up to 62mph and fuel consumption of 33mpg, at an affordable price of 1000 Reich Marks. By 1935 Porsche had designed and built the first two prototypes, the V1 and the convertible version, the V2. The V1 design underwent further development and a new design, the VW3, was produced.
A four cylinder, air cooled, four stroke engine had been finally chosen. This 22.5hp engine was roughly the same as the engines that would later become synonymous with the more modern Volkswagen Beetles.
The test data derived from the VW3 was used in the redesigned version, the VW30. Testing of this design was carried out by a government organisation called DAF. They required members of the SS to test drive these vehicles in order to assess whether the issues that had been present in the V3 had been resolved. It was in 1938 that the KdF Wagen factory was built, along with a town adjacent to the factory. In 1939 several pre-production VW38s and some demonstration VW39s were produced to prove that the factory was ready. These vehicles presented a number of small improvements over their predecessors and were to be the basis of the VW Beetle that was developed after the war. Hitler changed the name of the V38 to KdF Wagen, KdF meaning 'Kraft durch Freude', or 'Strength through Joy'. This Nazi propaganda upset Ferdinand Porsche as he was not a member of the Nazi party.
The KdF Wagen factory became busy producing Type 82 Kubelwagens which were very simple wartime military vehicles that used the same parts as the KdF Wagen. During the war years the factory also produced an amphibious vehicle called the Schwimmwagen. This innovative vehicle had a retractable propeller and was steered in water using its front tyres. The 25hp engine enabled it to achieve speeds of up to 5mph in water.
The KdF Wagen factory was a target for allied bombing raids during WWII. It was after the war that that the British Army took over the factory bringing it back into a state where it could produce much needed, light-weight vehicles. It was the British who named the company Volkswagen and renamed the town adjacent to the factory Wolfsburg, after a local castle. It may seem surprising now but the British experienced difficulty in finding an appropriate body to take control of the factory. It wasn't until 1949 that the British Government were able to hand over control to the German government and Heinrich Norhoff was appointed senior executive.
It was Nordhoff's experience and skill that led to a steady increase in production and, in 1950, the introduction of the VW transporter. In the same year they began to produce VW Beetles in South Africa. The VW transporter was nowhere near as popular as the Beetle. VW had built factories in several countries during the 1950s in addition to South Africa. These included factories in England and Brazil and in 1960 a production plant in Australia was opened.
Beetles that had been built up until 1953 looked near identical to the pre-war KdF Wagen. It was in this year that the split rear window was replaced by the larger oval window. In 1955 they came out with a new model called the Karmann Ghia. This was a joint venture between the Karmann company, who were responsible for the production of Beetle Cabriolet, and Ghia. It was in 1958 that the larger rear window that is seen in most Beetles today was introduced.
During the 1960s Volkswagen carried out a very successful advertising campaign which, along with the popular movie Herbie, helped to make the Beetle successful in the United States. By the end of the 1960s Volkswagen were producing over 1 million Beetles a year. Beetles underwent further modifications including the introduction of a curved windscreen and improved suspension in the early 1970s. US government regulations regarding emissions meant that the Beetle could not be adapted to keep up with requirements and, sadly, Volkswagen stopped production of the sedan in 1977 and the cabriolet in 1979.
The Beetle market was still thriving in Central and South America and so production at the Brazillian plant continued until 1993. It wasn't until July 2003 that Beetle production from the Mexican Puebla plant finally ceased. It was in Mexico that the Volkswagen really became a true people’s car with over 70% of vehicles on the roads being Beetles. In 1996 the new Beetle design was introduced at the Geneva motor show. The car was finally launched in 1999 and a cabriolet version was introduced in 2003.
Although the VW history is rooted in the development of the Beetle Volkswagen are responsible for many highly respected and popular vehicles. In 1973 they introduced the VW Passat and this was followed in 1974 by the highly acclaimed VW Golf. The Golf GTi was introduced the following year at the Frankfurt show. With a top speed of 182Km/h this new sports coupe was to attract a lot of attention. The Scirocco high performance sports coupe had been introduced in 1974 and was sold up until 1993. The VW Polo was introduced in 1975.
In 1990 the 1,000,000th VW Golf GTi rolled off the production lines and a new VW Polo was introduced. By 1991 the VW Golf convertible had become the worlds most popular convertible. It was during the 1990s that VW introduced their Sharan MPV people carrier ad the newly designed VW Beetle. Towards the end of the 1990s (1999) the VW Lupo and the Bora were introduced.
By 2002 the VW Golf had become the most produced VW ever with 21,517,415 cars having been manufactured. That same year the new Golf R32 was launched and in 2003 VW went on to launch the Cabriolet version of the new Beetle. 2003 Continued to be a busy year for VW with the launch of the Touareg, the Phaeton and the Touran.
In 2004 the 5th generation of the ever popular VW golf was launched and in 2005 the GTi and Golf Plus models were added to the product range and the 4th generation phase 2 Polo GP also went into full scale production.
VW are not only known for high reliability cars. Ever since the early years of the company they have produced practical utility vehicles. Today they present a range of practical commercial vehicles in a range of sizes that are suitable for a multitude of applications. These include the ubiquitous Volkswagen Transporter, the VW Caddy and the VW Crafter.
Van leasing and van contract hire is available on every model of VW commercial vehicle.
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