1982 to 1991 – New Brands, New Markets

Chronicle 1982: June 8

As the world automotive industry underwent structural change, the Volkswagen Group evolved into a multi-brand alliance with a global production network. Based primarily on a high-volume policy, Volkswagen vigorously exploited opportunities for expansion on European and Asian markets to counter the negative trends in the automotive industry during the 1980s. Increased pressure from the competition in Europe and North America, higher energy prices, instability on international currency markets as well as environmental concerns demanded new product design and manufacturing concepts. Volkswagen met those challenges by an innovative and expansive approach based on advancements in automotive engineering and flexible production. The strategy also entailed utilising opportunities for international co-operation and cutting costs through by strengthening the Group’s global production network.

Volkswagen engaged in ground-breaking co-operative ventures in the Asian-Pacific region, which was becoming an increasing focus as a high-volume export market thanks to its dynamic economic growth and low production cost base. The licensing agreement by which Nissan began assembling and marketing the Santana through its dealership organisation in early 1984 strengthened Volkswagen’s presence on the Japanese market. The Volkswagen Group also intensified its analysis of the flexible and productive systems set up by Japanese manufacturers. Although the Volkswagen Group rose to become the leading foreign car importer in Japan, the country’s protectionist policies blocked any major expansion of the export business. It was only the opening of the Japanese market in the late 1980s that created the preconditions for a volume-based export strategy. Volkswagen Audi Nippon K.K., which emerged in mid-1989 out of the consulting firm Volkswagen Asia Ltd., subsequently began establishing an independent sales organisation.

At the core of the company’s Asian involvement was the People’s Republic of China. Its reform policies and industrial development opened the way to a market of great future potential. Conversely, the Chinese leadership trusted in Volkswagen because of its pioneering development of the automotive industry in Brazil and Mexico. In 1978, the two parties began negotiations on the construction of a car plant. However, the proposed large-scale project was abandoned because it did not fit with the conditions prevailing in Chinese industry and was beyond the limited financial possibilities of the Volkswagen Group. The idea was dropped in favour of gradual expansion of production. The assembly contract signed in 1982 with the Shanghai Tractor & Automobile Corporation was the precursor to a successful German-Chinese undertaking which began on April 11, 1983 when the first Santana built in China rolled off the production line and was further enhanced in 1985 with the founding of the joint venture Volkswagen Shanghai Automotive Company, Ltd. As capacity increased, the joint venture became China’s largest passenger car producer and made Volkswagen the market leader in the People’s Republic. The establishment of a second joint venture in February 1991 assured that position for the long term. Like the Volkswagen plant in Shanghai, FAW-Volkswagen Automotive Company, Ltd. in Changchun manufactured for the Chinese market as well as for other members of the Volkswagen Group.

In parallel with its entry onto the Chinese market, the Volkswagen Group was building a leading position in Europe, which in 1982 saw an upturn in the export business. Despite the general weakness in the automotive industry, the Group’s total sales of almost 619,000 vehicles were up against the previous year. Key markets were France, Italy and the UK, where more than 100,000 vehicles respectively were sold. In Spain, however, where the country’s impending membership of the European Community meant that substantial growth in car imports was to be expected, Volkswagen was barely represented. After import limitations on passenger cars were lifted, Volkswagen had formed its own sales company in May 1981 as a first step in gaining access to the Iberian market. A further step entailed the signing of a co-operation agreement with state-owned car-maker Seat. Volkswagen quickly filled the gap left by Fiat’s withdrawal from involvement in the Spanish company. With the licence agreement for production of the Polo, Passat and Santana, the Volkswagen Board intended to make Volkswagen the number one in Europe. Only after Polo production was transferred to Spain could capacity in Wolfsburg be made available for the expansion of Golf production. The co-operation with Seat was bearing its first fruits by 1984, with sales of Volkswagen and Audi models in Spain climbing from 2,379 in 1982 to 28,667 units. The company was also able to strengthen its market positions in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium and Scandinavia. With sales of almost 760,000 vehicles, representing an increase of 24 percent, the Volkswagen Group reached the number one position in Europe for the first time in 1985. This provided the impetus for a takeover of Seat in June 1986. Just like Auto Union over 20 years earlier, Seat joined the Volkswagen Group as an independent brand. Seat’s separation from Fiat had left its mark, however, as it forced the Spanish company to undertake the difficult task of developing its own range of competitive products. Substantial investments in production rationalisation and vehicle development were necessary before the Spanish Volkswagen subsidiary returned a profit in 1988.

While Volkswagen AG was conquering new markets in Europe and Asia during the 1980s, business in America was in crisis. Stronger competition from Japanese manufacturers, who had increased their exports to the USA as well as expanding their production capacities there, caused Volkswagen of America’s sales to stagnate in 1986. As the year before, the Jetta remained the company’s best-selling model, but production of the Golf in the United States had to be cut by 13 percent because it again did not meet sales expectations. Sustained heavy financial losses and surplus capacity forced the Volkswagen Group’s management to close the Westmoreland plant in November 1987. The plant in Puebla, Mexico took over production of the Golf and the Jetta for the North American market.

South America’s unstable economic development and high inflation resulted in a steady loss of earnings for Volkswagen’s Brazilian and Argentinian subsidiaries. The introduction of price controls by the Brazilian government in October 1986 undermined the profitability of Volkswagen do Brasil. In order to safeguard its involvement in South America with limited financial investment and to reduce overall financial risk, Volkswagen AG sought a co-operation agreement with Ford. The two manufacturers combined their operations in Brazil and Argentina under a joint holding company, Autolatina, founded on May 27, 1987. Volkswagen took responsibility for technical matters and Ford handled the financial management of the joint venture. The planned merger of Volkswagen do Brasil and Ford Brasil fell through because of Brazil’s dealership law, so the two companies remained as legally independent entities. Their cost structures improved thanks to synergy effects and the creation of joint production lines. By contrast, Autolatina Argentina’s situation remained critical, so that a merger of the sales networks was considered in 1990. An industrial relations pact between the Ministry of Trade and Industry, trade unions and the automotive industry in Argentina in 1991, and subsequently in late March 1992 in Brazil, provided the car business with a sustained boost. The co-operation between Volkswagen and Ford resulted in a second joint venture in Portugal in 1991. Aimed at sharing capital commitment and risk, the enterprise was set up to produce a multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) for the European market.

The collapse of the socialist planned economies in Eastern Europe took Volkswagen’s expansion in an unexpected direction. Immediately after the Wall came down in November 1989, the Wolfsburg company intensified its negotiations with the automotive industry in Saxony, with which it had in fact been doing business for a number of years. In December 1989, Volkswagen formed a planning company together with the former state-owned passenger car combine “IFA-Kombinat Personenkraftwagen” in Chemnitz to prepare the development and production of vehicle models which could be competitive on international markets. In anticipation of a boom in demand for western cars in the East, Volkswagen invested in expanding production at the Mosel, Chemnitz and Eisenach plants. A state-of-the-art assembly plant was built in Mosel with capacity for 250,000 vehicles a year. The factory in Chemnitz supplied engines, while cylinder heads were manufactured in Eisenach. After their capacities had been expanded, both plants also produced for other members of the Volkswagen Group.

The upheaval after 1989 gave Volkswagen AG the unique opportunity to gain a foothold on Eastern European car markets. Volkswagen’s management identified an acquisition target in Czech car-maker Škoda, with its valuable brand name, long-standing tradition and highly qualified workforce. In anticipation of an upturn in the car industry, Volkswagen promised a substantial expansion of production and extensive social benefits, and in particular undertook not to make any redundancies for a limited period. Škoda became the fourth independent brand within the Volkswagen Group in 1991. However, the collapse of the domestic market and markets across Eastern Europe thwarted the all too optimistic forecasts.

The Volkswagen Group developed rapidly into a global production network with plants on five continents. By establishing a strong pillar of its business in Asia as well as in Eastern Europe, Volkswagen was able not only to enter growth markets but also to establish plants that could be run at lower cost. The Volkswagen Group’s growth and multi-market strategy made it the number one in the European car industry, allowing it to expand its product range so as to develop models for all tastes and needs. The increasing cost of this expansion undermined Volkswagen’s financial position as the economic crisis of 1992 took hold. 


January 1

Chronicle 1982: January 1
Carl H. Hahn becomes Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagenwerk AG.

January 1

Chronicle 1982: January 1
Volkswagen of Nigeria Ltd. enters a period of long-term crisis caused by the ongoing recession, limited price competitiveness and lack of support from the Nigerian government, which reacts to currency shortages by introducing import controls and cutting the production of industries reliant on imports. As a result, production is shut down several times during the 1980s due to a shortage of materials. In March 1990, as prospects for the fulfilment of market potential recede, Volkswagen decides on an orderly withdrawal from Nigeria. Volkswagen of Nigeria is operating at only 5 percent of capacity, while high levels of liabilities far outweigh the minimal revenues. Negotiations begun in 1992 on its sale to a Nigerian company are discontinued because of internal power struggles. The last German employees leave in 1994. Production has been shut down ever since. In April 2006, Volkswagen AG sells its remaining shares in Barbedos Ventures Ltd., registered in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.

June 8

Chronicle 1982: June 8
A trial assembly contract with Shanghai Tractor & Automobile Corporation marks the beginning of the Volkswagen Group’s involvement in the People’s Republic of China. The object of this co-operation agreement is to establish a joint venture for production of the Santana. The first Chinese-built Santana rolls off the production line at the Anting plant on April 11, 1983.

September 30

Chronicle 1982: September 30
The co-operation with “Sociedad Española de Automóviles de Turismo, SA” (Seat) opens the way for the Volkswagen Group to enter the Iberian market. The Spanish car-maker is to handle sales of imported Volkswagen and Audi models through its own dealer network. In Spring 1984, it starts building the Passat and Polo under licence. Ultimately, transferring production of the Polo to Spain frees up capacity in Wolfsburg to expand Golf production, so helping Volkswagen to reach the top of the European car industry.

Cooperation agreement with Nissan

Chronicle 1982: Cooperation agreement with Nissan
Volkswagenwerk AG signs a cooperation agreement with the “Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.” in order to produce the Santana in Japan. Nissan provides the manufacturing facilities and its sales organization while Volkswagen delivers engines, transmissions and chassis. In order to help Nissan, Volkswagen forms a consulting company, “Volkswagen Asia Ltd.”, on July 7, 1983 which at the same time is responsible for gearing up the import business. The Santana, built near Tokyo in Zama, comes onto the Japanese market in February 1984.

Golf GTI competes in motorsport

Chronicle 1982: Golf GTI competes in motorsport
Volkswagen again clockes up many motorsport successes in 1982. By winning the German Formula 3 championship with John Nielsen, Volkswagen demonstrates the superiority of the high-performance engine based on the Golf GTI which powers the Ralt-RT-3.

LT 50

Chronicle 1982: LT 50
Volkswagen extends its light truck type program with the LT 50 model series. With a payload of 1.6 to 1.9 metric tons and a gross vehicle weight rating of 5 metric tons, a third wheelbase variant and a new 2.4-liter six-cylinder carburetor engine, the LT 50 satisfies market demand for more power, greater comfort and optimum efficiency.

Brunswick plant

Chronicle 1982: Brunswick plant
Now operating a plastics factory on the site of the former Olympia Works, the Brunswick plant adds a third string to its bow, in addition to the manufacture of the car parts, and mechanical engineering and tool manufacturing. Fundamental to lightweight construction, plastics and aluminum are of growing importance to the automotive industry as the use of lightweight materials in engines, wheels and axles reduces the total weight of the vehicle and, in turn, fuel consumption.

“Car of the Year”“ in South Africa

Chronicle 1982: “Car of the Year”“ in South Africa
In South Africa, the newly-launched Santana is named “Car of the Year”. The Golf GTI, part of the local product range since November, is chosen as the best vehicle in its engine category.

November 2

Chronicle 1982: November 2
Driving demonstrations of the Volkswagen Caddy begin in the Eifel region of western Germany. Based on the Golf, the model is launched on core European markets in December 1982 in pick-up, pick-up with tarpaulin and hoops, and hard-top van variants. The vehicle built by the joint venture TAS in Sarajevo has been on sale in the USA since 1979. Designed to carry up to half a tonne, the Caddy is powered by a 70 hp petrol engine or a 54 hp diesel unit. Prices start from DM 14,330 ex-factory.

Golf GTI ad

Chronicle 1982: Golf GTI ad
“Von 0 auf 50 in 3,3 Sekunden.” (“From 0 to 50 in 3.3 seconds.”) Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach

Passat ad

Chronicle 1982: Passat ad
“Kam, sah, siegte: Der Passat.” (“Came, saw, conquered: The Passat.”) Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach

Statistics of the Year

Chronicle 1982: Statistics of the Year


May 18

Chronicle 1983: May 18
With the start of production of the second-generation Golf in the specially built final assembly shed 54, the Volkswagen Group enters a new era of production engineering. For the first time, robots are involved in building a vehicle designed for largely automated assembly. The new manufacturing concept raises the level of automation and makes ergonomic workstation design essential. Shed 54 is officially opened on February 22, 1984. With its softer, more elegant form, larger interior and modified chassis, the new-generation Golf is just as big a seller as its predecessor. Reasons for its continued success include the wide range of available engines: four petrol units developing between 40 kW/55 hp and 82 kW/112 hp; a 40 kW/54 hp diesel; and a 51 kW/70 hp turbo-diesel. The Golf GTI achieves a top speed of 191 km/h. The fuel consumption of the Golf GTD according to the DIN standard is 4.3 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres at a constant 90 km/h. Prices start from DM 13,490. The four-wheel drive Golf syncro version is launched in February 1986.

30 years of Volkswagen do Brasil

Chronicle 1983: 30 years of Volkswagen do Brasil
Volkswagen do Brasil, the oldest Volkswagen production company abroad, looks back on its first thirty years. While commitment in Brazil was initially limited to importing and assembling CKD kits, Volkswagen do Brasil had already begun to produce Beetles and Transporters at its specially-built plant in São Bernado do Campo back in 1957. In 1973 the company began building the Brasilia, the first locally designed model developed specially for the South American market.

Golf generation change

Chronicle 1983: Golf generation change
Production of the Golf 1 stops in October after 6,005,635 models have been built. Volkswagen continues to establish long-term model continuity in this segment with the Golf 2


Chronicle 1983: Gacel
Volkswagen Argentina presents the Gacel, the first Volkswagen passenger car built in Argentina. Volkswagen’s Brazilian subsidiary supplies key parts and components for this South American Volkswagen, producing and marketing the vehicle under the name of Voyage.

Volkswagen Canada in Barrie

Chronicle 1983: Volkswagen Canada in Barrie
In the Barrie, Ontario plant, Volkswagen Canada Inc. starts production of automobile parts for Volkswagen of America, Inc. During the second half of 1984, the plant also begins to manufacture alloy wheels for the North American market. A 24 percent drop in sales due to the recession the year before is offset by growth of a good 25 percent in 1984. With the delivery of 30,648 Volkswagens and Audis, Volkswagen Canada can slightly increase its market share to 3.1 percent. The Barrie plant is sold to Alloy Wheels International Ltd. on August 1, 1996.

Amphibious Golf Convertible

Chronicle 1983: Amphibious Golf Convertible
On Lake Wörth, in Kiel or on Lake Aller in Wolfsburg – the amphibious Golf Convertible is certain to make heads turn. Volkswagen tests the performance on water of a 150 hp, four-cylinder in-line engine designed for normal road use with this unique vehicle. Fitted with this engine, the specially designed Golf on its hydraulically activated floats reaches a maximum speed of 30 kilometers per hour, providing engineers with valuable information on engine performance at maximum stress and constant load.

Engine production in Hanover

Chronicle 1983: Engine production in Hanover
Apart from vehicle manufacture, engine production and foundry products play an important role at the Hanover plant. Each working day, the plant assembles 250 water-cooled boxer engines for Transporter production and 1,500 water-cooled four-cylinder engines for passenger car production at other plants. 250 tonnes of aluminum are processed every day in the alloy foundry to produce engine crankcases and other cast parts for commercial vehicles, while some 850 tonnes of sheet steel are processed.

Jetta 2

Chronicle 1983: Jetta 2
Series production of the second-generation Jetta begins at the Wolfsburg plant. Larger overall dimensions mean a significant rise in interior comfort and convenience. As is the case for the Passat, Volkswagen equips the Jetta with a reinforced four link rear axle which, combined with self-adjusting axle bearings and greater suspension travel, enhances drive safety. Four versions of the Jetta come to market – the Jetta C, CL, GL and Carat, distinguished by their degree of comfort and functional features.

December 20

Chronicle 1983: December 20
A new specialist IT company, Volkswagen-Gesellschaft für Datenverarbeitungssysteme mbH, founded with the participation of the city-state of Berlin and Schleicher GmbH & Co. Relais-Werke KG, is entered into the Register of Companies. Volkswagen has a 50 percent interest in the Berlin enterprise, which is intended to bundle the Group’s know-how in the field of technical and scientific software. The subsidiary expands its service portfolio and customer base over the subsequent years. Renamed gedas GmbH on January 1, 1998, the company develops and implements system solutions for the entire automotive industry and manufacturing sector. On May 27, 2001 gedas GmbH is converted into a stock corporation (Aktiengesellschaft).

Volkswagen ad

Chronicle 1983: Volkswagen ad
“Volkswagen machen Sie nicht zum armen Schlucker.” (“Volkswagen won't guzzle your paycheck.”) Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach Creative Director: Michael Borch Art Director: Boris Eucker Illustrator: Willi Riese

Volkswagen ad

Chronicle 1983: Volkswagen ad
“Schnell, schnell, schnell.” (“Fast, fast, fast.”) Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach Creative Director: Michael Borch Art Director: Walter Tschirren Texter: Michael Borch Photographer: Werner Deisenroth

Statistics of the Year

Chronicle 1983: Statistics of the Year


January 27

Chronicle 1984: January 27
The second-generation Jetta is launched in Germany at prices starting from DM 14,715. At 4.32 metres in length and with 570 litres of boot capacity, the Jetta is acclaimed by “Stern” magazine as offering the best ride comfort in its class, with its top selling points being its user-friendliness and quiet ride, alongside the generous amount of space in its interior. More elegantly styled than its predecessor, the new Jetta built at the Wolfsburg plant comes in four different equipment lines, with five engine options, including a 70 hp turbo-diesel.

February 3

Chronicle 1984: February 3
The research centre opened at the Wolfsburg plant concentrates over 600 employees under one roof. Except for the wind tunnel and some of the central metrology function, all areas of research are grouped together in the state-of-the-art new 15,000 square metre building.

IRVW 3 research vehicle

Chronicle 1984: IRVW 3 research vehicle
The IRVW 3 (Integrated Research Volkswagen) continues the series of Wolfsburg research vehicles which began with the ESVW 1 in the early 1970s. Volkswagen engineers and designers put together an integrated package of numerous technological solutions which was fitted to the IRVW 3. Innovations in the IRVW 3 which later became standard in all Volkswagen series models include a traction control system, an automatic anti-blocking device, power-assisted steering and an electronic travel navigator.

Caravelle Carat

Chronicle 1984: Caravelle Carat
Exclusive equipment and understated design characterize the luxury “Carat” version of the Volkswagen Caravelle. Designed as a mobile office and conference room for business people, the Carat has rotating seats, a folding table, reading lights and space for a phone system.

Emden plant

Chronicle 1984: Emden plant
The Volkswagen Emden plant, the hub for exports overseas, looks back on 20 years of operation. Once Beetle production in Wolfsburh had been closed down in 1974, the Emden plant produced a further 2.36 million of the legendary model until 1978. From 1977 onwards, the plant mainly produces the Passat, with six million units built there to date.

Catalytic converter

Chronicle 1984: Catalytic converter
Volkswagen's products for the domestic market are increasingly being equipped with three-way catalytic converters. As a pioneer of this technology, Volkswagen reacted early to the demand for environmentally friendly automobiles. The Golf and Jetta models equipped with four-cylinder diesel and turbo-diesel engines already meet America's strict emissions regulations. All passenger cars built in Europe after 1977 can be driven with lead-free gasoline. Starting in 1984, Volkswagen offers special conversion parts for all of its models cutting hydrocarbon and nitrogen emissions by half. A newly developed micro catalytic converter makes the conversion of small capacity possible. By November 1987, Volkswagen completed the changeover of its production to catalytic converter technology. Since then, all Volkswagen passenger cars equipped with gasoline engines are available with catalytic converters. The decisive breakthrough came in 1989, and Volkswagen was able to celebrate the world premiere of the first diesel engine with a catalytic converter. The 60 horsepower engine consumes only 4.6 liters per 100 kilometers. The turbocharger optimizes combustion, reducing soot emissions even at full speed.

Passat facelift

Chronicle 1984: Passat facelift
The Passat family follows in the footsteps of the Golf and Jetta model ranges with a clearly structured equipment program for the C, CL and GL versions. Following a recent facelift the space wizard has significantly enhanced design dynamics and a greater range of interior fittings.

Golf 2 in South Africa

Chronicle 1984: Golf 2 in South Africa
Volkswagen of South Africa begins building the Golf 2 in October. The model’s market launch aims to strengthen the company’s competitive position on the South African passenger car market as the current financial year brings market share losses.

October 10

Chronicle 1984: October 10
In the presence of German Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Volkswagenwerk AG signs an agreement with the Shanghai Tractor and Automobile Corporation (STAC), the Bank of China, the Shanghai Trust and Consultancy Company (BOC) and the China National Automotive Industry Corporation establishing a joint venture to build the Santana in Shanghai. Volkswagen becomes the first joint venture partner in the automotive industry in China, and the move lays the foundation stone for the company’s subsequent success in the People’s Republic.

November 2

The advertisement placed in regional media bearing the strapline “Wir sind bereit.” (We are ready.) highlights the fact that 11 Volkswagen and Audi models as well as the Transporter have already been fitted with a three-way catalytic converter. As a ground-breaker in this technology, Volkswagenwerk AG began preparing to meet the demand for low-emission vehicles at an early stage, and has cut its pollutant emissions by as much as 60 percent in the last 15 years. The four-cylinder diesel and turbo-diesel manual Golf and Jetta models already comply with stringent US exhaust and particulate emission standards. All passenger cars built in Europe since 1977 can be run on unleaded petrol. In 1984, Volkswagen starts offering special retrofit kits for models already on the market which halve emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides. A newly developed micro-catalytic converter also enables small-capacity vehicles to be upgraded. By November 1987 Volkswagenwerk AG has completed the upgrading of its vehicle production to catalytic converter technology. From then on, all petrol engined Volkswagen passenger cars are fitted with catalytic converters as standard.

November 12

Chronicle 1984: November 12
Volkswagenwerk AG signs a contract with the industrial plant import corporation of the German Democratic Republic licensing the production of 1.05 and 1.3 litre engines. Volkswagen provides the necessary plant. In return, the GDR is to supply machinery and electrical products. The planned production of engine blocks for the Group network is postponed to the end of 1989 because of planned economy constraints and quality problems.

Volkswagen Annual Report

Chronicle 1984: Volkswagen Annual Report
Rising production figures, chiefly due to growing demand for the Golf 2 and the Transporter, plus the successful rationalization efforts in production bring the turnaround for the company on the Mittellandkanal. After two years of heavy losses, the Volkswagen Group reports a profit of 228 million DM.

Golf ad

Chronicle 1984: Golf ad
“In aller Bescheidenheit: Deutschlands Nr. 1.” (“In all modesty: Germany's No. 1.”) Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach Creative Director: Werner Butter Art Director: Dieter Möller Texter: Michael Krüll Photographer: Manfred Rieker

Golf ad

Chronicle 1984: Golf ad
“Legen Sie Ihr Auto doch mal daneben.” (“Put your car aside for once.”) Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach Creative Director: Werner Butter Art Director: Dieter Möller Texter: Michael Krüll Photographer: Manfred Rieker

Statistics of the Year

Chronicle 1984: Statistics of the Year


February 16

Chronicle 1985: February 16
The agreement signed in Beijing on October 10, 1984 results in the establishment of Shanghai-Volkswagen Automotive Company, Ltd. Volkswagenwerk AG has a 50 percent share in the Chinese-German joint venture, which builds 1,700 vehicles by the end of the year. The training centre opened at the end of August 1988 supplies qualified staff. The new paint shop opens in October 1989. The following year, the press shop starts operations and engine production begins. In 1991, almost 37,600 engine blocks are supplied to the Group production network. As it expands capacity, Shanghai Volkswagen becomes China’s largest and most modern car plant. Between 1986 and 1991, annual production quadruples from 8,471 to 35,000 vehicles, and the workforce increases from 1,911 to 3,064. Local production rises to 70.4 percent, with the result that from June 1991 Shanghai Volkswagen no longer has to apply for licences to import vehicle kits.

Reorganization of sales in the USA

Chronicle 1985: Reorganization of sales in the USA
A marketing strategy developed by Volkswagen of America, Inc. calling for a strengthening of the individual brand identity of Volkswagen and Audi accompanies a reorganization of responsibilities for sales and service. “Volkswagen of United States, Inc.” assumes responsibility for Volkswagen, and “Audi of America, Inc.” has the same task for the Audi brand. These two new companies are not independent firms, but rather divisions of Volkswagen of America, Inc.

GTI “Car of the Year” in the USA

Chronicle 1985: GTI “Car of the Year” in the USA
The American specialist journal “Motor Trend” votes the Golf GTI “Car of the Year 1985”. Nicknamed the “pocket-size rocket”, the Golf GTI takes pole position for quality, comfort, drive characteristics, acceleration, handling and consumption.

Transporter syncro

Chronicle 1985: Transporter syncro
Volkswagen now offers the entire Transporter model range with permanent all-wheel drive. At the heart of the syncro technology is a visco clutch which automatically distributes torque to the front and rear axles as required. At ramp-up, the Transporter syncro features a 1.9-liter, 78 hp water-cooled boxer engine. A 70 hp four-cylinder diesel in-line engine with exhaust turbocharger is added later, and the Caravelle is given a more powerful 2.1-liter, 112 hp direct-injection engine. The syncro models hold a leading position on the commercial vehicles market thanks to their high passive safety, stable drive characteristics, improved suspension comfort and spacious design.

July 4

Chronicle 1985: July 4
The annual shareholders’ meeting votes to change the name of the company from Volkswagenwerk AG to Volkswagen AG.

Exhibition stand at the IAA

Chronicle 1985: Exhibition stand at the IAA
Volkswagen presents the highlights of its current model range as well as automobile concepts of the future at the Frankfurt International Motor Show (IAA).

Golf Diesel heading for a record

Chronicle 1985: Golf Diesel heading for a record
A Golf Diesel with series equipment drives through twelve European countries on one tank of fuel, covering a distance of 2,163 kilometers. Average fuel consumption on the journey from Italy to Norway is an incredibly low 2.69 liters per hundred kilometers.

Volkswagen Bruxelles

Chronicle 1985: Volkswagen Bruxelles
Rising global demand for the Golf means an increase in production capacity at many Volkswagen plants. Volkswagen Bruxelles S.A. also profits from the Golf boom, growing production by 25.7 percent year-on-year to 168,756 units. Organizational adjustments are made to increase daily capacity from 720 to over 800 units in preparation for the coming year.

Wolfsburg plant

Chronicle 1985: Wolfsburg plant
Production flexibilisation and rationalization, the continued development of the model range and entry into new markets pays off in 1985. For the first time the Volkswagen Group delivers more vehicles in Europe than any other carmaker.

Golf ad

Chronicle 1985: Golf ad
“Amerikas Bester.” (“America's best.”) Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach Creative Director: Werner Butter Art Director: Boris Eucker Texter: Peter Oprach Photographer: Reinhart Wolf

Golf ad

Chronicle 1985: Golf ad
“Das Auto der Nation.” (“The national car.”) Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach Creative Director: Werner Butter Art Director: Dieter Möller Texter: Michael Krüll Photographer: Manfred Rieker

Golf commercial

Chronicle 1985: Golf commercial
“Ausstattung.” (“Equipment”) The improvements in series equipment for the Golf are almost too many to include in a TV commercial.

Statistics of the Year

Chronicle 1985: Statistics of the Year


Scooter design study

Chronicle 1986: Scooter design study
Volkswagen presents its latest design study – the Scooter – to the public at the Geneva Motor Show. The engine drives the two front wheels on this “three wheel experiment” while a rear wheel with single arm suspension primarily serves to investigate styling and drive dynamics. A transverse four-cylinder gasoline engine fitted to the fore of the front axle in the aerodynamically designed two-seater delivers 40 hp in the version with carburetor and 90 hp in the direct-injection version. Despite its slim lines – 3.17 meters long, 1.50 meters wide and 1.24 meters tall – the Scooter complies with all valid European safety regulations.

April 24

Chronicle 1986: April 24
Walter Hiller is elected Chairman of the General Works Council and also assumes the post of Chairman of the Group Works Council on May 6.

Special vehicle production in Brazil

Chronicle 1986: Special vehicle production in Brazil
Volkswagen do Brasil has a broad model range which also includes commercial vehicles up to a maximum of 13 metric tons. Special vehicles such as an armored Transporter also feature in the production program.

Seat plant in Pamplona

Chronicle 1986: Seat plant in Pamplona
The Volkswagen Group grows as Seat is integrated. Apart from this plant in Pamplona, production facilities in Barcelona, Prat de Llobregat and the research and development center in Martorell are also added. In 1986, 23,591 employees at these sites produce a total of 338,548 vehicles.

June 18

Chronicle 1986: June 18
After a period of successful co-operation, Volkswagen AG initially acquires 51 percent of the shares in Spanish car-maker Seat, S.A., which is integrated into the Volkswagen Group as a third independent brand. Volkswagen thus gains access to a new market, adds to its product range in the smaller car classes, and stabilises its leadership position in Europe. As part of the reorganisation of the Seat Group, the Pamplona site used for Polo production is demerged in December 1993 and transferred to Volkswagen-Audi-España, S.A. under the new name Fábricia Navarra de Automóviles, S.A. From then on, the manufacture of Seat models is concentrated at the Martorell site near Barcelona. Officially opened on February 22, 1993, with a daily capacity of 1,500 vehicles and a production cycle time of less than 20 hours per vehicle, the plant is a leader in the European car-making industry.

June 30

Chronicle 1986: June 30
In view of the expansive development of the leasing business in North America, and in order to improve internal management, the business of Volkswagen Financial Corporation is transferred to VW Credit, Inc., and on December 31 Vorelco, Inc. is merged into Volkswagen of America, Inc.

200,000 Volkswagens for Deutsche Bundespost

Chronicle 1986: 200,000 Volkswagens for Deutsche Bundespost
The two hundred thousandth Volkswagen to go into service with Deutsche Bundespost is a Golf 2 in the yellow dress of the German postal service.

20 years of Volkswagen motorsport

Chronicle 1986: 20 years of Volkswagen motorsport
Winning the drivers’ world championship in Group A rounds off the best motorsport year yet for Volkswagen. Kenneth Eriksson and Peter Diekmann win the title in a near-standard Golf GTI.

Drivetrain component production

Chronicle 1986: Drivetrain component production
1986 is a record year for Volkswagen AG. Production rises 15.8 percent to just under 2.8 million vehicles, making the Volkswagen Group the world’s fourth largest passenger car manufacturer. 42 percent of all vehicles leave the assembly lines at Group plants in Belgium, Spain, Yugoslavia, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, Nigeria, China and the USA.

December 31

Chronicle 1986: December 31
To consolidate its selling operations on the US market, Volkswagen of America, Inc. terminates its agreement with Oregon-based Volkswagen and Audi distributor Riviera Motors, Inc. by mutual consent. By taking control of its own distribution, Volkswagen seeks to exert greater influence over marketing and service activities in the region and implement cost-cutting rationalisation measures more effectively.

Volkswagen ad

Chronicle 1986: Volkswagen ad
“Some of the greatest Americans are German.” Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach Creative Director: Michael Borch Art Director: Günther Bauregger Texter: Michael Borch Photographer: Michael Pintado

Golf Cabriolet ad

Chronicle 1986: Golf Cabriolet ad
“Sonne, Mond und Cabrio.” (“Sun, moon and cabriolet.”) Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach Creative Director: Michael Borch Art Director: Boris Eucker Texters: Volker Düsberg, Peter Oprach Photographer: Reinhart Wolf

Statistics of the Year

Chronicle 1986: Statistics of the Year


50 million Volkswagens

Chronicle 1987: 50 million Volkswagens
The fifty millionth Volkswagen, a Golf GTI 16 V, leaves the assembly line in Wolfsburg in the presence of numerous guests from politics and industry. The success story began with the start of Beetle production on December 27, 1945: Beetles were built in Germany until 1978, with production continuing in Mexico and Brazil until 2003. In 1974, the Volkswagen Golf followed in the footsteps of the Beetle’s success. Volkswagen is in better shape in this anniversary year than during the Beetle era. Diversification of the model range and the reorganization of the production system ensure a flexible response to customers’ wishes. Moreover, the three brands in the Volkswagen Group and production facilities on five continents make sure that Volkswagen has the right car for almost every taste and budget.

Wolfsburg plant

Chronicle 1987: Wolfsburg plant
The “Tarifvertrag zur sozialen Sicherung der Arbeitnehmer bei technischen und arbeitsorganisatorischen Änderungen“ (collective agreement on social safeguards for employees in the event of technical changes and modifications to work processes) supercedes the rationalization protection agreement of 1968. The agreement applies to the Wolfsburg, Brunswick, Hanover, Kassel and Emden plants and includes better job protection provisions as well as stipulating the qualification of employees in line with requirements – in the interests of the company and the workforce.

May 27

Chronicle 1987: May 27
Under pressure from big sales drops in South America, Volkswagen AG and the Ford Motor Company combine their operations in the region under the holding company Autolatina Comércio, Negócios e Participações Ltda. in order to strengthen their competitiveness on the crisis-hit Brazilian market. Autolatina co-ordinates the operations of Volkswagen do Brasil S.A. and Ford do Brasil S.A., which remain legally independent entities. The Argentinian subsidiaries of both corporations are merged into Autolatina Argentina S.A. The two partners retain their own brand identities, with their sales and service functions continuing to operate through separate sales and dealership organisations. After the Brazilian market is opened for car imports, Ford and Volkswagen end their co-operation in April 1995. The legal demerger of the respective subsidiaries is completed on December 1of the same year in Brazil and on January 1, 1996 in Argentina.

Presentation of the “Auto, Motor und Sport” readers’ award

Chronicle 1987: Presentation of the “Auto, Motor und Sport” readers’ award
The readers of the “Auto. Motor. Sport.” specialist journal vote the Golf the best car in the lower mid-class segment, with the vehicle winning over 60 percent of votes.

June 23

Chronicle 1987: June 23
Volkswagen AG and the Toyota Motor Corporation sign a Memorandum of Understanding to build a one-tonne pick-up based on the Toyota Hilux at the Hanover plant.

July 2

Chronicle 1987: July 2
Klaus Liesen becomes Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Volkswagen AG.

Passat 3

Chronicle 1987: Passat 3
Production of the third generation of the Passat sedan begins. The new Passat Variant goes into production three months later and maintains its position as one of the most popular family cars. Starting at the end of 1991 both models are also built by Volkswagen Bratislava.

Gol Pickup

Chronicle 1987: Gol Pickup
Both two-seater delivery vans, the Gol Pickup and Gol Van, begin leaving the assembly line at Volkswagen do Brasil. 15,304 of these two light commercial vehicles are sold in 1987.

Volkswagen ad

Chronicle 1987: Volkswagen ad
“We must have been doing something right.” Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach Creative Director: Michael Borch Art Director: Günther Bauregger Texter: Michael Borch Photographer: Michael Pintado

Golf Cabriolet ad

Chronicle 1987: Golf Cabriolet ad
“Die neueste Form der Verführung.” (“The newest temptation.”) Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach

Statistics of the Year

Chronicle 1987: Statistics of the Year


March 14

Chronicle 1988: March 14
Through to March 25th, the highlight features of the third-generation Passat are demonstrated to German and international media in Nice. With a wheelbase extended to 2.62 metres, the notchback saloon and estate variants offer the most generous interior space in the mid-size class. Its engines, with power outputs between 53 and 100 kW, or 72 and 136 hp, are for the first time transverse-mounted. The flow-optimised body, welded together on a new fully automated line at the Emden plant, enables a drag coefficient (cw) of 0.29. Fuel consumption of the 59 kW/80 hp turbo-diesel engine is between 4.4 and 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres at a constant 90 km/h or in urban driving. Prices start from DM 23,200 for the notchback and DM 23,930 for the estate.

10 million Golfs

Chronicle 1988: 10 million Golfs
Chairman Dr. Carl H. Hahn refers to “a proud day for Volkswagen” when the ten millionth Golf leaves the assembly line on June 8. Since series production began in 1974, the successor to the Beetle has quickly become the most popular car in Germany. In Europe, the Golf has dominated new registration statistics uninterrupted for years. In 1986, the successful model is built at the Wolfsburg, Brussels, Puebla (Mexico), Uitenhage (South Africa), Westmoreland (USA) and Sarajevo (Yugoslavia) plants at a rate of approx. 4,300 vehicles per working day. In 1987, its share in Group production was 32.8 percent.

Golf GTI 16V

Chronicle 1988: Golf GTI 16V
Volkswagen adds a true thoroughbred to its stable in the shape of the Golf GTI 16 V with its four-cylinder, 16-valve direct injection engine and a power output of 129 hp. The design closely resembles the series sedan, and only the lowered chassis and the wider fenders are the unmistakable hallmarks of the very sporty character of the GTI.

July 14

Chronicle 1988: July 14
Following sustained high financial losses, under-use of capacity in the USA forces the closure of the Westmoreland plant, which is sold to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in October 1990. The plant in Puebla, Mexico is expanded and modernised to produce the Golf and Jetta for the US market. By the mid-1990s, the site has developed into a low-cost production location for exports to the USA, which has formed a free trade zone together with Canada and Mexico since 1994.

Industrial robot

Chronicle 1988: Industrial robot
Volkswagen systematically pursues the implementation of new key technologies for the ongoing optimization of production facilities: CAD (Computer Aided Design), CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing) and CIM (Computer Integrated Manufacturing) are just as much an integral part of the vehicle development and production process at the various sites as are the 2,626 industrial robots on the assembly lines. Apart from raising productivity, these new technologies also enhance flexibility during program and type changeovers.

Volkswagen in South Africa

Chronicle 1988: Volkswagen in South Africa
Volkswagen of South Africa also benefits from the South African economy’s noticeable recovery. Deliveries by the subsidiary increase 24.7 percent to 58,901 units during this financial year, with a 14.8 percent year-on-year increase in passenger car registrations. The workforce increases by 16.4 percent to just under 8,000.

Golf Tour special model

Chronicle 1988: Golf Tour special model
During this model year, Volkswagen adds the Golf Tour to its most successful model series. The 1.8-liter, 90 hp five-door model with a comfortable interior is available in a choice of four metallic finishes, an energy-efficient five-speed manual gearbox or automatic transmission and is ideal for long excursions.

August 22

Chronicle 1988: August 22
In Nuremberg Volkswagen presents the Corrado, its “first thoroughbred sports car”. Positioned above the Scirocco, its very name – derived from the Spanish “correr” for to run, race or spurt – expresses the dynamism of the strikingly styled sports compact. A mechanically driven G-60 supercharger and Digifant engine management system help the 1.8 litre four-cylinder unit produce 118 kW /160 hp of power. Average fuel consumption is 8.4 litres of premium petrol per 100 kilometres. The two-door model with a top speed of 225 km/h is priced from DM 42,500.

August 24

Chronicle 1988: August 24
Volkswagen signs an agreement in principle with Chinese car-maker First Automobile Works in Changchun for production under licence of the Audi 100.

August 31

Chronicle 1988: August 31
At a specially organised ceremony, Volkswagen hands over machinery for the production of four-stroke petrol engines to state-owned car manufacturing combine “VEB IFA-Kombinat Personenkraftwagen” in the city of Karl-Marx-Stadt (now Chemnitz) in the German Democratic Republic.

Golf ad

Chronicle 1988: Golf ad
“Der 10-Millionen-Golf.” (“The 10 million Golf.”) Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach

Polo ad

Chronicle 1988: Polo ad
“Bis daß der TÜV Euch scheidet.” (“Till MOT do us part.”) Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach

Statistics of the Year

Chronicle 1988: Statistics of the Year


January 10

Chronicle 1989: January 10
Production of the identical-design Toyota Hilux and the new Volkswagen Taro starts at the Hanover plant in the presence of Tatsuro Toyoda. The twin models close a gap in the one-tonne pick-up class. Characterised by robust construction, the cab and pick-up flat bed are bolted separately onto a solid ladder frame. The 61 kW diesel engine powers the vehicle to a top speed of 145 km/h. Fuel consumption according to the DIN standard is 7.4 litres of diesel per 100 kilometres at a constant 90 km/h. The list price is DM 21,300.

Santana production in Shanghai

Chronicle 1989: Santana production in Shanghai
Automotive spring: the Chinese market is growing and the Volkswagen Group’s far-sighted commitment is paying off. While 8,471 Santana were produced in 1986, the number leaving the assembly line in Shanghai had grown to 15,688 by 1989.

25 million Volkswagens from Wolfsburg

Chronicle 1989: 25 million Volkswagens from Wolfsburg
Another milestone for the Volkswagen plant in Wolfsburg as the 25 millionth Volkswagen – a silver grey Golf with catalytic converter – leaves the assembly line on July 4. Apart from the Beetle, the plant has to date also built the Transporter, Kurierwagen, VW 1500, VW 411, Audi 50, Audi 80, Audi 100, Passat, Golf, Scirocco, Polo, Jetta, Vento, Bora, Lupo, Touran and Tiguan.

August 14

Chronicle 1989: August 14
The consulting company Volkswagen Asia Ltd. founded in Tokyo in 1983 to support sales of the Santana produced under license by Nissan in Japan is renamed Volkswagen Audi Nippon K.K. On appointment of the first direct dealers in November 1990, Volkswagen starts building up its own distribution system in Japan. As the Japanese market opens up, and following its strategy of boosting exports, Volkswagen AG targets high-volume sales. For an interim period, Volkswagen Audi Nippon K.K. handles Volkswagen imports alongside Japanese company Yanese, before taking over the sole importer function on January 1, 1993. The Volkswagen and Audi distribution network comprises 70 dealers at this time. Shortly after, the sales company acquires a majority share in former Renault importer JAX Co. Ltd., in order to strengthen its dealership network in the Greater Tokyo area.

September 12

Chronicle 1989: September 12
The diesel catalytic converter premieres at the Frankfurt International Motor Show in the featured Volkswagen Golf and Jetta volume models. The turbocharged 1.6 litre diesel engine is fitted with an oxidation-type catalytic converter, and its emissions are well within stringent US exhaust and particulate limits.

IRVW “Futura”

Chronicle 1989: IRVW “Futura”
Volkswagen presents the prototype of the “Futura” IRVW (Integrated Research Volkswagen) at the 53rd International Motor Show in Frankfurt. Volkswagen researchers use the prototype to demonstrate what technical innovations could be brought to series maturity over the next ten to 15 years: spectacular features include the two gullwing doors and the removable section at the rear. The 1.7-liter gasoline engine with innovative, very economical direct injection is revolutionary. Its all-wheel drive capability and sensor-assisted parallel parking system activated at the touch of a button are unique.

TAS Tvornica Automobila Sarajevo

Chronicle 1989: TAS Tvornica Automobila Sarajevo
The three hundred thousandth Volkswagen, a Golf, leaves the assembly line in Sarajevo on September 28. Total annual production of 35,459 vehicles represented a 25 percent year-on-year rise and TAS consolidated its position on the Yugoslavian automobile market, generating a profit this year.

Golf Eco

Chronicle 1989: Golf Eco
Volkswagen presents a vehicle with economically-friendly drivetrain technology in the shape of the Golf Eco, a cooperation project with the State of Lower Saxony. Based on the advanced turbo-diesel engine with a catalytic converter and a newly-developed drive system control with automatic engine shut down and restart, the 1.6-liter, 44 kW Golf Eco uses 29 percent less fuel and emits up to 30 percent less pollutants than comparable models without detracting from its driving performance.

December 22

Chronicle 1989: December 22
Immediately after the opening of the border between East and West Germany, Volkswagen AG launches a push into the East German market, utilising its long-standing business relationship with the car industry in Saxony. Together with the former state-owned passenger car combine “IFA-Kombinat Personenkraftwagen” in Chemnitz, it forms a planning company, named Volkswagen IFA-PKW GmbH, to prepare the development and production of vehicle models which could be competitive on international markets. The first Polos are assembled in the former Trabant factory on May 21, 1990, and production of the Golf begins in February 1991. To meet the expected increase in demand, Volkswagen invests in the expansion of production facilities in Mosel, Chemnitz and Eisenach.

Golf ad

Chronicle 1989: Golf ad
“Braucht der Golf eigentlich noch Werbung?” (“Does the Golf still need to be advertised?”) Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach

Corrado ad

Chronicle 1989: Corrado ad
“Der neue Corrado. So stellen wir uns einen Sportwagen vor.” (“The new Corrado. Our idea of a sportscar.”) Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach

Statistics of the Year

Chronicle 1989: Statistics of the Year


January 1

Chronicle 1990: January 1
The Volkswagen Group restructures its transport business by forming V.A.G Transport GmbH & Co. OHG, which consolidates the management of global transport operations previously spread across Volkswagen AG, Audi AG and V.A.G Transport GmbH. Volkswagen AG has an 81 percent share in the company, and Audi AG 19 percent. V.A.G Transport GmbH manages the new enterprise.

Golf “Fire and Ice”

Chronicle 1990: Golf “Fire and Ice”
Volkswagen presents the “Fire and Ice” special series, a sporty and exclusive version of the Golf of superior comfort developed in cooperation with fashion designer and director Willy Bogner. With its extravagant optical effects – dark violet pearl effect paintwork, alloy wheel rims, front spoiler and various wide body features, plus an engine range from 90 to 160 hp, the Golf Fire and Ice, and in particular the GTI version, soon became a much coveted collectors’ item.

Volkswagen in Mosel/Zwickau

Chronicle 1990: Volkswagen in Mosel/Zwickau
Planned and prepared by Volkswagen IFA-PKW GmbH, the IFA plant in Mosel near Zwickau makes the production transition successfully. On May 21, 1990, the era of the planned economy comes to an end as Trabant production ceases, making way for the Polo, a forward-looking product that lays the foundation for economic growth and secure jobs in Saxony.

Polo facelift

Chronicle 1990: Polo facelift
The Volkswagen Polo starts the new model year with upgraded visual features and optimized aerodynamics. After a comprehensive facelift the cd value of both the sporty coupe and the practical hatchback version has been improved by ten percent, giving the compact two-door model considerably enhanced dynamics and elegance. The latest outfit includes new door and side trims, more powerful front and rear bumpers, square headlights and modified rear lights. The facelift brings a fresh design to the interior of the Fox, CL and GT equipment lines with new steering wheel and dashboard features. Volkswagen puts the Polo G40 with its genuine GTI feeling, which has a power output of 113 hp thanks to its G40 charger and had previously hit the headlines primarily in motorsport, at the top of the range.

Škoda plant in Mladá Boleslav

Chronicle 1990: Škoda plant in Mladá Boleslav
The Czech government awards Volkswagen AG the rights to acquire 100 percent of “Škoda, automobilová a.s.”, an automobile manufacturer rich in tradition which provides Volkswagen with excellent access to the automobile markets in central and Eastern Europe. Škoda, which is located in Mladá Boleslav, has a highly qualified workforce and a yearly capacity of 190,000 vehicles. On April 16, 1991, it joins the Volkswagen Group as its fourth independent brand.

June 14

Chronicle 1990: June 14
The renaming of V.A.G Kredit Bank GmbH as V.A.G Bank GmbH signals a move into the direct banking business, which is now established alongside the long-standing dealer and customer financing operations. Starting in November 1990, its Volkswagen/Audi Card System is the first in Germany to offer both market-leading credit cards, EUROCARD and VISA, in a single package. The product portfolio of Volkswagen’s financial services subsidiary, renamed Volkswagen Bank GmbH on December 14, 1994, is gradually expanded to include instalment loans to external customers, for example, as well as the Auto-Credit plan launched in 1995. This low monthly payment plan carries the option at the end of the term of returning the vehicle, paying off the final instalment, or extending the agreement. In 1999, Volkswagen Bank extends its financial services portfolio to include mortgages and investment fund trading.

June 26

Chronicle 1990: June 26
Klaus Volkert is elected Chairman of the General and Group Works Councils.

August 28

Chronicle 1990: August 28
The fourth-generation Transporter is presented to the media in Braunlage, Lower Saxony. The new model features radically changed engineering and design. Its short, flat bonnet houses a transverse-mounted engine driving the front wheels. Its new design means the T 4 can be offered in two wheelbase variants and three weight classes, and can be assembled entirely based on the modular component kit system. Initially, two diesel engines developing 45 and 57 kW respectively and two petrol engines developing 62 and 81 kW are offered for the box van, minibus and pick-up variants. Thanks to an outstanding drag coefficient (cw) of 0.36, the top speeds of the various engines are between 128 and 161 km/h. The DIN standard fuel consumption of the 1.9 litre diesel engine is 7.9 litres per 100 kilometres. Its 80 litre tank provides the Transporter with a long range. Prices start from DM 25,405. At start of production, the Hanover plant commissions into operation a new line which has both health and environmental benefits. The automated installation of axles, engines and gearboxes makes overhead working largely obsolete, and in the new, likewise highly automated, paint shop opened in 1988 chemical solvents are for the most part replaced by water-based products.

August 31

Chronicle 1990: August 31
The Volkswagen Group sets up a European Works Council, made up of employee representatives from Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, Seat, S.A. and Volkswagen Bruxelles S.A. The European Works Council is a first in the automotive industry, and takes up its duties well before the new EU Works Council Directive is passed on September 22, 1994. The contract between the employee representatives and the Group’s management is signed on February 7, 1992.

December 12

Chronicle 1990: December 12
In order to establish an efficient production location in eastern Germany, Volkswagen IFA-PKW GmbH becomes Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH. The company expands capacity in Mosel and in 1991/92 takes over both the engine plant Motorenwerke Chemnitz GmbH and cylinder head manufacturer Zylinderkopffertigung Eisenach GmbH, the latter subsequently being sold in 1996 following the commissioning of a new four-valve cylinder head production line in Chemnitz. Until the new production facility is completed, Sächsische Automobilbau GmbH (SAB), a company set up by Volkswagen and the Treuhandanstalt privatisation agency on December 19, 1990 is responsible for assembling the Polo and the Golf at the old Mosel plant. In June 1994, SAB is taken over by Volkswagen AG, which had held managerial responsibility for it since its founding. The merger of Volkswagen Sachsen with SAB is completed on August 15, 1998 and the enterprise is renamed Volkswagen Sachsen GmbH. At the end of the year, the company has a workforce of 6,700.

Golf ad

Chronicle 1990: Golf ad
“In aller Bescheidenheit.” (“In all modesty.”) Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach

Golf ad

Chronicle 1990: Golf ad
“Qualität kommt von Qual.” (“Quality doesn't come easy.”) Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach

Statistics of the Year

Chronicle 1990: Statistics of the Year


January 1

Chronicle 1991: January 1
The organisational structure of the Volkswagen Group is adapted to reflect the brand alliance. A new Brand Management Board is now responsible for the operations of the Volkswagen brand. The Group Management Board decides on all cross-brand matters.

February 6

Chronicle 1991: February 6
Volkswagen AG establishes a second pillar of its business in China. The joint venture FAW-Volkswagen Automotive Company, Ltd. is formed in Changchun together with First Automobile Works, a co-operation partner since 1988. Volkswagen AG holds a 40 percent share in the new company. By this joint venture, the Group strengthens its position in China in order to secure long-term market leadership and establishes an additional low-cost manufacturing base in Asia. The Jetta is initially assembled from imported component kits. In 1994 the newly constructed plant begins producing the Jetta with an annual capacity of 150,000 vehicles. Two years later, a gearbox and engine building facility goes into operation, supplying other Group members within China as well as exporting to Germany.

March 1

Chronicle 1991: March 1
In the course of streamlining its overseas operations, the Volkswagen Group bundles its production and sales operations in the USA, Canada and Mexico to form the North American Region (NAR). As in the case of the South America/Africa Region, created in 1993, regional management bears operational responsibility, while the designated board members are in charge of the reorganisation process and regional strategy and co-ordination.

March 4

Chronicle 1991: March 4
Volkswagen consolidates all its financial services under the umbrella of Volkswagen Finanz GmbH. At the core of this reorganisation is the amalgamation of the leasing and banking business, aimed at achieving synergy in field sales operations. The share capital of V.A.G Leasing GmbH and V.A.G Bank is transferred to Volkswagen Finanz GmbH, which takes over all the operations of V.A.G Leasing GmbH as well as the sales and marketing of V.A.G Bank. The Volkswagen Group has become Europe’s leading industry provider of financial services, which now account for over 25 percent of the Group’s total assets.

April 16

Chronicle 1991: April 16
Czech car-maker Škoda, automobilová a.s., located in Mladá Boleslav, joins the Volkswagen Group as its fourth independent brand, bringing with it a highly skilled workforce and a yearly capacity of 190,000 vehicles. The Czech government had awarded Volkswagen AG the right to take over the long-established business on December 10, 1990, providing it with excellent access to the car markets of Central and Eastern Europe.

Training center at the Emden plant

Chronicle 1991: Training center at the Emden plant
Having taken less than two years to build, Volkswagen inaugurates a new training center in Emden. From now on, all site-related qualification measures are held on over 10,000 spare meters at the training center. The plant training concept includes soft and social skills as well as apprenticeships and advanced vocational training. In 1991, Emden plant trains industrial mechanics specializing in production technology and machine/system technology, production technology industrial electricians, management engineering technicians, office clerks, office communication clerks, social insurance clerks and cooks.

May 30

Chronicle 1991: May 30
Volkswagen AG puts the finishing touch to its involvement in Czechoslovakia. The agreement concluded with the Slovakian government on March 12th concerning co-operation with the car-maker Bratislavské Automobilové Závodi leads to the establishment of Volkswagen Bratislava, spol. s. r. o. Volkswagen takes over a manufacturing complex with a fully developed infrastructure and starts producing Passats there in December 1991. Exclusive production of the Golf syncro is transferred to Volkswagen Bratislava in 1995 following the expansion of the company’s production capacity and the construction of a gearbox plant. After the start of production of the Golf 4 in 1997, volumes triple in the following year to 125,281 units. The workforce increases to 5,250.

June 24

Chronicle 1991: June 24
Volkswagen AG and the Ford Motor Company establish the joint venture AutoEuropa Automóveis Lda. in Palmela, Portugal. Aimed at sharing capital commitment and risk, the enterprise is set up to exploit opportunities in the booming multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) market segment. The product concept, tailored to the European market, is developed under Volkswagen control.

July 12

Chronicle 1991: July 12
The first more rounded design third-generation Golf rolls off the production line at “count point 8” of the Wolfsburg plant. The new model is launched simultaneously in six European countries on November 8, 1991. Its more flowing lines, with distinctly flared panel edges along the car’s flanks, make the body styling more dynamic, the silhouette more elegant. The new Golf sets ground-breaking safety standards. With in-door side impact guards, reinforced door sills, an additional safety cross-beam below the dashboard and mash-seam welded longitudinal members, it even conforms to crash test standards that have not yet become law. Volkswagen makes a further contribution to conserving the environment by its commitment to take back any third-generation Golf built in 1992 or later free of charge at the end of its useful life. Golf prices start from DM 19,975. The fuel-injection petrol engines range from the 1.4 litre 44 kW/60 hp to the 2.0 litre 85 kW/115 hp unit. The top-of-the-range model is the Golf VR6, featuring a 2.8 litre six-cylinder engine developing 128 kW/174 hp. Two diesel engines developing 47 kW/64 hp and 55 kW/75 hp respectively are also available, as is a catalytic converter option.


Chronicle 1991: Vento
Production of the Vento begins in Mexico and South Africa. This visually and technically redesigned model takes the place of the Jetta.

Golf VR6

Chronicle 1991: Golf VR6
The six-cylinder engine makes its debut in the Passat and Golf. The combination of in-line six-cylinder and V-engine in the Golf VR6 generates a powerful 174 hp at 2.8-liter cubic capacity and accelerates the first six-cylinder in the compact class from zero to one hundred kilometers per hour in 7.8 seconds. The design and equipment of the Golf VR6 also reflect the vehicle’s sporty character and dynamics, as demonstrated by features such as a lowered chassis, wider wings and sills, twin exhaust or the front spoiler. The standard safety package in the VR6 models includes an electronically-controlled anti-blocking system (ABS), an additional reinforced section to enhance side collision safety and an electronic differential lock – a “first” for front-wheel drive vehicles.

October 7

Chronicle 1991: October 7
The Salzgitter plant sees the onset of the TDI era. The first direct-injection turbo-diesel, with a 1.9 litre capacity and developing 66 kW of power, goes into production. The engine is initially offered for the Audi 80.

Golf GTI ad

Chronicle 1991: Golf GTI ad
“GTI. Denn jede Generation braucht Vorbilder.” (“GTI. Every generation needs role models.”) Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach

Polo ad

Chronicle 1991: Polo ad
„Der neue Polo. Da möchte man gar nicht mehr aussteigen.“ (“The new Polo. Can't stand to leave it.”) Agency: Doyle Dane Bernbach

Statistics of the Year

Chronicle 1991: Statistics of the Year
The specified fuel consumption and emission data are determined in accordance with the measurement procedures prescribed by law. 1 January 2022, the WLTP test cycle completely replaced the NEDC test cycle and therefore no NEDC values are available for new type approved vehicles after that date. This information does not refer to a single vehicle and is not part of the offer but is only intended for comparison between different types of vehicles. Additional equipment and accessories (additional components, tyre formats, etc.) can alter relevant vehicle parameters such as weight, rolling resistance and aerodynamics, affecting the vehicle's fuel consumption, power consumption, CO2 emissions and driving performance values in addition to weather and traffic conditions and individual driving behavior. Due to more realistic testing conditions, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions measured according to WLTP will in many cases be higher than the values measured according to NEDC. As a result, the taxation of vehicles may change accordingly as of 1 September 2018. For further information on the differences between WLTP and NEDC, please visit www.volkswagen.de/wltp. Further information on official fuel consumption data and official specific CO2 emissions for new passenger cars can be found in the "Guide to fuel economy, CO2 emissions and power consumption for new passenger car models", which is available free of charge from all sales dealerships and from DAT Deutsche Automobil Treuhand GmbH, Hellmuth-Hirth-Str. 1, D-73760 Ostfildern, Germany and at www.dat.de/co2.