kids encyclopedia robot

Volkswagen facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Industry Automotive
Founded 28 May 1937; 86 years ago (1937-05-28)
Founder German Labour Front
Headquarters ,
Area served
Key people
Thomas Schäfer (CEO, Volkswagen Passenger Cars)
Parent Volkswagen Group

Volkswagen is a car company from Germany. The word volkswagen means "People's car" in German. Its headquarters are in Wolfsburg, Lower Saxony. It was started in the 1930s, at the request of the country's leader, Adolf Hitler, to produce a car designed by Ferdinand Porsche.


In the 1930s Adolf Hitler was looking for someone who could make a cheap car that the common German worker could afford. At the same time, Ferdinand Porsche had been working for years on a cheap car that could hold a family and would drive like a real car, not a micro car. He had already designed and built small cars with rear engines and shaped like a beetle (for better aerodynamics). At this time, owning a car in Germany was something only for the rich people, and most car companies were not interested in making a low-cost car. Porsche's company, also called Porsche, only made designs for others at that time. So Porsche could not find anyone to make the small car that he wanted.

Though Hitler never learned to drive, he was very interested in cars (he also created the autobahn, which led to the U.S. interstate highways). Hitler wanted the car to hold four people. It was to be cooled by oil instead of water. The car needed to be able to travel at least 100 km/h, or about 60 mph, and use no more than 7 liters of gasoline for 100 kilometers (about 34 mpg). The car companies in Germany at the time didn't want to make this new low-cost car, so Hitler formed a new company, run by the government. The first name given to the car was "KdF-Wagen." "KdF" stood for Kraft durch Freude, or "Strength through Joy." Some were made, but by the time the factory was finished in 1938, World War II started. The factory then built jeep-like cars for the German military instead.

1949 VW Beetle
1949 Volkswagen Beetle

After the war, people from the United Kingdom and the United States reopened the factory and started making cars again. The factory was in ruins from the war and could only make a few cars at a time. The British military were in charge of this section of Germany. At first they tried to find another car company to rebuild the factory. Henry Ford was offered the company for free. After looking it over, his adviser recommended to reject the deal. So the Volkswagen company went ahead by itself to make the car. The man who led the Volkswagen company during this time was Heinz Nordhoff.

At first they only made one type of car, the Volkswagen Beetle. (It was simply called the Type 1 Sedan by the company, it also had the nickname "Bug" in the U.S. and other nicknames elsewhere). In 1950, the Type 2 (the bus) was introduced, also built with an engine in the back of the vehicle. The cars became popular and well-known all over the world. The Beetle later became one of the best selling cars in history. It was built for many years afterward in factories in Germany, Brazil and Mexico.

The last original Volkswagen Beetle to be built was built in Mexico. It was built in July of 2003. Volkswagen has a new car called the "New Beetle." which began selling in 1997, It looks like the old car, but is built quite differently. It is faster, safer, and has an engine in the front, not the back, and is water-cooled (using a radiator). It is much more suited to today's modern world in terms of design and security.

Volkswagen is currently involved in an emissions test scandal.

Recent vehicles

Some of Volkswagen's popular cars are the Golf, Jetta, Polo,Beetle and the Passat. VW's as they are commonly known, have also entered the off road segment with cars like the Touarag, and the commercial segment with the Touran. This year sees VW's 21st anniversary since the Golf 1 went on sale in the 1980s. Since its birth VW has sold over 315,000 units of the Golf 1 alone. 2006 saw the entry of the fifth generation of the Golf. The flagbearer - the GTI - is powered by a 147Kw 2.0l 4 cylinder turbo charged engine,with VW DSG and FSI technology. The Golf GTI has evolved a long way since the 80's but the fifth generation GTI is criticised by some as it does not live up to the expectations and standards set by the legendary Mk1 GTI, which was fitted with an 1600, 8 valve motor.



  • Type 1: Beetle(also known as "Bug"), Karmann Ghia, and some specialty models, like the Fridolin, a mini-delivery van
  • Type 2: Bus (several styles, like an ambulance version, a camper van, and the 21-window touring van)
  • Type 3: Squareback, Notchback and Fastback In 1968 these cars were the first general production cars in the world to have fuel-injection
  • Type 4: 411-412 - not many were sold, but the large fuel-injected engine, made in common with Porsche for the Porsche 914, was later used in the VW bus


The water-cooled line was started in 1974.

Flying vehicles

In February 2021, Volkswagen issued a statement that "vertical mobility" could be the next step after self-driving technology. It announced that the company is exploring the feasibility of flying vehicles in China.


VW take up! 1.0 – Frontansicht, 25. Februar 2012, Düsseldorf
The Volkswagen up! won the 2012 World Car of the Year.

Volkswagen was named the fourth most influential car of the 20th century in the 1999 Car of the Century competition, for its Volkswagen Type 1 "Beetle" model. It trailed only the Ford Model T, BMC Mini, and Citroën DS.

Volkswagen has produced four winners of the 50-year-old European Car of the Year award.

Volkswagen has produced five winners of the United States Motor Trend Car of the Year award – the original Car of the Year designation, which began in 1949.

Volkswagen has already produced five winners of the recently developed World Car of the Year award.

Motorsport rally team

Formula racing

  • In 1963, Formula Vee circuit racing, with cars built from easily available Beetle parts, started in the United States. It quickly spread to Europe and other parts of the world. It proved very popular as a low-cost route into formula racing.
  • In 1971, Volkswagen of America started the more powerful Formula Super Vee, which became famous for hothousing new talent. In the 11 years it ran, until 1982, it produced a stable of world-famous Formula One drivers—names like Niki Lauda, Jochen Mass, Nelson Piquet, Jochen Rindt and Keke Rosberg. Volkswagen also notched up several victories, and the championship in Formula Three.
  • In July 2011 Wolfgang Dürheimer told German magazine Auto, Motor und Sport that "if [the VW group] is at the forefront of the auto industry, I can imagine us competing in Formula 1 in 2018. We have enough brands to pull it off." They did not compete in F1 in 2018.

World Rally Championship

  • In 1981, now based in Hanover, VW took a new direction into rallying, with the launch of the first-generation Golf, and Sweden's Per Eklund, Frenchman Jean-Luc Thérier, and the Finn Pentti Airikkala. The final chapters in Volkswagen Racing UK's rallying story were the 'one-make' Castrol Polo Challenge, and the Polo GTI 'Super 1600' in 2001.
  • Volkswagen Motorsport won the World Rally Championship with Sébastien Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia four years in a row from 2013 to 2016 in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC.

Dakar Rally

  • In 1980, Volkswagen competed with the Audi-developed Iltis, placing 1st, 2nd, 4th and 9th overall.
  • In 2003, the Hanover-based team entered with a 2WD buggy named Tarek, finishing 6th overall and 1st in the 2WD and Diesel class.
  • In 2005, an updated Race-Touareg with slightly more power entered, with driver Bruno Saby finishing 3rd overall and 1st in the Diesel class.
  • In 2006, the revised Race-Touareg entered, with driver Giniel de Villiers finishing 2nd overall and 1st in the Diesel class.
  • Volkswagen won the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Dakar Rally, held in South America.

Volkswagen motorsport worldwide

  • Europe: In 1998 the company founded the ADAC Volkswagen Lupo Cup, founded in 1998 (renamed Polo Cup in 2003, and Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup from 2010 to 2014), and started the ADAC New Beetle Cup in 2000. In 2004, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles entered the European Truck Racing series with the Volkswagen Titan truck – it became a back-to-back champion for the 2004 and 2005 series.
  • United States: In 1976, Volkswagen entered the under-2000-cc Trans-Am Series, with the Scirocco, and they won their class outright. Beginning in 2008 Volkswagen introduced the Jetta TDI Cup. The Jetta TDI Cup is an SCCA sanctioned race series that features 25 drivers between the ages of 16 and 26 driving slightly modified 2009 Jetta TDIs. The series features 10 events at 8 different road courses across North America. There is $50,000 prize money at stake over the course of the series in addition to the $100,000 prize awarded to the champion of the series at the conclusion of the last race.
  • Argentina: Many Volkswagen models have competed in TC 2000, including the 1980 to 1983 champion Volkswagen 1500 and the 1994 champion Volkswagen Gol.
  • In 1999 and 2000, VW won the F2 Australian Rally Championship with the Golf GTI.
  • Finland: In 2002, VW won the Finnish Rally Championship in a7/(F2), with a Golf Mk4 KitCar, with Mikko Hirvonen. In 1999 and 2000, VW won the Finnish Rally Championship in a7/(F2) with a Golf Mk3 KitCar. In 2000, 2001 and 2002, VW won the Finnish Racing Championship in Sport 2000 with a Golf Mk4.
  • Austria: From 1967 until 1974, the Austrian sole distributor Porsche Salzburg entered the VW Beetle (1500, 1302S and 1303S) in Europe-wide rallies. Victories were achieved in 1972 and 1973 in the overall Austrian championship, on Elba, in the Acropolis rally (first in class). Top drivers were Tony Fall (GB), Achim Warmbold (D), Günter Janger (A), Harry Källström (S).

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Volkswagen para niños

Black History Month on Kiddle
Famous African-American Inventors:
Valerie Thomas
Frederick McKinley Jones
George Edward Alcorn Jr.
Thomas Mensah
kids search engine
Volkswagen Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.