Change is in the wind. At the end of December, 2013, the last Volkswagen van will be built in Brazil. Brazil is the only place on the planet that is still producing the once extremely popular vehicle.
The Kombi is the name of the van made by Volkswagen and it is often associated with hippies. The name Kombi is short for Kombinationsfahrzeug, a word resembling cargo passenger van in English. Ocean surfers, the Brazilian mail service, hippies and businesses that worked out of the van will miss the vehicle when it is gone. Brazil has changed its safety standards and the Kombi cannot conform to them with its basic design. Anti-lock brakes and air bags are some of the new requirements that are now in force. Volkswagen is offering a limited edition Kombi for buyers and collectors.
The Volkswagen brand, around since 1937, embraces change. Volkswagen literally translates to “peoples’ car.” Originally, it was designed for people who could not previously afford a car. As with many companies and situations, there are many sides to Volkswagen’s past. Initially, Volkswagen sales did not fare very well. The power of marketing changed that for the better.
In 1959, the Doyle Branch advertising agency began an incredible campaign launching the Volkswagen Beetle into the minds of all who would see it. The promotion went so well that the car became the top-selling imported vehicle in America in just a few years. Sales of the Beetle were so successful that it beat the Ford Motor Company’s $15 million sales record between the years 1908 and 1927. The biggest selling point was its unique size and shape. This model was embraced so well that it stayed the same from 1935 until the early 1970s. Recognizing that the run was coming to an end, Volkswagen developed the Rabbit and followed it up as the Golf model merged onto the scene. The last original model Beetle was produced in Puebla, Mexico on July 30, 2003.
Known for uniqueness, the two iconic models of Volkswagen, the Kombi van and the Beetle, will be missed by many. Although it is moving with the times, the company is still determined to be a trailblazer. Volkswagen began manufacturing the Touareg, a four-wheel drive SUV, in 2003, as their first vehicle directed toward the mainstream. It has a rechargeable flashlight and is capable of off road driving in addition to the availability of other features. The Touareg does not have the unique visual appearance of the Beetle or the Kombi. Instead, it invites one to take a look inside or take a ride to feel the difference it has to offer.
Volkswagen may be putting two memorable historic vehicles to rest, but it is also working to fill the gap those unique vehicles leave behind with innovation that is clearly adaptable to today’s adventurous lifestyles. Volkswagen is now a frontrunner in sales, competing with top car sellers around the world. Technology today is constantly moving, keeping the public on its toes. Volkswagen’s ability to embrace change is a clear example of how to deal with new technological developments.
By Dada Ra