ID.Buzz next to VW camper van at the beach.

Our heritage

Volkswagen is an iconic part of American culture. Learn more about the brand and our rich heritage.

Classic VW beetle with sufboard near beach.
Not just great value in transportation

From the Beetle and the Bus, through the Rabbit, Jetta and GTI, and to the Tiguan and Atlas, Volkswagen has always maintained its status as “the people’s car” — delivering not just great value in transportation, but also fun-to-drive cars with a unique style.

Timeline of Volkswagen in the United States


In 1949, Dutch businessman Ben Pon arrived in New York with two Volkswagen Type 1 vehicles. While Pon struggled initially to sell the cars, Americans soon warmed to the charms of the Beetle. 

Photo of the original VW beetle in America.
Classic VW beetle with trunk open to show engine.


Volkswagen of America was established in 1955 to organize dealers and provide parts and service. In 1959, the brand ran its first iconic “Think Small” ad touting the benefits of the air-cooled, easy-to-maintain Beetle.


The Beetle, Bus and more niche models like the Karmann Ghia were essential parts of ‘60s culture, from Woodstock to Hollywood. Volkswagen responded to demand by adding vehicles like the Dasher and Squareback to its model line.

Iconic VWs form the 1960s.
VW Rabbit.


The ‘70s brought demands for even more efficient models, and the first-generation Scirocco joined the lineup, followed by the Golf with its American name—the Rabbit. Volkswagen built its first U.S. plant in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania in 1978, and eventually assembled more than 1.1 million Rabbits there. That plant also assembled Volkswagen’s first American sporty car, the Rabbit GTI, a model that would win over generations of fans and spawn several hot-hatch competitors.


Throughout the ‘80s, Volkswagen offered an increasing level of sophistication and refinement in models like the Jetta and Passat.

1980s Volkswagen Jetta.
New VW Beetle in 1998.


As retro culture came into vogue in the ‘90s, Volkswagen showed the Concept 1, a reimagination of the classic Beetle. It was so well received that the brand launched the New Beetle in 1998.


The company broke ground on its Chattanooga assembly plant in 2008, signaling a shift to localized production in one of the brand’s key growth markets. Since that time, the company has invested more than $4.3 billion in its Tennessee operations and created more than 125,000 direct and indirect American jobs.

VW broke ground on its Chattanooga assembly plant in 2008.
In 2016, Volkswagen Chattanooga began production of the all-new Atlas.


In 2016, our Chattanooga plant began assembly of the VW Atlas, our first seven-passenger SUV assembled in America.


In 2022, the Chattanooga plant began production of VW’s all‑electric ID.4 compact SUV, our first electric vehicle assembled in the United States. Just one year later, we announced two upcoming vehicles which will complete our electric portfolio: the ID.7 and the three-row ID. Buzz.

In 2022, the Chattanooga plant began production of VW’s all-electric ID.4 compact SUV.
In 2016, Volkswagen Chattanooga began production of the all-new Atlas.
What’s next?

Volkswagen may be “the people’s car,” but it’s the people that drive our cars who continue to shape our story. We can’t wait for our next chapter with you.

Assembled locally in Chattanooga, TN

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