Volkswagen was founded in 1937 by the German Labor Front as a company expected to build cars for the people (Volkswagen means "people's car" in German). Ferdinand Porsche, founder of Porsche, had been attempting to sell the design for a small, affordable family car and had even built a prototype called the Volksauto in 1931. That prototype eventually became the Volkswagen Beetle, one of the most iconic cars of all time and the vehicle that launched VW.
The Beetle was never really successful until after World War II when the British, noting the car's low cost and high reliability during their occupation of Germany, ordered 20,000. This kept the Volkswagen automotive factory alive. Most of those cars were given to Army personnel and to the newly-reformed German Post Office. When British personnel began taking their VW Beetles home, however, interest in the car spread and by 1946, the VW factory was producing 1,000 cars a month, despite being in severe disrepair, having been damaged by bombing and occupying troops at the end of the war.
Today, Volkswagen produces many best-selling vehicles globally under its VW and Audi nameplates and also produces other machinery and vehicles under various nameplates around the world. VW has produced four World Car of the Year winners, including the Golf (has won twice), Polo, and up! The Jetta TDI won Green Car of the Year in 2009, and in 2011, Volkswagen had nine vehicles listed as Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Top Safety Picks. The Passat MMS won the 2012 Motor Trend Car of the Year award.
Volkswagen manufactures vehicles in factories around the world, including Chattanooga, Tennessee.