Volkswagen do Brasil

Last updated
Volkswagen do Brasil Ltda.
Industry Automotive industry
Area served
South America
Products automobiles
Owner Volkswagen Group
Number of employees
22,500 (2013)

Volkswagen do Brasil Ltda. is a subsidiary arm of Volkswagen Group, established in 1953 with local assembly of the Volkswagen Type 1 from parts imported from Germany. It produced over 20 million vehicles in Brazil, having been market leader for the majority of their more than sixty years in existence. Beginning in 1958, the Type 1 ("Fuscas") had a 24-year run as the number one in sales in Brazil. From 1987 until 2012, the Gol has been in first place in sales for 26 years straight. [1]



The Volkswagen assembly plant in Brazil was established after the Brazilian government prohibited the import of fully built-up vehicles in 1953. [2] Its first president was Friedrich Schultz-Wenk, who had emigrated to Brazil in 1950 after a brief stint as a prisoner of war followed by some time in Wolfsburg. [3] Their first plant was in Ipiranga, São Paulo and was a strict knock-down kit operation. In two years 2268 Fuscas and 552 Kombis were assembled there by hand. [3] After Juscelino Kubitschek's import substitution programs began taking effect, Volkswagen was compelled to open a proper factory in São Bernardo do Campo. Work on the factory began in mid-1957. [4] Originally only the Kombi was built locally from September 1957, but from January 1959 the 1200 cc "Fusca" also entered local production, with ever-growing local parts content. [3] In 1959, VW started production at the plant near São Paulo. [5]

Workers have been accusing Volkswagen do Brasil of spying on them starting in the 1970s, which was during Brazil's military dictatorship from 1964-1985. VW's security personnel informed the political police on eventual oppositional activities. In 1976, mass arrests occurred and some VW employees were tortured. In 1979, Brazilian VW workers traveled to Wolfsburg to inform the CEO in person. [6]

In 2014, the "truth commission" convened by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff found documents that "dozens of companies, including Volkswagen and other foreign automakers, helped the military identify union activists", including Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. [7] In subsequent meetings before the São Paulo state commission, VW legal counsel have denied accusations and contested there was no document proving VW had violated human rights. [8]

In 2015, activists and former VW employees in Brazil spoke out in public accusing the company's silence about the persecution of its workers. [9]

In November 2016, VW commissioned a second expert review of the situation by historian Christopher Kopper of Bielefeld University, which is due end of 2017. [9] after its "chief historian Manfred Grieger quit around the same time as Kopper was appointed." [6] Grieger had recommended to donate a memorial for those whose human rights violations. [5] In the July 2017 ARD interview, former VW CEO Carl Hahn denied ever having known of security police activities. [5] The Brazilian attorney general has been investigating. [5]

Brazilian developed Volkswagens

The 2003 VW Gol 1.6 Total Flex was the first full flexible-fuel vehicle launched in Brazil, capable of running on any blend of gasoline and ethanol (E100). Brazilian 2003 VW Gol 1.6 Total Flex.jpg
The 2003 VW Gol 1.6 Total Flex was the first full flexible-fuel vehicle launched in Brazil, capable of running on any blend of gasoline and ethanol (E100).
VW Type 2 TotalFlex (Known as "Kombi"). BSB Flex cars 118 09 2008 VW Kombi Total Flex with logo blur.jpg
VW Type 2 TotalFlex (Known as "Kombi").
VW Polo 2 TotalFlex. BSB Flex cars 89 09 2008 VW Polo Total Flex logo & blur.jpg
VW Polo 2 TotalFlex.

By 1961, Volkswagen had surpassed Willys-Overland to become the biggest producer of vehicles in Brazil. [4] Many models were designed especially for Brazil:

From 1971 to 1975 approximately 250 Brazil "kombi" buses were produced with Special Editions, these buses had +8 sky windows, mouldings, timer clock. These buses are called "de luxe," the German name is "Samba."

After 1997 Volkswagen has been the only manufacturer to continue manufacturing ethanol powered vehicles after others withdrew. [10]

In 2012, Volkswagen built 852,086 units (including CKD kits), making them the biggest producer in the country and second in sales. [1] Volkswagen operates four plants, in São Bernardo do Campo, Taubaté, and São Carlos. The São Carlos plant only makes engines. [1]

From 1987 to 1995, Volkswagen do Brasil's history was affected by the AutoLatina arrangement between Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen Group.

Trucks and Buses

From 1979 until 1999, Volkswagen do Brasil created and developed Volkswagen Caminhões Ltda, (the Volkswagen Trucks and Buses division), after which the operation was taken over by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. In December 2008, it was announced that Volkswagen Trucks and Buses was to be sold to MAN. [11]

In 1986, Volkswagen entered a deal with Paccar to sell their trucks with Peterbilt or Kenworth badging in the United States. This would allow Paccar's dealers to offer Class 7 trucks without having to go the competition. [12] Volkswagen's Latin American trucks had always been built much heavier than elsewhere in the world, where this sector has mainly been the responsibility of MAN. [13] The Peterbilt-Volkswagen 200 was affectionately known as "Peter Rabbit."[ citation needed ]


See also

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  7. Brian Winter spied on Lula, other Brazilian workers in 1980s [ permanent dead link ] 5 September 2014 Reuters
  8. Brian Winter Brazil probe of dictatorship period not satisfied by Volkswagen testimony Reuters, February 28, 2015
  9. 1 2 VW worked hand in hand with Brazil's military dictatorship 24.07.2017 Deutsche Welle
  10. Feltrin, Ariverson (1998-02-18). "Manufacturers want alcohol program". Gazeta Mercantil Online. São Paulo, Brazil: Gazeta Mercantil.
  11. MAN acquires Brazil based VW Truck and Bus MAN 15 December 2015
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  13. Queiroz, Roberto (December 1986). Barden, Paul (ed.). "View: Brazil". TRUCK. London, UK: FF Publishing Ltd: 37.
  14. Wolfe, p. 129