60 years since first VW Beetle delivery at dealership
Last friday was a historic anniversary for Volkswagen as the company remembered the first Beetle deliveries: exactly 60 years ago the car dealers Gottfried Schultz in Essen and Raffay & Co. in Hamburg took delivery of nine Volkswagen saloons.
The Beetle's great market success began on a tiny scale: eight Volkswagen saloons were sent to the dealer Gottfried Schultz in Essen on 17 and 23 July 1946; one saloon was delivered to Hamburg-Altona where Raffay & Co. had their dealership on 22 July 1946. In the aftermath of the war with the economy dogged by shortages the beginning was more than difficult.
Between 1945 and 1949 the Volkswagen Company was in the trusteeship of the British military government who gave the badly damaged factory its first production order in August 1945 for 20 000 saloons. After completion of the first run of 55 vehicles in December 1945, the Volkswagen factory initially delivered vehicles exclusively to the allied authorities. The British "Highway and Highway Transport Branch’ appointed the company Gottfried Schultz in Essen as "Main Distributor for the "North Rhine Province" on 11 June 1946; Raffay & Co. received the same function for the Hanseatic City of Hamburg.
In October 1946 the British military government approved the setting up of a dealer organisation in their zone of occupation. This initially comprised 10 main distributors and 28 dealerships. As demand grew rapidly following the currency reform, the organisation was expanded and by 1 January 1949 in the western zones of Germany customers were being served by 16 general agents, 31 wholesalers, 103 dealerships and 812 authorised workshops. Sales in Germany were running at 38 666 Volkswagen saloons.
Today the 2 500 Volkswagen dealerships and service workshops constitute a dense network forming the most important point of contact between the customer and the manufacturer. In 2005 more than 644 000 Volkswagen passenger cars and commercial vehicles were delivered in Germany. Gottfried-Schultz Group and Raffay are still among the largest Volkswagen dealerships in Germany today.