At this point we must mention the utility-vehicle sector. If we disregard the Bulli (Micro-bus) for the moment, then the 1975 Leicht-Transporter (light delivery vehicle) was the first utility vehicle and the first front-mounted engine in the concern. It was fortunate, that at that time, the Audi 100 was developed, indeed, with the hard-won blessing from VW. Right now, it's engines could be well used. The modern chassis was welded from pressed sheet-metal parts, it was impressive how, in a relatively short time, an enormous choice of engines, wheelbases, tonnages and superstructures was created.
After the difficult process of building up their own production of LDVs, the current cooperation with MAN and Scania seemed to be the logical follow-up. It's a pity that nowadays, Daimlers Sprinter (as the Crafter), replaces almost the entire LDV develpoment. Where, too, is already yesterday's news, because Daimler has already been canceled again this collaboration with VW for 2015.
In the motor car sector, there are also good examples of the cooperation with other manufacturers. It started with the delivery of Diesel engines, e.g., to Volvo. The situation with the first Sharan was interesting, VW took over the development and Ford handled the production logistics. Electronic controlling of the automatic gearboxes was constructed together with Renault and complete vehicles (the Taro) were taken over from Toyota. Hopefully, this will still be available in view of the upcoming problems with further manufacturers. All in all, with the degree of in-house manufacturing being approx. 30%, VW is on about the same level as the others.
Perhaps the additional purchase of Bentley was more a Piech-fancy. A great deal of effort was spent in gathering the brand-rights of Bugatti which were strewn all over the place. The resultant sports car should actually have led to the renaming of the 'Volkswagen'-concern. Also the aluminium carbody, more than likely because of the cost, is no certainty, even in the top of the range models. One thing is certain, the one-time BMW-salesman, Paul Hahnemann, later found a worthy successor in the person of Piech with his legacy, to occupy every possible niche.
All found, the concern came out of the Piech era much healthier than it was when Piech came in. Piech later said, that they were 7 weeks away from insolvency. During Piech's reign, a great deal of the concern problems were solved. Did the Passat profit from the failure of the Phaeton? The Phaeton unfortunately not. Despite his success in China, in the designed actually for it transparent factory in Dresden will assembled now (2014) also Bentleys.
Not really fitting in this complex, one must mention the connection, which was never completely severed, to the Porsche company. Although the VW-factory owed its existence to Ferdinand Porsche, the Porsche company was, by the same token, indebted to the VW-factory, if one considers, e.g., the takeover of the entire marketing organisation. In 1954, a contract was signed, ensuring the Porsche-clan the development, the VW-representation in Austria and a small financial participation in the Beetle. A great deal of innovations, mainly from the Beetle era came from Porsche, also the efforts made to break away from the air-cooled rear-engine.
Since the increased application of Audi technology, there seemed to be a break-off, however, the plight that they were in, e.g., after the crude-oil price-crisis, forced them to cooperate. Thus the 924, originally thought of as a VW (or an Audi), was born as a Porsche. An interesting aspect was the possible connection to Daimler, since, e.g., Porsche partially used their automatic gearboxes. Apart from that, Porsche was an important developer on the automobile market. More than likely such connections are veiled by the manufacturers because they were considered to be harmful as far as the competition is concerned. 01/14