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Sorry, Ford: Volkswagen is Worth More than a Dime

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Volkswagen is Worth More than a Dime

The Volkswagen Beetle was instrumental in revealing Ford’s missed opportunity after World War II. Pictured above: 1953 Volkswagen Beetles 
Photo: Andrew Bone under CC BY 2.0

“I don’t think what we’re being offered here is worth a dime,” said Earnest Breech, Ford’s chairman, in 1948.

This comment was made in response to a giveaway by the British. At this time, World War II was over, and Germany was split up. The British received the region that lodged the car factory that no one wanted.

They offered it to Henry Ford II, but the motor company turned down the offer of a lifetime. Several years later, Volkswagen is worth more than a dime.

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In “Small Wonder: The Amazing Story of the Volkswagen Beetle,” author Walter Henry Nelson explored this post-WWI decision and the success of Volkswagen in the years to follow. The Volkswagen Beetle would break the Ford Model T’s production record, and in just over 60 years, Volkswagen would triumph over Ford in overall sales.

Now years later, Ford and Volkswagen are in ongoing discussions about commercial trucks and funding over electric and autonomous vehicles.

“It’s not a merger,” Ford spokesman Mary Truby said. “These are discussions to have an alliance in specific areas of business where we’d have mutual benefit. Our companies have complementary strengths. There are some interesting discussions going on about how we could work together to strengthen the business.”

Ford has reported loss of sales in key foreign countries for the third quarter, including China where Volkswagen is the automaker giant. Ford lost $378 million in China, $208 million in Asia and $245 million in Europe. Volkswagen reported record sales in 2017.

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It looks like the shoe is on the other foot, or in this case, the tire is on the other wheel. How different things would have been if Ford had taken on the German car company back when it was “worth nothing.”

Source: Detroit Free Press, Autocar