The struggle of U.S. carmakers against competition from imports might be traced back to this date in 1949. That’s when the Dutch ship Westerdam, like some automotive Noah’s Ark, brought the first two Volkswagen Beetles onto American soil.
Acceptance of the unusual looking vehicle was slow, and not just in the U.S. However, acceptance was followed by popularity through the 1960s, and by 1972, the Volkswagen Beetle became the world’s best selling car model.
The 80-year-old German company builds their cars in 121 plants in 31 countries, including one in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Today, around $111 billion worth of automobiles are manufactured in the U.S. Some 73,000 people work in these 180 plants across the country.