On 8 March 1956, just 65 years ago, Volkswagen opened its Hanover plant to produce its popular Kombi Van. From the T1 to the T6, more than 9 million Kombi Van have been produced within these walls.
The year is 1955. James Dean symbolises a rebellious youth in Rebel Without a Cause while Peter Sellers and Alec Guinness were partners in Ladykillers. On the radio, Bill Haley rocks Around the Clock. The Volkswagen Beetle was the best-selling car of the year, passing the symbolic ceiling of one million units produced. The other flagship product of the German brand is the Combi. So much so that the Wolfsburg factory where it is built can no longer meet the demand. The vast majority of German cities are applying to host the new vehicle factory. With its position on the Mitteland canal linking the Rhine and Ems, the Weser and the Elbe, and the presence of a marshalling yard, Hanover won over Volkswagen’s management. Construction of the factory began in 1955. Thousands of workers were busy constructing the new building and a makeshift town was even built with offices, housing, etc. In describing the gigantic scale of the construction site, a journalist of the time pointed out that the quantity of wood used for the supports would have been “enough to build a one-metre wide bridge between Wolfsburg and Basel” (685 kilometres). During the construction of the factory, Volkswagen began training 3,000 workers to ensure that production could start. A railway line was also inaugurated in February 1956 to connect the factory to Hanover.
Over 9 million vans in 65 years
Production started on 8 March 1956. Eleven years later, by the time the first generation of the Transporter came to an end, 1.8 million vans had been built in the Hanover plant. From the T1 to the T6.1, which it is currently producing, the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles plant in Hanover has built 9,228,000 Combis. And the story isn’t over yet, as before the end of next year it will be producing the new Multivan and above all Volkswagen’s first 100% electric vehicle, the ID. Buzz (which we will tell you about shortly). The new generation Kombi is coming to Hanover. As the plant manager, Thomas Hahlbohm, points out: “Today, the plant is 65 years old, but it is not ready to retire. “The figures speak for themselves when it comes to the success of the Hanover site: 14,800 employees work on 1.1 million square metres (about 152 football stadiums!) and there are 3,000 bicycles in use!