This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Stocks Under $10 with 50-100% upside potential - 14 days FREE!

When Volkswagen Entered China

Stocks in this article: F

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As Volkswagen competes to become the world's biggest automaker, largely on the strength of its China sales, a new book recalls the automaker's early days in what is now the world's leading auto market.

The autobiographical book Bridge Builder by Walter Kiep, published by Purdue University Press, recounts the journey of one of post-war Germany's leading entrepreneurs, businessman and semi-official diplomat who was the longtime chairman of Atlantik Brucke, the influential German-American friendship organization.

Born in 1926, Kiep lived through a remarkable period in German history that includes the rise of Nazism, defeat along with economic and structural destruction, and then a re-emergence which he helped to shape as one of the world's leading powers. VW has a parallel story.

Shortly World War II ended, a young Kiep went to work on the Ford (F) production line in Cologne. At the time, Ford in Germany produced small trucks for sale exclusively to Allied armed forces. In 1948, Kiep became a Ford salesman at a propitious time, because that June monetary reform and the creation of the deutsche mark suddenly reinvigorated the economy. "When currency reform came, a big boom began," Kiep recalled.

Initially, most Germans could not buy cars, but that did not stop Kiep. He sold Fords to allied forces and, realizing he could sell auto insurance as well, became an agent for a U.S. insurance firm. In 1955, he took over the division of another U.S. auto insurance firm just as Germany's auto industry was taking off. His main client was Volkswagen, which was in the early stages of producing the Beetle and exporting them to the U.S. At peak in 1970, nearly 600,000 Beetles were shipped here. The outgoing Kiep was in the middle of it, providing insurance for the shipments and building friendships in this country.

He also entered German politics, becoming in 1974 finance minister of Lower Saxony, one of the 16 German states, which held a stake in VW. This got him a seat on VW's board. He stayed there for 21 years and played a key role in the automaker's entry into China, which began with 1982 negotiations with the mayor of Shanghai, leading to a deal to build a plant there.

1 of 2

Select the service that is right for you!

Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!


DOW 17,890.30 +85.50 0.48%
S&P 500 2,072.51 +1.86 0.09%
NASDAQ 4,773.9560 +8.5760 0.18%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs