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Getting the Bugs Out: The Rise, Fall, and Comeback of Volkswagen in America (Adweek Books) Paperback – November 4, 2002


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Product Details

  • Series: Adweek Books
  • Paperback: 302 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (November 4, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471263044
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471263043
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,110,982 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The story of how a rigid German automaker stormed the American market with its lovable Beetle, virtually disappeared, then came roaring back is told here by USA Today's Detroit bureau chief. Part skeptic, part admirer, Kiley details the car's roots in Nazi Germany, suggesting it grew out of Hitler's obsession with creating an autobahn and giving German citizens the chance to have their own cheap cars to drive on it. When VW infiltrated America in the 1950s, it found itself fighting Detroit's lumbering giants, who believed Americans simply desired a steady stream of gas-guzzling, chrome-plated behemoths. By remedying the almost complete lack of affordable cars with good mileage, the Beetle was able to overcome its strange appearance, weak engine and reputation of being "Hitler's car" and quickly developed a dedicated following, thanks to whimsical, innocent ads. But in the 1970s, cheap, reliable Japanese compacts began eating away at the Beetle's lead, and through the '80s, the company was mostly dormant in America, with Beetles supplying only collectors. Then, in 1994, VW bowled over the press with its presentation of the new Beetle. Another series of engaging ads helped put it into the limelight and return to a prominent position. Kiley is realistic about VW's future, noting that Beetle sales have been dropping off and other brands like Passat are not picking up the slack. Although Kiley pays too much attention to the advertising end of things this is an Adweek Book, after all he deftly reports on the mystique and the reality of one of the auto world's enduring legends.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

How did Adolf Hitler's "people's car" shake off its Nazi roots to become the best-selling import of the 1960s, beloved amongst hippies, adventurers, and other independent thinkers? Journalist Kiley traces the rise and fall of the enigmatic Beetle in the U.S., beginning with Ferdinand Porsche's design prior to World War II. An immediate commercial flop, the Type 1 chassis was adapted for use as a military vehicle, and these early models, assembled by forced labor, proved to be superior transportation in any terrain. With the factory nearly destroyed, Volkswagen made a almost miraculous recovery to commercial success. Years ahead of its time, the first economy car became a hit because of superior workmanship, reliability, and simplicity of repair. An ingenious ad campaign in the U.S. really set the brand apart from Detroit's Big Three, but by the 1980s a flood of Japanese rivals and a failed attempt at a U.S. plant sent VW's quality and sales plummeting. The recent rerelease of the Bug begs the question, Is this just a nostalgia fad or is VW back? David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAME on November 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover
David Kiley's insightful tome is as charmingly idiosyncratic as his subject, the VW Beetle or "Bug." Beginning with the Bug's nasty political genesis as Hitler's "people's car," Kiley follows the methods marketers used to shape its 1960s and 1990s commercial identities. Kiley covers the Bug's marketing history, from the obtuse (managers didn't understand that it was essential to VW's U.S. identity) to the brilliant (its sales renaissance). We [...] recommend this book for its fascinating history, but also for its examples of marketing strategy and internal corporate knife-fighting that just might teach you a trick or two.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is an inside look at a company with a unique history, ably rendered by Kiley, a fine journalist who covers the auto beat for USA Today. By taking readers deep within Volkswagen, and sharing the foibles, triumphs and tribulations of the famed automaker, Kiley has written an entertaining book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By teaberries on January 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
One fine Autumn day in the late '70's I got my driver's license, cashed every savings bond I'd received since my first birthday, and bought my first vehicle . . . a split-pea soup green/yellow Rabbit I named Kermit. I loved it! Similar to their warm furry namesake, this Rabbit was succeeded by multiple versions in pumpkin orange, powder-puff blue, then eventually I "upgraded" to a Scirocco. All terrific machines. I received David Kiley's book as a holiday gift and found it to be a wonderful read, as well as super insight into a brand that so many of us can count as part of our own "not-so-long-ago" personal histories. Kiley's writing style is familiar and flows along at a riveting pace. I highly recommend this book to anyone whose path has crossed that of a VW!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Caitlin on May 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a top of the line book. It takes the reader through the history of Volkswagon in America. It speaks of the successes and failures and takes the reader behind the scenes to see how the company was/is run. Due to the history of Volkswagon, the book is entertaining and hard to put down. Kiley does a wonderful job of telling the facts in an interesting way. At times though, it does focus a lot on advertising which is both interesting and tedious. Although it can be hard to keep all the dates and people straight throughout the book, the experience of reading the book is fantastic. This is a great book for those who know a lot about cars and for those who are just merely curious.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I love the Volkswagen story. My family had nothing but Volkswagens growing up. It was my first car like so many others. I have a collection of Volkswagen books that are lovely pictorial salutes to the cars. And I loved reading another book, Small Wonder, about the Beetle from conception to about 1970. Kiley does a very good job of covering ground that has been gone over before in order to get you to the early 70s when the company really began to fall apart. Then, he is the first to really go into inner workings of the company from that point on to where the company almost went out of business in the early 1990s. And then into the fabulous comeback more recently. I work in the marketing field, and have been a student of VW's marketing story. So, besides loving the subject, I learned a lot here too. Extremely worthwhile book for VW lovers as well as for anyone with something to sell to the public.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book gives an excellent account of the successes and various failures of Volkswagen. Though I enjoyed reading the story behind their creative and revlutionary advertising in the 90's with the Golf, the Beetle, the Jetta, and the Passat, I loved getting the inside track on such disasters as FAHRVERGNUGEN (that's a mouthful), the Rabbit, and the Thing (I've actually SEEN one of these vile machines!). Strongly recommended for car lovers, history buffs, and gossip queens...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This was really an interesting read on the comeback of Volkswagen in America. What drew me to this book was the cover itself. Once I started to randomly read pages of the book, I found this to be a book about marketing, advertising and branding--hence the Adweek logo on the cover. I would recommend this to any "Bug" enthusiast as well as people within the advertising/marketing industry.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By DM on October 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This author from New Jersey not only brings his literary skills and auto expertise to his first publication, but a concise history that is easily understood by all. Any true VW fan should have this book in their home library. Accolades!
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