Monday, August 7, 2017

A Little-Known Fact -- Volkswagen almost set up a transplant in New Brunswick, NJ, in 1955

In 1955 the Volkswagen organization bought an assembly plant in New Brunswick,New Jersey from Studebaker. VW expected to assemble cars partly from US components and partly from German components.

The facility was erected in 1951, and intended as an assembly plant, but with the Korean War coming along and steel restrictions, for a time Studebaker shifted to the manufacture of jet engine parts.

VW, and its CEO Heinz Nordhoff, soon discovered, however, the Volkswagen components required separate tooling, and with that suppliers raised their prices. Six months after purchase VW gave up on the idea, and re-centered its activities  to Wolfsburg operations. Thus foreign entry in the U.S. was thwarted at this time.

The plant was acquired by Okonite Co. makers of high voltage steel cables, and continued there until 1997, when it closed. After a Superfund clean up, the facilities were later housed a number of smaller companies until July 22, 2015, when a fire destroyed the plant.

The former Okonite plant a blaze in 2015.

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