Starting in 1931, Ferdinand Porsche and Zündapp developed the “Auto für Jedermann” (car for the everyman). This was the first time the name “Volkswagen” was used. Porsche already preferred the flat-4 cylinder engine, but Zündapp used a watercooled 5-cylinder radial engine. In 1932, three prototypes were running. All of those cars were lost during the war; the last in 1945 in Stuttgart during a bombing raid.
In 1933, Adolf Hitler submitted sketches to Ferdinand Porsche of a proposed “Volks-Wagen” (the name means “people’s car” in German, in which it is pronounced [ˈfolksvagən]), a basic vehicle that should be capable of transporting two adults and three children at a speed of 100 km/h (62 mph). The People’s Car would be made available to citizens of the Third Reich through a savings scheme at 990 Reichsmark, about the price of a small motorcycle at the time (an average income being around 32RM/week).
Hitler’s commissioning of the “People’s Car” did not necessitate a clean-sheet car design. Ferdinand Porsche formulated the original parameters of a car design similar to the final production version of the Beetle several years before it was commissioned, and had built working prototypes by 1931. Erwin Komenda, Porsche’s chief designer, was responsible for the design and styling of the car. Production only became financially viable, however, when it was backed by the Third Reich. War broke out before the large-scale production of the “People’s Car” could commence, and manufacturing capacity was shifted to producing military vehicles. Production of civilian VW automobiles did not start until after the post-war occupation began.