The Volkswagen assembly plant in Brazil was established after the Brazilian government prohibited the import of fully built-up vehicles in 1953. Their first plant was in Ipiranga, São Paulo and was a strict CKD operation. In two years 2268 Fuscas and 552 Kombis were assembled there by hand. After Kubitschek's import substitution programs began taking effect, Volkswagen were compelled to open a proper factory in São Bernardo do Campo. Work on the factory began in mid-1957. Originally only the Kombi was built locally (from September 1957), but from January 1959 the 1200 cc "Fusca" also entered local production, with ever growing local parts content. By 1961 Volkswagen had surpassed Willys-Overland to become the biggest producer of vehicles in Brazil.
The first own model the 1600 is a 4-door saloon based on the Type 3.