When it comes to multi-million sellers, Volkswagen’s Passat is one that’s gone under the radar somewhat. But on April 3, the Passat broke the 30 million barrier to set a new record in its mid-range segment and become the second biggest selling VW model of all time.

Produced at the Emden plant in Germany’s north western corner, the 30,000,000th Passat is a latest-generation GTE Variant1 model. With its hybrid technology, it’s certainly a far cry from the original Passat, which was launched at the Wolfsburg plant in May 1973 under the motto: “The beginning of a new VW era.”

A fastback variant of the mechanically identical Audi 80 sedan introduced a year earlier, the Passat was a radical departure for VW. Positioned as a mid-range model, it was completely different from the Type 3 it replaced, with a front-mounted water-cooled engine driving the front as opposed to the outgoing rear-mounted air-cooled unit, plus an ultra-modern all-steel chassis. Since then, eight generations of the Passat have been manufactured, and it’s currently produced on three continents in 10 plants for over 100 markets.

Ralf Brandstätter, Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Volkswagen: “The Passat has become one of the world’s greats; a car which today is as much at home in Beijing as it is in Berlin, Sydney, Johannesburg or on the streets of San Francisco. At Volkswagen we are proud of this successful model, which is still the benchmark within its class today.”

Back in 1973, surely no one in Wolfsburg could have predicted that the Passat would sell 30 million, and as such would even outdo the legendary Beetle (21.5 million). It still a fair way behind the Golf though, which has managed 35 million sales.