Toni Schmücker became Chairman of the Volkswagen board in February 1975, succeeding Rudolf Leiding. Schmücker brought to the job a combination of political skill and personal charm that had eluded his two immediate predecessors. At the time Schmücker took up the post, Volkswagen had just staved off bankruptcy with the introduction of the Volkswagen Golf (marketed as the Rabbit in North America and as the Caribe in Latin America), which would eventually replace the Volkswagen Beetle. One of Schmücker's first financial achievements at Wolfsburg involved reducing the Volkswagen workforce by 25,000 employees during 1975, applying, in the words of a contemporary industry commentator, methods and systems he had learned at Ford. The loss making assembly plant in Australia was closed, but after a period of rationalisation he placed the plants in Mexico and Brazil on a sounder footing for growth than that on which he had found them. In September 1976, Schmücker made history by securing a deal to build the Volkswagen Westmoreland Assembly Plant near New Stanton, Pennsylvania, making VW the first non-American car company to build its products in the United States since the 1930's.