German car manufacturers produce almost six million vehicles annually. It is the leading country in the European Union with a market share of 35.6%.
Its automotive industry is highly competitive and innovative. Almost 800,000 employees are busy in this sphere.
German cars get Car of the Year awards on a regular basis, and two of them – Volkswagen Beetle and Porsche 911 – are on the fourth and fifth places in the Car of the Century award.
Today the industry is dominated by 5 companies and 7 makes. In addition to the 6 million cars produced within the country, 5.5 million vehicles are made for Germany-based brands at production facilities located outside the country. Germany is in the list of the world’s fourth largest car makers, Volkswagen Group being world’s third largest car company, after Toyota and GM.
Germany is famous not just for its production volumes, but because of its innovation technologies as well. We can mention Chevrolet Volt and GM Voltec powertrains invented by Frank Weber who used to work for Opel. Moreover, General Motors still does a lot of development work (especially for electric cars) within Germany.
High-end vehicles under the Audi brand are made at 11 production facilities in 9 countries. Although Audi is famous mostly for its luxury cars, the company’s product line also includes smaller vehicles, SUVs, as well as sedans. Two most important assembly plants are situated in Ingolstadt (1964) and Neckarsulm (1969). There are also production facilities in India, Slovakia, Belgium, China, Hungary, Indonesia, Spain, and Mexico.
Audi A8 admired for its exceptional speed and fashionable styling is often included in the list of the most desirable cars of all time.
Audi has been a branch of Volkswagen Group (99.55%) since 1966. Volkswagen bought its predecessor, Auto Union, from Daimler-Benz. From 2000 to 2008 Audi’s market share doubled, in 2012 the car maker reported a 10% increase in sales.
In 2014 Audi was involved in a controversy. It made a false claim that German made cars A7, A8, and R8 got the highest mark in NCAP safety tests, while actually there had not even been tested.
The full name of the company can be translated into English as Bavarian Motor Works. Many of its luxury vehicles can be named the best cars in the history of automobiles. Luxury and excellence in engineering have always made BMW autos extremely fashionable.
BMW AG owns Rolls-Royce; it also makes Mini cars, motorcycles (under BMW Motorrad sub-brand), and plug-in electric vehicles (BMW i).
In 2006, BMW made almost 1.4 million four-wheeled vehicles, and four years later, production volumes reached 1.5 million four-wheeled vehicles. Additionally, 112,000 motorcycles were produced (under Husqvarna and BMW brands).
Mercedes-Benz cars are famous for their refinement, technological innovations, and engineering. Being one of the German Big 3 automakers, Mercedes-Benz produces luxury automobiles, trucks, coaches, and buses. Its S-Class sedans and coupes often hit the lists of top-sold luxury vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz was very successful in Formula One in 1954 and 1955, but then quit the championship to return only in the 1990s as an engine supplier. In 2014, the company got its first F1 Constructor’s title.
Adam Opel AG boasts 11 production facilities in 7 countries. Its product range includes passenger cars and light commercial vehicles. It also manufactures vehicle parts sold in Africa, Asia, Europe, and South America. In addition to this, Opel used to sell cars under the Buick brand.
Originally, Opel was founded as a sewing machine-making factory. In 1886, it started to make bicycles, and by 1900 its first automobile was launched. In 1929, General Motors purchased a majority stake and two years later got full control. Today Opel is GM’s wholly owned division. Also, it is the parent company of Vauxhall and many other GM subsidiaries.
Although the most famous sports vehicles maker is definitely Italy, the iconic sports cars produced by Porsche give Germany a chance to compete in this domain. Porsche AG manufactures high-performance sports cars, SUVs, and sedans. Porsche AG belongs to Volkswagen AG, which in its own turn, is owned by Porsche Holding.
Porsche is often referred to as the largest race car maker in the world. Almost 30,000 victories make it the most successful marque in motorsport. A 16 constructor wins (24 Hours of Le Mans) should be definitely mentioned as a notable victory. In 2006 the number of race cars built for motor sports races almost reached two hundred, while in 2007 it exceeded 270. In 2015, Macan was named the best luxury compact SUV.
German automobile company is a division of Ford of Europe, which itself is a division of Ford Motor Company. It owns 2 manufacturing facilities and employs almost 30,000 workers. Although the company was officially founded in 1925, it traces its history to 1912.
Ford’s current model range includes passenger cars (Fiesta and Focus among the most popular) and light commercial vehicles (Transit, Ranger). In addition to this, there is Ford Team RS division that specializes in producing high-performance derivatives of its cars, including Ford Focus ST and Ford Fiesta ST.
It is the best-selling brand owned by Volkswagen Group which is the world’s second-largest automobile manufacturer, behind Toyota. According to the list of top-selling vehicles of all time made by 24/7 Wall St. site, this company has more top-selling cars still in production than any other manufacturer. Those cars are Golf, Beetle, and Passat.
We can name a lightweight two-person car VW XL1 (2013) and a large CrossBlue-based 7-seat SUV (2016) among Volkswagen’s recent launches.
Other car brands
Founded in 1965, the brand Alpina existed on its own until the end of the 60s, after which it revived in the 70s already under the management of the Bavaria brand with the main task of improvement and modernization of BMW cars. Alpina is not an independent car tuning studio: its work consists in individual refinement of interior and engines of BMW cars. The Alpina emblem is easily recognizable due to its stylish design and interesting decoration in form of two automobile parts, one of which is pictured on a red background, and another– on a blue one. There is an inscription “Alpina” on the top of the emblem. It is enclosed into the circle, inside which the logo is located.
The company, manufacturing sports cars, which received the name of Gumpert was created in 2002. The foundation of Gumpert is closely related to the emergence of the project “Apollo” created by Roland Gumpert, who previously worked in the company Audi. Gumpert continued the development of Apollo together with the Munich technical university and Ingolstadt university of applied sciences, which helped to create a full-size Apollo model. Two prototypes were created afterwards. The production of Apollo was launched in October 2005. The image of a mythological creature, griffin, is depicted on the Gumpert emblem.
German car tuning studio Mansory, founded in 1989, works only with the most expensive cars in the world, trying to make luxury sedans and off-road vehicles, as well as super-fast sports autos and super cars more luxurious, powerful, faster, and even more exclusive. It is a known fact that some autos can be produced in a very limited series and there are also single samples. Only very well-to-do people can buy these cars.
This is the make of cars of a particularly small class produced by the company with the same name belonging to the international automobile industry concern Daimler AG. The joint venture MCC (Micro Compact Car AG) was created by Daimler-Benz corporations and Swiss clock company, Swatch (subsequently Swatch exited this project) for the purpose of the creation of a two-seat and very economical town mini car, Smart. In September 2002, Micro Compact Car changed its name into Smart GmbH. The emblem of the make is made in form of an inscription of a silver letter “S” with a yellow arrow located on the right side. In addition, the word “Smart” is also indicated on the logo. Gray, black, and yellow colors prevail in the emblem.
Maybach is a German company engaged in the production of deluxe class cars. The company was founded in 1909 by Wilhelm Maybach and his son. For some time, the company worked exclusively with individual orders and exclusive vehicles were created. In 1960, the concern Daimler bought the company, and in the 2002, the production of cars was restarted. In the middle of August 2012, the make was eliminated to appear again already a year later. However, it changed its main idea: for the moment, Maybach’s premium cars become similar to slightly expanded and somewhat differently performed Mercedes S-class vehicles. The Maybach emblem consists of two letters “М” of different size, which overlap each other. These letters symbolize the company name – Maybach manufactory.
Originally, the company was engaged in construction of rigid roofs for convertibles, and it is still engaged in this activity. The work over the first company roadster was completed in 1993. Now it is mainly engaged in production of deluxe class sports cars in a limited amount. By 2006, the company produced three models – roadsters Wiesmann MF 3 and MF 30 and a coupe Wiesmann MF 4. All these models were fit with engines and gearboxes of the plant BMW. The company produces just about 50 cars a year. The Wiesmann emblem is represented in the form of an image of a gecko, which means that its cars hold the road in the same reliable way as geckos stay on walls and ceiling. In February of 2014, the management of the company Wiesmann Manufaktur invited employees of the plant at the meeting to report about the closing of the plant.
Trabant is a manufacturer of East German mini-cars created by the public enterprise Sachsenring Automobilwerke. The name of the concern appeared under the influence of a launch of the first artificial Earth satellite by the USSR (“trabant” means “satellite” in translation from German). Its emblem in form of a stylized letter “S” means the same.
Wartburg is a manufacturer of East German cars, which were produced in the period from 1956 to the 1991 in the public enterprise Automobilwerk Eisenach. Initially, the company had the entire range of progressive industry solutions, but by the beginning of the 1980s, its cars became morally and technically obsolete vehicles. The enterprise developed new promising models of these cars in the 1970—1980s, but for these or other reasons they were not put in batch production. Nevertheless, even in such form, Wartburg cars were traditionally considered one of the most reliable, strongest, and most durable cars of their class.
Minor car manufacturers
Although neither of the following companies has a large market share, they should still be mentioned among German car brands:
Headquarters: CPfaffenhausen, Germany
Founder: Alois Ruf Sr.
RUF is a renowned German automobile manufacturer specializing in high-performance sports cars and conversions. Established in 1939, RUF is a family-owned company based in Pfaffenhausen, Germany. Known for their exceptional engineering expertise, RUF modifies and enhances Porsche vehicles to create unique and powerful machines. RUF operates from its state-of-the-art facility in Germany, where skilled craftsmen and engineers meticulously design and assemble their exclusive automobiles.
Headquarters: Wiesbaden, Germany
Founder: Horst Eckard
Parent: ATON GmbH
EDAG is a leading global engineering company based in Germany. With a history dating back to 1969, EDAG provides innovative solutions and services for the automotive industry. The company offers expertise in vehicle development, production engineering, and electric mobility. EDAG collaborates with major automakers worldwide, working on advanced technologies and sustainable mobility solutions. Their dedicated teams operate from various locations, including Germany, the United States, China, and Japan.
Headquarters: Zwickau, Saxony, Germany
Founder: August Horch
Horch, originally founded in 1899, was a historic German automobile manufacturer known for producing luxury vehicles. Today, the brand is part of the Volkswagen Group. Under Volkswagen’s ownership, Horch focuses on developing cutting-edge technologies and delivering premium automobiles. The company operates as a subsidiary of Audi, within the Volkswagen Group, and continues to uphold its reputation for crafting exquisite and high-performance vehicles.
Headquarters: Hildesheim, Germany
Founder: Eberhard Schulz
Isdera is a small-scale German car manufacturer specializing in limited-production sports cars. Founded in 1982, Isdera is known for its unique and innovative designs. The company’s creations often feature advanced aerodynamics and exceptional performance. Isdera’s workshop, located in Germany, is where their skilled team handcrafts each car with meticulous attention to detail. Due to their limited production numbers, Isdera vehicles are highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts worldwide.
Founded: APR 1951
Owner: Daimler AG
Setra, established in 1951, is a renowned German bus and coach manufacturer. The company specializes in the production of luxury and high-quality coaches with exceptional comfort and advanced technology. Setra is part of EvoBus GmbH, which is a subsidiary of Daimler AG. The brand is known for its innovative features, including the self-supporting frame structure, independent suspension, and efficient engines. Setra’s manufacturing plants are located in Germany, where they meticulously build their buses to the highest standards of quality and safety.
Headquarters: Dortmund, Germany
Founder: Jan Fatthauer
9ff is a renowned German automotive manufacturer specializing in high-performance vehicles and modifications. Established in 2001, the company is privately owned and operated. Known for its exceptional engineering and expertise, 9ff designs and produces customized sports cars and tuning solutions that push the boundaries of performance. The company is based in Dortmund, Germany, where it operates its state-of-the-art facilities.
Headquarters: Kempten im Allgäu, Germany
Founder: Johann Abt
ABT Sportsline is a prominent automotive tuning and engineering company based in Germany. With a rich history dating back to 1896, ABT Sportsline has established itself as a leading name in the industry. The company is known for its performance upgrades and modifications for Audi, Volkswagen, Seat, and Škoda vehicles. ABT Sportsline’s headquarters are located in Kempten, Germany, and it operates various branches and dealerships worldwide.
Headquarters: Munich, Germany
Owner: Volkswagen Group
MAN, an abbreviation for Maschinenfabrik Augsburg-Nürnberg, is a German engineering company that specializes in commercial vehicle manufacturing. Founded in 1758, MAN has a long-standing reputation for producing trucks, buses, and diesel engines. The company’s headquarters are situated in Munich, Germany, and it operates production facilities and assembly plants in several countries worldwide. MAN is part of the Traton Group, a leading commercial vehicle manufacturer in Europe.
Headquarters: Bottrop, Germany
Founder: Klaus Brackman, Bodo Buschmann
Brabus is a renowned German automotive tuning and engineering company specializing in Mercedes-Benz, Maybach, and Smart vehicles. Established in 1977, Brabus has gained international recognition for its high-performance upgrades and luxurious modifications. The company’s headquarters are located in Bottrop, Germany, where it houses its research and development center and state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities. Brabus operates globally, with authorized dealerships and partners across different countries.
Headquarters: ASchwelm, Germany
Founder: Erich Bitter
Bitter is a German automotive manufacturer known for producing luxury sports cars. Founded in 1971 by Erich Bitter, the company gained prominence for its stylish and high-performance vehicles. Bitter’s headquarters are located in Rüsselsheim, Germany, which serves as its design and production center. The company has a limited production volume, focusing on delivering exclusive automobiles for discerning customers.
Headquarters: Chemnitz, Germany
Founder: Johann Baptist Winklhofer, Richard Adolf Jaenicke
Wanderer was a German automobile manufacturer that operated from 1911 to 1945. Based in Chemnitz, Germany, Wanderer was known for producing cars with innovative features and advanced technology. The company was part of the Auto Union consortium, along with Audi, DKW, and Horch. Today, Wanderer remains a historical brand that contributed to the development of the German automotive industry.
Founder: Heinz Melkus
Melkus is a German sports car manufacturer with a rich heritage. Founded in 1959 by Heinz Melkus, the company is known for its production of lightweight and high-performance sports cars. Melkus cars were handcrafted and featured unique design elements. The company operated in Dresden, Germany, where it produced limited-edition vehicles until 2012. Melkus played a significant role in the history of German sports car manufacturing.
Headquarters: Merzig, Germany
Carlsson is a German automotive tuning company specializing in Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Established in 1989, Carlsson has become synonymous with luxury and performance upgrades for Mercedes-Benz models. The company’s headquarters and production facilities are located in Merzig, Germany. Carlsson’s skilled engineers and designers work meticulously to create bespoke modifications, enhancing the performance and aesthetics of the vehicles.
Headquarters: Affalterbach, Germany
Founder: Hans Werner Aufrecht, Erhard Melcher
Parent: Daimler AG
Mercedes-AMG is the high-performance division of Mercedes-Benz, a renowned German luxury automobile manufacturer. Founded in 1967, AMG has been producing powerful and sporty versions of Mercedes-Benz cars. The company is headquartered in Affalterbach, Germany, where it operates its state-of-the-art facilities for research, development, and production. Mercedes-AMG vehicles are widely regarded for their exceptional performance, advanced technology, and luxurious features.
Headquarters: Zschopau, Germany (1906-1932); Chemnitz (1932-1949); Ingolstadt (1949-1969)
Founder: Dr Jørgen Skafte Rasmussen
DKW was a German automobile manufacturer that was active from 1916 to 1966. The company was known for producing motorcycles, small cars, and even military vehicles. DKW was one of the four brands that formed Auto Union, which later became Audi. During its existence, DKW experienced significant success and became one of the largest motorcycle manufacturers in the world. Today, DKW vehicles are considered classic collectibles and hold historical significance in the automotive industry.
Headquarters: Bremen, Germany
Parent: Norddeutscher Lloyd
Lloyd was a German automobile manufacturer that operated from 1908 to 1963. The company specialized in producing small cars, including microcars and compact vehicles. Lloyd cars were known for their affordability and fuel efficiency, making them popular choices for urban commuting. In 1950, Lloyd merged with Borgward, another German automaker, before both companies faced financial difficulties and ceased production in the 1960s.
Headquarters: Delbrück, Germany
Founder: Klaus Dieter Frers
Artega is a German sports car manufacturer that was founded in 2006. The company is known for producing high-performance sports cars with sleek designs and advanced technologies. Artega gained recognition for its first model, the Artega GT, which featured lightweight construction and impressive handling capabilities. The company aimed to combine luxury and performance in their vehicles, targeting automotive enthusiasts seeking an exhilarating driving experience. Artega is privately owned and operated, with its headquarters and manufacturing facilities located in Germany.
Headquarters: Bremen, Germany
Founder: Carl F. W. Borgward
Borgward is one more name to mention. Although it is not one of German car companies existing now, it used to be a rather successful manufacturer, making cars under four marques (Borgward, Hansa, Goliath, and Lloyd). Today it is owned by Foton Motor.
Borgward was a German automobile manufacturer that operated from 1919 to 1961. The company produced a wide range of vehicles, including sedans, sports cars, and commercial vehicles. Borgward was known for its innovative engineering and stylish designs. In the 1950s, Borgward became one of the largest automakers in Germany, exporting their vehicles worldwide. However, financial difficulties led to the company’s bankruptcy in 1961. In recent years, the Borgward brand has been revived by Chinese investors, with new models being introduced in the Chinese market.
Headquarters: Leonberg, Germany
Founder: Thomas Behringer
TechArt is a German automotive engineering company that specializes in customizing and enhancing Porsche vehicles. Founded in 1987, TechArt offers a range of performance upgrades, aerodynamic components, interior modifications, and personalized features for Porsche cars. The company is renowned for its attention to detail and high-quality craftsmanship. TechArt collaborates closely with Porsche, ensuring their modifications meet the brand’s standards. The company operates from its headquarters in Germany and serves Porsche enthusiasts worldwide.
Headquarters: Munich, Germany
Parent: Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW)
BMW M is the performance division of the German automaker BMW. Established in 1972, BMW M is responsible for developing and producing high-performance variants of BMW vehicles. The “M” stands for “Motorsport,” reflecting the division’s motorsport heritage and dedication to delivering exhilarating driving experiences. BMW M models are known for their powerful engines, enhanced handling, and aggressive styling cues. The division operates within BMW’s global network of production facilities, ensuring the integration of M-specific features and technologies into BMW vehicles.