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.
Headquarters: Wiesbaden, Germany
Founder: Horst Eckard
Parent: ATON GmbH
Headquarters: Zwickau, Saxony, Germany
Founder: August Horch
Headquarters: Hildesheim, Germany
Founder: Eberhard Schulz
Founded: APR 1951
Owner: Daimler AG
Headquarters: Dortmund, Germany
Founder: Jan Fatthauer
Headquarters: Kempten im Allgäu, Germany
Founder: Johann Abt
Headquarters: Munich, Germany
Owner: Volkswagen Group
Headquarters: Bottrop, Germany
Founder: Klaus Brackman, Bodo Buschmann
Headquarters: ASchwelm, Germany
Founder: Erich Bitter
Headquarters: Chemnitz, Germany
Founder: Johann Baptist Winklhofer, Richard Adolf Jaenicke
Founder: Heinz Melkus
Headquarters: Merzig, Germany
Headquarters: Affalterbach, Germany
Founder: Hans Werner Aufrecht, Erhard Melcher
Parent: Daimler AG
Headquarters: Zschopau, Germany (1906-1932); Chemnitz (1932-1949); Ingolstadt (1949-1969)
Founder: Dr Jørgen Skafte Rasmussen
Headquarters: Bremen, Germany
Parent: Norddeutscher Lloyd
Headquarters: Delbrück, Germany
Founder: Klaus Dieter Frers
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.
Headquarters: Leonberg, Germany
Founder: Thomas Behringer
Headquarters: Munich, Germany
Parent: Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW)