Last Updated on March 14, 2023 by Victor A
Have you ever wondered which car brands come from Germany? Well, in this article we will go over them and tell you when they were formed and what is the current state of each brand.
Currently, there are six German automakers in the market, Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Porsche, and Opel. We could argue that Smart could be another one.
However, due to the fact that the brand ceased activities in the USA, and it’s going through a process of rethinking its European strategy, we will leave it out for this time.
Volkswagen – The largest automovile brand from Germany
Starting with the largest one, Volkswagen is one of the most important car companies in the world, the Volkswagen Company owns two of the most important car brands from Germany, Audi and Porsche.
Other important brands owned by them are Bugatti, Skoda, Bentley, Lamborghini, and Seat.
Worldwide, the Volkswagen Group managed to become the largest automaker in terms of sales in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Volkswagen was founded in 1937 by the Deutsche Arbeitsfront (German Labour Front) a labor organization that was controlled by the Nazi Party and replaced various trade unions in Germany. VW was established in Berlin, and today their headquarters are located in Wolfsburg, Germany.
The German word Volk means “people”, and Wagen means “car”, therefore the translation for Volkswagen is “the people’s car”.
BMW – The ultimate driving machine
Luxury carmaker BMW is also among the most important German car brands, they own Mini and Rolls-Royce. The brand has been alive for over a century and its headquarters are located in Munich, Germany.
BMW was founded in 1916, in Munich by Karl Rapp, as an aircraft engine manufacturer, and it didn’t become an automobile manufacturer until 1928 when they purchased Fahrzeugfabrik Eisenach.
If you wonder about what BMW means, the short answer is Bayerische Motoren Werke, translated to English, Bavarian Motor Works.
Mercedes-Benz – Quality redefined
Owned by its parent company, Daimler AG, Mercedes is one of the most important luxury carmakers in the world.
Daimler also owns Smart, another German carmaker, which as we mentioned above, won’t be included as it’s going through some important changes, like a whole electrification process, the cease of sales in the US, and the probability of an SUV in the near future.
Established in 1926 by Karl Benz, Wilhelm Maybach, Gottlieb Daimler, and Emil Jellinek in Stuttgart, Germany where you can still find today’s headquarters.
The company’s origins are very important for the automotive industry as they are responsible for making the first internal combustion engine in a self-propelled automobile.
Mercedes’ logo, the star, symbolizes universal motorization on land, water, and air.
Audi – The four rings
Headquartered in Ingolstadt, Germany, Audi is owned by the Volkswagen Group. They focus on premium-luxury vehicles, and together with BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, they are the third member of the “German Big 3”.
Audi was born in April 1910 as Audi Automobilwerke GmbH Zwickau, it was established by August Horc in Zwickau, Germany.
The name comes from the surname of its founder, August Horch, where Horch means “Listen” in German, however, it was translated to Latin, therefore, becoming Audi.
Its logo, the four rings, represent the four car companies that formed in order to create Auto Union, Audi’s predecessor.
Porsche – The Performance Luxury car brand from Germany
Another company owned by the Volkswagen Group is Porsche, different from the others, Porsche is one of those automobile companies that are regarded as special, they work exclusively in high-performance luxury vehicles, their customers are very loyal, their design philosophy is strong, and their brand value is huge.
Ferdinand Porsche, Adolf Rosenberg, and Anton Piëch founded Dr. Ing. h. c. F. Porsche GmbH in 1931, Stuttgart, Germany, where they started by offering consulting and motor vehicle development.
One of Porsche’s first jobs was issued by the German government, the job consisted of designing a car for the people, which resulted in the Volkswagen Beetle, considered as one of the most successful designs ever made in the car industry.
Opel – The future is for everyone
The only German brand controlled by a foreigner is Opel, which was owned by General Motors until 2017, and PSA. It is now controlled by the newly formed Stellantis.
The company started as a sewing machine manufacturer in 1862, it was founded by Adam Opel, in Rüsselsheim am Main, Germany, and later in the same year it became a bicycle manufacturer, and subsequently, in 1899, they produced their first automobile.
They sell their vehicles under the Vauxhall brand in Britain; while they badge-engineer in Australia under the Holden brand. In North America and China, they badge–engineer under the Cadillac, Saturn, and Buick brands.
And with this, we close our list of the six car brands that come from Germany.