On the Move (2018 | Issue 1)

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German Automobile Companies | German Car Companies

Think cars and Germany is bound to come to mind. That’s how strong the association between Germany and cars is! From reliable everyday options to top-end models, German engineering covers it all—with class. What’s Up, Germany? gives you a glimpse of the brands that made Germany one of the world’s leading automobile manufacturers. Get ready for some vroom!

We all have an emotional connection to cars. They represent freedom, power, status and, apart from our own personal history, they even give us an idea of a country’s history. Take the classic automobiles like the Volkswagen Beetle and the Trabant, they reflect Germany’s past.

With an annual output of around six million vehicles, Germany is the fourth-largest producer of cars in the world. German engineering follows the principle “form follows function”. The focus is on functionality, performance, quality and safety. Germany’s “Big Three” manufacturers are the Volkswagen Group, BMW and Daimler AG (Mercedes-Benz). And their cars are much-loved and admired in India. Let’s get to know the companies behind these objects of desire.


Founded by Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler in 1926, Mercedes-Benz is a brand of the manufacturer Daimler AG. This Stuttgart-based company believes in the motto “The Best or Nothing” and produces luxury cars with a really long lifespan. It’s not unusual for Mercedes-Benz owners to continue driving their cars for more than 20 years! Not many people know that the company also produces buses, coaches and trucks. It has now come out with the smart EQ fortwo and forfour electric cars.


Headquartered in Munich, Bavarian Motor Works (BMW) was established in 1917. It started out as an aircraft producer before moving on to cars. BMW manufactures some of the best premium cars and motorcycles. No wonder they’re called the “Ultimate Driving Machine”! The company also owns the Rolls-Royce and the Mini brands. It even has all-electric cars, the BMW i3 and i8.


Known as “the people’s car”, the super cute Beetle was the first car built by the company. In August 1955, the millionth VW Beetle was produced in Wolfsburg with great fanfare. Today, the Volkswagen Group is one of the largest automotive companies in the world.

That comes as no surprise considering it owns Porsche, Audi, Škoda, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Ducati and more! Three of its models—the Golf, the Passat and the Beetle—are in the top ten list of best-selling cars of all time.


Located in Stuttgart, Porsche AG was founded by Ferdinand Porsche in 1931. This automobile company, which is now owned by the Volkswagen Group, specialises in high-performance sports cars, SUVs and sedans. It has carved a special niche for itself in the world of racing and has won over 24,000 auto races! Its hybrid sports car, Porsche 918 Spyder, was designed around the idea of maximum performance with minimum consumption.


This world-famous car company was established in Zwickau back in 1909. It was the first German company to introduce the left-hand drive car, the Audi Type K. In 1932, Audi, Horch, DKW and Wanderer came together to form Auto Union, making it the second-largest motor vehicle manufacturer in Germany. Another merger took place in 1969, which eventually led to the company being renamed Audi AG. Now a part of the Volkswagen Group, its slogan “Advantage through Technology” says it all! Innovation and technology come first!

Badges of Honour

Ever wondered about the history and meaning behind the logos of your favourite German cars? What’s Up, Germany? deciphers them for you.

Mercedes-Benz, BMWBMW

Mercedes-Benz: A bold statement, the Merc logo’s three-pointed star was meant to indicate its dominance over land, air and water. The ring around the star was added in 1937.

BMW: This logo takes inspiration from the white and blue flag of Bavaria.

Volkswagen, Porsche, Audi

Volkswagen (VW): Here, the letter V stands for “Volks” or people and “Wagen” means car, making it the people’s car!

Porsche: Almost identical to Baden-Württemberg’s coat of arms, the logo uses the colours of Germany’s flag.

Audi: The four overlapping rings represent the car companies that merged to create Audi’s predecessor company, Auto Union.

Get your motor running! Click here for What’s Up, Germany?‘s overview of some cool car museums in Germany.

“Right now the phone is an accessory to the car, but soon the car is going to be an accessory to the phone.”
— Marc Andreessen, founder, Andreessen Horowitz