The Extraordinary Size and Depth of the Volkswagen Group

The Extraordinary Size and Depth of the Volkswagen Group

The Golf, Passat and Polo will just be a few of the iconic Volkswagen vehicles that you’ll be able to choose between when walking around the forecourt of a VW dealership. However, did you realise that the Volkswagen Group isn’t just made up of cars with the VW badge etched onto them? In fact, this Group owns another seven instantly recognisable car brands…


The Volkswagen Group and Audi first became associated with one another in 1965. That was the year that Volkswagen completed the acquisition of Auto Union GmbH from Daimler-Benz, with this subsidiary responsible for producing the first Audi vehicles since the end of the Second World War.

Audi is currently honoured with being one of the leading premium brands worldwide, with operations in more than 100 markets across the globe. The German manufacturer is also capturing plenty of attention with its revolutionary technology — piloted driving, electromobility and an Audi AI setup are just a few ways that the brand is helping to shape the future of driving.

Year of foundation: 1909

Number of employees: 90,705

Number of models (in the UK): 65

2017 sales: 174,982

Market share in 2017: 6.89%


When they made a co-operating agreement with Spanish manufacturer SEAT, the Volkswagen Group would take its first strides to expanding away from its home country of Germany.

This co-operation agreement was signed in September 1982. However, a lot more activity was witnessed between the two firms during the remainder of the 1980s. In June 1986, for instance, Volkswagen successfully acquired a 51 per cent controlling stake in SEAT — a monumental moment in the motoring industry as it meant SEAT became the Volkswagen Group’s first non-German subsidiary — before increasing its stake to 75 per cent in December 1986 to become SEAT’s major shareholder.

In 1990, SEAT’s entire equity was purchased by the Volkswagen Group. This was a move that saw the German company take full ownership of the Spanish manufacturer and resulted in SEAT being made a whole subsidiary of Volkswagen.

Year of foundation: 1950

Number of employees: 14,716

Number of models (in the UK): 24

2017 sales: 56,130

Market share in 2017: 2.21%


The partnership between ŠKODA and the Volkswagen Group got underway in the initial months of the 1990s. It was in 1991, in fact, that a joint venture partnership was agreed between the two companies, with the German car maker acquiring a 30 per cent stake in the Czech manufacturer in the process. The stake that Volkswagen had in ŠKODA increased in December 1994 to 60.3 per cent, before rising to 70 per cent in 1995.

While the world was celebrating the arrival of a new millennium, Volkswagen took the necessary steps to make ŠKODA a wholly owned subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group. With the number of deliveries made by the Czech manufacturer increasing by more than sevenfold since the partnership between them and Volkswagen began in 1991, it would be hard to argue against the pairing being a highly successful one for ŠKODA.

Year of foundation: 1895

Number of employees: 32,985

Number of models (in the UK): 27

2017 sales: 79,758

Market share in 2017: 3.14%


Many of the world’s most extravagant cars have been created by Bugatti over the past 100 years+. The brand’s founder Ettore Bugatti and his son Jean have both always had the ambition to achieve the perfect synthesis of art and technology in everything they created.

Bugatti and the Volkswagen Group’s partnership began during 1998. In that year, Volkswagen bought the rights to produce cars which were under the Bugatti marque.

However, it wasn’t until the year 2000 that Volkswagen took the official steps to incorporate Bugatti Automobiles into the Volkswagen Group. Around the same time, the Group also bought the former guest house of Ettore Bugatti — based in Dorlisheim — and transformed it into the company’s headquarters.

Year of foundation: 1909

Number of employees: 302

Number of models (in the UK): 1

2017 sales: N/A

Market share in 2017: N/A


There have been ties between the Volkswagen Group and Bentley ever since 1998. However, the partnership is a bit more complicated than that.

Former Bentley owner Vickers revealed that it would be putting Rolls-Royce up for sale in 1997. BMW came in with an offer of £340 million for the company — not too big of a surprise considering that BMW had been supplying Bentley and Rolls-Royce with engines and other components, as well as the fact that BMW and Vickers both had experience building aircraft engines.

Volkswagen managed to outbid BMW, however, when they offered Vickers £430 million. Even with the deal going through, Volkswagen didn’t have ownership of everything. They had the production and administrative facilities, the model nameplates, the vehicle designs and both the Spirit of Ecstasy and Rolls-Royce grille shape trademarks — but they didn’t have the Rolls-Royce name or logo, which remained in ownership of Rolls-Royce Holdings.

That was far from the end of the story, of course. In 1998, for instance, BMW began to supply components for new Bentley and Rolls-Royce cars, as well as paid £40 million to Rolls-Royce so that they could licence the Rolls-Royce name and logo. After plenty of battling and negotiating, an agreement was made for BMW to continue with their deal to supply engines and components. Meanwhile, Volkswagen gained access to the rights of both the names and logos.

The deal once again altered on January 1st 2003. This is when Volkswagen officially became the sole provider of cars that were under the Bentley marque — BMW were presented with Rolls-Royce at the same time.

Year of foundation: 1919

Number of employees: 4,332

Number of models (in the UK): 18

2017 sales: 1,753

Market share in 2017: 0.07%


Volkswagen Group had plenty going on throughout 1998. As well as beginning their partnerships with Bentley and Bugatti during that year, the German company also set their sights on adding Lamborghini to their impressive portfolio of acquisitions.

Lamborghini is known all across the globe for building super sports cars that produce unbelievable levels of power and draw lots of attention with their amazingly unique designs. They entered 1998 owned by holding company MegaTech — a firm who themselves were owned by Indonesian conglomerate SEDRCO pty.

It was throughout this year that so much of Asia was impacted by a financial crisis. One repercussion was that Lamborghini had to seek a change in ownership. The new chairman of Volkswagen at the time, Ferdinand Piëch, stepped up and bought Lamborghini for an estimated $110million.

After the acquisition was confirmed, Lamborghini exited a tough few months for the business by being restructured into the holding company Lamborghini Holding S.p.A and given the assurance of stability.

Year of foundation: 1963

Number of employees: 1,606

Number of models (in the UK): 8

2017 sales: N/A

Market share in 2017: N/A


Porsche is the most recent car manufactured to be added to the Volkswagen Group portfolio. However, it did take a few years for Volkswagen to become the parent company of the highly successful German sports car manufacturer.

In the last few weeks of 2008, the Volkswagen Group took their first steps towards an ‘integrated automotive group’ approach with Porsche. It was during that period when the German manufacturing giant successfully purchased a 49.9 per cent stake in Porsche AG. By 2011, a merger between the two companies was scheduled to occur. Unfortunately, unquantifiable legal risks meant that an announcement had to be made stating that the merger was not possible.

Within the next year, Volkswagen announced that they were in the process of purchasing the remaining half of the shares in Porsche. It was a deal that was priced at €4.46 billion. This remaining stake in Porsche was officially made by the Volkswagen Group in August 2012.

Year of foundation: 1931

Number of employees: 27,352

Number of models (in the UK): 37

2017 sales: 14,051

Market share in 2017: 0.55%

The Volkswagen Group’s overall facts and figures

1937 was the year of foundation for Volkswagen. They have 200,266 employees on their books and 33 models available across the UK, not to mention achieving 208,462 sales in 2017 to record an 8.21 per cent share of the market. As a result, the following is the scale of the Volkswagen Group’s car brands combined:

Collective years of experience: 731 years

Number of employees: 372,264

Number of models (in the UK): 213

2017 sales: 535,136

Market share in 2017: 21.07%

Figures used in this article were correct as of August 2nd 2018.


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