Understanding just how large the Volkswagen Group really is

Navigate around your local VW dealership forecourt and you’re sure to spot quite a few Volkswagen vehicles which are placed in high regard, including the Passat, the Golf and the Polo. Did you know though that the Volkswagen Group is also made up of the following seven well-known car



Ever since 1998, there have been ties in place between Bentley and the Volkswagen Group. However, the partnership is a bit more complicated than that.

Vickers, the former owner of Bentley, announced in 1997 that it was placing Rolls-Royce up for sale. 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.

With an offer of £430 million to Vickers though, Volkswagen was able to outbid BMW. 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.

This story was far from reaching its conclusion, however. 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.

On January 1st2003, another alteration was made to the deal. 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%


For more than the past century, Bugatti has been honoured with manufacturing some of the world’s most extravagant cars. 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.

You will need to go back to 1998 to learn of the origins of the partnership between the Volkswagen Group and Bugatti. In that year, Volkswagen bought the rights to produce cars which were under the Bugatti marque.

It would take until the year 2000 that the official steps were taken by Volkswagen 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 was a lot of activity going on at the Volkswagen Group during the year of 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.

Renowned for building super sports cars that boast amazingly unique designs, vehicles from Lamborghini also capture a lot of attention due to the remarkable levels of power that they can produce. They entered 1998 owned by holding company MegaTech — a firm who themselves were owned by Indonesian conglomerate SEDRCO pty.

Asia was hit by a financial crisis in 1998 though. 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.

Lamborghini was able to leave a tough few months behind them once the acquisition was confirmed, as the firm was restructured into the holding company Lamborghini Holding S.p.A and they were also assured 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


It was in the early 1990s that ŠKODA and the Volkswagen Group’s partnership started. 1991, in fact, was the year 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.

As the world welcomed the beginning of a new millennium, Volkswagen was spending the initial moments of the year 2000 taking the steps necessary 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%


Making a co-operating agreement with Spanish car maker SEAT was a momentous occasion for the Volkswagen Group, as it represented the initial steps that the company took to expand outside of its home nation of Germany.

September 1982 was the exact time that the co-operation agreement was signed. 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.

The Volkswagen Group managed to buy the full equity of SEAT in 1990. 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 most recent addition to the Volkswagen Group portfolio where car manufacturers are concerned is that of Porsche. However, it did take a few years for Volkswagen to become the parent company of the highly successful German sports car manufacturer.

As 2008 drew to a close, the Volkswagen Group began to look into how to set up 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.

Volkswagen made the announcement that they were looking to buy the remaining half of the shares in Porsche within the next year. 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%


You must go all the way back to 1965 to learn about how Audi and the Volkswagen Group became associated with one another. 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.

Currently one of the world’s leading premium brands, Audi also boasts the capability to have operations in place in over 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%

A roundup of the Volkswagen Group’s facts and figures

Volkswagen was set up in 1937. 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 2nd2018.






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