The speedy guide to brands and car companies owned by Volkswagen Group
If you’ve ever wondered about the number of companies owned by Volkswagen, you might be in for a surprise. While most car enthusiasts are aware of the huge presence Volkswagen has in the automotive industry, the size of the Volkswagen family is much larger than you might think.
With two divisions, split between the automotive and financial services industry, Volkswagen actually plays a role in hundreds of companies worldwide. The namesake brand alone (Volkswagen) held around 6.7% of the global automotive market in in 2022, second only to Toyota.
Plus, Volkswagen’s luxury brand (Audi), is ranked among the top ten most valuable brands in the automotive space. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at the car brands and other companies that make up the comprehensive Volkswagen ecosystem.
Let’s dive in.
Who is Volkswagen owned by? The owner of Volkswagen
Before we start looking at companies owned by Volkswagen, it’s worth looking at the “parent company” of the Volkswagen Group. In other words, who owns Volkswagen?
Initially, the Volkswagen Group, or Volkswagen AG, was founded by the German government in 1937. The name Volkswagen was even chosen to highlight its vision of delivering affordable vehicles to the public.
Volkswagen means “People’s car”.
Since then, the ownership of Volkswagen has changed somewhat, as Volkswagen was listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, giving new companies an opportunity to purchase shares.
At first, under Volkswagen law, no shareholder in Volkswagen AG could buy more than 20% of the voting rights.
However, in 2007, the European Union moved against this law, and ownership started to evolve. By 2008, Porsche had a 35% stake in the Volkswagen Group. In a 2022 shareholder report, Volkswagen revealed Porsche Automobil Holding held around 53.3% of the voting rights.
It’s worth noting, however, that Porsche is technically owned by Volkswagen AG (Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft), thanks to a takeover purchase in 2012. This means the real answer to “Who is Volkswagen owned by?” is actually just Volkswagen AG.
Volkswagen confirmed this themselves with a website post, reassuring consumers that the sale and production of Volkswagen cars and SUVs is managed entirely by the Volkswagen Group.
How many companies does Volkswagen own?
So, exactly how many companies does Volkswagen own?
The answer to that question is a little more complex than it seems. Volkswagen AG is split into two distinct divisions, automotive and financial services. Although the group only has an ownership stake in a handful of automotive companies, it’s responsible for hundreds of subsidiary companies.
In 2008, Volkswagen had around 342 subsidiaries. It’s also responsible for three joint ventures in China, Volkswagen Anhui, SAIC Volkswagen, and FAW-Volkswagen.
If we look beyond complete ownership stakes, Volkswagen also has a variety of shareholdings in major brands around the world. For instance, it owns the Diconium brand (a digital transformation company), and has a 50% stake in IAV, an engineering company.
Other shareholdings include:
- Bugatti Rimac: Jointly owned with Porsche AG and the Rimac Group.
- MOIA: 100% ownership (a mobility services company).
- Pay by Phone: A pay-by-phone parking service.
- Italdesign Giugiaro: 100% ownership through Lamborghini.
The group also owns five defunct marques, including the Auto Union company, Dampf-Kraft-Wagen, Horch, Wanderer, and NSU Motorenwerke AG.
Companies Volkswagen owns: The Volkswagen family
Although most consumers associate Volkswagen with their namesake brand, the Volkswagen Group is actually much larger than you might realize. Volkswagen AG is a multinational automotive manufacturer, responsible for designing and manufacturing a wide range of vehicles.
It also offers various other related services, including fleet management, leasing, and financing. By 2016, it was the world’s largest automaker (according to sales), and it kept this title all the way through to 2019.
Volkswagen was also ranked seventh on the 2020 Forbes Global 500 list.
Initially, Volkswagen started as a simple company, created to mass-produce affordable cars in Germany. The brand’s production rapidly grow throughout the 1950s and 60s, allowing it to begin a slew of strategic acquisitions.
In 1965, it purchased the Auto Union Group.
This led to Volkswagen also owning the Audi brand. In 1986, it acquired a controlling stake in SEAT. This was the first company purchased by the brand that wasn’t based in Germany. In 1994, it bought Skoda, and acquired control of Lamborghini, Bentley, and Bugatti in 1998.
By 2008, Volkswagen had also purchased control of Scania, followed by MAN, Porsche, and Ducati in 2012. Though Volkswagen is based heavily in Europe, it operates in more than 153 countries worldwide today.
Even the primary brands of Volkswagen are split into 3 components.
The Volkswagen marque includes “Volkswagen Truck & Bus”, “Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles”, and “Volkswagen Passenger Cars”.
Brands and car companies owned by Volkswagen
It would be impossible to list all of the hundreds of brands and subsidiaries that are part of the Volkswagen Group. However, we can take a broader look at the question “what companies does Volkswagen own?”
Here are the major companies connected with the VW brand:
Let’s start with the most obvious company on our list. Volkswagen AG has a complete (100% stake) in all of the Volkswagen subsidiaries. This includes Volkswagen Truck and Bus, Volkswagen Passenger Cars, and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles.
The Volkswagen brand was the first to appear under the Volkswagen marque, and was introduced in Berlin in 1937. The company was actually established by the German Labor Front, during the “Strength Through Joy” campaign.
Interestingly, Adolf Hitler himself unveiled the first car produced by Volkswagen, initially named the KdF-Wagen. In the years to follow, Volkswagen went on to produce a variety of well-known cars, from the Beetle to the Golf.
The company continued to expand into different types of vehicles.
Commercial vehicles and trucks were introduced, followed by a collection of electric vehicles in 2017 and beyond.
Today, Volkswagen is Europe’s largest motor manufacturer.
Otherwise known as the “Traton Group”, Traton is the updated marque for Volkswagen’s “Truck and Bus” division. It’s one of the world’s largest commercial vehicle manufacturers, responsible for the MAN, Scania, and Navistar brands, as well as Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus.
Traton was officially formed in 2013, and was designed to combine the various commercial vehicle companies operated by the Volkswagen Group. The company also has a digital services solution (RIO), which is another of Volkswagen’s subsidiaries.
Interestingly, Volkswagen says the name “Traton” features the first three letters of the words Transformation, transportation, and tradition. The final three letters, “TON”, stand for “Tonnage”.
Scania is a major Swedish manufacturer of automotive products, focusing primarily on commercial vehicles such as trucks, busses, and heavy lorries. It also produces diesel engines for trucks, marine vehicles, and industrial applications.
The brand was initially formed in 1911, through a merger, and is currently 100% owned by the Volkswagen Group. Scania forms part of the “Traton” commercial vehicle subsidiary managed by Volkswagen, alongside the MAN brand.
Volkswagen earned ownership of Scania by purchasing Volvo’s stake in the company in the year 2000. By 2007, Volkswagen owned around 36.4% of the company.
The VW brand then increased its share to 70.94% by buying out Investor AB in 2008. Finally, by 2015, Volkswagen had 100% ownership.
MAN Truck & Bus
MAN Truck & Bus is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Traton Group, and therefore part of the wide collection of companies owned by Volkswagen. Headquartered in Munch, Germany, MAN generally produces trucks and heavy goods vehicles for countries worldwide.
Between 1967 and 1977, MAN collaborated with the French company, Saviem, selling light and medium trucks with MAN branding. After this, the group struck a deal with Volkswagen, which lasted until 1993.
The MAN Group began producing trucks using the Volkswagen LT body.
After Volkswagen formed its Truck & Bus subsidiary, which would later become “Traton”, the company transferred its shares in MAN to the new company.
American holding company Navistar was first formed in 1986, as a successor to the previous brand, International Harvester. Navistar now operates as the owner of “International” branded diesel engines and trucks.
It also produces busses using the IC Bus brand.
Initially, International Harvester was best-known for its proprietary vehicles, like the International Harvester Auto Wagon, the solution that preceded the standard pickup truck. Throughout the 90s, Navistar gained a significant stake in the school bus production space.
It acquired the AmTran Company in 1995, and eventually began branching out into international production. In 2020, Traton announced its decision to purchase all outstanding shares in Navistar.
The takeover was completed successfully in 2021, adding Navistar to the Volkswagen family.
Moving outside of the world of heavy trucks, Skoda is a Czech automobile manufacturer which sells vehicles to 100 different countries worldwide. In 2017, Skoda earned the second highest profit among Volkswagen Group subsidiaries (just behind Porsche).
The Skoda Car Company actually started life as Škoda Works, an arms manufacturer in 1859. It was one of the largest industrial conglomerates in Europe in the 20th century.
In the 1990s, the state authorities in Czechoslovakia introduced a variety of foreign partners to support the Skoda brand.
Volkswagen promised to preserve the Skoda brand, and was chosen by the Czech Republic government to take over a controlling stake in the company. Today, Skoda is a wholly owned subsidiary of the VW Group, and one of the conglomerate’s biggest brands.
One of the most well-known brands in the Volkswagen family, SEAT is a Spanish car company, known for its passenger vehicles and motorsport cars. SEAT was initially established in 1950, as part of a joint venture between Spain’s Instituto Nacional de Industria, Fiat, and Spanish private banks.
To date, the company has launched models in over 70 countries worldwide, following the policies of the Volkswagen Group. It’s one of the largest companies in Volkswagen’s collection, and it was the first of the companies owned by Volkswagen to not reside in the German market.
SEAT remained an “independent automaker” for around 36 years, until the Spanish government eventually sold SEAT to the Volkswagen Group in 1986. This followed a co-operation agreement between Volkswagen, Audi, and SEAT, which started in 1982.
SEAT provided the VW family with a range of inroads into the Spanish market, as well as other European countries.
As a fully-owned subsidiary of the SEAT brand, Cupra also belongs to the list of car companies owned by Volkswagen. Cupra was launched in 2018 as a stand-alone brand, after SEAT introduced the popular “Cupra trim” as a solution for car lovers.
At the same time, SEAT Sport, the sports-focused sector of the SEAT company, became the “Cupra Racing” group. Cupra is defined as a “challenger” brand, focused on inspiring the world with progressive cars and experiences.
The Cupra brand continues to play a significant role in SEAT’s motorsports sector, attracting significant sales revenue for both SEAT and Volkswagen.
A relatively new addition to the list of companies owned by Volkswagen, Scout Motors was established in 2022. The automotive company currently operates as an independent subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group, though it’s still wholly owned by the VW family.
This independent company was established as part of the VW AG vision for developing a new type of affordable and attractive electric car. The company produces off-road capable electric vehicles, and is currently building factories throughout the US, where it will introduce its first vehicles.
The Scout marque is based on the International Harvester off-road vehicle “Scout”, which was produced between 1961 and 1980. Scout plans to release its first cars, an SUV and pick-up truck, during the year 2026.
Jetta is an interesting company among our list of Volkswagen Group brands. It was established in 2019, as a joint venture between the Volkswagen team, and the FAW group. Jetta was intended to provide Volkswagen with a greater presence in the Chinese market.
The “Volkswagen Jetta” was already a popular car in China, encouraging Volkswagen to spin out an entirely new subsidiary under the name. Tehe company only has a handful of models to choose from today, including the VA3 Saloon, VS5 Compact SUV, and the VS7 SUV.
All of these cars were developed and designed by the larger Volkswagen company in Germany. The initial car, the VA3 was simply an updated version of the Chinese Volkswagen Jetta.
Easily one of the most lucrative brands in the Volkswagen collection, Porsche SE is a German automotive company, specializing in high-performance sports cars and luxury vehicles. Ferdinand Porsche founded the company, calling it “Dr. Ing. h. c. F. Porsche GmbH” in 1931.
The business originally offered vehicle development support and consulting, but didn’t build cars under its own name. However, it did build a car for the German government, which would become the Volkswagen Beetle, one of the most successful car designs ever created.
Porsche has always had a relatively close relationship with the Volkswagen Group. The two companies collaborated in 1969 to create the VW-Porsche 914 and the follow-up car, the 914-6.
In 2011, Porsche and Volkswagen merged their operations, and today, Porsche is primarily owned by Volkswagen AG, while Porsche Automobil Holding SE has a controlling stake in Volkswagen.
One of the most popular car brands from the United Kingdom, Bentley is best-known for the production of luxury cars and SUVs. Its product line includes historic sports-racing vehicles, as well as a range of high-performance cars intended for everyday life.
Bentley was founded in 1909, and quickly became a popular brand. Unfortunately, it struggled during the Great Depression, and was eventually sold to the British Central Equitable Trust Company, which later turned out to be a front for the Rolls Royce brand.
When Rolls Royce faced its own financial issues in 1971, the British government nationalized the brand, and created the Rolls Royce Motors Company.
This company was then purchased by the engineering company Vickers, which eventually sold Rolls Royce, and the Bentley marque to VW.
Audi is potentially one of the biggest companies owned by Volkswagen. The German automotive manufacturer produces vehicles in nine facilities worldwide. The origins of the business are quite complicated, and date back to the 20th century.
Audi started when Horche and Audiwerke, DKW, and Wanderer all joined forces to contribute to the creation of the Auto Union in 1932. The modern “Audi era” began in the 1960s, when the Auto Union was purchased by Volkswagen from the Daimler-Benz brand.
After re-launching the Audi brand, Volkswagen merged the Auto Union with the NSU Motorenwerke brand in 1969, which created the Audi organization we know today. Since Volkswagen is the 100% owner of Audi, it’s also responsible for the “Audi Sport” collection.
Alongside Porsche, Lamborghini stands as one of the most luxurious and affluent brands owned by Volkswagen. The company was initially established in 1948, by Ferruccio Lamborghini. This Italian company is one of the most successful manufacturers in the world.
Lamborghini joined the list of car companies owned by Lamborghini through the Audi Group. In 1987, Lamborghini was sold to the Chrysler corporation, who then sold the business to two investment groups.
The investment group then sold Lamborghini to Volkswagen.
Volkswagen placed the control of the sports car company under the Audi division. Lamborghini now operates alongside Audi Sport and Ducati, as one of VW’s most famous brands.
One of the few companies on this list that doesn’t actually manufacture cars, Ducati is an Italian motorcycle manufacturer. It was established in 1926, when Antonio Ducati and his three sons created a company responsible for producing condensers, vacuum tubes, and radio parts.
In 1935, the brand had become successful enough that it could construct a new factory, which was eventually destroyed during the second World War. Ducati eventually moved into the motorcycle landscape, starting by developing small engines for bicycles.
By the 1960s, Ducati had produced the fastest 250 cc bike in the world, and quickly expanded into a much wider market.
In 2012, the Audi company (owned by Volkswagen) announced its intention to purchase Ducati. Today, the brand is owned by Lamborghini, which is owned by Audi, which in turn belongs to the Volkswagen family.
Which companies does Volkswagen own?
As you can see from the list above, the number of companies owned by Volkswagen is much greater than you might expect.
Over the years, Volkswagen has become one of the biggest automotive brands in the world. It’s responsible for a huge variety of vehicles, from commercial to consumer cars.
Volkswagen even has a place in the wider engine production market, with subsidiaries that create marine engines and products for the industrial industry. Alongside all of the various car companies owned by Volkswagen, there are various other companies connected to the marque.
Volkswagen’s financial division is responsible for a host of different companies, from digital transformation brands, to leasing organizations.
Who knows which brands Volkswagen might attempt to acquire next?
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