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Automotive

How much of the motoring world does Volkswagen own?

Your nearest Volkswagen dealership is bound to have many eye-catching vehicles from the German brand available to order, such as the Golf, Passat and Polo. You may be surprised to hear though that the Volkswagen Group is made up of these seven iconic car brands too…

1.      Audi

Audi joined the Volkswagen Group family way back in 1965. It was then 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.

Today, Audi is one of the world’s leading premium brands and has operations 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%

2.      ŠKODA

The 1990s was the decade where the partnership between the Volkswagen Group and ŠKODA began. In fact, a joint venture partnership agreement was made between Volkswagen and ŠKODA in 1991, with part of this seeing the German manufacturer gaining a 30 per cent stake in the Czech car maker. The stake that Volkswagen had in ŠKODA increased in December 1994 to 60.3 per cent, before rising to 70 per cent in 1995.

It was decided by Volkswagen to turn ŠKODA into a wholly owned subsidiary of the Group as the world was celebrating a new millennium. 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%

3.      SEAT

The co-operation agreement between Volkswagen Group and SEAT catches the eye as it marked the first time that Volkswagen chose to expand outside of its home nation of Germany. This co-operation agreement was signed in September 1982, with the rest of the 1980s seeing plenty more activity between the pair of firms. 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.

It was in 1990 that the Volkswagen Group made the decision to purchase the complete equity of SEAT. 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%

4.      Porsche

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

Towards the end of 2009, the Volkswagen Group successfully purchased 49.9 per cent stake in Porsche AG — a decision that marked the Volkswagen’s first step towards an ‘integrated automotive group’ approach with Porsche. 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.

However, an announcement was made by Volkswagen the very next year that they were looking into purchasing the remaining half of the shares in Porsche. It was a deal 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%

5.      Bentley

While the Volkswagen Group has been associated with Bentley since 1998, the full story is a bit more complicated than that. This is because back in 1997, then Bentley owner Vickers announced that it was putting Rolls-Royce Motors 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.

Vickers was offered £430 million by Volkswagen though, outbidding 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.

Things only got more complicated during 1998. BMW began to supply components for new Bentley and Rolls-Royce cars in that year, 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 was altered once more 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%

6.      Bugatti

Over the last century or so, some of the most spectacular cars in the world have been produced by Bugatti. 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.

It was in 1998 that the Volkswagen Group and Bugatti’s partnership started. During 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 its 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

7.      Lamborghini

So much was going on at the Volkswagen Group during 1998, that’s for sure. 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.

When 1998 began, Lamborghini was owned by holding company MegaTech, a firm who, in turn, were owned by Indonesian conglomerate SEDRCO pty. A financial crisis would impact a lot of Asia during this year though, with one repercussion being 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 began a restructuring phase after this acquisition, becoming the holding company Lamborghini Holding S.p.A and being granted with some stability following a rough few months.

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

Facts & figures regarding the entire Volkswagen Group

Volkswagen were founded 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 such, 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%

The figures which were used throughout this article were correct as of August 2nd 2018.

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