Who do Volkswagen own?

We take a look at the Volkswagen family tree...

One of the most interesting things about the automotive industry is that pretty much every brand is connected in one way or another. It’s like six degrees of separation but for corporations instead.

A lot of car manufacturers are very old, and therefore have had their fair share of ups and downs and many have been owned and sold by a variety of different other car manufacturers and groups so two seemingly unrelated car manufacturers could actually be very much related.

One of the biggest players in the automotive industry is the Volkswagen Group. In 2017, it was the world’s second-largest automaker (Toyota was 1st) and has the largest market share in Europe.

So, who do Volkswagen own?

In this article, we’re going to look at the history of Volkswagen, who they own and how they acquired the car manufacturers.

A short history of Volkswagen

Volkswagen have a very interesting history, one of the most interesting out of all the car manufacturers. Volkswagen was created in 1937 by the Nazi Party to create a “people’s car”. A town was built to house the first factory and the factory workers. However, only a number of cars were actually produced before the war broke out and no one actually received a car. Only one car was ever delivered and that was the Type 1 Cabriolet. It was presented to Hitler on his 55th birthday.

After the war, Volkswagen played a huge part in the regeneration of West Germany. Their first purchase was Auto Union in 1965. The only remaining marque of Auto Union is Audi. And this was the start of Volkswagen’s acquisition of a number of different marques.

When did Volkswagen buy Audi?

Volkswagen acquired Auto Union GmbH from Daimler-Benz, Auto Union’s parent company. This new subsidiary produced the first post-war Audi models. This was the Audi F103.

In 1969, NSU Motrenwerke AG was merged into Auto Union. This created Audi NSU Auto Union AG.

These acquisitions were quite the saving grace for Volkswagen. By the 70s the Beetle was old news and the Type 3 and 4 Volkswagen’s weren’t huge sellers. It was the influence of Audi that got Volkswagen back on track with the likes of the Scirocco, Passat, Golf and Polo all launched during this period.

When did Volkswagen buy SEAT?

A co-operation agreement with SEAT was the first step in expanding outside Germany for Volkswagen.

In September 1982 Volkswagen signed a co-operation agreement with the Spanish manufacturer. It was also around this time, in 1985, that Volkswagen changed their name to Volkswagen AG.

Volkswagen acquired a 51% controlling stake in SEAT in June 1986. This made it the first non-German subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group. It became the major shareholder in December of the same year, with its stake being increased to 75%.

It was in 1990 that Volkswagen took full ownership of SEAT after purchasing its entire equity. This made SEAT a wholly owned subsidiary of Volkswagen.

When did Volkswagen buy Skoda?

Shortly after the acquisition of SEAT, Volkswagen entered a joint venture partnership agreement with Skoda in 1991. This came with a 30% stake in Skoda. They raised the stake to 60.3% in December 1994 and then raised it again to 70% in 1995. It was in 2000 that Volkswagen turned Skoda into a wholly owned subsidary.

Volkswagen vs. BMW; When did Volkswagen buy Bentley?

White Bentley Continental convertible on a road with grass in the background

By this point Volkswagen are essentially collecting brands. However, while the others have been pretty straightforward, they were about to go head to head with another German car giant; BMW.

In 1997, Vickers (the owner of Bentley) announced it was to sell Rolls-Royce Motors. The logical choice for a buyer was BMW because they supplied engines and other components for both Bentley and Rolls-Royce. And Vickers and BMW also built aircraft engines. BMW offered £340m but Volkswagen outbid them when they offered £430m. But this didn’t mean that Volkswagen owned everything.

Instead, they simply bought the vehicle designs, model nameplates, production and administrative facilities as well as the Spirit of Ecstasy and Rolls-Royce grille shape trademarks. What they didn’t have access to was the use of the Rolls-Royce name or logo. They were owned by Rolls-Royce Holdings.

In 1998, BMW started supplying components for a new range of Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars.  BMW paid Rolls-Royce £40m to licence the Rolls-Royce name and logo.

After a lengthy battle and negotiation process, it was agreed that BMW would continue to supply engines and components and Volkswagen would have access to the rights of the names and logos from the years 1998 to 2002

From January 1st 2003, Volkswagen would be the sole provider of cars with the Bentley marque and BMW, Rolls-Royce.

Volkswagen spent £500m to modernise the Bentley Crewe factory and increase production capacity. It is reported that Volkswagen invested nearly $2billion in Bentley and its revival.

In 2002, Bentley presented Queen Elizabeth II with an official State Limousine to celebrate her Golden Jubilee.

When did Volkswagen buy Lamborghini?

Don’t let it be said that Volkswagen don’t have great taste in manufacturers. Lamborghini were owned by holding company MegaTech, owned by Indonesian conglomerate SEDTCO pty. However, the Asian financial crisis in 1998 meant that Lamborghini was set for a change in ownership.

Ferdinand Piech, the new chairman of Volkswagen, purchased Lamborghini in September 1998 for around $110million. It was restructured as a holding company, Lamborghini Holding S.p.A with the Audi president as its chairman. It is under Volkswagen that Lamborghini found stability.

Lamborghini 1

When did Volkswagen buy Bugatti?

Volkswagen purchased rights to produce cars under the Bugatti marque in June 1998 and in 2000, Volkswagen officially incorporated Bugatti Automobiles. The company purchased Ettore Bugatti’s former guest house in Dorlisheim and used it as the company’s headquarters.

Ferdinand Piech announced the Bugatti Veyron at the 2000 Geneva Motor Show, promising it to be the fastest, most powerful and most expensive car in history.

When did Volkswagen buy Porsche?

Porsche Carerra in red and black parked on a cliff

Volkswagen bought a 49.9% stake in Porsche AG in December 2009. This was the first step of the ‘integrated automotive group’ with Porsche.

A merger was scheduled to take place in 2011. However, it was announced that the merger could not happen due to unquantifiable legal risks. This included a criminal probe into the holding’s former management team.

This didn’t stop Volkswagen for too long, and in 2012 they announced they would wrap up the remaining half of Porsche shares for 4.46 billion euros to avoid paying taxes of up to 1.5 billion euros if the wrap would have happened after 31st July 2014.

In August 2012, Volkswagen purchased the remaining stake in Porsche, becoming its parent company.

When did Volkswagen buy Suzuki?

Not satisfied with the plethora of marques it already owns, Volkswagen purchased 19.9% of Suzuki Motor Corporation’s shares in January 2010. However, Suzuki filed a lawsuit at in arbitration court in London requesting that Volkswagen return that stake.

They also paid $3.8billion to complete a stock buy-back from Volkswagen…hours before the news broke out regarding the emissions scandal.

Volkswagen Brand Group vs. Audi Brand Group; Who Owns What?

During the years 2002 to 2007, Volkswagen underwent a restructuring so that two major Brand Groups would be formed.

The Volkswagen Brand Group focused on Volkswagen, Skoda, Bentley, Bugatti and Porsche. The Audi Brand Group focuses more on the sports side of things, owning Audi, SEAT and Lamborghini.

Each brand group product vehicles and performance is under the higher responsibility of those brands.

Who do Volkswagen own?

After all that, who do Volkswagen actually own? They currently own;

  • Skoda
  • Bentley
  • Bugatti
  • Audi
  • SEAT
  • Lamborghini
  • Porsche

Hopefully this has cleared a few things up. As you can see, these seemingly unrelated brands have one huge thing in common; they are owned by Volkswagen.

Are you now wondering what else Volkswagen got up to over the years? We reveal all in our 30 crazy facts about Volkswagen
Holly Martin

Holly Martin

Content Co-ordinator at OSV Ltd
Holly enjoys: Reading, music and spending time with friends.

Within a week of Holly starting work at OSV she became an indispensable part of the marketing team. She's very intuitive and gets on with the whole office effortlessly.
Holly Martin

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