Germany – Leaders In The Automobile World

The German automotive industry is one of the big hitters in the global industry of car manufacture. A large proportion of drivers, whether through buying or renting a car are likely to have driven a German-made automobile. Their automotive manufacturers are among the most well-known brands in the world and the industry enjoys pre-eminence in the European market. Given that the country is considered to be the place where the automobile was first conceived – with Karl Benz fitting an internal combustion engine to a coach to provide it with locomotion in the 1870s – the strength and reach of the industry is testament to this long automotive history in Germany. Considering that most of Germany’s car factories were destroyed during the Second World War, their subsequent rise to prominence is astonishing.


There are several main companies that effectively comprise the German automobile industry. They are commonly referred to as Audi, Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW, Porsche and Mercedes. All of these companies have been in operation for at least 60 years in Germany, with the oldest, BMW, having been in manufacturing since the 1920s. Volkswagen (maker of the iconic Beetle) is one of the three biggest automobile manufacturers in the world, when one combines cars made in Germany with those made under its brand name in other parts of the world.


The combined output of the German based factories of these six brands is around six million cars per year. In 2011, the figure was 6.3 million. Germany is the fourth largest car manufacturer on the planet, behind only China, the United States and Japan. The International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers reported that in 2011, Germany produced 9.8 percent of the world’s car output. Among car manufacturers in Europe, Volkswagen was the strongest across the continent in 2010, with a market share of 21.3 percent.


The recent economic crisis in Europe has seen car sales slump across much of Europe. In 2010 in Germany alone, there was more than a 20 percent reduction in vehicle purchases. However, the industry, with such history and strength of labour force – close to a million people are employed in the industry – has since begun to claw back its sales performance. One of the key trends for this to happen is the dramatic rises in car ownership within developing countries and German automotive manufacturers are well placed – through exports and licensing of their brands – to take advantage of these burgeoning markets in places such as China and Brazil. The government is also working with car manufacturer’s to take a lead in developing greener technologies, such as electric cars, to maintain their market share as consumer choices change.

Motor show

Germany’s prominence in the industry is demonstrated by the popularity of its international motor show. Held every two years in Frankfurt it has been running since 1897 and currently takes over twelve buildings. It regularly attracts over one million visitors and both German and international manufacturers use it as a platform to launch new models.