Volkswagen Group (parent company Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft) is a German multinational automotive company headquartered in Wolfsburg, Lower Saxony, Germany. It is the largest automotive company in the world measured by revenue. It designs, manufactures and distributes passenger and commercial vehicles, motorcycles, engines, and turbomachinery and offers related services including financing, leasing and fleet management. In 2012, it produced the third-largest number of motor vehicles of any company in the world, behind General Motors and Toyota. It has maintained the largest market share in Europe for over two decades. As of 2013, it ranked ninth in the Fortune Global 500 list of the world’s largest companies.
Volkswagen Group sells passenger cars under the Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, SEAT, Škoda and Volkswagen marques; motorcycles under the Ducati brand; and commercial vehicles under the MAN, Scania and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles marques. It is divided into two primary divisions, the Automotive Division and the Financial Services Division, and has approximately 340 subsidiary companies. The company has operations in approximately 150 countries and operates 100 production facilities across 27 countries. It holds a 19.9% non-controlling shareholding in Suzuki and has two major joint-ventures in China—FAW-Volkswagen and Shanghai Volkswagen.
Volkswagen was founded in 1937 to manufacture the car which would become known as the Beetle. The company’s production grew rapidly in the 1950s and 1960s, and in 1965 it acquired Auto Union, which subsequently produced the first post-war Audi models. Volkswagen launched a new generation of front-wheel drive vehicles in the 1970s, including the Passat, Polo and Golf; the latter became its bestseller. Volkswagen acquired a controlling stake in SEAT in 1986, making it the first non-German marque of the company, and acquired control of Škoda in 1994, of Bentley, Lamborghini and Bugatti in 1998, Scania in 2008 and of Ducati, MAN and Porsche in 2012. The company’s operations in China have grown rapidly in the past decade with the country becoming its largest market.
Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft is a public company and has a primary listing on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, where it is a constituent of the DAX index, and secondary listings on the London Stock Exchange, Luxembourg Stock Exchange, New York Stock Exchange and SIX Swiss Exchange. As of September 2012, the government of Lower Saxony holds 12.7% of the company’s shares, granting it 20% of the voting rights.