German cars: Thriving & extinct names, plus best German cars 2018

01/18/2019

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German cars are known for their quality manufacturing, luxury, and style, with Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes Benz, and Audi. Well, how many other brands are there that you don't know about?

Different countries in the world are famous for different kind of things, for example, Brazil is known for football, China for Kong-Fu, Egypt for pyramids, you get where I'm going. However, when Germany is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is quality and excellent car manufacturing.

Germany has been synonymous with superior machine production for years, and that is why the phrase "German machine" is a common saying today. Being the capital of powerful machines' manufacture of the world did not start today, it started many years ago. Naijauto brings you the rarely told history of the names that established Germany as the headquarters of automobile industry from Europe to the rest of the world. Let's check out everything about German cars!

1. German car brands classification

In the long gone years back then in the 1870s, when Nikolaus Otto and Karl Benz were inventing the internal combustion engine with four-stroke, they couldn't have imagined that they would be the pioneers of a strong automobile industry right in the center of Germany. Nonetheless, some brands have stood out in the automobile light years that have followed.

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A range of popular German brands - comes with unparalleled efficiency!

The collection of automobile manufacturers in Germany presented in this post starts with the most popular ones who are specialized in the manufacture of luxury and stylish car options with incredible speed and technologies. Then comes the less well-known brands which still operate quite smoothly today. And the last part of the post will be dedicated for no-longer-existing names who used to have their prime time in the past.

Here we go!

2. Most popular German car companies

These are the leading manufacturers in the German automobile industries. The names are not strange to even the novice of car brands and are very famous with even little kids. Brands like Audi, Porsche, Volkswagen, Mercedes Benz and BMW grace this list and are known for some of the world’s favorite luxury automobiles

2.1. Audi – The truth in engineering

The history of Audi goes back in time to 1909 when it was founded by a confident German engineer called August Horch in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, Germany. Horch had initially worked as a blacksmith before studying and obtaining an engineering degree. He would later work for a shipbuilding company, Karl Benz, partner to form Horch automobile and then went ahead to found his own automobile company – Audi Automobilwerke GmBH.

Audi-badge

Audi is the Latin form of his name Horch as he couldn't use the name again after a failed partnership with A Horch and Co. a company he helped to build. It’s logo – linked four rings, is symbolic of the eventual union of three other companies – Horch, DKW and Wanderer, with Audi to form Auto Union UG in 1932.

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The fourth generation Audi RS 4 Avant with twin turbo V6 engine

Audi is a major player in the design and production of automobiles as well as the worldwide distribution. Though Audi's primary markets are in Eastern Europe, The Middle East, and Africa, China seems to be the leading country of destination for Audi cars. Of the 705,000 Audi manufactured in 2009, China alone imported 108,000 of them making China the most influential Audi customer. However, Audi sales keep growing on a worldwide scale with an 8.3% increase in 2013 alone.

Audi’s models include a range of Coupes, Sedans, SUVs, S models, and RS models. The most sought after if these models are Audi TT, Audi A8, A6, A3, and the A1, with Audi A3 selling 202,300 units and a combined sale of Audi SUVs of 438,400 in 2013.

>>> Audi fans, check out how many facts about Audi you know of!

2.2. Mercedes Benz - Luxury in design & performance - The classy German car brand in Nigeria

From inception back in 1926, Mercedes Benz has been known in the automobile industry for the manufacture of some of the most luxurious cars in the world. Founded by the partnership of Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz, in the city of Stuttgart Germany, this company has continued to wax stronger. As arguably the oldest manufacturer of automobiles, Mercedes Benz has a range of products including vans, buses, trucks, limousines and luxury cars. All their products have a nice blend of advanced technology, style, and luxury.

Mercedes-Benz-badge

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Third generation Mercedes Benz CLS 2018 - a blend of class and sporty luxury!

A complete range of their products can be found on Mercedes-Benz website, including sedan or passenger cars, luxury cars, sports cars, SUVs or Crossovers, Vans, and Minivans. Let's take a look at the most famous products from this automaker!

Mercedes Benz Limousines

This is perhaps what Mercedes Benz is most famous for, from the inception of producing the Mercedes Benz 600 a luxury model which hit the market in 1972. This luxury model was available as one of three types – LWB 4-door Pullman limousine, SWB 4door sedan, and a 6-door limousine. Open arms immediately met it as famous individuals like Elizabeth Taylor, Hugh Hefner, and John Lennon are known to have purchased a copy.

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Mercedes Benz Maybach S600 2018 – luxury limousine for the glamorous!

However, no other brand has had more sales than the CLA as 100,000 units were bought in 2013, with the US topping the demand chart with 27,000 units.

Mercedes-Benz is one of the dearest car brands of Naija people, and there are many Benz models available in the Nigerian market at an affordable price. Check out if you can afford one at our comprehensive lists of Mercedes Benz prices in Nigeria!

2.3. BMW AG - The solid empire of automobiles

Known as Bayerische Motoren Werke, in English as Bavarian Motor Works, but simply and popularly called BMW, started in 1916 by a man named Josef Popp as an aircraft engine manufacturer till 1945 when it stopped. However, it converted advanced technology in the manufacture of aircraft engine - known for its fuel economy, to producing a superior engine for the automobile in 1929. 

BMW-badge

Its first car manufactured was known as BMW 3/15 after which it has produced many other vehicles including sports cars, passenger cars, pickup trucks, luxury cars, and SUVs.

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BMW M5 2018 - the best of both sports and power!

BMW is popularly known for its range of luxury cars which is widely perceived to be more successful than any other brand of BMW. It made an unprecedented sale in May of 2014 with a first-quarter profit of 11% majorly booted by the sales of its brand in China. This has helped push BMW to the front as the foremost luxury car producer.

Of its various luxurious brands, the BMW X-vehicles have enjoyed more spotlights as it is easily the most trendy and has made more sale than most other closer brands of BMW like the SUVs. It is headquartered in Munich Bavaria, Germany and further details about their products can be got from their website.

2.4. Volkswagen - Forever "People's car"

Headquartered in Wolfsburg Germany, Volkswagen known as “the car of the people”  - from the interpretation of its name, started in 1937 producing only luxury cars with little sales to its name or the name of its founder Ferdinand Porsche. However, things had since taken a turn for the better as Volkswagen now produces a range of cars truly for the people without compromising its quality. Volkswagen is mentioned today usually in the same sentence as quality.

Volkswagen-badge

It has had much success and has seen it even acquire other companies including Rolls-Royce, Bugatti, Skoda, Lamborghini, SEAT, and Bentley.

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VW Golf 2.0 TSi  2018 - with unequaled fuel efficiency truly the peoples' car!

Its affordable range has VW Golf leading the pack with a 28% sales increase in January of 2014. VW is the largest automaker according to 2016 and 2017 records moving passes other automakers like Toyota. According to its website, it has already put things in motion to be the world's largest producer of sustainable automobiles.

In Nigeria, Volkswagen Golf 3, 4, 5, 6 are of constant demand for its superb quality which is no inferior to the Audi A3 at an affordable price and good fuel economy

2.5. Porsche - The superb sporty German car brand

Founded by Ferdinand Porsche with its headquarters in Stuttgart Germany, Porsche is a very active and famous brand, well known for its range of fast cars and supercars. So good as they are at making fast cars, it is interesting that Porsche was not an automaker originally! It only started manufacturing automobiles since 1931 and had never looked back since then, producing some of the world's most popular sports cars and SUVs.

Porsche-badge

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Porsche 911 Carrera GTS 2018 - you can't get enough of its superior capabilities!

Its range of offerings that resonate well in the automobile market includes the Cayenne, Panamera, Cayman, Boxster, the 918 and Macan. 

In Nigeria, Porsche is a favourite brand of celebrities such as Davido, Wizkid, Patoranking and Senator Dino Melaye.

3. Other less popular German car brands

Right beside those above big German automobile brands are the not-too-popular brands, which are also active in the automobile manufacturing space. Some have been in the business for long while some are very recent in the automobile manufacturing scene, but they contribute their quota nonetheless. Let’s take a look at these “other” brands!

Made in Germany Cars - Evolution from 1st generation to the present generation!

3.1. Adam Opel AG

Birthed in 1862, this company has been manufacturing automobiles for well over a century. Though it started as a bicycle, the founder - Adam Opel, moved his interest to car manufacturing after witnessing the manufacture of the earliest vehicles. In 1899 Opel joined the league with the manufacture of its first ever vehicle.

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Opel Grandland X  2018 - respectably smooth and efficient! 

With its headquarters in the city of Russelsheim Hesse, Germany, it is still very active in the production of automobiles with some of its brands featured in movies. Most recognized models from Opel can be named as Chevette, Commodore, Kadett, Manta, Rekord, Omega, Vectra, or Zaphira. More information is available on their website concerning their products.

3.2. Alpina

Relatively recent on the scene when compared to even the likes of Opel, Alpina started its manufacturing business in 1965 and has remained active till date. It is in partnership with BMW, using BMWs integrated line in the manufacture of its cars. Founded by Burkard Bovensiepen and headquartered in Buckloe in Germany, Alpina automobiles have been found to be at a very high level of luxury.

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Alpina B7 2018 model - leading the pack in sporty luxury!

Their website lists their range of offers including their BMW Alpina B3X, BMW Alpina B4x, BMW Alpina XD3, and BMW Alpina XD4.

3.3. Bitter Cars

Also a relative newcomer to the automobile manufacturing stage, Eric Bitter a one-time race car driver started car manufacturing in 1971 with its headquarters in Schwelm Germany.

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Bitter Insignia - a very rare blend of power and grandeur!

Bitter cars focus on the manufacture of luxury sports cars. These premium cars are the reason Bitter vehicles have not been able to grab a significant share of the automobile market, as a few wealthy individuals are able to purchase Bitter Cars. Bitter cars are still very active in the production of automobiles and a visit to their website will confirm this.

3.4. Gumpert

Roland Gumpert started automobile manufacturing in 2004 and remains active till date, known for his Apollo Race car which scored several appearances on the automobile TV show Top Gear.

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Gumpert Apollo sports car - featured on one of Top Gear's TV episodes

His stock in trade is that of supercars, and this also is the reason behind not being able to score high on the popularity scale. Headquartered in Altenburg, Thuringia, Germany, it has more details regarding offering on its website, you can check them out.

3.5. Isdera

Has been in the game of automobile manufacturing from 1969 to date and has been manufacturing sports cars with a team that consists of a handful of craftsmen led by Eberhard Schulz.

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2018 Isdera Commendatore GT – powered by an electric power train

Based out of their  Hildesheim, Germany headquarters, it is officially called ‘Ingenieurburo fur Styling, Design und Racing', it has had some successes even if not so popular, one of which is featuring as one of the race cars in the popular video game ‘Need for speed II' which has been enjoyed since the fall of 1997. You can check out their website to find out more about

3.6. Keinath

Horst Keinath the owner and operator of Keinath Automobilbau which is the official name of the company simply called Keinath. It is known for the production of the convertible version of the Opel Monza as well as the Vauxhall Cavalier Mark 2.

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Keinath logo may look strange to many people

It also proceeded to manufacture the convertible version of the Opel Ascona from 1983 which is the year Keinath was founded up till 1988.  Keinath manufactured an original design of theirs the GTR sports car with a convertible body in 1996. Based in Reutlingen Germany, Keinath is still active till date. Unfortunately, there is no website available for this company.

Other than those mentioned manufactureres, we also have Ford-Werke GmbH which is a subsidiary of Ford Motor Company. Ford-Werke GmbH is headquartered in Nielh.

4. List of common German cars in Nigeria & the best German cars 2018

Well, not just in Nigeria, German cars are common all over the world, but we will list out here the most favoured German car models in the eyes of Nigerian drivers.

Among the 10 most popular car brands in Nigeria, German cars already got three, which are BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen. And these are their most popular products frequently seen on Nigerian streets:

  • BMW X3
  • BMW X5
  • BMW X6
  • BMW 530i
  • BMW 528i
  • BMW 325i
  • BMW 3 Series
  • BMW 5 Series
  • Mercedes-Benz C240
  • Mercedes-Benz C230
  • Mercedes-Benz C200
  • Mercedes-Benz ML350
  • Mercedes-Benz C350
  • Mercedes-Benz E350
  • Mercedes-Benz C300
  • Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon
  • Volkswagen Golf 3
  • Volkswagen Passat
  • Volkswagen Transporter
  • Volkswagen Touareg

If you happen to love one of the car models above, you can check out our latest updated car prices in Nigerian market to see if you can afford one.

To buy those cars in Nigeria, please follow the link to view thousands of new and used cars for sale in Nigeria. You can easily find their model name using the filter on the left.

Best German cars 2018 - data released by KBA

To tell the truth, every German car is reliable, durable and boasts high performance. Their styling design is undoubtedly hi-fashion and appealing as well. But people can still find out the best among all those excellent brands.

According to KBA (knowledge-based authentication), Volkswagen cars top the list of best-selling automaker in Germany last year. Coming second is Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW.

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Volkswagen leads the chart of best-selling German cars 2018

Please note that this data applies to German-made cars only and count the total of vehicles sold in 2018 by each car manufacturer. Other giant names from Japan or America are not included here.

5. Non-active brands

While there are various popular car brands and the not so popular ones, there are yet other ones which have become extinct either through bankruptcy or through legal means or other disagreements between partners. They've all helped make a name for Germany as the capital of automobile manufacturing of the world.

5.1. Adler

This automobile manufacturer existed between 1900 and 1957 and quickly became popular in the early years of production. With a total of 30 vehicles produced during the years of existence, Adler vehicles were well received.

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Adler produced 30 vehicles during its lifetime

 Adler was also involved in the manufacture of other mechanical items like bicycle, typewriter, and motorcycles

5.2 Auto Union AG

Auto Union is a manufacturer that existed in Germany between 1932 till 1966 when it manufactured the top ranges of cars at that time. It was eventually bought over by Volkswagen group and further went on to become Audi as evident from their logo.

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Audi logo stems from Auto Union AG symbol in the past

5.3. DKW

DKW Existed from 1928 till 1966 from Saxony Germany with Jorgen Skafte Rasmussen as its founder which led them to the production of their first car back in 1919. It eventually merged with Auto which saw it producing its last automobile in 1966. DKW was also known to manufacture motorcycles.

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DKW had merged with Auto Union

5.4. Borgward

Borgward which existed between the years of 1929 and 1961 also enjoyed much popularity in the early years of German auto manufacturing. It was responsible for producing four different models including Borgward, Hansa, Goliath, and Lloyd all of which were very well received and which made it highly successful.

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Borgward car models were well received at that time

Founded by Carl F.W. Borgward, in the city of Bremen Germany but ended in bankruptcy. There are also talks that the grandson of Carl – Christian Borgward, wants to re-open the production of automobiles in Bremen.

5.5. Eisenacher Motorenwerk (EMW)

Eisenacher Motorenwerk or simply EMW existed between 1945 and1956 in the east region of Germany, in the city of Eisenach. Its production of sports cars and fast cars were short-lived when it ended 11 years later due to bankruptcy.

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EMW went bankrupt after 11 years of operation

6. Conclusion

There you have it, the comprehensive history of your favorite German cars, the popular German car brands, the not so well known and the extinct. To get more interesting news and information about the auto industry, don't hesitate to visit Naijauto car news to update everyday!

Segun Ogunbiyi
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