Volkswagen AG (OTC: VLKAY), is one of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers, posting €235.8 in revenue for fiscal year 2018. The company, also known as Volkswagen Group or VW, designs and builds a wide variety of passenger and commercial automobiles, as well as other machinery, motorcycles and more. With more than 10.8 million vehicles sold in 2018, VW has recently overtaken Toyota to become the world's largest automotive maker in terms of sales.
Since April of 2018, Dr. Herbert Diess has been Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen. Other members of the Board of Management include Frank Witter (Functional Responsibility, Finance and IT), Oliver Blume (Sport & Luxury) and Dr. Stefan Sommer (Functional Responsibility, Components and Procurement).
In recent years, Volkswagen has been involved in a significant vehicle emissions scandal. In September of 2015, the company admitted that it had outfitted roughly 11 million vehicles with software designed to deceive emissions tests. By April of 2017, the company had been fined $2.8 billion as a result of the action, and Rupert Stadler, the former CEO of Audi, was taken into custody. Since the scandal, Volkswagen has committed itself to electrifying a significant portion of its vehicle portfolio by 2025.
Volkswagen's Revenue Growth
According to its most recent annual report, VW's fiscal 2018 revenue of roughly €235.8 was up about 2.7% from the analogous figure in the 2017 fiscal year. The company sold 10.9 million vehicles during that period, up just over 1% from the previous year.
Below, we'll take a closer look at several of the key subsidiaries, companies, and acquisitions within the Volkswagen Group portfolio.
One of Volkswagen Groups’ oldest acquisitions, Audi AG (OTC: AUDVF), was purchased in 1966; Volkswagen currently owns a 99.64% stake. Audi itself is a product of the merger of several automotive companies, some with history extending back into the late 1800s. At the time of Volkswagen's acquisition in the 1960s, the two companies were well integrated, with several versions of the Passat being derived from similar Audi models and other Audi models taking major components from Volkswagen models.
However, Audi changed strategies in the early 2000s and has gone on to target a more upmarket audience than Volkswagen. As of early 2019, Audi is renowned as a brand for distinguished professionals and high-level government workers in different countries around the world.
Today, Audi is one of the most lucrative brands within the Volkswagen family. In 2018, Audi saw about 20 market launches, a strategy aimed at further expanding its product portfolio. During that year, the company sold about 1.47 million Audi-branded vehicles, generating sales revenue of roughly €59.2 billion. The Audi Q2, Q5, A4, A7 and A8 models were among the most popular during that period of time.
Bentley, Lamborghini, and Bugatti
The year Volkswagen began targeting the super-luxury market was 1998. Bentley, Lamborghini, and Bugatti all became Volkswagen Group companies during that year.
For Bentley, Volkswagen’s purchase immediately resulted in a $2 billion investment that upgraded Bentley production facilities in the United Kingdom. Today, however, most of Bentley’s parts are produced at factories in Germany and assembled at plants in the United Kingdom, where they are finished and prepared for distribution.
The addition of Bugatti and Lamborghini also added a new dimension to Volkswagen Group’s portfolio. While Bentley Motors had represented the finest in racing history, the company’s strategy moved away from racing long ago. The acquisition of these two new companies brought the future of supercars to Volkswagen. In 2019, Bentley is among Volkswagen's brands most focused on transitioning toward an electric model.
The Bugatti Veyron is one of the brand's most notable cars and is considered among the fastest consumer cars on the market. Meanwhile, Lamborghini maintains a strong reputation in its market and is among the first names mentioned in any conversation about supercars.
Given the level of prestige associated with the Bentley name, Volkswagen sold only about 10,000 Bentley vehicles in 2018, generating revenue of about €1.55 billion. This represented a decline in deliveries by about 14% in the U.S. relative to the previous year, while it constituted an increase of about 11% in Asia.
3. Porsche and Ducati
2012 was another busy year for Volkswagen in terms of acquisitions. During the course of that year, the company completed the 100% purchase of the Porsche and Ducati brands. Continuing with the company's diversification strategy, the acquisition of Porsche AG added depth to Volkswagen Group's portfolio of luxury vehicles. Whereas the acquisitions of 1998 targeted supercars and ultra-luxury brands, the 2012 acquisition of Porsche landed right between Audi’s professionals and Bentley’s billionaires.
The acquisition of Ducati, on the other hand, is diversification of a different type. By purchasing the Italian motorcycle manufacturer, Volkswagen Group added another product class altogether to its offerings. Ducati’s brand of stylish performance motorcycles is featured in racing circuits and has a strong following of enthusiasts around the world.
In 2018, Volkswagen reported sales of 253,000 Porsche-branded vehicles, generating revenue of just under €23.7 billion. This represents an increase of about 4% over the previous year for sales and one of 9.2% for revenues.
In addition to its acquisition of major luxury brands, Volkswagen acquired Škoda. In 1991, the Czech government identified Volkswagen as a potential foreign partner to help guide the lower-level automotive maker through the transition following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Volkswagen Group completed its acquisition Škoda in 2000 after nine years of making progressively larger investments into the company.
Škoda sold about 957,000 vehicles in 2018, with the Karoq and Kodiaq models being particularly popular. The subsidiary generated revenue of €17.3 billion for that year, or 4.4% higher than for 2017.
Volkswagen acquired a 51% majority stake in Spanish automotive manufacturer SEAT in 1986, later increasing its ownership to 99.99% in 1990. Like Škoda, SEAT represents a lower price point opportunity for Volkswagen. In 2018, the company launched the new Tarraco, SEAT's largest SUV offering.
Although SEAT vehicles do not enjoy the same luxury status as Porsche, Bentley or others, this subsidiary remains a significant one in the Volkswagen Group family. In 2018, SEAT sold about 608,000 vehicles, increasing customer deliveries by more than 10% over the previous year. This produced revenue of €10.2 billion, a 3.1% increase over 2017.
Most of Volkswagen's subsidiaries are automotive manufacturers. However, the company has also acquired other businesses as well. In the case of MOIA, launched in 2016, Volkswagen has aimed to enter the ridesharing market. MOIA offers ridesharing and ridepooling services and aims to explore the driverless vehicle market as well.
Another of Volkswagen's more recent acquisitions is a 16.6% stake in Navistar International, a U.S. company which builds commercial trucks, school buses and related vehicles. This acquisition was valued at approximately $256 million.
Nearly all of the automotive manufacturers in Volkswagen's portfolio are storied European car makers. Given that there exists a finite number of such companies, it's unlikely that Volkswagen will continue to expand its subsidiaries in this direction and with the same zeal that it demonstrated throughout the 1990s and early 2000s. Nonetheless, Volkswagen clearly aims to maintain its position at the forefront of the automotive industry, and more recent ventures into ridesharing and non-passenger vehicles may provide a signal as to how the company will continue to expand into the future.