German Car Import: 5 Most Popular German Automakers

July 18, 2014

If you are considering getting a German car import, you should know a little something about the different companies. That will help you to better gauge which vehicle is right for you. The German automotive industry has a rich and vibrant history. In the process it has produced a number of iconic automakers, each with their own special identity. German engineering (especially when it comes to automobiles) is legendary. Essentially any company on the list is known to excel in that department.

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Audi is a company whose central focus is on luxury vehicles. Of course, within that general umbrella description there are a number of different types. They have been innovators over the years and have been known for such things as the Quattro series of sports cars. The small TT is another that fits into that category. While Audi began (early in the 20th Century) as a conglomerate of four different German automakers (hence the four circles as their emblem), these days they are part of Volkswagen.


BMW is quite synonymous with luxury. Sure, they produce a lot of luxury cars, but they also build race cars and even some sports cars for the auto market. The company has roots that go back to the beginnings of the automotive industry. They are one of the better known and more popular German automakers and are very much known for engineering excellence.They tend to be more exclusive than Volkswagen, but are arguably as well-known and successful (particularly in their niche).


Another well-known German manufacturer, Mercedes-Benz, perhaps even more so than BMW, conjures up luxury vehicles. Yet, they have also built sports cars and their Mini-Coopers are sort of a cross between a sports car and a subcompact. No matter what, though, their vehicles tend to be better known for the luxury end of things. They also tend to represent engineering excellence.


While BMW and Mercedes-Benz are both known for luxury cars, Porsche is all about the sports car. Over the years they've produced a number of different models, but they are truly iconic. While Italy is perhaps even more prominent in terms of exotic sports cars, German can point to Porsche as their success story in that department. A film once proclaimed "Porsche--there is no substitute." If you have the money to spend and want a German sports car, that is definitely true.


With a name that means "the car of the people," Volkswagen has been producing quality vehicles that are generally affordable for many years. They might be best known for things like the Beetle and Rabbit (and more recently Golf), but they've built a lot of different vehicles during their tenure. They are arguably the most successful German automaker.

Germany has one of the largest auto industries of any country. For that reason, you can expect that when you are looking for a German car to import you will have a number of options. Still, these five companies represent the vast majority of German output in terms of vehicles.

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Related Questions and Answers

How Long Does it Take to Import Cars from Germany?

If you want to import cars from Germany, it will take roughly 10 days to two weeks for the car to arrive by boat. This time frame is for shipping to the east coast of the United States. Additional time should be factored in for your final destination. If you are interested in purchasing a Mercedes or other German built car, buying in Germany and shipping to the US can save money. Buying directly from the factory can save a bit of money, but after the shipping costs are factored in, the savings is not substantial. In addition to the savings, you do get the thrill of picking the car up from the factory, and seeing Germany.

With German Cars, How Many Brands are there?

There are hundreds of German cars and brands, but the majority of them are now defunct. Currently there are seven automakers building cars in Germany. The majority of them are high-end automakers, and are well know brands. Audi, BMW and Mercedes, Volkswagen, and Porsche are the best known of the German brands. The rest of the lineup is rounded out by Smart, and Opel. Most German cars are on the high end of the pricing spectrum, but Smart builds a cheap, reliable, and small vehicle. Cars built in Germany are well regarded and considered some of the best vehicles on the road.

What is the Most Popular Classic German Car?

When it comes to classic German cars, the most popular is the VW Bug. There are millions of VW collectors out there and tons of classic VW Bugs on the roads. In addition to the VW, vintage Mercedes and BMW's are also quite popular. A fully restored vintage Mercedes can be very expensive. Restored VW Bugs tend to be quite expensive, but a project car can be picked up for a few thousand dollars. Vintage Porches, such as the Speedster are rare and extremely expensive, but are considered one of the coolest collectible cars out there. Most classic cars from Germany are easy to find. Either as project cars or fully restored.

Who Are the Biggest Foreign Car Companies?

There are number of foreign car companies selling cars in the United States. The largest of these companies are Japanese automakers. The big three would be Toyota, Honda, and the German company Volkswagen. Toyota is currently the largest automaker in the world. Hyundai Kia has grown significantly and is now in the top ten automakers. Smaller foreign automakers would be BMW, Mazda, Daimler, and Nissan. In the US, the largest foreign car company is Toyota by far. VW comes in second, followed by Hyundai, Kia and Honda. All of these car companies are well reviewed by both industry critics and consumers.

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