Volkswagen AG, known internationally as the Volkswagen Group, is a German multinational automotive manufacturing company headquartered in Wolfsburg, Lower Saxony, Germany and indirectly majority owned by the Austrian Porsche-Pi+ch family. It designs, manufactures and distributes passenger and commercial vehicles, motorcycles, engines, and turbomachinery and offers related services including financing, leasing and fleet management. In 2016, it was the world's largest automaker by sales, overtaking Toyota and keeping this title in 2017 and 2018, selling 10.8 million vehicles. It has maintained the largest market share in Europe for over two decades. It ranked seventh in the 2018 Fortune Global 500 list of the world's largest companies. Volkswagen Group sells passenger cars under the Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, SEAT, +koda and the flagship Volkswagen marques; motorcycles under the Ducati brand; and TRATON (commercial vehicles, trucks, and buses) under the marques MAN, Scania, and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. It is divided into two primary divisions, the Automotive Division and the Financial Services Division, and as of 2008 had approximately 342 subsidiary companies. Volkswagen also has two major joint-ventures in China (FAW-Volkswagen and SAIC Volkswagen). The company has operations in approximately 150 countries and operates 100 production facilities across 27 countries.
After the war in Europe, in June 1945, Major Ivan Hirst of the British Army Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) took control of the bomb-shattered factory, and restarted production, pending the expected disposal of the plant as war reparations. However, no British car manufacturer was interested; "the vehicle does not meet the fundamental technical requirement of a motor-car ... it is quite unattractive to the average buyer ... To build the car commercially would be a completely uneconomic enterprise". In 1948, the Ford Motor Company of USA was offered Volkswagen, but Ernest Breech, a Ford executive vice president said he didn't think either the plant or the car was "worth a damn." Breech later said that he would have considered merging Ford of Germany and Volkswagen, but after the war, ownership of the company was in such dispute that nobody could possibly hope to be able to take it over. As part of the Industrial plans for Germany, large parts of German industry, including Volkswagen, were to be dismantled. Total German car production was set at a maximum of 10% of the 1936 car production numbers. The company survived by producing cars for the British Army, and in 1948 the British Government handed the company back over to the German state, and it was managed by former Opel chief Heinrich Nordhoff.
On 30 May 2000, Volkswagen AG, after having gradually raised its equity share, turned Škoda Auto into a wholly owned subsidiary.
From 2002 up to 2007, the Volkswagen Group's automotive division was restructured so that two major Brand Groups with different profile would be formed, the Audi Brand Group focused on more sporty values ň consisted of Audi, SEAT and Lamborghini ň and the Volkswagen Brand Group on the field of classic values ň consisted of Volkswagen, Skoda, Bentley and Bugatti with each Brand Group's product vehicles and performance being respectively under the higher responsibility of Audi and Volkswagen brands.
In 2016, Volkswagen Group announced a corporate "Strategy 2025" that focuses on electrification of its portfolio. The VW Group developed the Volkswagen Group MEB platform chassis that will be utilized in a range various cars and light utility vehicles across several VW Group marques due to its flexibility and floor-mounted battery.