10 German Vehicles NOT Actually Built in Germany

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

Cultural stereotypes aside, Germany is known for its advanced technology, engineering prowess and top-quality manufacturing. The land of beer, bratwurst and BMW is especially famed for its automobiles, which are renowned the world over for their driving dynamics and Autobahn-proven performance.

But many of the cars and crossover manufactured by Teutonic firms aren’t actually built in the Fatherland. German companies have factories all around the world, from emerging markets like China and India to Eastern Europe, South Africa and even the good old U.S. of A.

Here’s a list of German vehicles that aren’t necessarily built in Germany:

Of course to the pedantic among us it’s the Geländewagen, but G-Class is close enough for normal folks. These military-grade body-on-frame trucks are a favorite of rappers, celebrities and people that crave attention and for obvious reasons. It’s impossible to travel incognito if you drive one.

Curiously these boxy behemoths are built by Magna-Styer in Graz, Austria. Germany’s mountainous neighbor to the south-east is known for classical music, the Hapsburg Dynasty and Sachertorte, a type of apricot-infused chocolate cake, oh, and apparently for building cars. Several MINI models are also screwed together there.

Casting a jealous gaze to the west we arrive at the doorstep of Germany’s other neighbor, one they’ve had numerous property disputes with over the years. Daimler’s much-derided smart fortwo city car is assembled in France of all places in a town with a strangely German-sounding name. And if you can believe it, Hambach actually was part of Germany following the Franco-Prussian War of 1871, though it was returned to France after the Treaty of Versailles ended World War I.

Ok, sorry about that. You didn’t click on this link to read a history lesson. You want to learn about cars! And the next one is built a little farther from home but it’s still local. Curiously the sophisticated new Audi A3 is assembled in Győr, Hungary. This Central-European country has become something of a low-cost manufacturing hub; it’s close to other E.U. countries yet far more affordable.

SEE ALSO: 2015 Audi A3 Review

Continuing our ongoing Eastern-European theme Volkswagen’s Touareg is assembled in the country immediately north of Hungary. Do you know what it is? Geography quiz aside, this large crossover vehicle along with its platform-mates the Audi Q7 for the most part Porsche’s Cayenne are assembled in Bratislava, Slovakia. And there you go, you can whip this factoid out at the next cocktail party you attend; your friends will be amazed!

But all this crisscrossing the European Union, with its different languages and cultures is really tiring us out. We need a break, not to mention some down-home ‘Murican comfort food. And where better to get some biscuits and fried chicken than in the Palmetto State? South Carolina is good enough for BMW; it should be good enough for you! The Bavarian firm assembles several of its “Sports Activity Vehicles” there including the X3, X4, X5 and X6.

Like the abovementioned BMW crossovers Volkswagen’s North America-specific Passat is also built in Dixie. The brand’s mass-market sedan is assembled in Chattanooga, Tennessee. And that’s about all there is to say about that, so let’s move on.

Vee-Dub’s sunshine-loving Eos retractable-hardtop convertible is built in an unusual place. Final assembly takes place in Palmela, Portugal not far from the country’s capital of Lisbon. The facility is called AutoEuropa and it started as a joint-venture project with Ford but the Blue Oval pulled out years ago and now it’s solely owned and operated by VW.

As with other products from major German automakers Mercedes’ newest compact offering is not actually built in Deutschland. This small, coupe-like sedan is assembled in another one of Hungary’s unpronounceable towns. If you’re curious, final assembly of the CLA-Class takes place in Kecskemét. Gesundheit!

The Volkswagen Jetta, GTI and Beetle are all popular, mass-market cars. The company sells thousands upon thousands of them all around the world each year. And many of these cars are produced south of the border.

SEE ALSO: 2015 Volkswagen Jetta Review

VW’s facility in Puebla, Mexico is one home of these vehicles, though depending on which global market they’re sold in they could be build in one of several other places.

The Mercedes C-Class sedan has been totally redesigned for the 2015 model year. This stalwart of the Benz lineup boasts too many improvements and refinements to list, but one of its most enticing items is twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that’s offered in the C400 4Matic model. It cranks out 329 hp and a maximum of 354 lb-ft of twist

SEE ALSO: 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class Review

Those are American-sized portions of power and appropriately the new C is built in Tuscaloosa, Alabama alongside the M-Class and GL-Class crossovers. Cars built here are sold in the U.S. and Canada; of course the C-Class is assembled is numerous other plants around the world.

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Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for AutoGuide.com. When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

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  • TheOtherOtherWhiteMeat TheOtherOtherWhiteMeat on Aug 26, 2017

    Some of you people are sickening. Outraged that you are paying "top-dollar" for 30-40k cars that would cost 60k if made in Germany. You would think you were shopping for a Ferrari F12 Berlinetta the way you go on. I see many blaming the countries workers where the cars were assembled in for their woahs, real or imagined (probably the latter), when the parts still come from the same places they came from before. "Oh the CLR has no power, I see why now", powertrain not even built in Hungary. "Mercedes is junk now that Chrysler merged".. Chrysler is German and has been since 1998. "I paid $35k for a car made in ALABAMA?!!" 1 in 5 cars in America are made in Alabama. Alabama built the Saturn V rocket that sent men to the moon. ALL the western world's missile defence electronics are made there and many of the complete systems out right. So many stereotypes and predjudices on display here. If your country is now making these cars, BE PROUD!, support your workers and buy them. If you want a "German car" or a "British car", or an "American car" in a global market economy, GOOD LUCK. Maybe you can find one, but I can guarentee it will not be 30k, Mr. and Miss "Top Dollar". "Prestige" LMAO.

  • Arthur Arthur on Aug 29, 2022

    What's really sad is we want to think we pay for the purity of the brand of Mercedes which aught to be made by Germans in Germany,, however that truth is since globalization policy's our governments have all signed in on we are being sold inconsistency and inferior product quality. Yeah we get it cheaper but who's fault is that we are selling crap and calling it excellence. With inflation always undercutting quality because we are willing to except 3rd party parts manufacturing and I'm sorry Not Everyone can make a part of the same Quality or Control. That's why parts failures abound and vehicles just are not lasting as long today failure is being built in.