German Companies and Why They Drive the Global Economy  (2023)

Germany has one of the strongest economies in Europe: German companies with strong sales enjoy a high international reputation. Small and medium-sized (SMEs) German companies drive the market, and "Made in Germany" is the international hallmark of extraordinary quality. German economic policy promotes a broad and competitive industrial environment with a strong focus on innovative future technologies. No wonder that German products are global export hits! Additionally, Germany is well integrated into the global economy.

This enables German companies to gain and exchange knowledge, products and employees in a global network. We show you which companies from Germany stand out and in which industries the largest German companies are located.

The Largest German Companies

There are two options to define the largest German companies. The first is to look at DAX listed companies: The German stock index (DAX) tracks the performance of the 40 largest companies in the country (DAX-40 companies). You're probably familiar with many of them. They include Zalando, SAP, Siemens, Adidas, Allianz, Airbus, Volkswagen, Daimler or Deutsche Telekom.

However, there are also large German companies that are not in the DAX, or are not a stock corporation (in German: Aktiengesellschaft, in short AG) at all. A good example here is Europe's largest trading company: the Schwarz Group. You will probably be more familiar with the name of their stores: Lidl. Aldi—its big counterpart—is also one of Germany's largest companies, but it is not a stock corporation. Then there's the technology and services company Robert Bosch, which easily outperforms most DAX companies in terms of sales.



Revenue in Billion US Dollar





Volkswagen Group












Deutsche Telekom






EMD Group



Deutsche Post



BMW Group


Biggest German companies according to market value in 2021, source:

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The Most Important Industries in Germany

The most important or/and the largest industry in Germany is the automotive industry. It has an annual turnover of around 438 billion euros. Cars from Mercedes (also in the DAX), Audi or BMW are regarded as status symbols all over the world. And of course, who hasn’t dreamt of a Porsche? 😉

The second sector may not immediately come to your mind, yet it is very important for the German economy and the perfect example of domestic technology: the mechanical engineering industry. Its sales amounts to almost 256.88 billion euros. Above all, medium-sized companies such as Krones, Harro Höfliger, and KHS ensure precise, safe, and reliable production processes all over the world—in food and beverage production, for example, or in the manufacture of pharmaceutical products.

The chemical-pharmaceutical industry generates an annual sales of 198.27 billion euros, making it another important component of the German economy. German companies such as BASF, Bayer and Merck are among the big players in a highly competitive global market.

But also the food industry turns over nearly 185.3 billion euros annually. Much of what you eat and drink regularly can also be found on supermarket shelves abroad—German beer in particular is popular all over the world. The electronics sector follows close behind with 181.6 billion euros. Alongside Siemens, there is Infineon, for example—German company that has been operating successfully in this field for years.

Why German SMEs Are Unique in The World

For Germany, it doesn't always have to be the big players. Small and medium-sized German companies (SMEs), which are usually family-owned and based in smaller towns, make up the so-called Mittelstand. Companies like Krones or Webasto certainly don't have the prominence of German firms like Siemens, BMW or Bayer. If world market share were the toughest criterion for a company's international strength, many mid-sized companies would be true superstars! Whether they produce machine parts, chemicals or software—SMEs are generally strong, reliable and successful.

These hidden champions pool their resources to be superior in areas that customers value most. That includes product quality, customer proximity, service, the quality of employees, technology leadership and innovation. They expect themselves to meet the same high-quality standards in foreign markets as they do in their home market. Even a really good product sometimes breaks down and needs to be repaired, and these German companies see no reason to lower their service standards abroad. For this reason, they tend to build strong service networks wherever they do business.

Medium-sized German companies are masters of global competition, but so far have remained largely hidden from view. First, most of their products are used in the manufacturing process or go into the final product. These products are therefore invisible to the consumer. Many times, German SMEs actually enjoy invisibility and do not necessarily want to be in the spotlight.

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Start-ups in Germany: Where the Innovation Is

When you think of start-ups, you may instinctively think of hip companies, started in garages, in California or New York. But even if there aren't quite as many success stories as in the U.S., Germany certainly has some pretty cool and successful startups, too.

You may be familiar with the online bank N26 or the Neo-Broker Trade Republic The online translator DeepL is also very well-known. Anyone who manages to overcome the bureaucratic hurdles has good prospects of success. At the same time, TV formats such as "Die Höhle der Löwen" (English “Shark Tank” or “Dragons’ Den”) inspire people who want to start their own business and offer support to (young) founders. The German start-up scene is also gaining in importance thanks to increased public and private funding. In the long term, this should lead to the creation of even more successful German companies.

Exports from German Companies

As already mentioned, German companies export all over the world. When it comes to the Asian market, car manufacturers are very popular. VW now sells one in four of its cars in China. The demand for cars "Made in Germany" is gigantic. Whether it's double-glazed windows or furnishings, machine tools or jewelry, the Chinese in particular are willing to pay a lot for their own homes with German products in them.

The USA is also a very important market for products from German companies. In addition to cars (of course), technology in the B2B sector is particularly in demand. Besides, Continental, Linde and Bosch, DHL is also an important German representative on the American market.

Germany's neighboring countries like the Netherlands, France and Poland also have strong ties with German companies in terms of trade.

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The trade relationship between German companies and Russia is currently rather explosive. For a large number of German companies, Russia is an important sales market—at least up until now. Sporting goods manufacturers such as Puma or Adidas, Ritter-Sport or Bayer earn a lot of money there. The trading companies Metro or Henkel are also at least to some extent dependent on business in Russia. And of course, German cars are also in great demand in Russia as a status symbol.

How do I Find German Companies Relevant for My Business?

If you are looking for suitable suppliers, interesting sales partners or potential customers, you have several options to find them. The fact that there are many companies in Germany can be a challenge though.

Online Lists

If you want to find the biggest German companies in a certain industry, you can, of course, look for them on the internet. However, this is time-consuming and costly. And even if you find appropriate registers, you have no guarantee for their accuracy and completeness.

Address Lists

Of course, you can also buy such lists at address vendors, but this can be rather expensive. In addition, these lists always represent only a certain status quo, meaning they won't cover dynamic changes such as a change in management or similar. This means that such lists are often not only incorrect, but also become outdated comparatively quickly. Experience has shown that the filtering options of such lists are also limited, which means that you are again faced with the corresponding additional expense.

Sales Intelligence

Sales Intelligence tools such as Echobot solve the challenges the other options face for you. Echobot helps sales and marketing teams quickly find and evaluate target companies—and even providescustomers with 360° company profiles. AI-based algorithms in the background let you find exactly the German companies you want to find. And it's completely DSGVO-konform!

Not only do you get insights into the target companies of your choice, but you can also search for companies within your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) using a great variety of filters. Especially if you are interested in the size and turnover figures of a company, you can use Echobot to filter for important financials. Once you have found suitable companies, the Sales Intelligence Platform also gives you the option of viewing the matching contacts within a company, including publicly available contact data, e.g. email addresses, business phone numbers and social accounts.

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Conclusion: Profit from Relevant German Companies—Thanks to Sales Intelligence

Germany is the leading economic and political power in the EU and Europe, making it one of the leading economic nations in the world. The country has successfully defended this position for decades thanks to its reliable companies. However, it is not always only the best-known and largest German companies that ensure its strong economy. A large number of successful SMEs supply the world with high-quality products. With their know-how and innovations, they satisfy their customers’ needs and are certainly ideal long-term strategic partners.

Now you have an overview of the corporate landscape in Germany. No matter which German companies of which size are relevant to you, it is always worthwhile to keep an overview of your target market—in the case of Germany, this may apply to the strong SME sector. Germany’s strong export can also be interesting for you. After all, this will give you an idea of which markets are already doing business with German companies and where you might be able to tie in.

In any case, you should consider trying Sales Intelligence in order to find German companies to do business with. Why? Because you'll be able to keep track of all German companies—from the largest German companies to the smallest companies in the DACH region. Plus, with Sales Intelligence software like Echobot, you can push your B2B lead generation and prospecting tremendously, as you can get lists of exciting German companies to sell t. Give it a try!

(Video) More German businesses go bankrupt amid weak economy, high inflation | DW News

Sources (accessed in June 2022):


How does Germany contribute to the global economy? ›

Germany is one of the largest exporters globally with $1810.93 billion worth of goods and services exported in 2019. The service sector contributes around 70% of the total GDP, industry 29.1%, and agriculture 0.9%.
Economy of Germany.
Labour force42.3 million (August 2020) 68.3% employment rate (August 2020)
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Which German companies make the biggest contribution to the economy? ›

At the top of Germany's corporate giants are auto manufacturers. Of the seven largest companies by revenue, three are car firms — Volkswagen, the biggest corporation in Germany, Daimler, the second largest, and BMW.
Powered by.
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OpenXOpenXView Policy
Justpremium BVJustpremium BVView Policy
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18 Oct 2012

Why is Germany so economically successful? ›

In the business world, it is well known that Germany has a strong economy and worldwide trading reputation, but why is this? The German economy's competitiveness and worldwide networking can be attributed to its elevated level of innovation and strong export orientation.

What industries drive a German economy? ›

Germany's most important industries

4 sectors dominate industry in Germany: the automotive, mechanical engineering, chemical and electrical industries.

How Germany became an economic powerhouse? ›

The majority of Germany's economic prowess is because of the small and medium corporations over there. These corporations are known to be most competitive all across Europe. They are responsible for the bulk of exports which make Germany a world leader.

Why is Germany such an economic powerhouse? ›

Due to a robust labor market, labor market reforms, historically low interest rates, low energy prices, increasing demand for Germany's goods and services from its neighboring euro economies, and a rebounding business investment environment, business travel activity will likely remain positive for the foreseeable ...

Why is Germany a good business to expand? ›

Germany is one of the world's largest and most stable trading economies, offering a secure, highly developed political and economic framework. Its strong legal protections enable investors to quickly enforce their rights and protect their industrial and intellectual property.

Who are the biggest contributors to the global economy? ›

% Share of the Global Economy
  • United States of. America. 23.93%
  • China. 18.45%
  • Japan. 5.14%
  • Germany. 4.39%
  • United Kingdom. 3.32%
  • Countries. 6–10. 12.49%
  • Countries 11–15. 7.96%
  • Countries 16–25. 7.88%

Why is Germany the biggest economy in Europe? ›

Germany is home to the largest economy in Europe. Highly industrialized and diversified, the national economy accounts for around 25 percent of European gross domestic prodction. Germany's economy has been affected by the global coronavirus pandemic.

Why is Germany so good at industry? ›

The Realschule prepares students to be skilled and highly productive workers, typically in a manufacturing company. The pragmatic and skills-oriented training and education of workers gets a real boost from Germany's unique apprentice system, where on the job training is combined with more formal classroom teaching.

What is Germany's biggest industry? ›

Germany's principal industries include machine building, automobiles, electrical engineering and electronics, chemicals, and food processing.

Does Germany have good economic growth? ›

Near-term growth downgraded

After growth of 2.9 percent in 2021, we expect economic growth to slow sharply to 1.2 percent in 2022 owing to elevated energy import prices and weak consumer confidence. We expect supply bottlenecks to persist even into 2023.

What are the main industries that drive the economy? ›

Biggest Industries by Revenue in the US in 2022
  • Hospitals in the US. ...
  • Drug, Cosmetic & Toiletry Wholesaling in the US. ...
  • New Car Dealers in the US. ...
  • Life Insurance & Annuities in the US. ...
  • Health & Medical Insurance in the US. ...
  • Pharmaceuticals Wholesaling. ...
  • Commercial Banking in the US. ...
  • E-Commerce & Online Auctions in the US.

What are the strongest industries in Germany? ›

Largest economy in the European Union. Germany's main exports are cars, machinery, chemicals, computers, and electronics. 11th in the Index of Economic Freedom, 2022. 27% GDP growth in 2021.

What made Germany an industrial power? ›

Germany's industrialization started with the building of railroads in the 1840s and 1850s and the subsequent development of coal mining and iron and steel production, activities that made up what is called the First Industrial Revolution.

When did Germany's economy get better? ›

After the devastation of World War II, West Germany rebounded with a so-called “economic miracle” that began in 1948.

Why is Germany important to global markets? ›

The German economy is the fourth largest in the world and accounted for one quarter (24.7 percent) of the European Union's GDP in 2021. Germany is also the United States' largest European trading partner and the sixth-largest market for U.S. exports.

Who are the 4 main players in the economy? ›

The role-players in the economy include households, business, government and the foreign sector. These participants are involved in the processes of production, consumption and exchange.

What is the biggest contributing factor to economic growth? ›

Broadly speaking, there are two main sources of economic growth: growth in the size of the workforce and growth in the productivity (output per hour worked) of that workforce. Either can increase the overall size of the economy but only strong productivity growth can increase per capita GDP and income.

Which country has the strongest economy in Europe? ›

List of European countries by GDP. Germany is the largest economy in Europe, followed by United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Russia.

Is Germany the largest economy in the world? ›

California to Have World's Fourth-Largest Economy, Topping Germany - Bloomberg.

Is Germany one of the biggest economies? ›

So the total of all goods and services sold. Worldwide gross domestic product in 2021 was at about 12.259 USD per capita. GDP in Germany, on the other hand, reached USD 50.802 per capita, or 4,223.12 billion USD in the whole country. Germany is one of the world's largest economies and is currently at rank 4.

Why is Germany always so powerful? ›

German power rests primarily on the country's economic strength. In terms of gross domestic product (GDP), Germany ranks fourth in the world, behind the United States, China, and Japan, and ahead of France and the United Kingdom.

Why Germany is the best country for business? ›

Its economy is one of the world's largest and Germany is one of the globe's leading importers and exporters. Services, which include industries such as telecommunications, health care and tourism, contribute the greatest amount to the country's economy. Industry and agriculture are other significant economic sectors.

What makes Germany the best country? ›

All in all, Germany is a country where you can find both the fast city life or the quiet sub-urban experience, all from a position of safety, security and stability. In short, the country's safety, highly developed infrastructure and robust economy allow Germany to offer you a very stable reason to move to the country.

What are the 3 main exports of Germany? ›

Exports The top exports of Germany are Cars ($123B), Packaged Medicaments ($60.9B), Motor vehicles; parts and accessories (8701 to 8705) ($54.6B), Vaccines, blood, antisera, toxins and cultures ($34.1B), and Planes, Helicopters, and/or Spacecraft ($20.9B), exporting mostly to United States ($116B), China ($106B), ...

How strong is Germany's economy? ›

Germany is the world's fourth-largest economy, highly innovative and has a strong focus on exports. The future lies in Industry 4.0. Germany is the largest economy in the European Union.
The world's largest trading nations in 2018 (share of world exports)
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What is Germany famous for? ›

Germany is well known for many things. It has a strong economy, it is the birthplace of classical music and philosophy, it has a rich culture, and it is known for its scenic beauty. Additionally, Germany is known for its engineering and automotive industry, as well as its precision manufacturing.

Which three industries have the greatest contribution to our economy? ›

The services sector accounted for the highest share to GDP at 58.9 percent, followed by the industry sector (33.3 percent), and agriculture sector (7.5 percent). Manufacturing accounted for 69 percent of the total output of industry.

What are the 5 biggest industries in the world? ›

Global Biggest Industries by Employment in 2022
  • Global Consumer Electronics Manufacturing. 17,518,424.
  • Global Commercial Real Estate. 17,164,710.
  • Global Fast Food Restaurants. 13,458,146.
  • Global HR & Recruitment Services. 11,988,376.
  • Global Apparel Manufacturing. ...
  • Global Hotels & Resorts. ...
  • Global Coal Mining. ...
  • Global Tourism.

What are the 3 main types of industries found in developed economies? ›

The three-sector model in economics divides economies into three sectors of activity: extraction of raw materials (primary), manufacturing (secondary), and service industries which exist to facilitate the transport, distribution and sale of goods produced in the secondary sector (tertiary).

What 3 attributes helped Germany become an industrial giant? ›

Germany emerged as an industrial giant, became economically stable, and made social reforms, all of which increased the new nation's power. 3. Germany had ample coal and iron resources, a disciplined and educated workforce, a growing population, and had made previous progress in building indus- tries and railroads.

How did Germany promote industrialization? ›

Germany's industrialization started with the building of railroads in the 1840s and 1850s and the subsequent development of coal mining and iron and steel production, activities that made up what is called the First Industrial Revolution.

How did Germany benefit from industrialization? ›

Huge factories were built and turned out more goods at an ever faster pace. Industrialization progressed and the bourgeoisie gained ever more influence. Widespread railway construction also boosted the economy, making mass production and the efficient distribution of goods possible.

Why is Germany so important? ›

Germany is Europe's most industrialised and populous country. Famed for its technological achievements, it has also produced some of Europe's most celebrated composers, philosophers and poets.

How did Germany become the largest economy in Europe? ›

After the extensive development of the railway network during the 1840s, rapid economic growth and modernisation sparked the process of industrialization. The largest economy in Europe by 1900, Germany had established a primary position in several key sectors, like the chemical industry and steel production.

How developed is Germany's economy? ›

The fifth largest economy in the world in PPP terms and Europe's largest - is a leading exporter of machinery, vehicles, chemicals, and household equipment and benefits from a highly skilled labor force.

What are 5 important facts about Germany? ›

Facts about Germany
  • OFFICIAL NAME: Federal Republic of Germany.
  • FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Federal republic.
  • CAPITAL: Berlin.
  • POPULATION: 82,422,299.
  • MONEY: Euro.
  • AREA: 349,223 square kilometers.
  • MAJOR RIVERS: Rhine, Elbe, Main, Danube.

Which European country is known for having the strongest economy? ›

List of European countries by GDP. Germany is the largest economy in Europe, followed by United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Russia. These five together hold a 50% share of the European economy. Total ten European economies represent almost 80% share.

What role does Germany play in European economies? ›

The German economy is the fourth largest in the world and accounted for one quarter (24.7 percent) of the European Union's GDP in 2021. Germany is also the United States' largest European trading partner and the sixth-largest market for U.S. exports.

Is Germany a fast growing economy? ›

GDP Growth Rate in Germany averaged 0.48 percent from 1970 until 2022, reaching an all time high of 9.00 percent in the third quarter of 2020 and a record low of -9.50 percent in the second quarter of 2020.

Why is Germany so powerful? ›

German power rests primarily on the economy, healthcare, natural resources, education, and EU-NATO membership. However, it did not have a large military or land area that limited German power; these factors helped Germany become an important country today and a leader in most European countries.


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