What are the Netherlands famous for? I instantly think about Amsterdam, remember Vincent van Gogh, daydream about windmills, wonder about tulips and laugh in the face of clogs. What else?
Well, there are at least a few car brands in the Netherlands that you might be aware of, or not. They are worth mentioning, although we are talking about a country whose citizens love nothing more than to use the bicycle, whether it’s for going shopping or an enjoyable trip during the weekend.
The fist name to come to mind is DAF Trucks, a pioneer in the Dutch car industry, a company focused on heavy-duty cargo carriers. I’m pretty sure you’ve also heard about a Spyker supercar, hailing from the Netherlands as well. Can you name at least one more? Let’s find out together which are all Dutch car brands.
- Years: 1999 – Present
- Founders: Maarten de Bruijn, Victor Muller
- Headquarters: Zeewolde, Netherlands
- Website: spykercars.com
Although originally founded by Maarten de Bruijn and Victor Muller back in 1898, the modern Spyker Company has nothing to do with the old brand. Sure, it all started with an interest in the automotive industry, but by the beginning of the 20th century the company was bankrupt.
Nonetheless, the new cars hint towards the brand’s aviation past, and that’s actually cool – a closer look at the vehicles’ details reflect the brand’s experience in aircraft engines’ production. However, it also becomes clear that Spyker is focused on exclusive sports cars.
Based in Zeewolde, Netherlands, this car brand is rolling out even more interesting projects, such as the C8 Spyder and the C8 Laviolett. Feel free to list even mode models because Spyker cars announced they’ll have many surprises for us in the next couple of years.
- Years: 2010 – Present
- Founder: Robert Cobben
- Headquarters: Vriezenveen, Netherlands
- Website: vencer.nl
Although active since 2010, Vencer only became widely known three years later. By then, their company’s first car was ready for unveiling and even the Prince of Monaco came in to take a look.
Based in Vriezenveen, Netherlands, this car brand is considered a supercar manufacturer, and the 2015 Vencer Sarthe project honored founder Robert Cobben. Packing a 6.3-liter engine, that was good for around 622 hp, it’s safe to assume everyone felt very excited by this car.
However, due to the fact that this car is not available for export, only European drivers got to enjoy it and some of them even managed to park it in their driveway – not that cool, Mr. Cobben, but hopefully in the future they’ll be available worldwide.
It is worth mentioning that Vencer is usually keen on delivering original modifications, thus making sure each and every unit is unique and matches the drivers’ preferences and personality. Made to order, Vencer cars are one way of making a powerful social statement.
- Years: 1978 – Present
- Founder: Joop A. Donkervoort
- Headquarters: Lelystad, Netherlands
- Website: donkervoort.com
I have to admit, this is my favorite brand on the list. Alive and kicking since 1978, Donkervoort originally started working their magic out of a barn. Nowadays, things are looking way more sophisticated than that. Both the brand and the cars have become a symbol of freedom and driving with confidence – we’ll get to that, in a minute.
Over the years, the company has developed and produced various models, powered by Audi engines. The very first attempt at a cool car also featured Ford components and a 2.0-liter OHC Ford engine, but by the time the second vehicle was out, Donkervoort engineers were already fitting vehicles with double brakes. Please note that each and every Donkervoort car is handmade by a qualified craftsman.
Named after its founder, Joop Donkervoort, the car manufacturer went on to design cars inspired by the iconic two-seater that is the Lotus Seven. However, modern iterations like the D8 GTO show off a more aggressive and very appealing overall vibe.
Please consider that electronic braking, power steering, or dynamic stabilization systems are not fitted to these cars – that’s on purpose. You are either a good driver or… not. The fashionable retro appearance seems to hint towards that, and the handling of these vehicles is amazing. Are you up for it?
- Years: 1928 – Present
- Founders: Hubert “Hub” van Doorne, A. H. Huenges
- Headquarters: Eindhoven, Netherlands
- Website: daf.com
What makes a former brewery director qualified to found and run a truck company? Nothing, really; yet DAF Trucks was established by such a person, a man fond of car repair. This is why, back in 1928, the very same man decided it would be a good idea to open a workshop and produce trailers.
Following WWII, success came the company’s way, as there was a shortage of trucks required to do the heavy lifting. DAF quickly filled an empty niche and went on to design and manufacture buses and trucks, as well.
It took the company a while before developing its own engines; before that, they had to borrow imported engines. Nowadays, DAF is focused on constructing trucks and only trucks, and business is good. The company’s latest models keep in line with modern-day requirements and functionalities a truck should offer.
- Years: 2006 – Present
- Founders: Michiel van den Brink, Robert Koumans
- Headquarters: Amsterdam, Netherlands
- Website: vandenbrinkdesign.com
Vandenbrink Design is an exclusive automotive design company that has been working wonders since 2006. The brand’s first project was a Ferrari interpretation, where co-founder Michiel van den Brink got very involved in the creative process.
Although focused on custom-fitted special coachbuilding, mainly for exclusive sportscars, the brand is usually responsible for outrageous and seductive aesthetics.
Vandenbrink’s designs are intuitive yet innovative, with the company also involved with limited-series vehicle construction, as well as body manufacturing, upholstery and tuning.
Whatever your flavor is or whatever you require, in terms of automotive magic, these guys will deliver.
- Years: 1967 – Present
- Founders: Van Dorn brothers
- Headquarters: Born, Netherlands
- Website: vdlnedcar.nl
Since 1967, the VDL Nedcar automobile plant has been very busy. Sure, the company has changed quite a few owners since then – at one time it even belonged to the Swedish concern Volvo – but managed to survive. On October 4, 2000, the company produced its millionth car, which became Mitsubishi Space Star.
Founded by the Van Dorn brothers and based in Born, Netherlands, today the factory is responsible for the assembly of BMW X1 and Mini Hatch cars. Furthermore, this is actually the biggest car factory in the Netherlands, capable of delivering 240,000 vehicles a year.
VDL Nedcar currently produces the Mini Cabrio convertible, Mini Countryman, Mini Countryman-PHEV and BMW X1 for BMW Group. In June 2021, U.S. EV startup Canoo announced it would use VDL for its first run of the Lifestyle Vehicle starting in 2022, at least until their Oklahoma factory will be ready for production.
- Years: 1966 – Present
- Founders: Kees Waaijenberg
- Headquarters: Veenendaal, Netherlands
- Website: waaijenberg.com
Dutch micro-car manufacturer Waaijenberg usually designs low-speed neighborhood-vehicles for wheelchair users and handicapped drivers – and has been keeping at it since 1966. Founded by Kees Waaijenberg, the company is based in Veenendaal, Netherlands.
During the 1970s and 1980s the brand was constantly annoying Mr. Bean simply because it imported the Dutch version of Reliant Robin. By 1978, they were already designing vehicles for the disabled.
Starting with 1980, Waaijenberg produced a vehicle called the Arola, with the year 1995 finding company empliyees working on Canta, a vehicle specifically designed for the disabled public.
Driving a Waaijenberg: top speed limited at 45 km/h, no expressways and motorways, and no driver’s license required. That’s about it; it might be pretty fun around town, but we dare not discuss features and equipment.
- Years: 2011 – Present
- Headquarters: Best, Netherlands
- Website: landfighter.com
LandFighter is an all-terrain vehicles brand. Well, to be perfectly honest, the brand is busy selling its creations in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain and Portugal. Furthermore, it seems that its partnership with Her Chee Industrial Co Ltd ensures the parts are manufactured in China and assembled in Europe, following arrival.
All ATVs are European approved and certified for driving on the roads as well. LandFighter puts a 50-hp Subaru engine to work, although the ATVs also benefit from a 42.2-hp SYM engine – each unit is tested on mud and snow tracks before being sold. Get ready for an adventure.
- Years: 1968-1981
- Founder: Arie Ruska
- Headquarters: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Ruska was a car manufacturer founded in 1968, which went on to develop and produce vehicles until 1981. Known for producing various models of awesome beach buggies built around Volkswagen chassis, Ruska was one of the most promising and successful automakers.
Nowadays an automobile repair garage in Amsterdam, the company was founded by Arie Ruska after World War II an was initially focused on car restoration.
During the 1970s, Ruska was among the most successful buggy builders in the Netherlands. The Ruska B1 Buggy put them on the map and production had reached 250-300 units per year.
Replicas such as the Ruska Buggati and Ruska Regina – a design inspired by the iconic Morgan silhouette – were also made by the independent car manufacturer, along with kit car version of the buggy. Sadly, this success story came to an end once the BVB tax was introduced.
If we forgot or simply weren’t paying attention and you are familiar with other Netherland-based car manufacturers, feel free to tell us all about it. In the meantime, we thought it might be a good idea to take a quick look at those cars that have been received with a big smile in this country.
Top 10 Car Brands in the Netherlands (in Terms of Sales)
As we were taking notes and researching car manufacturers in the Netherlands, we asked ourselves: which car brands and car models are popular on this side of the planet? Curiosity killed the car, or our free time, which is why you now get to enjoy a compiled list of the top 10 most popular automakers on the Dutch market.
Sure, the Netherlands is known for cycling, but that doesn’t mean native citizens don’t enjoy a drive now and then. Car sales fell in these last couple of years, one of the many effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, yet dealers are still alive and kicking. Are you ready?
The German auto manufacturer managed to take over 12.5% of the market, specifically of all new passenger cars sold in the Netherlands. Holland loves its German cars, and it seems Dutch people went crazy over the Volkswagen ID.3 and the new Polo models. Is that in any way surprising? I guess not.
The Korean car brand has been gaining in popularity in recent years while also building a strong following with Dutch drivers. As such, it now ranks second in market share in the country. The brand has even managed to receive the title for best-selling model of the year – as you read this, feel free to research the Kia Niro. Do you like it?
To be perfectly honest, the French car maker has always been around, so to speak. A strong presence in the Netherlands for years, the company received the bronze medal for acquiring a 6.7% share of the Dutch automotive market. Which Peugeot model would you think the Dutch prefer?
There’s no way around it, the Japanese car brand has almost taken over the world in this last decade – so why not the Dutch market as well. Sure, the brand stands fourth on our list; care to guess which Toyota model sold best in the country? You got it: it was the Yaris.
Take a second to think about which Opel model is popular here, while we tell you that in 2017 General Motors sold its Opel division to Groupe PSA. Accounting for 5.7% of the Dutch market, Opel sales were mostly focused around Corsa units, which is not at all surprising.
The French car manufacturer is constantly updating its lineup and extending its reach. In the Netherlands, the brand sold 20,355 passenger vehicles the previous year, with the brand new Renault Clio model accounting for most of that.
The first car manufacturer to really dominate the world, and feature an assembly line, Ford is also the only American brand among the top 10 car makers in Holland. You would think that the Fiesta model is a local favorite, but you would be wrong. It seems that the Ford Focus model was the eighth best-selling car in the Netherlands in 2020.
The Germans at BMW have also earned a place on this list. Considering the country’s concern with the environment and nature in general, it is no surprise to see them so low ranked. Most BMW car are not exactly tiny and the manufacturer is known for speed and performance, as such the 5.1% market share seems like enough.
The Czech company has come a long way, but it all comes down to that moment in time when they joined forces with Volkswagen and the Fabia model was revealed. Their evolution is impressive, and so is the brand’s lineup. Skoda is also present on Dutch roads, making for 4.7% of new car sales.
Last, but not least worthy of praise, the Swedish car brand had to be mentioned. Aside from the fact that it’s owned by the Chinese now, Volvo remains one of the top brands when it comes to building cars.
Responsible for 4.5% of new car sales in 2020, Volvo is particularly appreciated for its XC40 model, although one quick look at their lineup will get you confused: deciding which model to buy is definitely a challenge.