Siblings Susanne Klatten and Stefan Quandt own almost half of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG.

The billionaires are descendants of Guenther Quandt, who built a German industrial empire by, among other things, supplying weapons to the Nazis during World War II. In the years since, the family has established stakes in both Daimler-Benz AG and BMW.

Today, Klatten is Germany’s second-richest person, worth $18.6 billion, with interests in chemicals and carbon production, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Quandt, who owns part of a logistics company and a homeopathic medicine company, has a net worth of $15.5 billion. Both are members of BMW’s supervisory board, making them the richest related pair deriving wealth from the automotive industry.

All told, the 25 richest families in the world now control almost $1.4 trillion in wealth, up 24% from last year. Our list of the 20 wealthiest people who have made fortunes in the automotive sector includes some household names: Tesla’s Elon Musk is worth $23.1 billion; Larry Ellison, with $58.5 billion in total wealth, owns a stake in Tesla that’s worth more than $730 million.

Others are less prominent but no less successful: Pallonji Mistry, chairman of Shapoorji Pallonji Group, owns much of Tata Sons and is worth $20.3 billion; Li Shu Fu, the chairman of Volvo and Geely, is worth $10.6 billion.

The Method

The methodology behind wealth analysis can be challenging. In fortunes backed by decades of accumulated assets and dividends, the true extent of an individual’s or family’s holdings is often obscured. Most in this tax bracket are not thrilled to have their names, assets, shares, and interests published by a global news organization. Automotive wealth also tends to be a family affair. While individual members of these dynasties may not make the list, a clan’s overall wealth may be vast. (See: the Ford,  Porsche, and Pieech families.)  So we followed the same criteria applied to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index. 

In order to keep it (relatively) simple, we have omitted those whose wealth comes from oil. Take the House of Saud, for instance. The family is worth an estimated $100 billion, a figure based on the cumulative payouts the country’s royals have received over the past five decades from the executive office of the king. That number doesn’t even include the planned initial public offering of its crown jewel, oil giant Saudi Aramco. It will be offered with an anticipated valuation of $2 trillion.

Maybe we’ll come up with a special list for members of the House of Saud. In the meantime, here are the year’s richest people in cars.*

*Stake value and percent of net worth figures are as of July 19, 2019. Total wealth figures are as of Oct. 9, 2019.

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