Automakers are known for producing vehicles, but the more adventurous have diversified into other categories as well. Some are logical and dovetail into the manufacturer’s primary product line, like Tesla, maker of electric vehicles, which also produces solar panels. Others have branched out into products one might not expect of a vehicle manufacturer.
Bentley Motors Ltd.'s historic headquarters and production facility in Crewe, Cheshire, England, has been turning out Bentleys (and formerly Rolls-Royce automobiles) since 1938.
The expansive grounds on the outskirts of town has been making strides in ecological conservation utilizing solar panels for energy production and now, bees for honey-making.
With the population of bees declining in the U.K., the Bentley Board of Directors decided to install hives to build biodiversity and make use of their grasslands on site. These honeybees are being bred by local beekeepers with over 50 years experience. Their first swarm of 120,000 bees have produced Bentley’s first crop of honey packaged in jars designed and created by a Bentley interior designer. Currently available to colleagues and VIP visitors, Bentley’s famous “Flying B” hood ornament now has another meaning — swarms of flying bees at Bentley.
Porsche has made a similar move, also breeding and supporting a swarm of honeybees, but they’ve also gone to further extremes. In addition to bees, Porsche’s sustainable pasture concept expands their grounds in Leipzig, Germany, to include a nature area that’s home to various wild animals with a focus on raising colonies of Exmoor ponies and Aurochs, a rare large breed of wild European cattle.
For many years, Porsche also made agricultural tractors, as did Lamborghini, the Italian supercar maker. While the performance of a tractor isn’t on the same page as that of a fast car, they’re at least in the same book.
Some vehicle manufacturers have well-known expanded product lines. Honda, originally a motorcycle manufacturer, also produces lawn mowers, generators, outboard motors, and, of course, cars. Their most recent contribution to transportation is the Hondajet. This business jet aircraft utilizes innovative design elements like uniquely mounted engines on pedestals over the wings for optimized performance. Honda has been researching and experimenting with aircraft research since 1986 and introduced their $5 million jet in 2005.
Similarly, Yamaha Motors, known for motorcycle and powersport products, also makes boats and mobility products, which is all interwoven. Where they branch away from transportation is in their wide variety of quality musical instruments and audio products.
Boats seem to be the latest introduction from established luxury car makers. Toyota has branched out into boats, and their upscale line, Lexus, is marketing a line of motor yachts as a way to fashion themselves as a lifestyle brand. Not to be outdone, Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz and Bugatti have also thrown their hats into the luxury boat market.
If you don’t have a sweet tooth for honey or an appetite for luxury yachts or a need for a business jet, perhaps some pork sausage with ketchup is more to your liking? If so, you’re in luck. Volkswagen Originalteil (German for Volkswagen Original Part) No. 199 398 500 A is genuine VW currywurst, produced at the Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, since 1973.
Started as a way to feed the workers, today, its popularity has grown with employees, customers and local soccer fans, where it’s served at games.
The part number is real, and it’s stamped on the sausage casing along with the statement of originality.
The wurst is sold in 11 countries (not the U.S., sadly) and is often served with Volkswagen spicy curry ketchup, available since 2010. There’s even a vegetarian version.
A team of 30 butchers employed at Wolfsburg turn out nearly 7 million sausages annually or 18,000 per day, outselling VW cars for the past three years. Volkswagen says of its currywurst that it’s their “most popular product without wheels.”
Large corporations have frequently diversified for many reasons, and the future will undoubtedly bring more. Auto manufacturers are becoming mobility companies and merging with high-tech companies and the very picture of transportation is changing. Many of these manufacturers are on the cutting edge, and I hear they make pretty good cars too – with a side of currywurst and a jar of honey.
Eric and Michelle Meltzer own and operate Fryeburg Motors, a licensed, full-service automotive sales and service facility at 299 Main St. in Fryeburg, Maine. More than a business, cars are a passion, and they appreciate anything that drives, rides, floats or flies.