Sometimes identical elements can be found in cars of completely different price ranges. It is not a coincidence – car brands which work individually are becoming increasingly rare cases. Grouping has become profitable due to the globalisation – that’s why the groups are expanding each year.
Which car brands belong to particular groups?
What’s the link between the Bugatti Veyron and the Volkswagen Polo? What do the Maybach and the Smart share? What do Rolls-Royce and the MINI Cooper have in common? Intuitively, one might say that nothing more than four wheels, an engine and at least two seats. That’s wouldn’t be the entire truth, though.
As it is correct that all of the above mentioned cars seem to be completely different from one another, the cars in each pair belong to the same owner. Let’s take a closer look at the actual relations between the car manufacturers.
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW)
The German Bayerische Motoren Werke is probably known to everybody, including not only drivers. The brand is known under the BMW acronym and… it manufactured not only cars. Its offer consists of also motorcycles, scooters, as well as engines.
The BMW group is not the same thing as BMW itself. It’s also two British car brands – MINI and Rolls-Royce. Recently, there’s been news that the Alpina car brand has been taken over by BMW.
MINI, which manufactures small city cars – but not as small as the car which was driven by Mr. Bean – belongs to BMW since 1994. Rolls-Royce, which is clearly associated with the most luxurious limousines, was taken over by BMW in 2003, however, w few years prior to that, the company disputed with Volkswagen over the rights to particular elements of the British brand.
Daimler AG – currently: Mercedes-Benz Group AG
Mercedes-Benz Group AG has changed its name w few times. For the longest period it was known as Daimler-Benz, then as DaimlerChrysler, and then as simply Daimler. The subsequent changes reflected changes in the group’s portfolio – just like when the German group took over the Chrysler Corporation company along with its brands.
It was one of the founders of the company, Carl Benz, who produced the first car – the first practical car. Benz is considered the automotive pioneer for a reason. The group itself also possesses a solid group of passenger as well as utility car brands, which are popular all over the world.
Mercedes-Benz Group AG consists of i.a.:
- Mercedes-Benz, along with the sports Mercedes-AMG and the luxurious Mercedes-Maybach
- Smart, a manufacturer offering one of the smallest cars on the market
- Daimler Trucks, under whose wings vehicles of Unimog, Freightliner (famous American trucks), Western Star and Sterling brands are manufactured
- Daimler Buses, responsible for the Mercedes-Benz and the Setra bus models
- MV Augusta, a motorcycle manufacturer
The Mercedes group also holds shares of Mitsubishi, Kamaz, Tata, and even Aston Martin (James Bond’s beloved car). It also provides services (e.g. leasing and service), so the scope of activities of this company goes far beyond manufacturing passenger cars.
Considering the German car brands, they are always found in the top tier. And it turns out that all of the most popular car brands are brought together by Volkswagen AG (VAG), aka Volkswagen Group. No surprise – the group has in its portfolio a car for everybody. Besides, the slogan of the company says a lot (by saying actually nothing): Volkswagen. Das Auto.
Which car brands belong to Volkswagen?
- Volkswagen (of course), along with the Volkswagen Passenger Cars company, responsible for passenger cars, and the Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles company, which deals with manufacturing utility vehicles
- Audi, considered as a premium car brand by drivers who value comfort
- Škoda, previously offering simply an affordable car, currently it’s an example of a brand with a versatile offer
- SEAT and SEAT Sport, which currently manufacture sports models under a separate brand – Cupra
- Lamborghini, a top tier sports cars manufacturer
- Bentley, which combined sports and luxurious models in one
- Porsche, whose relations with VAG are complicated – the owner of the Porsche car is Volkswagen AG, while Porsche id the biggest shareholder of Volkswagen AG
Volkswagen also consists of Scania and MAN, brands which offer trucks, as well as Ducati, an Italian motorcycle manufacturer. As it can be seen, the VAG group not only consists of Volkswagen, Audi and Škoda, being the most popular car brands. It is also the slightly less popular luxury brands, as well as utility vehicles valued for their universal purpose.
Ford Motor Company
Ford is an example of car brand with long history. The company – Ford Motor Company – was founded in 1903 and it has manufactured i.a. the Model T, which is considered to be the starting point of the car mass-production.
Henry Ford, the founder of the company, wanted to manufacture passenger cars affordable for the not so rich drivers (this is where the saying concerning the Model T comes from, “people can have the Model T in any color – so long as it’s black”), which are easy to service, and also ensure comfort and relative safety. For over 100 years of activity, the principle s are still valid.
Currently, Ford Motor Company consists of two car brands – Ford and Lincoln.
Way more interesting is the portfolio of the brands which used to belong to Ford. One can find among them brands such as Aston Martin, Jaguar, Land Rover and Volvo. For some time even, another brand which belonged to Ford was Daimler!
The same thing which was said about Ford applies to General Motors as well. In the past, the company – founded in 1908 – manufactured many more passenger cars, under many brands known worldwide (from the typically American cruisers with the Cadillac logo to the Australian Holden). The beginning of the 21st century wasn’t good for GM – the company declared bankruptcy. As a trivia – the company was then purchased by the US State Department, and the restructuring conducted in the following years brought record sales to the company and record profits.
The car brands currently included in this American group are:
- Chevrolet manufactures scars from small city one to sports monsters, so everybody can find match
- Cadillac – a brand which offers massive, gas-guzzling, but at the same time beautiful and luxurious models, which America fell in love with (and the rest of the world knocks on the fuel dispensers with pity)
- Buick currently deals with manufacturing crossovers and SUVs
- GMC offers pickups, delivery cars and trucks, and above all – massive SUVs, which are the reason for the brand reputation
There is also BrightDrop, whose goal is to manufacture an electric delivery car, as well as GSMV, which is responsible for the presence of Chevrolet in Australia– both brands have been founded recently. In the past, General Motors also included Opel, Vauxhall and Saab, Pontiac, which well known to the enthusiasts of the American automotive industry, Saturn and Oldsmobile, as well as the brand which used to be incredibly popular in Poland – Daewoo.
Honda Motor Company
When describing passenger and utility cars manufacturers, it would be an unforgivable mistake to forget about the Asian automotive industry – mainly about the Japanese, and also the Korean ones. A representative of the former is Honda Motor Company. Unlike the majority of many other groups, it offers cars of mainly its own brand – Honda. There’s also the American one, which is considered to be more luxurious – Acura.
The specific narrowing in this category does not mean, however, that the company manufactures little. Quite the opposite. It is regularly ranked in the top of the biggest car manufacturers in the world, and in its offer, there are also motorcycles and scooters, engines, and… robots, as well as various machinery.
The cherry on top of the brand is the Honda Racing F1 team, which for years took part in the Formula 1 races, and it was success. Despite good statistics, due to the financial reasons, Honda has withdrawn from competing some time ago, shifting to providing engines to McLaren and Red Bull Racing, who value the Japanese items for their excellent parameters.
Hyundai Motor Group
Nowadays the Hyundai brand is associated mainly with the passenger cars manufacturing. In fact, Hyundai Group is an industrial giant, for which the automotive industry is – and from the formal point of view: was – one of the many fields of activity. For many years, the entire group functioned under one shared name. In the aftermath of a crisis and financial problems connected to it, there had been a split, and one of the companies which were then created, was Hyundai Motor Group.
It is this group which is the right holder of the biggest Korean brands:
- Hyundai is an example of a brand which in the recent years has made great progress, becoming one of the most important players on the market
- KIA – the company was taken over by Hyundai in 1999, when it was facing difficult times, and it can be certainly said that this decision was good for both parties
Hyundai Motor Group also possesses the Genesis brand, which is located in the E-segment (the former Hyundai Genesis is currently offered as Genesis G80 – it’s the same car, only sold under a different name).
Mazda Motor Corporation
Mazda Motor Corporation is an example of a manufacturer which is strictly limited to one car brand – but it is rich in many very interesting models. It can be said that many of them have gone down in history. It is Mazda which constructed a sports car with the rotary engine (the Wankel engine). There are many enthusiasts of the RX-8 model until now – similarly to other roadsters designated with the MX-5 abbreviation.
Contemporarily, Mazda is viewed as a brand of cars with beautiful style, including – in increasingly growing number – trendy crossovers. For sure, the today’s Mazda cars are vehicles for drivers who care about the look (such drivers used to choose mainly Italian cars, nowadays, they can also safely choose a car from Japan).
The manufacturer took care about safety, ecology and – sometimes forgotten by some – the driving pleasure, which a car should bring. In the past, due to the issues with the bodywork sustainability, the Mazda cars would be treated with some reserve. Nowadays, they are increasingly gaining popularity.
The fact that car manufacturing is a completely global process is illustrated by the cooperation between the French car brand Renault with the Japanese Nissan and Mitsubishi. Renault and Nissan have been cooperating already since 1999, which resulted in i.a. the creation of the dCi diesel engines, available in cars of both brands. In 2017, Nissan obtained a controlling interest, making the Japanese manufacturer the third pillar of the created group.
The following car brands are currently under the supervision of Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance:
- Renault, responsible for the classic, European models, valued for i.a. the travel comfort
- Nissan, which the manufacturer of i.a. the Qashqai model, one of the best-selling crossovers
- Mitsubishi, which is legendary among the rally cars enthusiasts, but it also often chosen by the drivers who are less into “entertainment”
- Dacia is an example of a Romanian car brand, which has completely changed its image
- Infinity is a luxurious car brand, which uses modified constructions by Nissan
- Alpine – an associated with Renault manufacturer of cars of a sports character (Alpine shouldn’t be mistaken for the German brand – Alpina)
Toyota Motor Corporation
This Japanese car brand does not need any introduction. For years, it has been associated with reliability, and the all-rounders, such as the Hilux model or the Land Cruiser are considered as nearly immortal. The Toyota Prius blazed a trail for the hybrid cars, the Yaris is one the most commonly purchased city cars, and the Corolla and the Auris are often chosen by families (and companies – via leasing), valued for their versatility and safety, as well as the sporadic necessity to visit a service station. Is that all that the group founded in 1937 can offer? Of course not!
There are also other car brands belonging to Toyota Motor Corporation – first of all, the luxurious, as the name suggests, Lexus, and also the less popular Daihatsu, and Hino Motors, which offers trucks. The Scion brans also belonged to TMC, however, in 2016, it was liquidated – it was caused by the average customer interest. It was supposed to operate on the American market, but didn’t stand out much from Toyota.
It has revolutionised the market, it has sent a car into space – because it could. Elon Musk is the face of Tesla, a car brand which proves that the so-called electrics don’t have to be boring (one might even be under the impression that tesla is a completely different category than other electric cars – although the license plate state suggests otherwise).
It’s worth knowing that Tesla, however short, had existed before it was taken over by Musk. The company was founded in 2003, and in February 2004 Musk invested 6.5 million dollars. There was even a court dispute over who can consider themselves as the co-founder of the electrifying car brand. Ultimately, no one ever doubts that Tesla is nowadays ruled solely by Musk.
Tesla manufactures passenger cars – electric and autonomous ones. This is not the end, though, as the brand also provides drive systems to other manufacturers, e.g. Toyota and Mercedes.
Most of the groups consists of two, maximum of three main car brands, and possibly a few more smaller and niche brands. The case is a bit different when it comes to Stellantis. In 2021, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles joined Groupe PSA. One consisted of popular Italian car brands and a few iconic American brands. The other was the right holder of e.g. Peugeot, Citroën and DS.
Both were considered as powerful players on the automotive market. And then the fusion was decided – a combination which the automotive industry had never seen yet. The shareholders of the created Stellantis group are the Italian family of Agnelli, the French family of Peugeot and… the French government.
Stellantis consists of the following car brands (among others):
- FIAT, a car brand which is the first choice of many drivers, popular primarily in Europe, but not only
- Peugeot, along with Peugeot Motors are the incarnation of the French automotive branch
- Citroën has redefined the driving comfort, and the hydropneumatic suspension, which its models are equipped with, has gone down in history.
- Opel, a German car manufactured in Poland – at least to some extent
- Alfa Romeo – an Italian car brand manufacturing cars of a sports character, however – primarily of beautifully designed bodyworks
- Chrysler – a dream car of the American management team, and also a brand which offers very peculiar passenger models (the PT Cruiser is a worthy competitor of the Multipla)
- Dodge – it’s hard to believe that the brand which is mostly known for the sports Viper (manufactured during 1992-2007), is over 100 years old!
- Jeep – the most popular car brand, when it comes to the off-road cars, which sometimes are referred to simply as jeeps
- Ram – massive pickups, which barely fit on the roads (excluding USA and big cities)? It’s highly probable that such cars are of the Ram brand
- Lancia is by some associated with the rally Delta, and for some it’s a brand which manufactures very original, not to say specific, in terms of aesthetics, vehicles
- Maserati – if a car is supposed not only to drive, but also to sound amazingly, Maserati is the choice no. 1
Stellantis is not only a true giant when it comes to the car brands. It is also the manufacturers of parts Magneti Marelli and Mopar, the Italian journal La Stampa, and a logistic business Gefco.
Actually, nowadays, all or nearly all popular car brands are part of the bigger groups, based on the assumption that “if you can profit on cooperation, do it”. They co-share platforms, engines, subassemblies and various elements.
It is estimated that the external providers are responsible for 80% of the elements of a typical car. The role of the main car brand is to take care of the final assembly and… “sticking on” the logo. It is, of course, a slight exaggeration – but not as big as one might think.