Trying to figure out what companies own which brands can be a pretty difficult task. Maybe you have a lot of luck with a car brand over the years. But you’re ready for something new and different. A good way to start is by finding what other brands are made by the same company. By knowing car brands and their parent companies, it makes it much easier for potential car buyers to know what brands and companies they can trust based on their experiences with their cars in the past.
- BMW Group
- Daimler AG
- Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)
- Ford Motor Co.
- General Motors
- Honda Motor Co.
- Hyundai Motor Group
- Mazda Motor Corp.
- Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance
- Subaru Corp.
- Tata Motors
- Tesla, Inc.
- Toyota Motor Corp.
- Volkswagen Group
- Zhejiang Geely Holdings Group
What Parent Companies Own What Car Brands?
The Bayerische Motoren Werke or Bavarian Motor Works is a car manufacturing company that has been around for over 100 years. First building airplanes, in 1928 BMW began building cars. Since then, BMW has been synonymous with high-quality German engineering and performance and has grown to become one of the largest car brands and parent companies in the auto industry and the world.
BMW’s creation was at the same time its parent company began building cars. Since then, BMW has created a multitude of cars with each series using a different alphanumeric code. Model names like M8, X5, and Z8 gives the BMW brand an insider feel to decode what the model names mean and how to remember them.
Mini began in 1969 and later acquired by BMW in 1994 in addition to the Rover Group. After a failing merger, BMW sold the Rover Group while retaining ownership of the Mini marque. Mini has an allure like few other brands. Mini has a cult following because of its uniqueness and most Minis’ sporty performance.
The Volkswagen Group owns Rolls-Royce, but Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is a subsidiary that BMW is licensing. Rolls-Royce Motors and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars are not the same company. Volkswagen owns Rolls-Royce Motors while BMW owns Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. Rolls-Royce was founded in 1906 and is responsible for some of the greatest, and most expensive luxury cars that the world has ever seen.
Daimler has been a huge player in the automobile industry for almost 100 years. First, and most notably, merging with Mercedes-Benz in 1926. Daimler gained ownership of the Mercedes-Benz marque and has been using it ever since. Daimler is a massive automobile conglomerate that owns many brands and holding companies. It is the largest manufacturer of trucks in the world.
Mercedes-Benz is a combination of the early 1900s brand Mercedes from Daimler and Karl Benz’s last name. The name first appeared in 1926 and has remained the same ever since. Mercedes-Benz uses the same alphanumeric naming conventions as BMW. Mercedes-Benz has been synonymous with luxury, quality, and the best that money can buy.
Smart, commonly referred to as a “Smart Car”, is a marque that Daimler AG owns and operates. The Smart Fortwo was first released in 1998 as Smart’s first model. It wasn’t available in the United States until 2008, where it met criticism for its size and exaggerated claims about its efficiency. Smart Fortwo’s design is an efficient car for those who live in the city with minimum space. The car continued to sell until Smart exited the North American market in 2019 because of slow sales and little interest.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA)
Fiat and Chrysler are both enormous companies in their own right. In 2014, their merger caused them to become one of the largest global car brands and parent companies in the automotive industry. This merger is a big reason why you might notice more Alfa Romeos, Fiats, and Maseratis on US streets and roadways.
Alfa Romeo was founded in 1910 and is one of the most well-known Italian car brands in the world. More akin to Cadillac than Ferrari or Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo is to FCA what Cadillac is to General Motors. Alfa Romeo is a luxury car brand that builds mid-priced coupes and sedans. They were not available in from 1995 to 2014, where FCA reintroduced Alfa Romeo to the North American market. Seeing an Alfa Romeo on US roadways is more common now than ever before.
Chrysler was founded in 1925 and focuses on North American luxury and near-luxury sedans. This evolved to station wagons, minivans, and SUVs. Chrysler has had its fair share of controversy over the years due to questionable designs and recalls. Today, there are only three vehicles available under the Chrysler marque: the 300, Pacifica, and Voyager.
The Dodge company was founded in 1900 by the Dodge Brothers. After the death of the Dodge Brothers, the company was sold to Chrysler in 1928. Dodge has been responsible for several iconic vehicles over its lifetime, especially the Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger, and Dodge Ram pickup. Today, the lineup of Dodge vehicles includes those mentioned as well as these: Durango, Grand Caravan, Journey, Neon in North America, and the Forza and Attitude in South America.
Fiat is one of the oldest vehicle marques on this list, dating back to 1899. It is a global marque that has appeared on many different products, not just automobiles. Fiat’s reintroduction to the American market in 2009 and the Fiat 500 allowed the brand to become very popular in North America. Since the merger between Chrysler and Fiat, Fiat 500s have begun popping up everywhere in the United States and they have become an international hit.
Jeep was founded in 1943 but didn’t release a Jeep branded product until 1945. The name “jeep” started as military slang for lightweight land vehicles. Ironically, that’s also what the brand began manufacturing and those military vehicles slowly evolved into the Jeep that we think of today. Now, Jeep has expanded into a variety of different vehicle types including their iconic Jeep Wrangler that’s based on the original military vehicles, as well as their mid-size sports SUVs: the Renegade, Grand Cherokee, Compass, and Cherokee KL.
Maserati is an Italian luxury vehicle marque that was founded in 1914. Maserati’s focus is more performance-driven in comparison to Alfa Romeo. The Maserati brand has switched hands many times throughout its history. Since the FCA acquired it, sales for the brand have dramatically increased year-over-year. The current lineup for Maserati is the Quattroporte, Ghibli, GranTurismo, GranCabrio, and Levante.
Ram is a relatively new brand starting in 2010 as a spin-off of Dodge and a specific dedication to trucks and mid-size commercial vehicles. The Ram brand is iconic in the automotive industry. While Ram is known for its trucks most of all, there are several Ram-badged Fiat commercial vehicles. Today, the most common vehicle seen on roads is the series of Ram Pickups: 1500, 2500, 3500, 4500, 5500.
Ford Motor Co.
The Ford Motor Company was founded in 1903 by the famous industrialist Henry Ford. He revolutionized the way that cars were made and insisted on turning the automobile into something that anyone could afford. Ford helped develop many policies and common practices that we take for granted today such as the assembly line and the 40-hour workweek. As a company, Ford has had many ups-and-downs but has retained its place as one of the largest car brands and parent companies in the world.
The Ford marque is an important one for the Ford Motor Company because of its existence as a car brand and parent company. The Ford marque first appeared on the Model A in 1903 but Ford is more known for the Model T in 1908, the first mass-produced car. Today, Ford makes several different vehicle types and has built many cars that are considered classics and are still being built today including the Mustang, and the Shelby Mustang.
Founded in 1917 and named after Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln was acquired by Ford in 1922. Lincoln is the sole luxury division of Ford Motor Company after the closing of Mercury in 2010. The flagship model for Lincoln was the Lincoln Continental that began production in 1940 and has stayed in production since. Today, the current Lincoln lineup includes the Continental, Aviator, Corsair, Nautilus, Navigator, and MKZ.
General Motors was founded in 1908 as a holdings company that quickly expanded by purchasing the Buick, Cadillac, Oakland, and Rapid Motor Vehicle company marques by 1909. The Oakland and Rapid Motor Vehicle Company would evolve into Pontiac and GMC respectively. In 2009, General Motors filed for bankruptcy that resulted in the closing of Saturn, Pontiac, and Hummer and selling off Saab. GM reorganized and consolidated and has recovered since its initial bankruptcy filing in 2009.
Buick has spent most of its life manufactured under General Motors. The subsidiary is a luxury division of General Motors that was positioned above GM’s consumer-focused brands but below Cadillac. It has become very popular with older people and 80% of Buick’s sales are from China. Today in North American, the Buick lineup consists of the Enclave, Encore, Envision, and Regal.
Cadillac was acquired by General Motors in 1909 and became the premier luxury brand for General Motors. Cadillacs were known for being superior to their competitors due to their precision machining resulting in outstanding reliability. Cadillac was also the first automobile manufacturer that incorporated an electrical starting, ignition, and lighting system. The word “Cadillac” evolved to become synonymous with something high-quality and worth the money. Today, Cadillac’s current lineup consists of the Escalade, CT4, CT5, CT6, XT4, XT5, and XT6.
Chevrolet was founded in 1911 by a race car driver and GM’s original, and ousted founder. More commonly referred to as “Chevy,” has become an iconic part of Americana and one of the most marques in the world. Chevrolet currently produces 17 different vehicle models in North America, and an additional 15 models worldwide.
GMC evolved from the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company in 1912 and focuses on utility vehicles and trucks. The company sells pickups, buses, SUVs, ambulances, military vehicles, among many other vehicles. Its current consumer-focused lineup consists of the Acadia, Canyon, Savana, Sierra, Terrain, and Yukon.
Honda Motor Co.
Honda was founded in 1946 and incorporated by 1948. Since then, they have become one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the entire world while also producing other combustion engine-based products. In 2013, Honda became the first Japanese automaker to become a net exporter to the United States, meaning that Honda exported more cars to the US than they imported. Honda and its products are known for their reliability and quality.
Acura is the only luxury division and marque under Honda Motor Co. and was launched in 1986. The brand quickly became a household name after releasing classic Japanese cars such as the NSX, Integra Type R, and the Legend. Today, Acura’s current lineup consists of the CDX, ILX, MDX, NSX, RDX, RLX, and TLX.
Honda helped get the United States wanting smaller cars. When gas prices began to rise in the late 60s, people needed more fuel-efficient cars. Honda created small, compact gas-sippers that could get 40 – 50 miles per gallon. Therefore, Honda began to dominate the North American market and continues to this day. The Honda Civic is a great example as it was a small car with great gas mileage that was cheap. This approach to efficiency launched the compact car market and helped Honda gain a serious advantage over its American competitors.
Hyundai Motor Group
The Hyundai Motor Group is a multinational conglomerate founded in 2000 and the third-largest vehicle manufacturer in the world. While most known for its presence in the auto industry in North America, the company is present in many different industries in other countries. These include department stores, heavy industrial equipment, insurance, among many others. This has allowed Hyundai Motor Group to become one of the largest car brands and parent companies in the world.
Genesis was founded in 2015 and is the luxury division of the Hyundai Motor Group. The brand focuses on mid-priced luxury vehicles akin to Cadillac and lower-end Mercedes-Benz. Despite being such a young marque, Genesis has grown quickly by becoming the official sponsor of the NFL and creating the Genesis Open, a professional golf tournament. Today, their current lineup of vehicles consists of the G70, G80, G90, and GV80.
Hyundai Motor Company was founded in 1967 and became a subsidiary of the Hyundai Motor Group in 2000. It had initial success in Canada and by 1985, it had already built one million Hyundai cars. Hyundai has won multiple awards for its vehicles and is now one of the most valuable car brands in the world. Today, Hyundai sells 24 different consumer models and continues to grow.
Kia was founded in 1944 as a manufacturer for steel tubing and bicycle parts. That quickly changed to motorcycles, then to cars, and by 1992 they were incorporated into the United States. This was a success by in 1997, Kia declared bankruptcy and become majority-owned by Hyundai which helped the company grow even more. Kia has earned awards for many of its vehicles and currently produces 19 different vehicle models worldwide.
Mazda Motor Corp.
Mazda was founded in 1920 and is named after the god Ahura Mazda. It began by manufacturing tools but moved into the auto industry by 1931. In 1960, the first car built by Mazda was an R360, a tiny fuel-efficient 16 hp Kei car. They had many different partnerships and relationships with other vehicle manufacturers over the years, mainly Ford and Toyota, that have helped them to become one of the largest car manufacturers in the world.
Mazda was always a little different compared to its competitors. The company’s cars were known most for their rotary engines. These were engines that instead of using a typical piston to compress and combust gas, the rotary would use an oblong triangle that would rotate in an oval-motion making contact with the sides of the chamber causing combustion. It was more efficient as far as the way that it functioned but was less fuel-efficient and wore down much faster than the traditional combustion engine. Mazda did away with the rotary engine in 2012 and switched to the traditional combustion engine. Today, Mazda manufactures 17 different vehicle models worldwide.
The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance is a partnership between the three aforementioned companies that was established in 1999. Altogether, these three companies sell 1 in every 9 cars worldwide. The Alliance is also the world leader in electric vehicle sales with over 400,000 Nissan Leafs sold worldwide. While this Alliance first helped each company, there began to be conflict over control between them in 2014. In 2018, Carlos Ghosn was removed as CEO due to illegal activity further complicating the future of the Alliance.
Infiniti was created in 1989 to compete with Toyota and Honda’s luxury brands, Lexus and Acura respectively. While not initially successful in comparison to their competitors, Infiniti decided to rebrand and become “Japan’s BMW.” The goal was to separate Infiniti from its Nissan roots and create a performance-focused luxury car. Today, the current Infiniti lineup consists of the Q50, Q60, QX50, QX60, and QX80.
Mitsubishi was founded in 1870 as a shipping company that grew and became a massive array of businesses spanning several different industries. It evolved into Mitsubishi Motors starting in 1981 and became the fastest-growing United States brand in the 90s. Mitsubishi’s current lineup of models is the Mirage, Eclipse Cross, Outlander, Outlander PHEV, and Outland Sport.
Nissan was founded in 1933 as Datsun but by 1935 the company was known as Nissan. The company continued to create cars under the Datsun name until 1986. The company is known for several different partnerships that allowed them to expand their line of available models. Nissan now manufacturers 48 different models available throughout the world.
Subaru Corp. was founded in 1953 as a car and aerospace manufacturer. They supplied the majority of military, aerospace, and railroad equipment for Japan. Today, Subaru consists of two main divisions: the automotive division and the aerospace division. The company also makes many different aircraft for Bell and Boeing as well as vehicles under the Subaru brand. Despite only owning one major car brand, Subaru Corp. also owns stakes in other car brands and parent companies.
Subaru built its first car in 1954, the Subaru 1500. At the time, the company was still known as Fuji Heavy Industries. In 1968, Subaru of America was established and began manufacturing in the United States. Subaru has built parts for many different car brands and still does so today. The current lineup of Subaru vehicles is the Legacy, Impreza, Outback, Forester, BRZ, Crosstrek, and Ascent.
Tata Motor was founded in 1945 as a manufacturer or trains. In 1954, they manufactured their first commercial vehicle in collaboration with Daimler-Benz AG. By 1988, they began production on their first consumer car, the TataMobile. Since then, they have expanded by purchasing other car brands and continuing to create vehicles under the Tata marque. They are one of the biggest car brands and parent companies in India.
Jaguar began as Swallow Sidecar Company in 1922. It was purchased by British Motor Holdings in 1966 before being split off as its own company in 1984 and its purchase by Ford in 1990. In 2008, Ford sold Jaguar to Tata Motors. The Jaguar brand focused on creating luxury cars in its early years but slowly evolved into performance-luxury hybrids. Today, Jaguar’s current lineup consists of the E-Pace, F-Pace, F-Type, I-Pace, XE, XF, and XJ.
Land Rover’s history is very similar to that of Jaguar’s as they were often sold and purchased together. The company is also currently owned by the Jaguar Land Rover holding company, which is owned by Tata Motors. Land Rover began by creating the Series I, II, and III which were all military vehicles. Now, Land Rover focuses on luxury SUVs and their lineup consists of the Defender, Discovery, Range Rover Evoque, Range Rover Velar, Range Rover Sport, and the Range Rover.
Tesla was founded in 2003 as an electric vehicle manufacturer and clean energy company. They currently sell a variety of products other than electric vehicles, such as battery energy storage, solar panels, and solar roof tiles. The company has yet to have a profitable year but has grown significantly since 2003. Despite this, it has become a highly competitive car brand and parent company.
Tesla has quickly become a very popular and important modern car brand. This success has pushed other car manufacturers to embrace and capitalize on the movement towards electric vehicles. Today, the company produces the Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, and has unveiled the Roadster, and Cybertruck.
Toyota Motor Corp.
Toyota was founded in 1937 as a spin-off company created to manufacture automobiles. The company is the largest automobile manufacturer in Japan, and the second-largest automobile manufacturer in the world. Toyota and Lexus combined have sold over 15 million vehicles and the Prius remains the most sold hybrid vehicle of all-time. These accomplishments have made Toyota one of the largest car brands and parent companies in the world.
Lexus is the luxury division of Toyota Motor Corp. It was founded in 1989 to remain competitive with Honda and Nissan which both had also just created their luxury division of vehicles. The LS 400 served as the posterchild for Lexus which immediately launched the brand into its success. Today, Lexus manufactures 14 different models.
Toyota is a brand that is synonymous with quality, efficiency, and reliability. The brand has broken many records since its inception in 1937, such as the most produced car ever, the Corolla, and the best-selling hybrid vehicle of all time, the Prius. Today, Toyota manufactures 70 different models available worldwide.
The company was founded in 1937 and is the largest automaker in the world and has had the largest market share in Europe for two decades. The German name means the “people’s car” and was known for its development and production of the Beetle. The company remains one of the most well-known car brands and parent companies in the world.
Audi has a complicated history before its ownership by the Volkswagen Group. It was first founded in 1910, but Audi, as we know it today, wasn’t founded until 1969. Audi has become one of the best selling luxury automobile brands in the world and constantly innovates itself. Today, Audi’s current model lineup consists of 15 different models.
Bentley was first founded in 1919. They were acquired by the Volkswagen Group many years later in 1998. Bentley focuses on the development and manufacturing of ultra-luxury, high-end cars, and SUVs. Bentley tends to price their cars well over $100,000 and today’s lineup of models consist of the Bentayga, Continental GT, and Flying Spur.
Bugatti was founded in 1909 as a high-end performance automobile manufacturer. Unfortunately, the company met its demise in 1963 after the death of its founder, Ettore Bugatti, and the death of his son. An Italian entrepreneur later purchased the Bugatti name to revive the brand with some success before it was purchased by the Volkswagen Group in 1998. Bugatti is most known for the Bugatti Veyron which broke records as the fastest production car in the world. Later, the Bugatti Chiron was the successor of the Veyron that proved to be faster and better in comparison to the Veyron. As of today, the Chiron is the only car manufactured by Bugatti.
Lamborghini, the car company, was founded in 1963 by Ferruccio Lamborghini as a personal quest to defeat Enzo Ferrari. Lamborghini’s focus was on luxury performance vehicles. The company has been traded back-and-forth between holding companies before finally being acquired by Volkswagen Group in 1998. Lamborghini’s current model lineup consists of the Aventador, Huracán, and Urus.
Porsche was founded in 1931 and was tasked with designing a car for the people, which later became the Volkswagen Beetle, one of the most successful car designs of all time. The Volkswagen Group had always had a close relationship with Porsche and in 2011, they merged under the Volkswagen Group moniker. Today, Porsche manufactures the Porsche 911, Boxster, Cayman, Cayenne, Macan, and Panamera.
As mentioned earlier, the difference between Rolls-Royce Motors and Motor Cars is often confusing because of two companies with very similar names owned by two different holding companies. Rolls-Royce Motors, the original company was founded in 1973 as an ultra-luxury car brand. The history of Rolls-Royce is difficult to follow as there are many divisions of the company. The company, as we know it today, currently manufactures the Cullinan, Dawn, Ghost, Ghost EWB, Phantom VIII, and Wraith.
Volkswagen has a long and complicated history as it began expanding and purchasing other car marques, but it was originally founded in 1937. The brand was founded by the German Labor Front or Nazi party, to create a car that any German could afford despite financial status. This led to the development of the Volkswagen Beetle and Volkswagen’s success after World War II. Volkswagen quickly tried to separate itself from its Nazi past and quickly became an automotive industry power. Volkswagen now manufactures 32 different models available worldwide.
Zhejiang Geely Holdings Group
The Zhejiang Geely Holdings Group was founded in 1986 and entered the auto industry with the Chinese-focused Geely brand. Since then, the company has purchased controlling stakes in both Lotus and Volvo expanding beyond the Chinese market and into other parts of the world. The holding company also owns many less common car brands and parent companies and is one of the largest holding companies in Asia.
Lotus was founded in 1948 as a performance sports car brand. The company has struggled on-and-off since the death of its founder, Colin Chapman. Lotus built passenger cars to race in F1, but not with much success. Today, Lotus’s current lineup consists of the Lotus Elise, Exige, and Evora.
Volvo was founded in 1927 and began building motorcars for the people of Sweden. The company gained a lot of popularity in the UK in the 1980s. In 1999, Volvo was purchased by Ford. In 2008, during the financial crisis, Ford feared for Volvo’s future and later sold the brand to Zheijiang Geely Holdings Group. From there, Volvo had continued to flourish and has been profitable since. Today, Volvo manufactures 8 models: the S60 III, S90 II, V60 II, V90 II, V90 Cross Country, XC40. XC60 II, and XC90 II.
Did You Find This Guide to Car Brands and Parent Companies Helpful?
We hope that this comprehensive list of popular North American car brands and parent companies can help you decide which car brand to go with next! Maybe you’ve had some issues with reliability in the past and don’t want to worry about that anymore. Maybe certain brands just don’t excite you anymore. Well, if you have an old, unreliable, boring car, turn it into cash! CashForCars.com will give you cash for your car no matter the condition, make, model, or year! Fill out our instant online quote and see how much cash you could get from CashForCars.com!
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