We’ll do this alphabetically for convenience, and that means we start with BMW. BMW (Bayerische Motoren Werke) was founded in 1916 as an aircraft engine company, then they did motorcycles, and eventually cars. This little Aktiengesellschaft (shareholder corporation), as they call it, has come a long way. BMW currently owns BMW, Mini, and Rolls-Royce. This company profited $10.7 billion last year.
Daimler AG was founded in 1998. Don’t be confused, that’s just the founding of the current incarnation. The original Daimler-Benz was founded in Germany in 1926. Daimler owns Mercedes-Benz and the Smart car series. Daimler used to own Maybach brand but it recently axed the high-end luxury sedan maker. Don’t fret, Maybach lovers, Mercedes will once again offer a reincarnated Maybach moniker on its top-end S-Class. Daimler AG made $8.8 billion in 2012. Where did the name Mercedes come from? It was the name of the daughter of someone who worked for the company early on in their history. So there’s that.
Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino is an Italian company that was essentially founded as a car company. However, the year was 1899 and things were a lot different in the car industry. In the early days, this plucky Italian automaker also made railroad engines, tractors, and airplane engines. Fiat now owns Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lancia, Maserati, and all the Chrysler brands, including Dodge, Jeep, Ram, and SRT. Fiat has a parent company called Exor but we won’t go into that. This company profited $1.9 billion last year. Fiat is very popular in Brazil, where it produces the second most Fiats in the world (Italy makes the most).
Ford is the company that famously revolutionized the use of the assembly line for cars. The Model T is widely considered the first massively available automobile. “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black,” Ford famously said of the Model T. Ford owns Lincoln and has some stake in Mazda but less than it has it in the past. Fords profits were $8 billion last year.
General Motors, along with Fiat-owned Chrysler, was one of those companies we bailed out a few years back. The company was started in 1908 by a man in the horse-drawn carriage business, which we have to assume was on the decline. GM owns Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC. GM also owns large percentages of Opel and the Australian Holden brand. It looks like we’re going to take a loss on the bailoutof this company, despite its $4.9 billion in profit last year. Fun fact: General Motors helped make the lunar rover back in the day.
Honda is a Japanese motor company. It’s younger than a lot of the other automakers on this list, having been founded in 1948. Honda’s name comes from Soichiro Honda, one of the company founders. Honda owns Acura and Honda, of course. Aside from its affordable, reliable cars, Honda is well-known for the robot it built in 2000 named ASIMO. As of 2007, these ASIMOs can work together, and they’re using tools! Beware!
Honda made 7,950,000,000,000 yen in revenue last year. That’s only about $80 billion – and that’s revenue, not profit. Still, it sure sounds like a lot of money…
No, that’s not the original bat mobile above, it’s a 1974 Hyundai Pony. This car company is less than 50 years old and doesn’t have many “classics”. Hyundai partly owns Kia – one of its chief competitors – and is based out of South Korea. Hyundai released its first car in cooperation with Ford in 1968. The first Hyundai car was called the “Cortina” and looks like those cars you see personal investigators driving in movies from the 1960s. Hyundai’s profit for 2012 was just under nine billion dollars.
Mazda is a Japanese company that was founded in 1920. The name of the company comes from Ahura Mazda, an old Iranian god. Mazda owns itself, essentially. Ford has a small stake in the company but only about three percent. The company originally manufactured machine tools but started with cars in the 1930s. Ford previously had a big stake in the company but now owns very little, which seems to be part of restructuring efforts on Ford’s end.
Credit: Lennart Coopmans
Mitsubishi is independently owned, and you would be too if you were under the Mitsubishi Group umbrella. The Mitsubishi “Keiretsu”, as Mitsu calls it, is a group of companies that work together. The Mitsubishi Corporation is Japan’s largest “general trading company“. This motor company started in 1970, after breaking off of theMitsubishi Heavy Industries department. The car above is a 1937 Mitsubishi PX33, which is damn pretty.
You may be wondering why there’s a picture of a Datsun above the Nissan category. If you know anything about Nissan, however, then you’re not wondering that. Nissan owns Infiniti and the recently revived Datsun. Nissan is famous for its GT-R supercar, which is priced well under the rest of its like-minded competition. Nissan was founded in 1933, and the company has been making about a billion dollars a year recently. Nissan is also partnered with Renault, meaning they have the same (very wealthy) CEO.
Saab Automobile is the brainchild of Svenska Aeroplan AB, which still specializes in aerospace and defense manufacturing. This company is now owned by National Electric Vehicle Sweden, as of 2012. General Motors had a huge part in the beginning stages of Saab, owning 50 percent of the company for some time. Saab plans to introduce its first electric vehicle in 2014. The reason Saab was bought out in 2012 was bankruptcy, so it seems bringing out an electric car might be the only way Saab will be able to turn things around.
Subaru is a Japanese company that makes great hatchbacks for granola-eating hippies (i.e. Subaru Outback). Subaru also makes some of the best rally cars in the world and this is a strange combination. The company started making cars in the 1950s , as an off-shoot of Fuji Heavy Industries (FHI). Toyota is currently a part-owner in this company. Ford is currently in the process of trying to run Subaru out of the rally car market. FHI profited $1.22 billion last year.
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As we jokingly referenced in the beginning, Tata is a motor company. Tata owns Jaguar and Land Rover, which means they’re classy as hell. Jaguar used to be its own British company that made Jaguars and Land Rovers but Tata purchased it in 2008. This leads us to believe the next James Bond will be of Indian descent. This brand released the world’s first $2,500 car, called the Nano, in 2009. Before it was a car company, it manufactured locomotives.
Tesla is a very young company. Look at the baby … The company has been around for about a decade and only makes electric cars. Many find it hard to believe that the car pictured about is electric because it’s so cool. Tesla had its first incident with one of its cars going up in flames recently but Tesla co-founder Elon Musk claims his cars are still safer than a gasoline-run car. Tesla is partly owned by Toyota and has a partnership with Daimler. Tesla’s revenue is increasing, but the company did not make a profit last year. Most recent Tesla loss reports.
Toyota is one of the biggest automobile manufacturers in the world. It owns Daihatsu, Lexus, Scion, and Hino Motors. Toyota has strangely taken the role of building tough American trucks, considering it’s not American at all. It has been manufacturing cars in the United States since the 1980s. The name comes from Kiichirō Toyoda, and Toyota was originally named Toyoda. This company profited $13.3 Billion last years, which is a lot of cheddar.
This car company was started in 1937, by the Nazi trade union “German Labour Front,” with the idea of making a car more affordable for Germans than what was currently available. VW owns Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Seat, Skoda, MAN Trucks, Scania, and Porsche. It’s safe to say that VW makes some really expensive cars these days but also some cheap ones still. VW made a whopping $28.6 billion last year. It sells the most expensive car in the world, the Lamborghini Veneno, for $4 million each.
AB Volvo is a Swedish company that was founded in 1927. They were originally founded by a ball bearing manufacturer. It is now owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, from China. Volvo invented the seatbelt over 50 years ago. These days, Volvos have come out with features like a cyclist detection system that can put on the brakes if you’re about to hit a cyclist. Volvo made just under $3 billion in 2012.
- Source: www.digitaltrends.com