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Who owns whom in the car industry?

2008.07.20 — Business | Cars | by Derek Jensen


BMW Z4 . [source]

The world of car manufacturers is a complicated one. The corporations want to obscure some of their lines to maintain brand separation, but also want to keep you somewhat aware of them so as to leverage the history and goodwill they've tried so hard to attain over the years. BMW didn't need any special British technology to build a cheap runabout like the Mini, but it did need the name in order to give them an excuse to make a cheap runabout in the first place and to have their car be seen as the next generation of the classic Mini.

NOTE: With the collapse of the car industry in 2009-2009, a lot is changing in the way of ownership. This article will no longer be updated and will instead serve as a kind of snapshot of the industry on the brink of change.


BMW is a Munich, Germany-based company. It purchased Mini in 1994 (along with the rest of the Rover Group, which it eventually sold to Nanjing) and Rolls-Royce in 2003 (Bentley went to Volkswagen).

The BMW family includes BMW, Mini, and Rolls-Royce. It no longer makes cars under the Isetta name.


Chrysler is an Auburn Hills, Michigan-based company. From 1985 to 1991, it was allied with Mitsubishi in what was at the time called the Diamond-Star Alliance. Chrysler bought AMC from Renault in 1987, mainly for the Jeep line but failed to popularize the renamed Jeep-Eagle division. Chrysler merged with Daimler Benz in 1998. In 2007, it was sold to a private equity firm and reorganized, but Daimler retains a substantial share.

UPDATE: 2009.04: Fiat is planning to take over Chrysler and buy Open from GM.

The Chrysler family includes Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep. It no longer makes cars under the Plymouth and Eagle names or the AMC name.

Daimler (Mercedes-Benz)

Daimler is a Stuttgart, Germany-based company. In 1885, founders Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz invented the motorcycle and the automobile, respectively and separately, prompting them to form a company together.

The Daimler family includes Mercedes-Benz, Maybach, and Smart.

Fiat Group

Fiat is a Turin, Italy-based company. In 2005, it broke ties with GM. It has formed ties with Tata that has created Fiat India. In 2009, it began an attempt to take partial ownership of Chrysler.

The Fiat family includes Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, Ferrari, and Maserati.


Ford Motor Company is a Dearborn, Michigan-based company. It owns 30% of Mazda.

The Ford family includes Ford, Mercury, Lincoln, and Volvo.

It sold Aston Martin in 2008 to an international consortium. It sold Jaguar and Land Rover to Tata in 2008.

General Motors

General Motors Corporation is a Detroit, Michigan-based company. In 2005, GM increased its share of GM Daewoo to own controlling interest.

UPDATE: 2009.05: GM is planning to sell Opel to Fiat.

The General Motors family includes Saturn, Chevrolet, GMC, Hummer, Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, Saab, Vauxhall, Holden, Opel, and GM Daewoo. It no longer makes cars under the Oldsmobile name.


Honda Motor Company is a Tokyo, Japan-based company.

The Honda family includes Honda and Acura.


Hyundai Motor Company is a Seoul, South Korea-based company. It bought Kia in 1998.

The Hyundai family includes Hyundai and Kia.


Isuzu Motors is a Tokyo, Japan-based company. Since 1971, it has had a close relationship with General Motors bordering on being subsidiary.

The Isuzu line stands alone as the company's passenger vehicle line and, as of 2009, will not be sold in the US.


Mazda Motor Corporation is a Hiroshima, Japan-based company.

The Mazda line stands alone, but Ford owns a 30% share of Mazda.


Mitsubishi Group is a Tokyo, Japan-based company. It separated from its Diamond-Star Alliance with Chrysler in 1991. It has strong ties to Peugeot.

The Mitsubishi line is the sole passenger vehicle line of Mitsubishi.

Nanjing (MG)

Nanjing Automobile Corporation is a Nanjing, China-based state-owned company. It has significant ties with Fiat. Nanjing bought MG Rover in 1999.

The NAC family includes MG, Austin, and Yuejin (light trucks).


PSA Peugeot Citroén is a Paris, France-based company. It has strong ties to Mitsubishi.

The Peugeot family includes Peugeot and Citroén lines.

Porsche - Volkswagen

Porsche is a Stuttgart, Germany-based company. Volkswagen Group is a Wolfsberg, Germany-based company. Porsche owns about 45% of Volkswagen and is in the process of acquiring a majority share. The Porsche line is distinct but heavily involved with Volkswagen lines.

UPDATE: 2009.02: Porsche has acquired a majority share of Volkswagen in what will come to be considered a legendary financial coup in which it made billions of euros at the same it acquired the other company.

UPDATE 2009.11: Whoops! Porsche's enormous leverage crippled them when car sales bottomed out, and Volkswagen has now acquired them instead!

The Volkswagen family includes VW, Audi, Skoda, SEAT, Spyker, Scania, Bugatti, Bentley, and Lamborghini. It also owns the Auto Union name.

Renault - Nissan

Renault is a Boulogne-Billancourt, France-based company. Nissan is a Japan-based company.

Nissan and Renault formed an alliance in 1999, with Renault owning about 45% of Nissan, but they remain distinct operating entities. The Nissan family includes Nissan and Infiniti. It no longer makes cars under the Datsun name.

The Renault line is distinct from Nissan lines and was allied with AMC and acquired a controlling interest in 1982 but sold it to Chrysler in 1987. Renault owns a substantial share of Russian automaker VAZ, which makes the Lada line.

Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru)

Fuji Heavy Industries is a Tokyo, Japan-based company.

The Fuji family includes Subaru as its only passenger vehicle line.


Suzuki Motor Corporation is a Hamamatsu, Japan-based company.

The Suzuki line stands alone.

Tata (Jaguar and Land Rover)

Tata Motors is a Mubai, India-based company. Tata bought the truck division of Daewoo, while the car division went to GM. Tata bought JLR from Ford in 2008.

The Tata family includes Tata, Tata Daewoo, Jaguar, Land Rover, and the Jaguar subsidiary Daimler (not to be confused with Daimler-Chrysler).


Toyota Motor Corporation is a Tokyo, Japan-based company.

The Toyota family includes Toyota, Lexus, Scion, and Daihastu.


VAZ is a Tolyatti, Russia-based company.

Lada is the only passenger vehicle line in the VAZ family.


Ariel is a Crewkerne, UK-based company that makes the Atom sports car.

Koenigsegg is an Angelholm, Sweden-based company that makes high-performance sports cars.

Tesla Motors is a San Carlos, California, USA-based company that makes the Tesla Roadster electric sports car.

TVR is a Blackpool, UK-based company that makes TVR sports cars.


f e e d b a c k

Respond to this page by your e-mail client. Please be sure to mention the title of the article.

SSgt Kevin Bianchi writes:

Does Chrysler still own the rights to the AMC name and logo?

Yes, I'm pretty sure. They haven't used it since the late '80s, as far as I can tell, but I'm pretty sure they haven't sold it. —RG



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