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Major International Car brands

Main Players in International Automotive Industry

 Who are the biggest players in the international vehicle industry?

The condition of the global automotive industry has improved a lot since the recession.  In the Chinese and US markets , the automotive industry has seen stronger growth since the recession. It is expected that  the sales and profits of the automotive brands would have doubled by  2020. Several trends are shaping the growth of the automotive industry in this decade. The industry is going through a fast transition and its future will be shaped by electrical vehicles and autonomous driving. In future the focus will have shifted entirely to the customers. Moreover, electrical driving and autonomous driving will have taken centre stage.

According to a report published by the Euler Holmes Economic Research, the automotive market is on its course to cross the threshold of 100 million units by 2019. In 2019, the global sales of automotives is expected to cross 98 million units. In China and Russia, the current growth rate is expected to continue and faster recovery is expected in Russia and Brazil. Since the automotive industry is undergoing fast transition, it will be a major challenge before auto brands to manage this transition. Players in the automotive industry will need to continuously invest in new technologies and models including all forms of vehicle from low cost to premium and electrical vehicles to remain competitive. However, the growth of the industry is also being challenged by legal factors. Emission requirements have continuously grown and they are leading to higher production and operating costs for the brands. Simultaneously, the demand for vehicles has also kept growing and is expected to sustain in future. The profitability of automotive brands is expected to grow higher due to rising demand for premium cars and SUVs. Except for economic fluctuations, the international automobile industry must continue to expect profitably.

This is a list of the main players in the global automobile industry. The leading names include – Ford, General Motors, Toyota,  Suzuki, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Nissan, Renault, FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), Honda, Volvo, Tesla, BMW & Mercedez (Daimler).


Honda is a major global brand of cars and motorcycles.  In the Asian markets, it is also a leading competitor of Ford.  In 2017, Honda sold 3.7 Million units. This  was an increase of 1.3% over the previous year. North America was the biggest market for Honda cars where it sold around 1.97 million units. Honda notes in its Annual Report 2017, ” This change was mainly attributable to the effect of launching the new Civic Hatchback Model, and  a full model change of the Ridgeline model, which offset the decline in the sales volume of Accord”. The sales of Honda cars in Europe too jumped by 7%.  Unit  sales of Honda cars in China grew to 1.3 million units. Overall, while the revenue of Honda fell by 4.1% to 13.99 trillion Yen, the operating profit grew by 67% over the previous fiscal year to 840.7 Billion Yen.

Ford :

Ford is among the most renowned car makers of the world.  The company was incorporated in Delaware in 1919. It came into formation through the acquisition of  Ford Motor Company that made and sold vehicles engineered by Henry Ford. Today, Ford Motors Company is a global brand that designs, manufactures, markets, sells and services a large range of vehicles including Cars, trucks, SUVs, electrical vehicles and Lincoln Luxury vehicles.

Apart from that the brand also provides financial services through Ford Motor Credit Company LLC. The company is consistently working to acquire a leadership position in mobility and electrical vehicles. Its main two business segments are automotive business segment and financial business segment. The other business segments of Ford Motor Company include Ford Smart Mobility LLC and Central Treasury Operations. The vehicle brands of Ford Motor Company include Ford and Lincoln. In 2017, the brand sold around 6,607,000 vehicles at wholesale. Ford is an innovative brand and also one of the most popular brands in the Asian markets.

In 2017, it sold more than 2.5 million vehicles at retail in US.  The number of Ford trucks (retail sales) sold in US equalled 1,123,416 units whereas it sold 867,909 SUVs and 595,390 cars during the same period.


Toyota is a major global vehicle brand and a tough competitor for Ford, Hyundai & Volkswagen. The brand is a globally well known maker of cars, SUVs and electrical vehicles. Its focus is  now on sustainable growth and the production of electrical vehicles that have a very low impact on the environment.

North America is the largest market for Toyota, followed by Japan and Asia. In 2017, North America accounted for the highest of Toyota’s sales at 32% of the total 8,970,860 total sales. Toyota has 364,445 employees. Its number of manufacturing plants and companies around the world was 69 in 2017. In 2017, its net revenue was 27,597.1 Billion Japanese yen which was 2.8% lower than the previous year. The brand’s net income in 2017 equalled 1831.1 Billion Japanese yen. Toyota brought the world’s first mass produced hybrid vehicle Toyota Prius in 1997. It plans to invest more in the production of electrical vehicles and bring new and improved versions of Prius. It has brought some luxury models to the market too including Camry, also available in a hybrid version.


Volkswagen is a major car maker which has several brands in its portfolio including luxury brands like Audi. Despite the diesel scandal of 2015, VW has made a strong return in 2016 and 17. There are several reasons behind the strong position of the brand in the market including its strong financial position as well as brand image and a large product portfolio. Apart from being a market leading brand, VW has a large product portfolio that includes both passenger cars and luxury vehicles. Both Audi and Skoda are popular brands that have achieved an excellent position in the market and have been highly popular in the Asian markets. 

The VW group includes two divisions – automotive and  financial services. In 2017, VW achieved a new vehicles sales record despite a highly competitive and challenging environment. However, the issues arising from the diesel engine scandal continued to affect its operating profits. Had it not been for the strong market position of VW, the effects of the scandal would have been stronger. It cost VW billions in fines. The brand set a new sales record of 10.8 Million vehicles in 2017 and achieved sales revenue of 230.7 Billion Euros which was 6.2% higher than the previous year. In North America demand grew higher in US and Canada driving the total sales figure to 1 million vehicles in the region. The Asia Pacific region saw its sales rising to 4.5 million vehicles from 4.4 million vehicles in the previous year. Apart from Audi and Skoda, VW’s portfolio also includes Bentley, Porsche and Ducati brands. Its automotive division produces and sells passenger cars, light commercial vehicles, trucks, buses and motorcycles, as well as the genuine parts, large-bore diesel engines, turbo-machinery, special gear units, propulsion components and testing systems businesses.

General Motors:

General Motors was incorporated in 2009 as a Delaware Corporation. Its automotive segment business is divided into two segments – GM North America and GM International. GM North America includes the Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC brands and caters to the customers in North America.  GM International on the other hand caters to the needs of the customers outside North America through its Cadillac, Buick, Chevrolet, GMC and Holden brands. In China, GM has equity ownership stakes in brands including Baojun, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Jiefang and Wuling brands.

In 2017, the brand sold around 9.6 Million vehicles. China and US were its largest markets accounting for sale of more than 4 million and 3 million vehicles respectively. The brand’s net revenue fell from $149,184 million to $145, 588 millions from 2016 to 2017. Its net income was $9,268 million dollars 2016. IN 2017, the company incurred a net loss of $3,882 million. In US, the market share of GM saw a small increase of 0.1% in 2017 and reached 17.1% rising from 17%. US is the largest market of GM in North America and the brand sold around 3 million units there. In China, the brand achieved  14.3% market share in 2017.  This growth was mainly driven by the strong sales of Cadillac and Baojun passenger vehicles and SUVs as well as positive growth in the sales of Chevrolet vehicles.


Suzuki is also a renowned brand of automobiles and motorcycles. Apart from them, Suzuki also produces marine vehicles. Japan is the home market of Suzuki. However, India is its largest market. In 2017, the brand sold more than 1.4 million vehicles in India. In Japan, it sold around 639,000 units. India and China have grown to become important markets for the passenger and small car brands. It is why Suzuki is among the major competitors of Ford in India. Apart from a slight increase in the sales of Suzuki motorcycles in 2017 in Japan,  their overseas sales fell in nearly all markets including North America and China. Net sales of the brand fell from 3,180.6 Billion Yen in 2016 to 3,169.5 Billion Yen.


Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is a global automotive brand that designs, engineers, manufactures, distributes and sells vehicles, components and production systems worldwide through 159 manufacturing facilities and 87 research and development centers. FCA operates in over 40 countries and sells its vehicles directly or through distributors and dealers in over 140 countries. It designs, engineers, manufactures, distributes and sells vehicles for the mass-market under the Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Fiat, Fiat Professional, Jeep, Lancia and Ram brands and the SRT performance vehicle designation. It also designs, engineers, manufactures, distributes and sells luxury vehicles under the Maserati brand. North America and specifically U.S. is the largest market for FCA where it sells the highest number of vehicles. In 2017, it sold total 2.4 million vehicles in North America and in US alone it sold around 2 million vehicles. There was also a slight decline in the net revenue of the brand which fell from €111,018 million to €110,934 million. 

 Hyundai Motors:

Hyundai is also a major global car maker that has grown highly popular in the Asian markets. Apart from passenger cars and SUVs, Hyundai also brings luxury vehicles and owns the Kia brand. Its technology and brand image are important factors behind its popularity. It  has brought several market leading cars in the small car segment in Asian markets. It is a leading brand in several other areas too including owning the largest manufacturing plant. Its Ulsan plant in South Korea is the single largest automobile manufacturing plant in the world. It also has manufacturing plants in U.S., Brazil, Russia, China and India. Apart from the passenger cars, small family cars and SUVs, the brand also makes MPVs, eco friendly cars and the Genesis brand cars. Elantra, Sonata, Santa Fe, Tucson and Creta to IONIQ, Hyundai sells a very large range of highly popular vehicles. Hyundai’s largest market is Asia where it sold more than 1.88 million vehicles in 2017. The brand achieved a revenue of 96,376 Billion Korean Won from the sales of 4.9 Million vehicles in 2017. Hyundai is also one of the toughest contenders in the global automotive market and a major competitor of Ford Motors. Its position in the Asian markets continues to grow stronger.


BMW is another major global brand of luxury cars and motorcycles that saw its sales and market share climbing in 2017. It owns BMW, Mini and Rolls Royce brands. 2017 was an year of growth for the brand and China was the main market driving most of its growth. Its core brand BMW sold more than 2 million vehicles in 2017. The automotive market has grown highly competitive and despite that BMW managed to grow its sales by around 4 percent to 2.46 million vehicles overall. In Mainland China, the total deliveries made by BMW rose past 590,000 whereas in Americas and U.S. there was a slight decline in overall sales.  In 2017, it achieved an important milestone of having sold its 100,000th electrical vehicle and is planning to accelerate its electrification drive. Its continuously improving position in the Asian markets can be a challenge for the other vehicle brands.


Mercedez is a well known brand of luxury cars and is owned by Daimler. Apart from Mercedez cars and vans, Daimler also makes trucks and buses. Mercedez is seeing growing sales in the booming Asian markets. Its sales in China have tripled in last four years. In 2017, Daimler sold nearly 2.4 million Mercedez Benz cars. Growing sales of Mercedez Benz cars is going to be a challenge for its direct and indirect competitors. Revenue from the Mercedes Benz cars rose from 89.3 Billion Euros to 94.7 Billion Euros in 2017. Unit sales increased from 2.2 Billion to 2.4 Billion in 2017. 


Nissan is  a major global car brand. North America and China are its biggest markets. The brand achieved sales of 5.6 million vehicles in 2016 and expected to achieve the sales of 5.8 million vehicles in 2017. In 2016, its net sales in North America totalled  2.1 million vehicles whereas that in China reached 1.35 million vehicles. In 2016, its net revenue declined by 3.9% to 11.72 trillion Yen. Some of the SUVs made by Nissan have been highly popular in the Asian markets. The brand is also working on releasing electric cars and on making its foray into automated driving.


Tata is a major Indian brand with a global footprint which has a large and diverse product portfolio including cars, buses, trucks and luxury vehicles. JLR (Jaguar land Rover) manufactures and sells a range of premium vehicles to customers around the world. While India is Tata Motors’ largest market, its other major markets include UK, U.S. and China which account for the largest part of its revenue. Tata Motors sold a total of 12,21,124 vehicle units in 2017 and achieved revenue of 2,94,243 Crores INR.


Tesla designs, develops, manufactures and sells high-performance fully electric vehicles and energy generation and storage systems. It is an innovative brand that makes environment friendly vehicles and energy systems. While the brand mainly makes premium vehicles for the higher end market segment, it has now released a Model 3 to lower the entry level price of its fully electric vehicles. The new model released by Tesla has started selling from late 2017. It will grow the competition for the electric and hybrid vehicles made by other brands like Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius higher. Since, Tesla makes luxury electric cars, it is also a competitor for brands making luxury vehicles. However, the journey for Tesla has been slightly tough till now. Its revenue rose to $11.8 billion in 2017 but the Net loss attributable to common stockholders was $1.96 Billion rising from $675 million approximately in the previous year.  If the company’s sales, revenue and profits increase and it recovers from losses, it could become a formidable challenger for the major brands in the automotive industry. Tesla is also working on improving its presence in North America, Asia and Europe by establishing a large network of superchargers and destination chargers there.


Volvo is also a major global car brand with presence and sales in more than 100 countries. The Volvo car brand is a maker of premium cars and SUVs. It is planning to release fully electric and hybrid vehicles by 2019. China is an important fast growing market for Volvo where it achieved sales of more than 100,000 vehicles last year. Apart from that, Europe and U.S. are leading markets for Volvo products. Its net revenue in 2017 equalled approximately 210 Billion Swedish kroner. It has released three lines of cars which are S, V and XC. Volvo launched XC40 last year that completes the renewal of its line of SUVs. The brand aims to launch only hybrids or electrical cars by 2019.


2017 was a great year for Renault in terms of overall sales and revenue. Its sales in all its market grew. Renault sold total 3.76 million vehicles. Its alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi also saw higher success in 2017. This alliance became the world leader in sales of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles with sales over 10.6 million units. Renault’s revenue reached 58.8 Billion Euros in 2017. Europe is the biggest market of Renault. In France alone the brand  sold 673,852 vehicles, followed by Russia and Germany. Its best sellers of 2017 included Clio, Megane, Logan, Captur and Sandero.  The brand has set ambitious plans for future and is planning to enter into new strategic joint ventures for the development of electric and light weight vehicle segments. Apart from China, Brazil, India and Iran are also potentially important markets for the brand. After Carlos Ghosn, Thierry Bollore is the new CEO of Renault.


Annual Reports of the respective brands

Hyundai Strategic Analysis