Automotive industry

The automotive industry designs, develops, manufactures, markets, and sells motor vehicles, and is one of the world's most important economic sectors by revenue.

The term automotive industry usually does not include industries dedicated to automobiles after delivery to the customer, such as repair shops and motor fuel filling stations.


The first practical automobile with a petrol engine was built by Karl Benz in 1885 in Mannheim, Germany. Benz was granted a patent for his automobile on 29 January 1886, and began the first production of automobiles in 1888, after Bertha Benz, his wife, had proved with the first long-distance trip in August 1888 (from Mannheim to Pforzheim and back) that the horseless coach was absolutely suitable for daily use. Since 2008 a Bertha Benz Memorial Route commemorates this event.

Soon after, Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach in Stuttgart in 1889 designed a vehicle from scratch to be an automobile, rather than a horse-drawn carriage fitted with an engine. They also are usually credited as inventors of the first motorcycle, the Daimler Reitwagen, in 1885, but Italy's Enrico Bernardi, of the University of Padua, in 1882, patented a 0.024 horsepower (17.9 W) 122 cc (7.4 cu in) one-cylinder petrol motor, fitting it into his son's tricycle, making it at least a candidate for the first automobile, and first motorcycle;. :p.26 Bernardi enlarged the tricycle in 1892 to carry two adults. :p.26
Until 2005, the U.S.A. was leading the world in total automobile production. In 1929 before the Great Depression, the world had 32,028,500 automobiles in use, and the US automobile industry produced over 90% of the automobiles in the world, ie 28,551,500. And over one half the cars in foreign lands were of U.S. make. At that time the U.S. had one car per 4.87 persons. In 2006, Japan narrowly passed the U.S. in production and held this rank until 2008. In 2009, China took the top spot with 13.78 million units produced. With 18.3 million units produced 2010, China produced nearly twice the amount of second place Japan (9.6 million units), the U.S. trailed in third place with 7.8 million units.


About 250 million vehicles are in use in the United States. Around the world, there were about 806 million cars and light trucks on the road in 2007, consuming over 260 billion US gallons (980,000,000 m3) of gasoline and diesel fuel yearly. The automobile is a primary mode of transportation for many developed economies. The Detroit branch of Boston Consulting Group predicts that, by 2014, one-third of world demand will be in the four BRIC markets (Brazil, Russia, India and China). Other potentially powerful automotive markets are Iran and Indonesia. Emerging auto markets already buy more cars than established markets. According to a J.D. Power study, emerging markets accounted for 51 percent of the global light-vehicle sales in 2010. The study expects this trend to accelerate.

World motor vehicle production

By year

Global production of motorvehicles
(cars and commercial vehicles)
Year Production Change Source
1997 54,434,000
1998 52,987,000 -2.7%
1999 56,258,892 6.2%
2000 58,374,162 3.8%
2001 56,304,925 -3.5%
2002 58,994,318 4.8%
2003 60,663,225 2.8%
2004 64,496,220 6.3%
2005 66,482,439 3.1%
2006 69,222,975 4.1%
2007 73,266,061 5.8%
2008 70,520,493 -3.7%
2009 61,791,868 -12.4%
2010 77,857,705 26.0%

By country

By manufacturer

Company relationships

It is common for automobile manufacturers to hold stakes in other automobile manufacturers. These ownerships can be explored under the detail for the individual companies.
Notable current relationships include:
  • Daimler AG holds a 20% stake in Eicher Motors, a 10.0% stake in KAMAZ, a 10% stake in Tesla Motors, a 6.75% stake in Tata Motors and a 3.1% in the Renault-Nissan Motors alliance. They are in the process of selling back their 40% stake (11% remaining) in McLaren Group. This process will be finalized in 2011.
  • Dongfeng Motor Corporation is involved in joint ventures with several companies around the world, including: Honda (Japan), Hyundai (South Korea), Nissan (Japan), Nissan Diesel (Sweden), and PSA Peugeot Citroen (France).
  • Fiat holds a 90% stake in Ferrari and a 53.5% stake in Chrysler.
  • Ford Motor Company holds a 3% stake in Mazda and an 8.3% share in Aston Martin.
  • Geely Automobile holds a 23% stake in Manganese Bronze Holdings.
  • General Motors and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) have two joint ventures in Shanghai General Motors and SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile.
  • Hyundai Kia Automotive Group holds a 38.67% stake in Kia Motors, down from the 51% that it acquired in 1998.
  • MAN SE holds a 17.01% voting stake in Scania.
  • Porsche Automobil Holding SE has a 50.74% stake in Volkswagen Group. Due to liquidity problems, Volkswagen Group is now in the process of acquiring Porsche.
  • Renault and Nissan Motors have an alliance involving two global companies linked by cross-shareholding, with Renault holding 44.3% of Nissan shares, and Nissan holding 15% of (non-voting) Renault shares. The alliance holds a 3.1% share in Daimler AG.
  • Renault holds a 25% stake in AvtoVAZ and 20.5% of the voting stakes in Volvo Group.
  • Toyota holds a 51% stake in Daihatsu, and 16.5% in Fuji Heavy Industries, parent company of Subaru.
  • Volkswagen Group holds a 37.73% stake in Scania (68.6% voting rights), and a 53.7% stake in MAN SE (55.9% voting rights). Volkswagen is integrating Scania, MAN and its own truck division into one division.
  • Volkswagen Group has a 49.9% stake in Porsche AG. Volkswagen is in the process of acquiring Porsche, which will be completed in late 2011.
  • Volkswagen Group has a 19.9% stake in Suzuki, and Suzuki has a 5% stake in Volkswagen.

Top vehicle manufacturing groups (by volume)

The table below shows the world's largest motor vehicle manufacturing groups, along with the marques produced by each one. The table is ranked by 2010 end of year production figures from the International Organization of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers (OICA) for the parent group, and then alphabetically by marque. Joint ventures are not reflected in this table. Production figures of joint ventures are typically included in OICA rankings, which can become a source of controversy.
Marque Country of origin Ownership Markets
1. Toyota Motor Corporation (  Japan)
Lexus Division Global
Scion Division North America
Toyota Division Global
Daihatsu Subsidiary Global, except North America and Australia
Hino Subsidiary Asia Pacific, North America and South America
2. General Motors Company (  United States)
Buick Division North America, China, Israel, Taiwan
Cadillac Division North America, Europe, Asia, Middle East, Africa
Chevrolet Division Global, except Australia, New Zealand
GMC Division North America, Middle East
Holden Subsidiary Australia, New Zealand
Opel Subsidiary Global, except North America, United Kingdom
Vauxhall Subsidiary United Kingdom
3. Volkswagen Group AG (  Germany)
Audi Subsidiary Global
Bentley Subsidiary Global
Bugatti Subsidiary Global
Lamborghini Subsidiary Global
Scania Subsidiary Global
SEAT Subsidiary Europe, South America, North Africa, Middle East
Škoda Subsidiary Global, except North America, Japan and South Africa
Volkswagen Subsidiary Global
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Subsidiary Global
4. Hyundai Motor Group (  South Korea)
Hyundai Division Global
Kia Division Global, except Mexico
5. Ford Motor Company (  United States)
Ford Division Global
Lincoln Division North America, Middle East, Japan, South Korea
Troller Subsidiary South America
6. Nissan (  Japan)
Infiniti Division Global, except Japan, South America and Africa
Nissan Division Global
7. Honda Motor Company (  Japan)
Acura Division North America, China
Honda Division Global
8. PSA Peugeot Citroën S.A. (  France)
Citroën Subsidiary Global, except North America, South Asia
Peugeot Subsidiary Global, except North America, South Asia
9. Suzuki Motor Corporation (  Japan)
Suzuki Division Global
Maruti Suzuki Subsidiary India, Middle East, South America
10. Renault (  France)
Dacia Subsidiary Europe, Latin America, Africa, Asia, except Japan
Renault Division Global, except North America, South Korea
Renault Samsung Subsidiary South America, Asia, except Japan and China
11. Fiat S.p.A. (  Italy)
Abarth Subsidiary Global
Alfa Romeo Subsidiary Global
Ferrari Subsidiary Global
Fiat Subsidiary Global
Fiat Professional Subsidiary Global, except North America and Japan
Lancia Subsidiary Europe and Japan (except UK and Republic of Ireland)
Maserati Subsidiary Global
12. Daimler AG (  Germany)
Freightliner Division North America, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand
Master Subsidiary Pakistan
Maybach Division Global
Mercedes-Benz Division Global
Mitsubishi Fuso Subsidiary Global
Orion Subsidiary North America
Setra Subsidiary Europe
Smart Division Global
Thomas Built Subsidiary North America
Western Star Subsidiary North America, Australia, New Zealand
13. Chrysler Group, LLC (  United States)
Chrysler Division Global, UK and Republic of Ireland, except Europe
Dodge Division Global, except Europe
Jeep Division Global
Ram Division North America
14. BMW AG (  Germany)
BMW Division Global
MINI Division Global
Rolls-Royce Subsidiary Global
15. Mazda Motor Corporation (  Japan)
Mazda Division Global
16. Mitsubishi Motors Corporation (  Japan)
Mitsubishi Division Global
17. Chana Automobile Company, Ltd (  People's Republic of China)
Chana Division China, South Africa, Europe
18. Tata Motors, Ltd (  India)
Hispano Subsidiary Europe
Jaguar Subsidiary Global
Land Rover Subsidiary Global
Tata Division Global, except North America
Tata Daewoo Subsidiary South Korea
19. First Automotive Group Corporation (  People's Republic of China)
Besturn Division China
Freewind Subsidiary China
Haima Subsidiary China
Hongqi Division China
Jiaxing Subsidiary China
Vita Subsidiary China
Xiali Subsidiary China
20. Geely Automobile (  People's Republic of China)
Geely Division China, Russia, North Africa
Maple Division China
Volvo (Cars) Subsidiary Global
21. Chery Automobile Company, Ltd (  People's Republic of China)
Chery Division China, Africa, South East Asia, Russia
Riich Division China
Rely Division China
22. Fuji Heavy Industries, Ltd (  Japan)
Subaru Division Global
23. Dongfeng Motor Corporation (  People's Republic of China)
Dongfeng Division China
24. Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Corporation, Ltd (  People's Republic of China)
BAW Division China
Foton Subsidiary China
25. OAO AvtoVAZ (  Russia)
Lada Division Global, except North America and Portugal
VAZ Division Russia
26. BYD Auto (  People's Republic of China)
BYD Division China, Russia
27. Isuzu Motors, Ltd (  Japan)
Isuzu Division Global, except North America
28. Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Company, Ltd (  People's Republic of China)
JAC Division China
29. Brilliance China Automotive Holding, Ltd (  People's Republic of China)
Brilliance Division China, North Africa
Jinbei Subsidiary China
30. Great Wall Motor Company, Ltd (  People's Republic of China)
Great Wall Division China, South Africa, Russia, North Africa, Australia
Litex Motors Subsidiary Europe
31. Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (  People's Republic of China)
MG Motor Subsidiary China, United Kingdom, Chile, Argentina
Roewe Division China
Soyat Division China
Yuejin Division China
32. Mahindra & Mahindra, Ltd (  India)
Mahindra Division India, South East Asia, Europe, North Africa, North America, Australia
SsangYong** Subsidiary Global
33. Hafei Motor (  China)
Hafei Subsidiary China
34. AB Volvo (  Sweden)
Mack Subsidiary Global
Nissan Diesel Subsidiary Global
NovaBus Subsidiary North America
Prevost Subsidiary North America
Renault Trucks Subsidiary Global, except Japan
Volvo Trucks Division Global
35. Jiangxi Changhe Automobile (  China)
Changhe Division China
36. Qingling Motors Company Ltd. (  China)
Qingling Division China
37. Proton Holdings, Bhd (  Malaysia)
Proton Division Asia Pacific (except Japan and South Africa), United Kingdom, Middle East
Lotus Subsidiary Global
38. Hunan Jiangnan Automobile (  People's Republic of China)
Jiangnan Division China
39. MAN SE (  Germany)
MAN SE Division Europe
40. Chongqing Lifan Automobile Company, Ltd (  People's Republic of China)
Lifan Division China
41. Fujian Motor Industry Group Company (  People's Republic of China)
Soueast Division China
42. Kuozui Motors, Ltd (  Taiwan)
Kuozui Subsidiary Taiwan
43. Shandong Kaima (  China)
Kaima Division China
Jubao Division China
Aofeng Division China
44. Porsche (  Germany)
Porsche Subsidiary Global
45. Chenzhou Gonow Nanyan Chifeng Vehicle (  People's Republic of China)
Gonow Division China
46. Ziyang Nanjun Automobile Co., Ltd. (  People's Republic of China)
Nanjun Division China
47. Rongcheng Huatai Motor (  People's Republic of China)
Huatai Division China


* Porsche Automobil Holding SE has a 50.7 percent share in the Volkswagen Group. However, Volkswagen Group will acquire Porsche AG, the automotive manufacturer under a new "Integrated Automotive Group". This merger/acquisition is expected to be fully completed in mid-2011.
** SsangYong Motor Company was acquired by India's Mahindra & Mahindra Limited in February 2011.

Minor automotive manufacturers

There are many automobile manufacturers other than the major global companies. They are mostly regional or operating in niche markets.