- Our Top Picks of the Best Car Companies in America
- The Top 10 Automobile Companies in America
- General Motors
- Ford Motor Company
- Toyota Motor Corporation
- Chrysler LLC
- Honda Motor Company
- Nissan Motor Corporation
- Mercedes-Benz Group AG
- Hyundai Motor Company
- The Best Car Companies in America Wrap-Up
The American automotive industry has a rich history which started in 1893 (late 19th century) when the Duryea Motor Wagon Company in Springfield, Massachusetts, built the first American gasoline-powered car. However, the industry didn’t really take off until the early 20th century.
Affordable mass production methods, like the assembly line, helped the American auto business grow, and in 1903, Henry Ford started the Ford Motor Company. The first assembly-line-produced car, Ford’s Model T, was introduced in 1908 and quickly became America’s most famous car.
The American automotive industry continued to grow and evolve during the first half of the 20th century, giving birth to many recognizable car brands, such as the Cadillac, Chevrolet, and Buick. In fact, the industry was a driving force behind the technological innovation of the period, employing millions of Americans.
However, the true expansion of the automotive industry in America began after World War II when the post-war economic boom boosted many Americans’ prosperity and disposable income. As a result, the domestic car makers competed for their market share, which only benefited the average American citizen.
However, the 1970s and ’80s were particularly troublesome for the American car industry, which struggled to adapt to government regulations and shifting consumer preference for more affordable and economical Japanese cars. The latter proved to be tough competition for American car makers, causing many to either downsize or go out of business.
Despite the challenges it faced over the years, the American car industry and market have remained vital to the country’s economy and culture. Modern companies, such as Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, continue to make iconic cars and trucks while investing greatly in new technologies like electric and autonomous vehicles. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best car companies in America and the world, what they’re known for, and their best models.
Our Top Picks of the Best Car Companies in America
|Best Overall||Best Luxury||Most Affordable|
It offers the best combination of luxury and performance.
The attention to detail invested in these cars attests to the precision of German engineering and design
Generally considered most accessible price-wise.
The Top 10 Automobile Companies in America
The title of the best car company in the United States largely depends on the car category. For example, Toyota is undoubtedly the most popular car brand in the United States, followed by other domestic, foreign, and multinational brands.
Mercedes-Benz is the most popular luxury car brand in America, described by its owners and enthusiasts as luxurious and reliable, which is precisely what you’d expect from German engineering. Other popular luxury car brands include BMW, Lexus, and Cadillac.
For example, Porsche sits at the top of the luxury sports car brand list, according to Americans, followed by Ferrari as the super luxury sports car and Bugatti as the most popular luxury supercar brand. Last but not least, Tesla remains the most popular brand of electric cars in the world, not just in the American market. Here’s our breakdown of the top 10 automakers in America:
General Motors Company is an American multinational automotive company and the largest American car maker. The company was founded in 1908 by Willaim Crapo Durant and quickly became the largest car manufacturer in the world. It maintained that position for 77 years before losing the top spot to Toyota Motors Corporation in 2008.
General Motors has launched or acquired several car brands since it was formed, and its four core brands are Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, and GMC. The company is also invested in several Chinese vehicle brands, such as Wuling Motors and its subsidiary, Baojun.
The company has nearly 400 facilities on six continents and 167,000 employees as of December 2022, the same year it earned more than $156 billion in revenue. Its long-term plans include the end of production and sales of vehicles relying on internal combustion engines, including hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars, as part of its plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2040.
Despite being overtaken by Toyota as the world’s largest automaker in 2008, GM is still among the world’s largest car manufacturers by the number of vehicle unit sales.
Ford Motor Company
Ford Motor Company is another American car maker with a long-historical significance in the automotive industry since its founder, Henry Ford, was the first to install a moving assembly line for the mass production of an entire car in 1913.
Ford founded and incorporated the Ford Motor Company in 1903, after he left the first company he founded in 1901—the Henry Ford Company, which later became the Cadillac Motor Company. In fact, the Ford Motor Company was launched backed up by twelve investors, two of which were Horace and John Dodge, the founders of Dodge.
Ford is nowadays one of the world’s largest and most profitable companies, which has been in continuous family control for over 100 years. In fact, Ford is one of the world’s largest family-owned companies.
The company launched its iconic mass-produced Model T in 1908, which sold millions over the next 20 years before it was replaced by Model A, the first car with a safety-glass windshield. These days, Ford is America’s second-largest and the world’s fifth-largest car manufacturer, positioned behind Toyota, General Motors, Hyundai, and Volkswagen.
Ford Motor Company offers a wide range of different vehicles under its Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln brands. The company launched an all-new line of SUVs in 2018 and announced its plan to invest $11 billion in electric vehicles.
Toyota Motor Corporation
Toyota Motor Corporation is a Japanese multinational automotive manufacturer and one of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers in the world. The company benefited significantly from Japan’s alliance with the US after WWII, allowing Toyota’s engineers to learn from American carmakers, which culminated in the release of the Toyota Corolla, the world’s best-selling car.
This transformed the otherwise small company founded and incorporated in 1937 into a world leader in the automotive industry. These days, the company is praised for its leadership in the development and sales of fuel-efficient hybrid electric cars, selling more than 40 different models worldwide.
Toyota has three more automotive brands besides its namesake brand, including Daihatsu, Hino, and Lexus, its luxury brand. It also holds a 20% stake in Subaru Corporation and several other automaker companies such as Mazda and Yamaha.
Despite its production of hybrid electric cars, Toyota is skeptical toward all-electric vehicles and instead focuses primarily on the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. However, it also announced $70 billion in investments in EVs by 2030, with plans to launch additional 30 EV models by that same year.
Chrysler is a subsidiary of Stellantis North America, which, in addition to the Chrysler brand, also offers different vehicles under the Dodge, Jeep, and Ram brands. The original Chrysler was founded in 1925 as Chrysler Corporation until it was renamed to DaimlerChrysler following the acquisition by Daimler-Benz in 1998.
Fiat later acquired the company in 2014, and the newly formed Fiat Chrysler Automobiles subsequently became Stellantis as a result of its merger with Peugeot Societe Anonyme. The company employs more than 62,000 people across the globe as of 2019, with a reported revenue of $38 billion.
Chrysler brand is best known for its range of minivans, SUVs, and sedans, such as the Pacifica and Voyager. The company also reintroduced some of its classic models, such as the Dodge Challenger and PT Cruiser, and it’s currently planning to release several electrified cars in its pursuit of reduced emissions.
In 1979, Chrysler developed and produced an experimental electric vehicle prototype called Chrysler ETV-1, claiming it was the first, ground-up modern-day eclectic vehicle design. These days, Chrysler is one of the industry leaders when it comes to autonomous technology and semi-autonomous feature implementations.
Honda Motor Company
Honda Motor Company Limited is a Japanese multinational manufacturer of cars, motorcycles, and power equipment, as well as the world’s largest manufacturer of internal combustion engines and the eighth-largest car maker in the world.
Honda was the first Japanese car maker with a dedicated luxury car brand named Acura. The company produces a wide range of cars, ranging from mini hatchbacks to large SUVs, and some of its notable models include Honda Civic, Accord, RC-V, and Odyssey.
However, to car enthusiasts, Honda is the embodiment of innovation and engineering excellence, as it has been at the forefront of the development of many vital automotive technologies. This includes electronic fuel injection, hybrid powertrains, and variable valve timing.
Honda is also very committed to sustainability, and it has been a leader (alongside Toyota) in developing low-emission and zero-emission vehicles. The company has manufacturing facilities all around the world and a strong reputation for making reliable cars.
Nissan Motor Corporation
Nissan is a Japanese multinational automobile manufacturer that sells its cars under the Nissan and Infinity brands. The company was founded in 1933 but became a part of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance in 1999. By 2017. The company grew to become the sixth-largest car maker in the world and the largest car manufacturer in North America.
Nissan is also the largest EV manufacturer, with its fully-electric Nissan LEAF, the first massively produced EV and the second-best-selling electric car globally, behind the legendary Tesla Model 3. In addition to EVs and hybrids, Nissan also offers a wide range of gasoline-powered cars, including Altima, Maxima, Sentra, Rogue, and Pathfinder models.
The company maintains its commitment to sustainability and, like many other car makers, has set ambitious goals to reduce its environmental impact. To do so, Nissan has since made significant investments in renewable energy and EV car technology.
BMW is an abbreviation of Bayerische Motoren Werke AG; it’s a German manufacturer of luxury cars founded in 1916. Though it primarily focused on making aircraft engines, the company switched focus to the automotive industry after 1945.
BMW now sells its vehicles under three different brands: BMW, Mini, and Rolls-Royce, which it acquired entirely in 2003. BMW cars are ranked as one of the top three most reliable car brands. This might sound surprising, considering that high-reliability rankings were almost exclusively reserved for Japanese vehicles, but BMW really very high quality cars.
BMW has a long-standing company history, and it’s known for making reliable and stylish cars with strong and sturdy engines and fast-moving parts. However, one of the main things that make these cars stand out from the rest is the attention to detail.
Everything is overengineered in a way that you can’t even notice it, but the subtleties are certainly there to be enjoyed. A good example of this is the car door sound, which is engineered to have a low but pleasant audible click that provides a sense of safety and precision. BMWs usually maintain a good resale value, which is why they’re great if you’re looking to secure a collateral loan.
Mercedes-Benz Group AG
Mercedes-Benz is the most popular luxury car brand in America, mostly due to the brand’s sophistication, comfort, and performance. Just like the BMW, Mercedes-Benz also embodies the precision of German engineering, resulting in a powerful and fast machine that’s also comfortable, reliable, and very fuel-efficient.
Mercedes-Benz offers different vehicles through its Mercedes-Benz and Smart brands. The former brand offers on-demand power paired with unparalleled performance that delivers the ultimate excellence in handling, comfort, fuel economy, safety, and riding. Mercedes-Maybach brand is among the most luxurious and comfortable cars on the worldwide market.
This manufacturer of world-class luxury cars was originally founded in 1926, though its founders had previous collaborations together dating back to 1883. The company was the first one ever to build a robotic car in the 1980s, whose re-engineered S-Class Mercedes successor took a long trip from Munich to Copenhagen and back, achieving speeds exceeding 109 mph.
Founded in 1937 under the Nazi Party in Germany and revived into a global brand after WWII, Volkswagen is known for its iconic Beetle and the MK2 Golf. The latter was so well engineered that many car enthusiasts still consider the MK2 Golf as the benchmark among hatchbacks, despite the fact that the car was introduced to the market in 1983.
Most recently, the company partnered with Mercedes-Benz and several other companies to market clean diesel technology, and the Volkswagen diesel engines actually power four out of the ten most fuel-efficient vehicles available in the US.
More importantly, Volkswagen offers a number of cars with a Turbocharged Direct Injection (TDI) engine, which can be driven on 100% biodiesel (though prohibited in the US). The Volkswagen group is currently in charge of several vehicle brands, including Škoda, MAN, Scania, Bugatti, Bentley, Lamborghini, Porsche, SEAT, and Audi.
Considering that everything with a Volkswagen name on it is reliable and tough, it’s no wonder why these cars are as popular as they are. The company has factories in many parts of the world, including Germany, US, Mexico, Slovakia, China, India, Russia, and South Africa—basically on every continent except Australia and Antarctica.
Hyundai Motor Company
Hyundai Motors is a South Korean multinational car maker founded in 1967. Besides the namesake brand, the company also owns two luxury car brands, Genesis and Ioniq, as well as a one-third share of the Kia Corporation.
Hyundai cars come equipped with the most comprehensive warranty program, which supports the company’s commitment to providing vehicles of high quality, dependability, and reliability. In fact, it’s the first company in America to offer a 10-year or 100,000 miles powertrain warranty and three-year/36,000 miles scheduled maintenance.
With such great customer service, it’s no wonder why Hyundai is the number one in customer loyalty for 11 years in a row, according to Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index.
The Biggest Car Companies in the World (Size and Revenue)
The global car industry is actually dominated by a handful of large companies that make millions of cars and other vehicles each year, generating billions of dollars in revenue. Here are just some:
- Toyota — Toyota makes more than 10 million vehicles a year, generating more than $275 billion in revenue.
- Volkswagen Group — Just like Toyota, VW also makes more than 10 million cars a year, generating more than $260 billion in revenue.
- General Motors — GM is an American car maker that produces more than six million cars annually, generating more than $120 billion.
- Ford — Ford is slightly behind GM, with five million cars made each year and $155 in revenue.
- Honda — Best known for making motorcycles and power equipment, Honda makes more than 4.5 million cars each year, generating over $150 billion in revenue.
The Best Car Companies in America Wrap-Up
Toyota is the most popular car brand in America, since they’re making relatively accessible but dependable and reliable cars. All of the aforementioned Japanese brands offer some of the most affordable and fuel-efficient cars on the American market.
General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler offer some of the best mid-range (price-wise) vehicles, while Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Volkswagen primarily focus on manufacturing luxury cars. If you’re interested in buying a new car, learn how to get a loan without verification of income.