The U.S. has one of the largest car markets in the world. Every year more than 8 million passenger vehicles are produced, and in some years production reaches 13-15 millions.
The total number of American auto brands, including those that ceased to exist, is more than 2000.
There are over 10 manufacturers, but when it comes to major ones, that produce most of the vehicles, we can name only three: General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. Each of them has a diverse product range, including different categories of cars. Actually the very same companies have dominated the market since the end of the 1920s. About a century ago there were hundreds of car manufactures, but not many of them survived the Great Depression and World War II. However, General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler continued to prosper even in difficult historic periods. By the 1950s 75% (8 millions) of all cars produced in the world (10,5 millions) were made in the U.S.
The Big Three, as these companies are often referred to, share a similar business model. Many of their operations are unionized, which results in higher labor costs.
General Motors (GM)
The largest American automaker. From 1931 through 2007, Ford was the world’s leader in car sales, and it still is the top automobile manufacturer in the world by vehicle unit sales.
Produces cars under 13 brands, including Chevrolet, Buick, and Opel. Owns 20% of IMM and 77% of GM Korea. Has several joint-ventures in different parts of the world, from China, Russia, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan to India, Egypt, and South Africa. General Motors Company has production facilities in almost 40 countries.
Ford is the second-largest America car manufacturer, and in the list of the world’s top automakers published in 2010 it occupied the fifth line. In addition to the Ford marque, the company produces cars under the Lincoln brand.
The product line includes sedans, crossovers, SUVs, trucks, and vans. One can also name several hybrid models. In 2013 Ford Focus has been nominated as the best-sold small car. But this is largely due to its sales in Asia (especially in China), whereas in the U.S. this tiny model occupies only the fifth line in the list of the most famous small cars.
The following manufacturers partly or completely belong to Ford:
- Troller (Brazil, produces SUVs)
- FPV (Australia, produces performance cars)
- Mazda (2.1%)
- Aston Martin (8%)
- Jiangling (China, 49%).
What is more, Ford has several joint-ventures all over the world, including China, Thailand, Turkey, and Russia. The company founded by Henry Ford is still controlled by his descendants, though they have minority ownership.
The third-largest automaker in the America In 2014 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles US was the seventh-largest car manufacturer in the world by production. In addition to selling cars under the Chrysler brand, the company also produces vehicles under such well-known marques as Dodge, Jeep and Ram.
The history of this company dates back to 1925, when the Chrysler Corporation was formed out of the Maxwell Motor Company. The acquisition of the Fargo truck producer and the Dodge Brothers Company in 1928 resulted in great expansion. In three decades, having acquired several companies in France, Great Britain and Spain, Chrysler made its way to Europe.
However, due to unstable economic situation in the 1970s this automaker was forced to leave Europe. Actually at the time it was on the verge of bankruptcy. Success returned in the 1980s, and it was to a large extent associated with the work of Chrysler’s famous CEO Lee Iacocca. It was during this period that the Jeep marque was bought. In 1998 the company merged with Daimler-Benz, and almost ten years later it was acquired by Cerberus Capital Management. In spite of the crisis of 2008–2010, Chrysler managed to remain in car making business. In 2014 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was formed by merging with Fiat S.p.A.
Active U.S. Car Brands
Together with Cadillac, Buick, and GMC, the Chevrolet Division of General Motors Company is one of the four core divisions of GM in the North America. The number of models in production exceeds 30, and in addition to them, there are 27 discontinued models. Chevrolet sells over a million cars annually.
Chevy’s history started in 1910. The founders of the company were a race driver from Switzerland Louis Chevrolet and the ex-director of General Motors William Durant. One of the most famous cars is the powerful Camaro ZL1 having a V8 engine (580 horsepower).
Famous for its luxurious cars, Cadillac is the only America brand that won the Dewar award. The production output has been rising tremendously since 2007, and today it is close to 200,000. Cadillac Escalade, which was launched in 2015, will probably boost the sales figures. Although Cadillac has rather strong rivals in Europe, including Mercedes and Audi, the company decided to grow its sales in Asia. Another recent decision – to start producing cars in China.
Another division of the General Motors, Buick is a premium marque, famous for its entry-level luxury vehicles. They fit somewhere in between Chevrolet and Cadillac. In the resent years the General Motors has positioned Buick in the same niche as its German Opel brand.
Affordable trucks and utility vehicles produced under this brand are sold in North America and the Middle East. Some models (the GMC Terrain, for instance) are widely recognized as top compact and crossover SUVs.
For a long time it was Chrysler’s mid-priced marque positioned a bit higher than Plymouth. Today Dodge sells lower-priced models of minivans and sport utility vehicles. In spite of the fact that the product range includes performance cars, Dodge performs much better in the truck department. Dodge Caravan has been among its most popular models, as well as the Charger and Challenger. The number of models still in production is slightly above 10. Most of them are typically American made cars.
A division of FCA US LLC, Jeep produces only sport utility vehicles and off-road vehicles. However, in the past the product range also included pickup trucks.
During the World War II the spartan and functional off-road vehicles became a symbol of American determination. The first civilian cars were launched in 1945, inspiring some other light utility vehicles. Chrysler purchased the Jeep marque along with other assets of American Motors in 1987.
The brand’s recent success is Jeep Grand Cherokee, which is widely recognized among the most affordable midsize SUVs. It is appraised for its great off-road performance.
In spite of its young age, Tesla Motors has gained recognition all over the world for its innovative electric vehicles, as well as electric drivetrain components, and Electric Recharging Stations. Many experts believe Tesla Motors has the potential to reach top positions in the America automotive industry.
Parent Company: American Motors Corporation
Probably the most popular vehicle introduced by AM General has been the Hummer, but in fact the company’s financial success is mostly associated with its commercial vehicles. It is a heavy vehicle manufacturer producing military Humvees, Delivery Vans, Trolleybuses etc.
Taking into consideration that this company has produced a single model, we were in doubt whether to include it in the list of the most popular American car brands. However, this beautiful and stylish car became so well-known due to the ‘Back to the Future’ movie, that we feel we have a right to mention it in the same list as Jeep, Dodge, or GMC.
Apart from this single model, DeLorean produces auto accessories. It also sells pre-owned models of their DMC-12.
Interested in buying a snowmobile? Then Polaris has a lot to offer. This company is known mostly because of its all-terrain vehicles, including snowmobiles, ATVs, and Neighborhood Electric Vehicles.
Amazing, stylish roadsters produced by Panoz LLC are famous for their beautiful design. The company is one of the few America. automakers marketing sports cars. Its product range also includes limited-production luxury models.
The US automaker produced neo-classic automobiles. Retro style vehicles became tremendously popular at the end of the 1970s, but shortly later the company went through bankruptcy. In 1997 the rights were bought by Art Zimmer, and since then Zimmer has been selling pre-owned retro automobiles.
The Zimmer Golden Spirit has been one of the most popular models – over 1,500 cars were sold. Another one was the Golden Spirit incorporating a Mercury Cougar chassis and drivetrain (it was changed to the Ford Mustang wheel-drive in 1979).
Non Active America Car Brands
Austin Cars Company
The Austin company was very successful in its early years, producing roadsters and jeeps. However, it never recovered from a bankruptcy and was later sold off. In spite of this, it made a great contribution to the development of motor vehicles industry in the America.
The car making company founded by Apperson brothers became extremely well-known in the 1910s. Its cars incorporated flat-twin engines, which were innovative back then. The very first model (by the way, it was designed for 6 passengers), cost $6,000.
Baker Motor Vehicles
Electric cars marketed under the Baker brand had an incredible success back in brass era. The first automobile, launched in 1903, was included in the White House auto fleet. In spite of the early success, The Baker Motor Vehicle Company failed to keep up with production and soon was acquired by a more financially stable car manufacturer Rauch and Lang.
Biddle Motor Car Company
The company focused on producing stylish retro automobiles. Biddle Motor Car Company was the first in the America to use such innovative back then elements as step plates, radiators in the shape of the letter “V”, as well as angular cycle fenders. Still the automaker could not operate successful in the mass market, and so it was sold.
Other car brands
Lincoln is a world famous car brand which is a part of american Ford Motors Company. We always associate this brand with well known celebrities, red carpet festivals, politics and royal families. When thinking about Lincoln cars we often take into account luxurious, comfortable and rich design that pops-up in our heads.
It is still a mystery what Lincoln logo is representing, however, when looking at it some can see that it represents an unusually shaped compass directed to every part of the world. The idea of the brand was to send message across the world about their cars and that they are aiming to spread their products worldwide. As a result, they are now selling cars everywhere in the world. At the same time some people believe that logo is representing company’s secondary name which is Lincoln Star. ‘Star’ word were meant to reflect the luxurious and power of the brand itself.
Lincoln’s logo silver colour is used to represent luxurious and elegant style which makes their cars so special and desired.
Ac Propulsion goal is to become a leading developer and creator of high quality and efficiency. They are one of the most popular car brand on the american electric cars market. Their are aiming on the modern technology progress, quality of their products and customers service. Eco-friendly and comfortable driving is what they offer on the market and to their clients.
Ac Propulsion are now partners with Yulon Group and together they are building an electric MPV under Yulon Group’s LUXGEN brand.
American Commuter Car most famous creation is Tango cars which is a Narrow Commuter Vehicle that can accelerate up to 60 miles in 4 seconds. Actor George Clooney took the first ride on this car which became a great marketing for the company.
The Tango is much more thinner than any other cars which makes it indispensable in any traffic or rush-hour. The vehicle is capable of seating two passengers, in parking it takes only one-quarter of a standard place. A dryer outlet will charge most of the battery in about an hour or fully in about 3 hours. Using 110-volt outlet, it will charge fully overnight.
Lyons Motor Cars was founded by Kevin Lyons. Americans believe that Lyons Cars is the only american company that can compete with Bugatti, Ferrari and Lamborghini.
Their new LM2 Streamliner is likely to be powered by a 1,700 hp twin turbocharged 8.2-L V8 engine. According to Lyons Motor Cars, such engine will get the car from 97 km per hour in a 2.2 seconds and will give it a top speed of 467 km per hour.
Such specifications make the LM2 Streamliner the world’s fastest production car. However, at this point the car remain at prototype stage and company needs some more time to make it appear on the market.
Mosler Automotive is an American famous supercar company. Some of the most famous supercars were produced under Mosler brand including well-known MT900S, which was legal to ride on the street and its racing version MT900R.
Mosler are very well-known for their quality , but also for stunning style and elegance. They are becoming very popular and more wanted around sport car fans. Mosler brand reflects confidence and performance in its cars and is dedicated to their work. Mosler cars are still very precious among collectors all over the world.
Shelby American is a USA car producing company which was the first to win the World Manufacturers’ Championship. Some of company’s racing car even won races, which made them so popular among race lovers.
Shelby American brand logo is made using an image of a cobra snake and with the brand’s’ name below it. The idea of the logo came up when the company produced their world-famous GT500 Super Snake, the big block Cobra and Shelby GT350, small block Cobra.
SSC North America
SSC North America is a car brand that was founded by Jerod Shelby. His ideas was to reflect a representation of an American Dream in his cars for people who are passionate about racing and luxurious cars.
SSC North America was aiming to develop their cars on the level of world class cars. After seven years SSC developed their legend car Ultimate Aero. They become world famous when lately Ultimate Aero officially became World’s Fastest Production Car which was announced by Guinness World Records.
Currently, CCS is competing with famous supercar brands, such as Lamborghini, Bugatti and Ferrari.
Vector Motors Corporation
Vector Motors Corporation was originally founded in America It’s famous for its unbelievably expensive and luxurious cars. One of their cars, W8, even appeared on TV in the film Rising Sun.
Vector Motors Corporation logo is simple yet impressive. The main logo figure is made in a shape of the letter V, but turned into 90 degrees and has a blue triangle inside it. The edges are made with a pattern of a car tire, which makes it so unique among other logos.
Art Zimmer Neo-Classic Motor Car Company
Art Zimmer Motor Company was created by Paul Zimmer. His company started as a house manufacture company but after time they grew up into a grand and luxurious car brand with impressive neo-classic car production.
The idea to create such unique cars came up to Mr Zimmer which he purchased neo-classic motor car and decided that he can create a better one. They developed something they have never done before – a new Golden Spirit which started to represent their company on the car market.
Later a company of car collectors created a Zimmer Motor Car Club. There are over 700 Zimmer motor car owners in the world, who are very proud of their collections.
DeSoto was created by Walter Chrysler as a part of Chrysler Corporation. The new company’s logo was a stylized image of Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto.
Chrysler was testing the ideal aerodynamic car which would not use gasoline as much and ride much more quicker. Later De Soto company started to use Airflow technology in their new cars and became a much expensive car class.
The Airflow technology changed De Soto appearance immensely and people were not quite ready for such a move. However, European car lover fell for the new design immediately and such famous companies as Volvo, Renault and Peugeot began to copy their look.
Eagle company was created a part of the Chrysler Corporation. The brand was lasting only for ten years and became very popular among Americans. Every part of the car was though trough however, the main complaints were about its engine’s reliability was questioned.
As there wasn’t any american premium class cars at that point Chrysler decided to create Eagle brand. As a result, Eagle start to compete with Chrysler and Dodge cars instead of the imports.
Plymouth was created as a part of Chrysler Corporation by Daimler Chrysler and quickly became were popular.
The original logo contained an image of a Mayflower, the plant was joined by a coat of arms around it.
Later Plymouth changes their logo to tall triangle “rocket ship” logo with two colours.
Then they tried a mermaid image as an idea for the new Plymouth logo with the winds of an angel and that became a hit. This logo made their company even more popular on the world car market and they decided to stick with it till the companies closure.
Valiant was created under Chrysler Corporation parent company in Australia. Soon it became one of the most purchased cars in Australia. Some parts of the Valiant were made in America, however most of them were produced by Australian suppliers. Over time car design has changed a lot which made them popular and helped them win Wheels magazine Car of the Year award.
Valiant cars has become very significant in the country’s car market, even when America stopper producing some of the details, Australia started to develop them by itself.
Lincoln Company has created Continental Division as a part of their company. Continental was developed as a luu-size version of Lincoln however, later they changed the car into a medium size sedan, as Lincoln started to produce more fuel-efficient cars. Trying to compete with imported cars, the Continental took the base of the Ford Taurus, which it has used for a long time.
Despite all the success Lincoln stopped the production of Continental cars as Lincoln Ls and Lincoln MKS took its place. Currently public is waiting for a new Continental car to release on the market.
The Edsel was created as a division on the Ford Motor Company. As it started to produce cars Ford were hoping Edsel become very popular on the American car market. However, Edsel appeared to be one of the Ford’s failures and they spend a lot of money on its marketing company never getting the revenue. Edsel cars were selling poorly and considered unattractive, overpriced and overhyped.
The company’s name Edsel associates with failure in car industry.
Mercury was created as a part of the Ford Motor Company by Edsel Ford, son of Henry Ford. Mercury car were developed to become an entry-level Luxury cars between Ford regular models and Lincoln luxury cars.
The appearance of the Mercury was a Roman god face with the winged hat . Later the logo has changed into a simple letter ‘M’ with the horizontal bars and was described as “The Big M”
When a famous Cougal model appeared on the market their logo changes into cat’s face. On some of the more luxurious cars Mercury used a shield or cross logo, which were shared with some of the Ford’s models.
Current logo appeared on the market not more than 30 years age with the associations as “waterfall or “hockey stick” in silver, which is the colour of the Mercury element.
Merkur was created by Ford Motor Company and company lasted only for 5 years, after that it was sold. The main idea of the Merkur was to develop a luxury brand that would be selling on the European market.
The main American luxury car brands started to change their design into more European style and create a more appealing car for European consumers.
However, there were of plenty car of such kind and European market couldn’t hold in another one, so the company only lasted for five years.
Hummеr was a company producing trucks and was created by AM General. After that Hummer began to sell civilian version of the M998 Humvee. Later General Motors purchased the brand and started to produce even more Hummer cars such as Hummer H1, Hummer H2 and Hummer H3.
Hummer logo is quite simple yet elegant. It reflects the power and luxuriousness of the brand. It is represented by the letter ‘H’ usually in white colour and black background. Hummer offered to sell it’s logo for different companies and now we can see it on bicycles, shoes, hats, skateboards, etc.
Oldsmobile is an american car brand that was developed by General Motors. It was founded by Ransom E. Olds and through its history the company has produced over 35 million cars. It used to be one of oldest car producing companies in the world after Peugeot, Daimler and Tatra. Although it was closed, it still remains popular division brand of the General Motors Corporation.
Saturn was created as a division company of the General Motors but remained very successful. It was advertised as an unusual kind of cars and was operating independently from its parent company. Saturn has developed its own plant with unique models and separate retailer network.
Unfortunately when Penske Automotive declined to purchase Saturn General motors decided to close it and stop the production of the cars.