The motor industry is incredibly competitive and there are a million different brands to choose between. I know there is a bit of a slump at the moment because of the chip crisis and new car availability but this is only temporary. Do you actually know who you are buying from? You may think you are buying a Lamborghini but as it turns out you might actually be buying a Volkswagen. So, who owns who?
That’s what I’m going to try and decode for you a little bit. It is a bit confusing in places so bear with me. In the market of mass-produced vehicles, if one company starts to get bigger- the others have to follow otherwise they won’t be able to keep up. In the dying days of British Leyland, if a car company was bought it usually meant it was very VERY cheap because there was no tread left on the tyres of the business. This happened to Rover, MG, Jaguar, Land Rover, Leyland Trucks and Triumph. These were the lucky ones really, as many just ceased to exist.
That’s history now though. Things have changed in the world of four-wheels and a steering wheel and companies are sticking together to stay alive.
There has been quite a major development with the PSA Group recently, Peugeot/Citroen have taken on a few other brands. Stellantis, as they are now called, haven’t just been taking on a few dying companies though. The list goes as follows: Citroen, Peugeot, Vauxhall. Quite large names in the motor industry you may be thinking- well it doesn’t end there. Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Chrysler, Lancia, Opel, Dodge, DS, RAM, Jeep and Maserati. That is the full list of brands owned by Stellantis- which may sound like a neighbour to the fabled Atlantis, island under the sea- but is now one of the world’s largest vehicle manufacturers.
You may be thinking, ‘Well there aren’t any brands left- that’s it, I just have to buy all my cars from Mr Stellantis and be done with it’. Fear not, there are other conglomerates.
The Volkswagen Group
The Volkswagen Group have been doing this kind of thing for years. They are one of the largest vehicle manufacturers and had a net turnover of $283 Billion in 2020 and sold 11 million vehicles. This isn’t just VW though, they have a couple of other car brands up their sleeve too. Audi, Seat, Skoda, Lamborghini, Bentley, Porsche, Bugatti as well as Man, Scania and Ducati. These are all fairly established brands though and there has been one Chinese company that has tried their hand at this too.
Geely (Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. Ltd). Geely is a privately owned company that entered into the automotive world in 1997. Geely is a phonetic pronunciation of a Chinese word meaning “auspicious”. Judging by Geely’s revenue last year of around $14.5 billion- the translation is accurate. Geely own: Lotus, Lynk&Co, Proton, Polestar, London EV Company and Volvo. You’ll know the London EV Company for the new electric London taxis… That’s the London Electric Vehicle Company…Based in Coventry. I don’t understand that either.
We’re only just getting started with this so I’ll try to keep it as brief as possible.
The French-Japanese alliance
There is something called the Renault- Nissan- Mitsubishi Alliance. Name-wise I think Stellantis is a bit more fun. They also own Dacia, Lada, Infiniti, Datsun, Alpine and Venucia. It’s called a French-Japanese strategic alliance. The gist of it is, Renault has a voting-stake of 43.4% in Nissan, Nissan have a controlling interest in Mitsubishi and Nissan have a 15% non-voting stake in Renault. Renault basically have the power overall. To confuse this a bit further, the French Government is the single largest shareholder in Renault. That means that theoretically, the French Government have a lot of control over Nissan and Mitsubishi too. Anyway, they make loads of cars.
One of the largest car companies in the world is the Toyota Group. The Toyota Group is technically only Toyota, Lexus and Daihatsu but they still had a revenue of $275 billion and sold 10.7 million cars last year. This could be down to Toyota having some of the bestselling vehicles on the planet- they have sold 49 million Toyota Corollas since the launch in 1966 which makes it the bestselling car of all time. The Toyota Camry has also been the bestselling car in the US since 2002- whether it’s habit or merit, Toyota are doing something right. They also have shares in Subaru, Mazda and Suzuki.
The most British car group in Germany
Both the BMW Group and Daimler AG (Mercedes-Benz) place quite highly too but, like Toyota, neither own quite as many brands. BMW own Mini and Rolls Royce which makes it the most British of all the German car brands. Whereas Daimler AG own Smart and Maybach- which is quite the cross-section, covering small and affordable to enormous and the cost of a house.
Ford Vs GM
The long-standing American rivalry between Ford and General Motors is still ongoing. Ford own Lincoln and Troller- the Brazilian off-road car manufacturer. GM has now been paired back to the American brands- Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac- after selling Vauxhall, Chrysler and Fiat to Peugeot/Citroen to form part of Stellantis.
Hyundai Motor Group
Hyundai and Kia are relatively new brands in the automotive world, but they have made quite an impression. Hyundai don’t technically own Kia. They are sister companies and share a lot of technology between the brands, but Hyundai Motor Group is technically the parent company of Kia and Hyundai- I’m glad I’m not drawing the family tree. Still, they had a revenue of around $140 billion over the last year. So, whatever works for them I suppose. Genesis is the luxury arm of Hyundai but probably isn’t worth mentioning due to the dwindling popularity of the brand in comparison to that of Kia and Hyundai.
Tata, Jaguar-Land Rover
We all remember when Jaguar-Land Rover was purchased by Tata, the Indian steel company which had started making small budget vehicles- like the Tata Nano which had an original sale price in 2008 of £1,900. It also featured wheels smaller than most pushchairs. However, this was not the loss it was presented to be as two great British brands… As it was sold to Tata by Ford because they owned it. They bought Jaguar in 1989 and Land Rover in 2000. So that one conglomeration consolidation after another.
What does it all mean though?
There are benefits to all these brands of course, the move towards EVs can happen much more quickly if there is large financial backing. The dates have been set and the entire move towards EVs is within a decade in the UK and many other countries will be soon to follow (such as France in 2040). That’s great. It really is- from a financial and environmental perspective.
However, the complaint that all car manufacturers have received in recent times is that all cars look the same- not like it used to be when they were all different shapes and had styling elements which had no aerodynamic value whatsoever. The problem with this is, we all stopped buying all of those cars and most often- the cars of today are based around the wants of the consumer.
Basically, we complain but we buy these homogenous blocks in their millions each year. If you want something different, you have to have quite deep pockets as the most prominent standalone car brands are Aston Martin, McLaren and Ferrari. Now you may see why these brands do so well.