Aviva Directory » Business & Industry » Automotive » Automobile Manufacturers

The focal point of this portion of our web guide is on the manufacturers of automobiles and other wheeled vehicles.

Manufacturers whose chief products are automobile components, such as engines and bodies, but excluding tires, batteries, and fuel, would also be appropriate here.

Websites or online resources devoted to automobile manufacturers, current or defunct, may also be listed in this category, although general automotive topics would be listed directly beneath the Automotive category.

Leonardo da Vinci envisioned the idea of a self-propelled vehicle in the 1400s, but nothing was built on the basis of his drawings. In the mid-1700s, inventors in Switzerland and the Netherlands developed carts that were propelled by wind power. Other ideas involved a carriage propelled by a large clockwork engine. An air engine originated with a German physicist, Otto von Guericke, who developed an air pump and was probably the first to make pistons, cylinders, and connecting rods. Other prototypes were created using air pressure developed through the explosion of a powder charge.

Steam engines were proposed in the 16th century, and a model steam carriage was created by Ferdinand Verbiest, a Belgian Jesuit missionary to China, in 1678. His steam carriage used a principle similar to the modern turbine.

Although the issue is not without controversy, many historians agree that Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot built the first true automobile in France in 1769. His vehicle was a large, heavy, steam-powered tricycle. His first model ran for twenty minutes at a speed of 2.25 miles per hour while carrying four people, and was able to move again after twenty minutes. Steam buses were operating in Paris in about 1800, and an amphibious steam dredge ran through the streets of Philadelphia in 1805. Steam-powered vehicles were in use in England, as well.

A competitive automotive industry began in the 1860s with hundreds of manufacturers pioneering the horseless carriage. The Benz Patent-Motorwagen, a German car built by Carl Benz in 1885, was probably the world's first practical modern automobile, and the first to be put into series production.

At various times in the early years of the industry, steam, electricity, and gasoline were used to propel the vehicles. Gasoline won out, and the United States led the world in total automobile production until 2006, when Japan took the lead for a time. Today, the leading auto manufacturing countries are China, the United States, Japan, India, South Korea, Germany, Mexico, Brazil, Spain, and Thailand.

Over the years, several automobiles and automobile manufacturers came and gone.

In China, the major automobile manufacturers are state-owned. They include Changan, Geely Group, and Great Wall Motors. In the United States, the Big Three auto manufacturers are General Motors (Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC), Stellantis (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, RAM), and Ford (Ford, Lincoln). Major elective vehicle (EV) manufacturers include Lucid Motors, Tesla, and Rivian. Additionally, there are several others that are not well known. The three largest manufacturers in Japan are Honda, Isuzu, and Mazda. The top Indian brands are Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai, and Tata Motors. South Korea has Hyundai, Kia, and Daewoo/GM Korea. In Germany, the leading companies are Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, followed closely by Porsche and Volkswagen. In Mexico, General Motors de Mexico, Ford Motor Company, and Volkswagen de Mexico produce the most automobiles, while Brazil has Fiat, Volkswagen, and General Motors. In Spain, SEAT, operating as a subsidiary of Volkswagen, is the sole active mass producer of automobiles. Most of the vehicles produced in Thailand are developed and licensed by foreign manufacturing companies, largely Japanese, American, and Chinese.

Of course, the automotive industry is not restricted to these ten nations. Motor vehicles have been and continue to be manufactured in several countries.

The twenty largest automotive manufacturing companies, ranked by their production volume in 2008, are Toyota, General Motors, Volkswagen, Ford, Hyundai/Kia, Honda, Nissan, Peugeot/Citroen, Suzuki, Fiat, Renault, Daimler, Chrysler, BMW, Mazda, Mitsubishi, AvtoVAZ, Tata, FAW, and Subaru.

In this category, you will find online resources for manufacturers of automobiles and other wheeled vehicles, including motorcycles, trucks, offroad vehicles, and heavy-duty equipment used in agriculture and construction.

Although many forms of aircraft have wheels, they are used to position the vehicle on the runway and to propel them for takeoff, after which transportation takes place through the wings and other components. We have another section entitled Aerospace & Defense, which would be a more appropriate place for aircraft manufacturers.



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