37 Types Of Car Brands You Should Know

types of car brands

Segmentation of vehicles into types has been the basis for marketers to position the brands in the minds of consumers. Brands have coined categories such as Economy, Performance, Luxury, Sport Utility Vehicle, Pickup Trucks, Hybrid, Electric Vehicle, and many more to capture consumers’ attention.

For consumers to make sense of the plethora of brands, sub-brands, models, and model derivatives of the 70 million vehicles sold each year, marketers globally and industry analysts have coined certain brand categories to describe the most dominant feature of vehicles. Let’s look at some of these categories and which brands are most associated with each type.

The Types Of Car Brands And Their Origins

In the early days of the motor industry, the segmentation description was an expression of the vehicle’s configuration, such as two-door, four-door, and pickup truck. As the product offering grew, the differentiation was made in the engine and transmission description, such as a two-door 4L V8 automatic or four-door 2L 4-cylinder manual.

The styling of vehicles became the next aspect of the segmentation description, and size labels like mini, coupe, saloon, and station wagon became more widely used. The energy crises in the 1970s saw the emergence of the economy car as manufacturers scaled down their heavy and bulky designs to be more fuel-efficient.

The 1990s saw the birth of the Sport Utility Vehicle, Minivan, and crossover vehicles. As environmental awareness, congested city traffic, and fuel cost have grown, the automotive landscape changed to offer consumers the mobility solutions we have in the market today.

The global population in 2100 will develop to five billion people in Asia, four billion people in Africa, one billion people in Europe, and one billion people in the Americas based on current population growth and migration patterns. China, Korea, and Japan are already dominant players in the automotive market, and with the largest market to serve, the Asian brands will dominate the future of mobility.

The future of mobility is undoubtedly electrically powered self-driven (autonomous) vehicles that will be available on demand. The most important future-focused segment would thus be the Electrical Vehicle Segment. In 2021, EVs are forecast to comprise 7% or 5 million cars of the forecasted global sales of 71 million units.

EVs are by design more electrical than mechanical and eliminate the need for the internal combustion engine, gearbox, drive shafts found on conventional cars. The Tesla brand has been the poster brand for the EV and in 2020 sold 500,000 units for a total of 16% of the BEV (Battery-electric only vehicle) segment of 3.1 million units.

You should know that other EV brand players are SAIC, China’s largest automaker and ranked 60th on the Fortune 500. SAIC sold 243,201 BEVs in 2020. The Volkswagen Group has its EV production capacity based in China and sold 272,210 BEVs in 2020. The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance achieved sales of 226,975 units, and the BMW Group achieved 195,979 units sold in 2020.

Dominant Brands In The US Market Segmentation Model 

Vehicle manufacturers have developed their model range to cover some or all of the market segments. Global brands such as Toyota, Volkswagen, and Hyundai offer models in most segments in their endeavor to be the biggest volume manufacturers. Niche brands such as Mercedes Benz, BMW, and Lexus will only target certain segments based on their targeted sales turnover and profitability.

The US market comprises twelve segments into which cars and trucks can be categorized. Let’s look at each of these segments and how they correlate to the European segmentation and the dominant brands in each. Brands are then associated mostly with the type of segments in which they are dominant.

In the US market, the EPA Categorization Model is used. The segmentation categories are as follows:

  1. Mini-compact
  2. Sub-compacts
  3. Compacts
  4. Mid-size
  5. Large
  6. Two-seaters
  7. Minivan
  8. Small SUV
  9. Standard SUV

The pickup truck segments that are also most prominent in the US market are the following:

  1. Small Pick Up Trucks
  2. Full Size Pick Up Trucks

Based on historical sales volumes, certain brands have become synonymous with segments or sub-segments

Which Brands Have Become The Most Famous In Each Segment

Since the earliest days of the automotive industry, vehicles were categorized by their most outstanding feature that would appeal to customers at the time. The types of vehicles were categorized by:

  1. Body Style
  2. Fuel Type 
  3. Gearbox and Drive Type
  4. Performance & Styling
  5. Income and Status

Within these five types of vehicles, there are 37 subtypes, each with a brand associated with them. The brand may be synonymous with the vehicle type because it was the first, made famous by the media or highest global sales volume.

Types of Brands by Body Type

Convertible/Cabriolet Porsche Boxter
Coupe Mercedes Benz S-Class
Hatchback Volkswagen Golf
Pickup / UTE Ford F-150
Sedan Toyota Camry
Station Wagon/Estate Mercedes Benz E-Class
Van Ford Transit
Crossover Toyota RAV4
Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) Wuling Hongguang
Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) Toyota RAV4

Types of Brands by Fuel Type

Petrol / Gasoline Mercedes Benz
Diesel Mercedes Benz
Electric Car Tesla
Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) Tesla
Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) Toyota Prius
Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) Tesla Model 3
Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) Toyota
Hydrogen Internal Combustion Hyundai

Types of Brands by Gearbox Type & Drive Type

Manual Gearbox (Stick Shift) Porche 911 GT3
Automatic Gearbox Oldsmobile
Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT) Toyota RAV4
Four by Four (4×4) Toyota Landcruiser
Four Wheel Drive (4WD) Toyota Landcruiser
All Wheel Drive (AWD) Subaru Impressa

Types of Performance & Styling Brands

Hot Hatch Volkswagen Golf GTI (Mk1) 
Hot Rod 1939 Ford truck – The Uncatchable
Low Rider Chevrolet Impala – Gypsy Rose
Pony Car Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
Rat Rod 1936 Ford Pickup
Sports Sedan Jaguar MK II
Dragster 1969 Chevy Camaro
Sportscars Dodge Viper
Jeep Jeep Wrangler

Types of Income and Status Brands

Luxury Car Mercedes Benz
Limousine Rolls Royce
Grand Tourer Mercedes Benz 300SL
Economy Volkswagen Beetle

The brand and model associated with each type of vehicle were selected based on automotive media websites, and you may have your associated brand for each type. Brand awareness exists in the minds of consumers and will differ based on country of residence and personal experience.

The table above lists the brands and models associated with the past and present of automotive history. The future will look very different, and the number of brands originating from China, South Korea, and Japan is growing daily as the future of the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) draws to a close and the Electric Vehicle (EV) dawns.

What Are Future Car Brands To Know

The vehicle manufacturers of Internal Combustion Vehicle (ICE) cars are all grappling with the speed at which the demand for Electric Vehicles (EV) is growing. Stalwarts like Mercedes Benz, BMW, General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Hyundai, and Volkswagen all have plans to transition from ICE to EV.

The limiting factor in the growth of EV sales is the constrained manufacturing capacity of EV battery cells and government policies to encourage EV adoption faster. The rollout of charging networks similar to the network of fuel stations is another key aspect.

Sales for Tesla, BYD, Volkswagen,  SGMV, Daimler, and BMW are setting new records every month as consumers worldwide have started to witness severe events caused by climate change. Small volume markets like Africa, Australia, and South America will be the last market for ICE cars.

As the volumes on ICE sales diminish, the investment in product development will reduce. The last generations of ICE may be around in low volumes to serve the future market as oil companies become household brands in the past hundred years, so the EV battery manufacturers will become world-renowned.

Tesla is the leader in EV and has become a major product developer and manufacturer of EV batteries and electric motors since the company started operating in 2005. During the past ten years, Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL) has become the biggest global battery manufacturer.

Rank Company 2021 Market Share Country
1 CATL 32.50% China 
2 LG Energy Solution 21.50% S Korea
3 Panasonic 14.70% Japan 
4 BYD 6.90% China
5 Samsung SDI 5.40% S Korea
6 SK Innovation 5.10% S Korea
7 CALB 2.70% China
8 AESC 2.00% Japan
9 Guoxuan 2.00% China
10 PEVE 1.30% Japan
11 Rest of World 6.10% ROW


Only 6% of the 2021 global market share originates outside China, South Korea, and Japan. It is most likely that the remaining six percent is from Tesla factories in the US and Germany. LG, Panasonic, and Samsung are well-established global brands already dominating the supply of electronics and traditional batteries.

Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Limited (CATL) is a Chinese giant already supplying batteries to Tesla, Peugeot, Hyundai, Honda, BMW, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo. They hold the futures of these brands in their control. Only Tesla has its battery manufacturing.

Build Your Dreams (BYD) Auto is the second biggest Chinese EV battery manufacturer to supply their own EV models and for sale to the highest bidders. With twenty-two companies manufacturing EVs in China already, the future of the historical brands is looking bleak.

  1. Tesla
  2. BYD
  3. SAIC Motor
  4. SAIC Volkswagen
  5. SAIC-GM-Wuling
  6. NIO
  7. Xpeng
  8. Li Auto
  9. WM Motor
  10. Geely
  11. Byton
  12. Enovate
  13. Zhuji
  14. Xiaomi
  15. Dongfeng Motor
  16. Chang’an Automobile
  17. Guangzhou Automobile
  18. Chery Automobile
  19. FAW Group
  20. FAW-Volkswagen Automobile
  21. Evergrande
  22. BAIC Motor

Add Japanese and South Korean brands like Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai to this list, and the European and US brands are in deep trouble. From the list of twenty-two Chinese EV manufacturers, many already own European brands like Volvo, Jaguar, and MG.

What Does Mobility In The Future Look Like? 

People don’t need cars, but they need mobility. The paradigm of owning a car will change for all but the ultra-wealthy. Most people don’t own their airplanes as it makes more sense to buy a ticket for the trips you need. You don’t have to worry about the expensive maintenance, specialized fuel, and trained pilots.

In the future, the most population will be concentrated around modern cities with well-developed rail and mass transit solutions. Individual mobility would be provided by autonomously driven taxis that can be ordered and paid for using your cell phone. In 2050, only one percent (90 million) will own, rent, or lease cars of the nine billion people on earth.

New global vehicle sales in 2020 were 70 million units, and thus the 90 million in 2050 seems to be quite plausible. Internal Combustion Engines may still be in use in very limited applications where access to recharging is limited. Still, the majority of the vehicles will be EV or a low emission equivalent.

You don t have to wait for the future to overwhelm you. We already have good alternatives to owning a car. City dwellers in New York and London have been using taxis for decades already. Make the mind shift and determine how best you can meet your mobility needs without buying a car.


Since Karl Benz patented the Benz Motorwagen in 1886 and Henry Ford made it possible for the mass market to own a Ford Model T in 1908. The automotive history of brands and models and the freedom and lifestyle they enabled has been illustrious. 

As the coach makers died out in the 19th century and collecting the horse droppings was made obsolete, the internal combustion engine car makers of the twentieth century will eventually undergo a mass extinction. Many auto industry giants have been on the verge of dying out since the 1970s.

The efficiency and productivity of the Asian auto industry were initially responsible for the crises followed by oil crises and global economic crises. 

Thirty years from now, we will only read about some of the brands that are household names today. We will see examples of these old-timers in auto museums to remind us of car brands that did not adapt to the changing preferences of consumers.

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