The car was invented in Britain and commercialized in Germany; it is no surprise that Europe holds more automakers than any part of the world outside of Japan, even though many have been purchased by others. Louis Chevrolet's car was produced in the US, which also bought England's Vauxhall, Germany's Opel, and Sweden's Saab. Ford, which made an early run through Europe, renaming local companies "Ford," more recently grabbed Land Rover, Aston Martin, Volvo, and Jaguar. Chrysler grabbed Hillman, Humber, Singer, Sunbeam, Talbot, and Simca, merging them before selling them to Peugeot. (History of Rootes brands.) Still, there are many survivors: Renault, Citroen, Peugeot, BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen, and Fiat, to name a few, along with the esoteric makers like Ferrari.
German, Italian, and British cars remain known for luxury and performance, though reliability has suffered in recent years. Volkswagen and BMW, by focusing on sportiness over cost, made a comeback to become serious players. Within Europe, Fiat, Peugeot, and Renault are still strong. Sweden, unfortunately, no longer owns either of its two car companies - the quirky Saab and the once extra-safe Volvo. That may change as Ford prepares to concentrate on its eponymous brand.
Who owns who?
- Alfa Romeo - part of Fiat
- Aston Martin - owned by Ford
- Audi - part of Volkswagen-Audi Group
- Bentley - owned by Volkswagen-Audi Group
- BMW - independent
- Chrysler - owned by a pension fund and part-owned by Fiat
- Ferrari - part of Fiat
- Isuzu - largely owned by Toyota (once GM)
- Jaguar - owned by Ford but now up for sale
- Lambourghini - once owned by Chrysler, now owned by Audi
- Lancia - owned by Fiat; some cars are restyled, retuned Chryslers
- Lotus - GM has major stake
- Maserati - part of Fiat
- Mercedes - central part of Daimler, AG
- MG - part of a Chinese group
- Mini - purchased from Rover by BMW
- Peugeot - independent
- Porsche - close ties to Volkswagen-Audi Group, acquisition in progress
- Renault - independent; Nissan
- Rover - independent; Land Rover is owned by Ford (and is up for sale)
- Rolls-Royce - owned by BMW
- Seat - part of Volkswagen-Audi Group
- Smart - part of Daimler, AG
- Volkswagen - part of Volkswagen-Audi Group
- Volvo - cars owned by Chinese company, trucks independent.