Home Automotive AdviceMotoring History Make Of A Car – What Does It Mean?

Make Of A Car – What Does It Mean?

by Jordan Harris
Make Of A Car

The make of a car is a part of any ad, article, or post that describes a car. Most of us know what it means but do you know how it can affect your experience with the car? The make of a car can impact every aspect of your vehicle ownership, right from the buying experience to the day you sell it away.

So, let us dive deep into the make of a car, and how it is surprisingly important in the life of your automobile.

What Is The Make Of A Car?

As most of you already know, the make of a car is the company that manufactures the car for you. But this can be an ambiguous explanation. The construction of some cars is outsourced to third-party companies, and a plethora of supplier-made parts exist on most cars. Meanwhile, some brands are mere branches of other bigger conglomerates, making it all the more confusing to understand the make of a car.

But, basically, you can spot the make of a car by looking at the badge on it. In our market, a huge number of manufacturers compete with a surfeit of products. They cater to different sections of the market, and these vehicles are available in a bunch of body styles as well.

The make of a car is majorly divided on the basis of where they are from. Some examples include:

American Brands: Ford, Chevy, Cadillac, Chrysler, etc

European Brands: VW, Audi, Mercedes Benz, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, etc

Asian Brands: Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Acura and others from Japan, Hyundai and Kia from South Korea, etc

These are further divided based on their home country.  Despite this, many smaller brands are owned by larger corporations from different countries. Lamborghini, an Italian manufacturer, and Bugatti, originally French, are both now under German ownership. They use primarily German engineered parts shared with other members of the huge VW family. We will talk about these large families in detail in the later sections

In this case, let us take each of these scenarios and try to understand them further. This can explain the role of the make of a car better.

The Company That Manufactures/Assembles The Car

The make of a car in this case is the company that makes the car. Quite straightforward. You pay for a car at a car showroom, you get your car with the logo of the company. But the entire car is not built by them. Most manufacturers rely heavily on external vendors for many of their components. Hence, even if you spot a logo on your car’s hood, that company may not have built your entire machine.

For instance, a Ford Edge bought in the US may have components from different companies. The airbags may be supplied by Autoliv from Sweden and the sunroof may be built by Webasto Roof & Components from Germany. If you are curious about the part suppliers of Ford, this list may help.

But Is This Reliable?

Most car companies around the world employ third-party vendors to manufacture components for them. This has remained a successful business model for vehicle manufacturing over decades. The quality of these parts is closely monitored by the vehicle manufacturer, ensuring that the components meet the safety standards set by the parent company. So, if  Toyota means quality, all component suppliers for Toyota should aspire to keep up that quality level.

But this can go wildly wrong too. If you even remotely follow vehicle recalls, you may have heard of the name Takata Corp. The frontal airbags made by this company from 2002 through 2015 were used by 19 different car companies.

But the inflators in these airbags were found to deteriorate with time and deploy unexpectedly, causing injuries. More than 400 injuries and 19 deaths were reported in the US alone, caused by this faulty inflator. This kickstarted one of the largest recalls in the automotive history of the world, with more than 42 million vehicles recalled in the US, followed by millions more around the world.

So, the make of the car does mean that your car was assembled by a certain company. But, that firm may not have manufactured your entire vehicle from the scratch. The company may have done the research and development, but not most of the manufacturing.

The Brand That Owns A Company

This is a very common scenario, especially in the premium segment. Let us start this discussion on the make of a car with an example. The Lexus GX is a premium offering from Lexus. But it is clear as daylight that it is not a completely new offering. The GX is a version of the Land Cruiser Prado sold in the international market albeit with more leather and wood. So, if you own a Lexus GX, you technically own a Prado.

But this is not a bad thing. Lexus is owned by Toyota and it is no wonder that they share vehicle platforms, technology, engines, and sometimes, even the whole vehicle. The Lexus GX and Toyota Land Cruiser Prado may not share the same logo, but they share a lot of components underneath it.

In this case, make of a car means Lexus but technically you are getting a plusher Toyota. To be honest, we will not complain. Being built by Toyota, Lexuses are easily some of the most reliable luxury cars out there. You get the same level of comfort but without the niggles that usually plague luxury cars.

Giving credit where it’s due, Lexus’ range is not all leather-infused Toyotas. Many of their successful models like the LS sedan, LFA supercar, etc are bespoke Lexus. But no matter which model it is, the make of a car will still remain a Lexus.

Platform-Shared Models

This is where things get a little blurry. Cars from different manufacturers are found to share a platform, especially when these brands come from the same group. The make of a car may be one among them, but most of the car may be developed by another company.

A fitting example of this scenario lies at the premium end of things. VW Touareg, Porsche Cayenne, Audi RSQ8, Bentley Bentayga, and Lamborghini Urus hold themselves up as how these vehicles can be vastly different from one another in spite of them riding on the same platform. All of these vehicles come from within the VW Group but they cannot be any more different from one another.

The Lamborghini Urus is a sportscar on stilts with impressive dynamics. Audi RSQ8 adds a bit more muscle to it while the Porsche Cayenne smoothens the lunacy out of the Urus, without losing its sportiness. The Bentayga is a Luxo barge with leather and wood falling over the brim. On the other side, the Touareg lies on the creamy layer of economy SUVs. In this case, the make of a car determines what they feel like, irrespective of the platform they are built on.

Rebadged Models

If platform sharing gives you a car with bits of some other car under the skin, this is the extreme end of the same scale. In this case, the make of a car is a facade. You may get a badge, denoting the make of a car, yet a different manufacturer may have built everything apart from that badge.

For instance, the popular crossover from Toyota, the RAV4 is rebadged and sold as the Suzuki A-Cross in many other markets. A Chinese SUV, the SAIC Baojun 530 is rebadged and sold as the Chevy Captiva in the Middle East and MG Hector in India. Even if the make of your car leads you into thinking that you have a car from a certain manufacturer, you may be wrong.

How Does The Make Of A Car Affect You?

The make of a car is an important aspect that can affect almost everything about your car ownership experience. Right from the price you buy it to the price you sell it, everything depends on the make of a car. It can also affect your daily life with your beloved machine. Let us dig a little deeper to see how they make of a car affects car ownership.

Buying Price

It is a known fact that the price of a car is affected by the make of a car. You will have you pay twice or thrice the price of a Toyota Camry for a similarly sized Mercedes Benz. Yes, there is a lot more in a Mercedes that can hike up the cost but the make of a car also contributes heavily to it.

With a surfeit of cars available for sale in the US, the make of a car is very significant while choosing your best buy. Though there will be a huge difference between the least and most priced offerings within a manufacturer portfolio, it will still lie within a range. It is due to this trend, many manufacturers release their premium offerings with a different badge. Toyota has Lexus, Honda has Acura, GM has Cadillac, and so on.

Some manufacturers have even done the same to release budget cars that are too inexpensive for the parent brand. Daihatsu was one such example that sold cheaper vehicles for Toyota.

How Much Can This Price Differ?

Still, if you are not convinced about the impact they make of a car has on the price, consider this. The Aston Martin Cygnet. Aston Martin launched this tiny little car back in the UK in 2011. This city car was unlike anything Aston had built but it came with a singular aim – to reduce their fleet-average emissions. Thus, they can comply with the 2012 emission regulations imposed by the European Union.

The Cygnet was a rebadged version of the Toyota iQ, albeit with some Aston Martin touches. But with just these minor revisions, the Cygnet demanded £30,000 ($41,200 at the current rate). This was thrice the price of a Toyota iQ, the parent car. The make of a car has such a major impact on the purchase cost of the vehicle.

Within the make of a car, there may be similarly priced cars, but with different body styles. For instance, a brand-new Chevy Equinox and Chevy Malibu will set you back by around $25,000 on average. But these vehicles have different appeals towards their customers. Similarly prized vehicles of the same body type can co-exist in a portfolio as well.

The Toyota 4Runner and Highlander costs roughly the same and are both SUVs. Though the make of the car is the same and so is the price, the rugged 4Runner sells to off-road enthusiasts while the Highlander is picked up by people who need a vehicle to comfortably drive on the road.

So, the make of a car may not determine exactly what you pay for a vehicle. But it can give you a range of costs that you can expect to shell out.

Make Of A Car Affects Insurance Costs

The insurance cost of a vehicle is calculated by considering a bunch of factors. These include your zip code, credit score, age, driving history. Another very important aspect taken into account is the make of a car, as well as the model.

Understanding the make of a car is important while insuring it. Marques making expensive cars will generally be costlier to insure. A low-cost product from a premium manufacturer can cost higher to insure than a premium product of almost the same cost from a budget manufacturer.

This is due to the fact that budget manufacturers use shared parts from other models in their line-up. This can reduce the price of spare parts needed to repair accidental damage, hence the lower insurance cost.

But this does not ensure a guaranteed reduction in the insurance cost. It depends on a plethora of other factors as well. For example, if you are comparing a Ford Mustang with a Mercedes C-Class of a similar price, the Mustang may end up being costlier to insure. This is thanks to its sporty credentials that make it more prone to accidental damage. Of course, the Mustang running into crowd memes do not help either.

The trim of the vehicle also affects the insurance cost as the higher trims tend to have more safety features. This can reduce the possibility of having an accident, hence lower insurance costs. But added equipment in these cars also hikes up the costs so the difference in the insurance cost sometimes evens out.

On top of all this, the type of vehicle, age, and insurance coverage also determine the cost. But the make of a car also plays an important role in determining how much you pay for insurance.

Make Of A Car Affects The Servicing Of The Vehicle

This is yet another part of your car ownership where the make of a car is important. Regular maintenance experience of a car is dependent on the make of the car.

For starters, some car brands are famous for not breaking down often. Many Japanese manufacturers like Toyota, Honda, etc. are a few of them, although some stand out as exceptions. These vehicles need basic maintenance and can run for hundreds of thousands of miles with no issues.

On the other end, the make of a car can be a bane for its maintenance. Many brands, you know who, is infamous for breaking down quite often. They need more stringent upkeep and maintenance. Some cars may come from brands with a decent reputation but can be a huge pain to maintain. But in general, the make of a car can determine the reliability of the car.

Some makes are found to have more recalls under their name than others. This does not always speak of reliability as even Hondas and Toyotas have recalled their cars many times. But, having regular recalls can be a headache, especially when your car is a daily driver.

Also, the make of a car can also affect the availability of spare parts. Car manufacturers make spare parts in proportion with the number of cars they sell. So if the make of a car is a manufacturer holds a low share of the market, spares will be hard to come by. This can make maintenance a harder affair.

Resale Value Depends On The Make Of A Car

Have you ever sifted through the entries on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace for some cheap cars? If yes, have you found any new Toyotas in the cheap section? Not likely.

The make of a car becomes extremely important when you are trying to sell it off after a few years. Brands that have already built up a reputation for reliability commands better value. In the used markets, people are ready to pay an arm and leg for a used Toyota.

This is because Toyotas are built to last a long time, enduring torture. Toyota’s almost bullet-proof reliability is a running meme. If you still don’t follow, the following excerpt from Top Gear UK’s “Killing a Toyota” episode should help you.

How Much Will A Toyota Fetch?

If you have a 2010 Toyota Camry in excellent condition, you can easily expect close to $10,000 while trading in, as per Kelly Blue Book. But if you have a similarly used Ford Fusion that used to cost almost the same as the Camry, the value drops down to $7500-$8000.

Reliability is the sole reason for these high prices. Most mechanics appreciate the reliable nature of Toyota. Listen to what this Greasemonkey-turned-YouTuber has to say about Toyotas.

Due to the immense popularity for a certain make of a car, the value in the used car market shoots up. On the contrary, some other models, who were infested with issues, like a Chevy Cruze fetches dirt cheap prices. These vehicles can go wrong even if they were properly maintained.

So there is no need to mention how big a headache it will be if you buy a poorly maintained example. As used cars usually come with a haze around the past maintenance situation, the drop in price is a reward for taking the risk.

Well-maintained cars that already have a reputation for being reliable can last you long. In some cases, they can be as trouble-free as a new car. The make of a car surely has an impact on the resale value of your car. It is worth it, anyway. Before acquiring a car, it is a good practice to give its VIN a thorough look.

Large Families In The Car World

A story about the make of a car will be incomplete without touching on the biggest car brand families. These groups hold many brands under their umbrella. This makes figuring out the make of a car even more daunting and perhaps, useless. Despite the make of a car, it may have a gazillion parts from the other members of the same family.

Volkswagen Group

This massive German conglomerate houses a large bunch of brands. They range from makers of motorcycles to tiny economy cars to fire-breathing 1000 hp+ hypercars.

On the economic side, the make of these cars starts from Skoda, SEAT, and VW. Dialing the premium up a notch is Audi while Bentley takes it all the way. On the sporty side, you have Cupra, Porsche, Lamborghini, and ultimately, the mighty Bugatti. For the ones who need speed on two wheels, they make Ducatti as well.

Apart from these, the VW group sells commercial vehicles as well. Under the brands of Scania, MAN, Navistar, and Volkswagen Caminhões e Ônibus.


If you want the largest list of brands under a single umbrella, look no further. The Stellantis N.V corporation is home to 15 different brands from the families of Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA) and Peugeot S.A. It is almost sure that you or someone you know must have the make of their car as any of these companies.

The brands under Stellantis include Jeep, Chrysler, Dodge, Ram, Fiat, Abarth, Lancia, Maserati, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, and Fiat Professional on the FCA side. From PSA, Citroen, Peugeot, Opel, Vauxhall, DS Automobiles join the club.

That certainly is a huge list, yet, Stellantis is only the sixth-largest carmaker in the world.

Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance

Nissan GT-R Nismo 2021

As the name suggests, this strategic alliance consists of the Japanese brands Nissan and Mitsubishi and the French brand, Renault. But there is more to it.

The alliance governs Renault, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Datsun, Infiniti, Dacia, Alpine, Lada, Renault Samsung, and Venucia. The makes of these cars hail from different across the globe including France, Romania, Russia, South Korea, Japan, and China.

General Motors

At one point, GM was one of the biggest makes of cars. But during the great depression of the late 2000s, GM had to choose between closing down or selling some brands. The make of cars that went to the abattoir was Pontiac, Saturn, and Hummer. GM sold their Swedish brand Saab to the Dutch automaker, Spyker.

But now, GM only controls four major names, including Chevrolet, GMC, Buick, and Cadillac. The Hummer name made a comeback, albeit as a new EV.

Other brands like Hyundai-Kia, Toyota, etc are also a part of this massive fraternity that we petrolheads adore.

Car Make, Model, and Trim: Facts You Need to Know

  1. The make of a vehicle refers to the brand, while the model refers to the specific model name.
  2. Car trim refers to a specific configuration of a vehicle model, which can differ in features, materials, and engine size.
  3. Manufacturers offer different trim levels for a model, and they may have different prices.
  4. The make, model, and trim of a vehicle can impact car insurance rates since different configurations are geared toward specific uses.
  5. The cost difference between trims can affect car insurance premiums, especially for comprehensive or collision coverage.
  6. Factors like the age of the vehicle, vehicle usage, location, moving violations, claims history, and age of drivers can also affect car insurance rates.
  7. Vehicles involved in more insurance claims than average tend to have higher insurance rates.
  8. The same car model may have different insurance rates based on its trim level, as each trim may have different safety features and risk factors.
  9. Drivers can find out more about specific models and their trims from manufacturer guides or the vehicle’s website.
  10. Understanding the make, model, and trim of a vehicle is essential when shopping for car insurance or deciding on a new car purchase.

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