How much are you ready to pay for a brand new car? I’m sure it depends on a number of factors and budget is probably the most important one, but what if money is no object? You might think about a car’s features, power, size, comfort or purpose, and especially if it’s petrol-powered, diesel, hybrid or full electric. 

The list might be endless, and we all know that each choice comes with a price-tag, one larger than the next. But have you ever stopped to consider just how much car manufacturers earn during a year? Let’s find out together in this article that looks at the world’s biggest car manufacturers by revenue last year. 

The world has been though a lot with this pandemic but cars continued to sell very well, even if they sold at a slower pace. 

Profits vs. Revenue

2021 Volkswagen Lineup

2021 Volkswagen Lineup

Successful car companies have huge profits to brag about, sometimes billions of dollars a year. To make a profit means that after all expenses are worked out and paid for (and trust us.. when it comes to automakers, the list of expenses is potentially endless) from the revenues that come in (the amount of money the company receives after selling its products), there is at least one cent left for the company to consider profit.

Just imagine, for a second, the level of expenses such a huge company has to endure – from the salaries, to suppliers, materials, investments, assembly lines, even the tires your car is rolling out on when it goes out of the factory gates. We don’t even mention sales and marketing efforts. There are obviously a lot of things to consider, that’s why new cars also cost a pretty penny.

The world’s biggest car companies are blessed with the advantage of having multiple subsidiaries, therefore driving in more revenue. What car companies bring in the most revenue? No, it’s not Tesla or any other up and coming electric automaker. We’re talking about the old players, Volkswagen, Toyota, Daimler, Ford, Honda, General Motors, Mitsubishi, SAIC, BMW, Nissan, Hyundai, Renault, Kia.

Let’s not forget the most recent entry – Stellantis – the joint forces of FIAT, Peugeot and Citroen.

These are the world’s biggest car brands by revenue in 2021:

1. Volkswagen – $290.2 billion

2021 Volkswagen Arteon

2021 Volkswagen Arteon

First off, it’s easy to understand why Volkswagen has been #1 in these last couple of years. Last year it made $290.2 billion, which means an astonishing $9,202.88 per second, while also getting a cool $23 billion in profit. Of course, a big part of this massive sum is due to the fact that Volkswagen also owns renowned car brands like Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Porsche, besides its namesake marque.

Did you know that the Germans delivered 11 million vehicles back in 2019? Most of these vehicles were affordable and popular amongst regular folk like you and me – Golf, Passat, Touareg, Arteon and more. According to official numbers, cars sold by this company generate a profit margin of at least 8 percent. But when we look at other brands in VW’s portfolio the profit is probably even bigger.

2. Toyota – $272.3 Billion

2021 Toyota C-HR

2021 Toyota C-HR

With a total revenue of $272.3 Billion last year, or exactly $8,634.58 per second, Toyota comes in the second place of our list, but what you should really take from this is that the Japanese company is way ahead of Ford, although it has just a few significant subsidiaries – feel free to think about Lexus and Daihatsu. They also have a small stake in Subaru and Suzuki, but that’s another story.

The North American and Japanese car market is where Toyota really makes a dent, with 55 percent of the total revenue having come from here in 2019. The North American market brings in a cool 30 percent of the company’s entire revenue but there is something even more interesting than that.

It seems that, overall, Toyota’s revenue sources are influenced by the fact that the Japanese car manufacturer has a balanced global portfolio, meaning their models are popular across the world and not just focused on only one continent.

3. Daimler – $193.3 Billion

2021 mercedes benz s class

2021 Mercedes Benz S-Class

Daimler is easily one of the world’s most successful automotive companies – whatever you want, they will deliver: cars, vans, trucks or buses. That should explain for the $193.3 billion in revenue in this past year.

One of the leading global suppliers of premium and luxury cars and an independent manufacturer of commercial vehicles, as well as a pioneer of automotive engineering, Mercedes-Benz also focuses on developing green technologies.

The company’s aim is to make locally emission-free driving possible, especially considering their announcement that there will no further investments of capital or human resources into the design and development of internal combustion engines.

Daimler sells cars in nearly every country of the world. In 2020, it had a workforce of around 288,500 people and sold 2.8 million vehicles worldwide.

4. Ford – $156 Billion

2021 ford mustang mach-e

2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E

The legacy of Henry Ford is as powerful and popular as it always has been, but the renowned American car company only comes in fourth on this list. With a 12-month revenue of $156 Billion, or exactly $4,946.73 per second, America’s biggest earner seems to have been left behind.

Between 2018 and 2019, Ford experienced a sharp decline in sales, by about 500,000 units,  which did not help with the revenues. It’s been a tough time for everyone, but the fact that Ford relies heavily on the US market is not what we would call a smart strategy.

Ford managed to sell 2.4 million units in 2019, and that’s on American soil only. Of course, they sell a lot of cars in Europe as well, and in other parts of the world too, but their lack of expansion or investment in an effort to acquire market share on other continents explains the company’s lagging performance and no place on the podium. The new electric models might make a difference though. 

5. Honda – $137.3 Billion

2020 Honda CR-V Touring

2021 Honda CR-V

Founded back in 1948, Honda opened its first U.S. storefront in Los Angeles, CA, in 1959. Fast forward a couple of decades and the Japanese company now makes $137.3 Billion (at least in this last year) and sold millions of cars all around the world.

The first automaker to meet the Clean Air Act standards in the 1970s, Honda has been exceeding requirements for eco friendliness for almost forty years now. Their low-emissions vehicle technology has inspired the state of California to adopt stringent emissions regulations, and that could only benefit us all.

The goal of the company is to deliver a safer, smarter world to future generations and allow them to experience the joy of mobility through the use of state of the art technologies.

6. General Motors – $137.2 Billion

2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

With $137.2 Billion in revenue, which works out to be an impressive $4, 351.76 per second, General Motors has always been a force in the automotive industry. GM’s subsidiary car brands include Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac, which is one way of saying that this company is definitely popular in North America.

Also worth mentioning, the GMC line of trucks is another major source of revenue and let’s not forget about the iconic Chevrolet Silverado truck – there is no competition in the realm of trucks for this one. These days, the company is keeping in line with current trends, also directing its efforts towards hybrid and electric vehicles.

As such, it is safe to assume that General Motors will remain a powerful player for years to come.

7. Mitsubishi – $135.9 Billion

2021 Mitsubishi Outlander

2021 Mitsubishi Outlander

The Japanese group Mitsubishi comes in on the seventh spot in this list, bragging about $135,9 billion in revenue last year. One of the world’s leading automakers in more than one area or field of expertise, the company has managed to expand its influence across the globe thanks to a unified vision, based on three principles the company has yet to stray away from,

Mitsubishi continues to have an effect on the global market by designing quality cars and products. The history of Mitsubishi dates back to 1870 and it was filled with many innovations, including the world’s first mass-produced EV, the tiny i-MiEV, that was unveiled in 2009. In-between, there were plenty of interesting and popular models people have appreciated, including the Lancer, Eclipse or the Outlander.

8. SAIC Motor – $122 Billion

2021 roewe i5

2021 Roewe i5

SAIC Motor’s business covers the research, production and sales of both passenger and commercial vehicles in Asia. The Chinese company has managed to bring in a little over $122 billion in revenue. How did that happen?

Active in the commercialization of new energy vehicles and connected cars, as well as in the field of Research and Development and industrialization of intelligent technologies – a.k.a. smart driving – SAIC Motor’s subordinate companies include SAIC Volkswagen and SAIC General Motors.

In 2020, SAIC Motor sold 5.6 million vehicles, ensuring it remains first in China for the 15th year in a row.

9. BMW – $116.6 Billion

2021 BMW 4 series

2021 BMW 4 Series

Founded back in 1916 as a manufacturer of aircraft engines, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG produces luxury vehicles and motorcycles. They are passionate about building cars and they always have been. It’s no wonder that their slogan is “Ultimate Driving Machine” and their cars are always fast and exciting. 

Rated at $116.6 Billion in revenue, the German company is also deeply involved in the research and development of automated driving, electro-mobility, on-demand mobility and connectivity. On the very edge of the latest technological trends, the newest BMW models continue to mesmerize drivers around the world.

Automobiles are marketed under the brands BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce, and motorcycles are marketed under the brand BMW Motorrad. We also have to mention BMW’s incredible motorsport legacy, especially in touring cars, Formula 1 and sports cars.

10. Nissan – $90.8 Billion

2021 Nissan Ariya

2021 Nissan Ariya

The Nissan Motor Company, Ltd. is a Japanese multinational automobile manufacturer headquartered in Nishi-ku, Yokohama. The company sells Nissan, Infiniti, and Datsun vehicles, while most people who love super fast cars probably know a thing or two about the company’s in-house performance tuning shop labelled Nismo.

With $90, 8 billion in revenue last year, Nissan has been part of the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance since 1999 (Mitsubishi joined the group in 2016). As of 2013, Renault holds a 43.4% voting stake in Nissan, which might explain why the relationship between these car companies is very strong.

As of April 2018, Nissan was the world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer, with global sales of more than 320,000 all-electric vehicles. Then Elon Musk entered the chat..

11. Hyundai Motor Company – $90.7 Billion

2021 hyundai elantra

2021 Hyundai Elantra

The Hyundai Motor Company is a South Korean multinational automotive manufacturer. Based in Seoul and founded in 1967, this company has been rated at $90, 7 billion in income last year. It currently owns 33.88 percent of KIA Corporation, while also owning Genesis Motor and an electric vehicle sub-brand, Ioniq.

Hyundai’s factory in Ulsan, South Korea is the world’s largest integrated automobile manufacturing facility, which brags about an annual production capacity of 1.6 million units. But Hyundai vehicles are sold all over the world and they’re planning to boost their presence worldwide in the next couple of years. 

In June 2021, Hyundai officially acquired Boston Dynamics – you remember those humanoid robots? As such, the technological progress within the company and going into new fields of activity are imminent.

12. Renault – $62.1 Billion

2021 Renault Alpine A110S

2021 Renault Alpine A110S

With five brands comprised by Renault Group, the namesake Renault marque, Alpine, Renault Sport (Gordini), Dacia and AutoVAZ, the French car company has plenty of things to offer. With a revenue of $62, 1 billion, this international company has been known to reveal some pretty interesting designs.

The unique alliance with Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors has made the press in these last couple of years, while the car manufacturer’s entry in Formula 1 has not been in vain, either. Over 170 000 employees in 39 countries keep this company going strong and thanks to Renault, Dacia, LADA, Alpine and MOBILIZE, this company will easily satisfy any need.

13. Kia – $49.89 Billion

2021 kia sorento

2021 Kia Sorento

The Kia Corporation was founded back in May 1944 and it’s Korea’s oldest manufacturer of motor vehicles. It all started with the manufacture of bicycles and motorcycles, but Kia quickly moved to cars and eventually grown to become the world’s fifth largest vehicle manufacturer.

With a solid revenue of $49.89 billion, Kia produces more than 1.4 million vehicles every single year from its 14 manufacturing and assembly operations in eight countries. Furthermore, research and development efforts are focused around hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles as well as state-of-the-art vehicle recycling.

After archiving solid success in Europe and even in North America, the guys from Kia plan to take over other parts of the world as well.

Honorable mention: Stellantis – $205.6 Billion 

2021 Fiat 500

2021 Fiat 500

Founded in 2021, Stellantis is a multinational automotive manufacturing corporation. Italian-American conglomerate Fiat Chrysler Automobiles joined forces with the French Peugeout SA Group, and this is what resulted, a huge car company that could easily compete with Volkswagen and Toyota in terms of revenues.

Based in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Stellantis instantly became the sixth-largest automaker in the world (when we look at cars produced), simply because it manages to comprise various labels – subsidiaries of the ‘founding fathers’ of this joint effort.

Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Citroën, Dodge, DS, Fiat, Jeep, Lancia, Maserati, Mopar, Opel, Peugeot, Ram and Vauxhall – they are all housed under one big roof.  Just imagine how it would feel to have a big garage housing just one car from each of these brands. How could would be that?

When it comes to revenue, we are talking about $205.6 billion, but that’s only going to change, for the better probably – more is always better.