Says One Thing, but It’s Really Something Else

With the global economy being what it is, every car on the road is made up of bits and pieces that come from all sorts of companies all over the world. Many cars are exactly the same under the skin because they are made in the same factory by the same company. Sometimes these cars carry nameplates that that are part of the same corporate family. Sometimes one vehicle platform may carry nameplates from two or three different corporations. Through some joint operating agreement all companies sell slightly different versions of the same vehicle.

The biggest reason for doing this is to save money. R&D of any new product is very expensive and time consuming. Many times they will use this “badge engineering” to produce vehicles that appeal to different demographic groups. Sometimes one manufacturer will lack expertise in one area so they outsource the design or development of a particular model to another company that is really strong in that area.
The following is a list of some of the major manufacturers and the makes that fall directly under their corporate umbrella:

General Motors builds Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac and GMC. In the last few years they have gotten rid of Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer, and Oldsmobile.

Ford builds Lincoln, and Mercury was done away with earlier this year.

Chrysler, Dodge, and Ram are currently owned by Fiat of Italy, before that they were owned by Mercedes. Look for Fiats rebadged as Dodges on the US market soon. Fiat also owns Ferrari so if we are really lucky maybe we could get a Dodge with a Ferrari engine in it. Don't hold your breath.

Toyota builds Lexus and Scion

Lexus ES350 (top), and the Toyota Camry (bottom) are the same car
with different headlights, taillights, and trim.

Honda builds Acura

Nissan is owned by Renault and also builds Infiniti

Hyundai owns Kia

BMW builds Mini and Rolls-Royce

Mercedes builds the Smart

Volkswagen builds Bentley and Bugatti

The following list of cars are unique in that each pair are all the same vehicle but sold under completely different nameplates that are not necessarily connected at the corporate level. Some of these are current models and some of them are from the past. Some of these pairs result from big agreements, and some of them were the result of a one time contract. This list is not complete but it’s pretty close.

Car                              What it actually is
Chrysler Crossfire        Mercedes SLK
Honda Passport           Isuzu Rodeo
Chevrolet/Geo Prizm    Toyota Corolla
Pontiac Vibe                Toyota Matrix
Saab 9-3                     Chevrolet Malibu with a turbo
Isuzu Oasis                  Honda Odyssey
Volkswagen Routan     Dodge Caravan
Acura SLX                  Isuzu Trooper
Mazda6                       Ford Fusion
Dodge Sprinter            Mercedes Transporter
Eagle Talon                 Mitsubishi Eclipse
Suzuki Equator            Nissan Frontier
Mazda2                       Ford Fiesta
Isuzu Ascender            Chevrolet Trail Blazer
Mazda Tribute             Ford Escape
Mercury Villager          Nissan Quest
Saab 9-2x                   Subaru Impreza
Chevy/Geo Tracker     Suzuki Sidekick
Geo Storm                   Isuzu Impulse
Geo Metro                  Suzuki Swift
Saab 9-7x                   Chevrolet Trail Blazer
Mitsubishi Raider         Dodge Dakota
Mazda B series            Ford Ranger
Chrysler Crossfire (top), and the Mercedes SLK (bottom) are the same vehicle.

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