Hybrid vehicles are a popular draw for people looking to cut down on their fuel consumption and emissions, but are not ready to make the transition to all-electric cars. As a result, hybrid car sales have been growing annually since the introduction of the popular Toyota Prius in the 1990s.
Today, all the major automotive companies have hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles in their product portfolios to help meet demand fueled by climate sensitivity and government incentives. Read on for an in-depth look into the world’s ten largest hybrid vehicle companies, ranked by their 2021 revenue.
#10: Audi AG – $50 billion
Starting our list of the largest hybrid vehicle companies in the world is Audi AG. It is a German luxury car maker headquartered in Ingolstadt, Germany. It is a wholly-owned subsidiary of German giant automotive manufacturer Volkswagen. On the other hand, luxury car brands Bentley and Lamborghini are under its control, in addition to high-end motorcycle maker Ducati.
The company began in the late 19th century when its founder August Horsch formed his first car company, August Horch & Cie, in 1899. Ten years later, in 1909, he started Audiwerke AG in Zwickau, which evolved into the company’s present name Audi AG.
Some milestones in the company’s history include introducing the four rings logo in 1932. The logo stems from the merging of four automobile companies, namely Audi, DKW, Horch, and Wanderer, to form Auto Union AG.
However, like many German companies in Soviet-occupied Germany after World War II, the company experienced difficulty resuming operations because of an asset takeover by the Soviets, eventually shutting down. The company was reconstituted in Ingolstadt in 1949/1950 as Auto Union Gmbh.
A Shift in Focus
Beginning in the 1970s, Audi shifted its focus to technology-driven vehicles adopting the motto “Vorsprung durch Technik,” which means Advancement through Technology. Some of its innovations included the release of the five-cylinder engine in 1976, turbocharging in 1979, and the production of Quattro four-wheel drive cars in 1980.
Audi released its first hybrid concept car, the Audi Duo, in 1989 and the second hybrid concept car, the Audi 100 Duo II, in 1991. The company’s first hybrid car produced for sale was the Audi A4 Duo III, released in 1997.
After the Duo III, Audi toyed with a few hybrid concept cars culminating in the company’s first mass-produced hybrid car, the Audi Q5 hybrid, released in 2011. Today Audi produces hybrids for their most popular models, including the Q5, A7, and A8. In 2021, plug-in hybrids accounted for 5.3% of the company’s production.
#9: Renault Group – $52.3 billion
Renault Group is a French vehicle manufacturer headquartered in Boulogne-Billancourt, near Paris, France. Renault is a multinational company comprising brands like the flagship Renault, Romanian automaker Dacia, Formula 1 team Alpine, and Mobilize. It also holds an 80% stake in Renault Samsung Motors and a 43% stake in Japanese carmaker Nissan with voting rights.
The company began in 1899 as Renault Freres, named after brothers Louis, Marcel, and Fernand Renault. Louis Renault was an engineer who had built several car prototypes before joining hands with his brothers to form the company. Louis led design and production efforts while his brothers were in charge of marketing and sales.
The company’s first car was the “Voiturette” while its first major brand was the Renault AG, which would later serve a crucial role in transporting soldiers to the frontline during World War I. Renault adopted its diamond logo in 1924 when producing the 40 CV Type NM Sedan.
The company’s most famed car was the Renault 4, released in 1961, which went on to sell 8 million units in 30 years in over 100 countries. Renault group began the development of electric and hybrid vehicles in 2009 and launched their first electric-powered car, the Zoe, in 2012.
Since then, the company has produced several hybrid models, including the Arkana plug-in hybrid, the CAPTUR hybrid, and the Clio hybrid, resulting in Renault becoming one of Europe’s leading hybrid car manufacturers.
#8: Kia Corporation – $61 billion
Kia Corporation is a South Korean automobile manufacturer headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. It is among the largest hybrid vehicle companies in Asia.
The company began as a steel tubing and bicycle parts manufacturer in 1944 before releasing South Korea’s first homemade bicycle in 1961. The company ventured into vehicle manufacturing in the 1960s, releasing the country’s first truck, the K-360, in 1962.
For much of the 1970s, Kia produced cars using parts licensed by other car companies, including Fiat, Mazda, and Peugeot. However, in the 1980s, the company started making its cars, and consequently, the brand entered the American market in 1994.
Kia Corporation began the development of hybrid cars in the mid to late 2000s. It unveiled its first large-scale production hybrid car at the 2010 Los Angeles Motor Show, the Kia Optima Hybrid, and later began selling it in 2011.
Today the company has a wide range of plug-in hybrid options, including the Niro Plug-In Hybrid, its mid-size hatchback. The company also offers hybrid SUVs like the Sportage Hybrid and the Sorento Hybrid.
#7: Nissan Motor Corporation – $69 billion
Nissan Motor Corporation is a Japanese vehicle manufacturing company. It is a member of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, which allows the three companies to share technologies that will improve their products. Through the alliance, Nissan owns a 15% share in Renault and a 34% stake in Mitsubishi Motors.
Nissan traces its beginnings to the early 1900s. It began with the founding of Kwaishinsha by Masujiro Hashimoto in 1911 to facilitate domestic car manufacturing. By 1914, the company had released its first vehicle, the DAT, named after its first three investors, Den, Aoyama, and Takeuchi.
The name Nissan originates from Nihon Sangyo Co. Ltd, a holding company founded by Yoshisuke Aikawa to take control of the company. Over time, Nissan grew to become one of the best-selling Japanese car brands in the world.
Nissan was an early investor in vehicle hybridization and electric cars. Its investments in new technologies enabled the company to take control of a significant share of hybrid car sales.
The company’s first hybrid car, the Leaf, released in 2010, is one of the best-selling hybrid cars in the world. Consequently, Nissan has introduced numerous other hybrid models like the Qashqai e-Power, Note Hybrid, and Juke Hybrid, among others.
#6: Hyundai Motor Company – $98.1 billion
Hyundai Motor Company is a South Korean vehicle manufacturer headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. The company owns about a third of Kia Corporation. It also has a luxury division that produces the brand Genesis and an electric car brand called Ioniq.
Founded in 1967, Hyundai released its first car, the Cortina, in 1968, a collaboration with Ford Motors. The company released South Korea’s first passenger car, the Hyundai Pony, in 1976. The company’s success spilled into the 1980s with the formation of Canadian and U.S. subsidiaries. In 1991, the company made the first South Korean-developed engine, the four-cylinder Alpha engine.
The rest of the 1990s saw the company invest heavily in innovative technologies, including solar-powered and fuel-cell electric vehicles. The company’s first hybrid cars were the Elantra HEV and the Accent HEV, unveiled in 1999 and 2000, respectively.
The company started large-scale production of hybrid cars in 2008 and proceeded to launch the Sonata Hybrid in 2009 and produced newer versions of the car in 2010, 2011, and 2015. The Sonata plug-in hybrid was later named to have one of the ten best engines by Wards in 2015. Today, the company makes hybrids and plug-in hybrids for the Tucson and the Santa Fe, as well as a Hyundai Kona Hybrid.
#5: Honda Motor Company Limited – $123.8 billion
Honda Motor Company Limited is a Japanese automotive company headquartered in Minato, Tokyo, Japan. The company produces vehicles, motorcycles, and internal combustion engines, among other power machinery.
Founded by Soichiro Honda in the 1940s after the end of World War II, Honda began as a company that produced motorized bicycles using surplus generator engines from the war. By 1947, the company had built its bicycle engine, known as the A-Type.
Officially incorporated in 1948, the company diversified into power equipment like farm tiller and motorcycle production in the early 1950s. Honda produced its first car, the T360 truck, in 1963 and followed it with a sports car.
Some of the company’s innovations include introducing the world’s first navigation system in 1981. The company’s first hybrid was the 1999 Honda Insight, followed by the Honda Civic in 2001. Some of the brand’s hybrid cars today include the Honda HR-V (an SUV), the Honda Jazz (a hatchback), and the Honda NSX (a sports car).
#4: BMW AG – $131.61 billion
BMW AG or Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, which translates to Bavarian Engine Works Company, is a German vehicle and motorcycle manufacturer headquartered in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. The company produces luxury sedans, SUVs, sports cars, and electric cars. It also owns the British luxury car maker Rolls Royce and the iconic British brand Mini.
In 1916, BMW began as Rapp Motorenwerke, a company that produced aircraft engines for the German army during World War I. Rapp Motorenwerke adopted the name BMW after the Otto company went bankrupt.
The company underwent several ownership changes in the early 1920s, including Knorr-Bremse AG’s acquisition of a majority position in the company in 1920, followed by the 1922 acquisition of the BMW name by Camillo Castiglioni.
BMW released its first car in 1928 and continued investing in automobiles, motorcycles, and aircraft engines until the end of World War II, when production ceased temporarily. The company resumed car production in 1952 and saw success in the 1960s and 1970s by introducing popular models like the BMW 3 series, 5 series, 6 series, and 7 series.
BMW released its first hybrid car, the ActiveHybrid 7, in 2010. Today, the company produces hybrid vehicles for their most popular models, including the BMW XM, BMW X5, BMW X3, BMW 3 series, and the BMW 5 series. These models’ success in the automobile market has cemented BMW AG’s position as one of the most successful hybrid vehicle companies in Europe and globally.
#3: Ford Motor Company – $136.3 billion
Ford Motor Company is an American automobile manufacturer headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan, USA. The company produces passenger cars and commercial vehicles and owns the Lincoln brand, under which it makes luxury SUVs and sedans.
Henry Ford founded the Ford Motor Company in 1903 and built it to become one of the most iconic American brands of the 20th century. The first car the company sold was the Model A. Still, the company’s early history is associated with the Model T.
Production of the Model T began in 1908 and ceased in 1927 after selling 15 million cars. The company has made numerous contributions to the automotive industry, including the moving assembly line introduced in 1913.
Since 1913, the company has produced millions of cars, trucks, and buses and helped in World War II efforts by producing Jeeps and military aircraft. The company’s first attempt at an electric-powered car was the 1996 Ford Ranger Electric Vehicle. However, its first hybrid car was the 2004 Ford Escape Hybrid which the company produced until 2012.
Other early Ford hybrid cars include the Ford Fusion hybrid, which is still in production. Today you can buy or pre-order the Ford Escape Hybrid, Ford Escape Plug-In Hybrid, and Ford Maverick truck. The company reported a revenue of $136.3 billion in 2021, topping the list of the largest hybrid vehicle companies in North and South America.
#2: Mercedes Benz AG – $151 billion
Mercedes Benz AG is a German luxury car manufacturer headquartered in Stuttgart, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. As the world’s oldest automotive company, Mercedes Benz has had time to grow into one of the largest production companies in the world.
Mercedes Benz traces its beginnings to three significant figures, namely Gottlieb Daimler, Carl Benz, and Wilhelm Maybach. Carl Benz created the world’s first internal combustion engine-powered vehicle and patented it as the “Patent-Motorwagen,” or Patent Motor Car.
On the other hand, Daimler and Maybach produced stagecoaches and trucks as early as 1896 with their company Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft (DMG). The company proceeded to make the first modern vehicle, the 35 hp Mercedes, in 1901, which was the first car with the Mercedes name.
The name Mercedes comes from Emil Jellinek’s daughter, who named it after her while registering the car’s trademark. DMG adopted the three-pointed star logo in 1909, which has been on the car’s radiator since 1910. DMG and Benz & Cie merged in 1926 to form Daimler-Benz AG, which would go on to produce the iconic Mercedes-Benz cars.
The company’s first hybrid car was the 1906 Mercedes Mixte with a 45hp or 70 hp petrol engine with front-wheel electric hub motors. Today, Mercedes-Benz makes plug-in hybrids for all its vehicle classes, including the A-Class, B-Class, C-Class, E-Class, S-Class, and SUVs like the GLC, GLC Coupe, GLA, and GLE.
#1: Toyota Motor Corporation – $256.7 billion
Top on the list of the largest hybrid vehicle companies in the world is Toyota Motor Corporation. It is a Japanese vehicle manufacturer headquartered in Toyota City, Aichi, Japan. Toyota is one of the world’s largest automotive companies by production volume, yearly sales, revenue, and market capitalization and one of the largest manufacturing companies in the world.
Toyota was established in 1937 by Kiichiro Toyoda. However, the company traces its roots to the 1920s, when Kiichiro’s father, Sakichi Toyoda, owned a loom manufacturing company. By the early 1930s, Kiichiro had intentions of becoming an automobile manufacturer, eventually releasing the company’s first car in 1936, the Toyota AA.
After World War II, Toyota took advantage of the reconstruction efforts to learn from other companies and developed the Toyota Production System introduced in 1950. Toyota also used Japan’s economic boom in the mid-20th century to develop a car viable to the growing Japanese middle class, the Toyota Corolla, one of the world’s best-selling cars of all time.
The company also used the profits from the boom to expand internationally and become a global household name. Many consider Toyota a pioneer in hybrid car production because of their early development of the Toyota Prius, released in 1997, which was a functional and fuel-efficient car. Since then, Toyota has become the largest hybrid car producer in the world.
Top Ten Hybrid Car Companies In The World: Summary
|1||Toyota Motor Corporation||$256.7 billion|
|2||Mercedes Benz AG||$151 billion|
|3||Ford Motor Company||$136.3 billion|
|4||BMW AG||$131.61 billion|
|5||Honda Motor Company Limited||$123.8 billion|
|6||Hyundai Motor Company||$98.1 billion|
|7||Nissan Motor Corporation||$69 billion|
|8||Kia Corporation||$61 billion|
|9||Renault Group||$52.3 billion|
|10||Audi AG||$50 billion|
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