Korean Car Brands – List and Logos of South Korean Cars Companies

When it comes to growth, Korean automakers have taken the global market by storm, especially the South Korean automobile industry. South Korea has much higher vehicle production than North Korea. North Korean automobile production is focused on the Korean People’s Army, construction, and industrial goals with only little car ownership by private citizens. On the contrary, South Korean automobile production is focused more on personal passenger cars and commercial vehicles. Over the past few decades, the South Korean automotive industry has dramatically expanded. In 2017, it was the sixth-largest in the world by production and the fifth-largest by automobile export volume. It plays a major role in the nation’s total GDP by contributing over 10% every year.

The Korean car industry began in 1955 by merely assembling parts imported from foreign countries. According to an “Automobile Industry Promotion Policy”, foreign automakers were barred from operating in Korea, except in joint ventures with local business entities. The first Korean automobile was developed in 1973 known as Hyundai Pony. Towards the end of 20th century, Korean car manufacturers began production of large cars and broaden their product ranges to meet every customer’s needs. Despite the continuous ups and downs over the last few years, the country still holds its place as one of the leading car manufacturers by giving US$74.7 billion business only through the export.

The Korean automobile market is driven by five major car brands namely, Hyundai Motor Group, Kia Motors, GM Korea, SsangYong, and Renault Samsung. These brands are known for quality, reliability, and performance. According to data revealed by the International Organization of Motor Vehicles manufacturers, South Korea manufactured 4,114,913 auto vehicles in 2017, including 3,735,399 passenger cars and 379,514 commercial vehicles.

Let’s explore more about these ruling Korean car brands and appreciate the elegance of the Korean cars logo. We start with the best and here is a Korean car brands list.


Founded: 1967
Founder: Chung Ju-Yung
Current Status: Running
Headquarters: Seoul, South Korea
Parent Company: Hyundai Motor Group
Website:  www.hyundai.com

This South Korean multinational automotive company is the leading car brand in the Korean market and 11th among the largest car companies in the world. Hyundai works with Sedans, Hatchbacks, Sports cars, SUVs, Vans, Commercial vehicles, and engines. Additionally, it is known for Korean luxury cars and Korean sportscar. It operates the world’s largest integrated automobile manufacturing facility, which is capable to produce 1.6 million units annually. This Korean car brand sells vehicles in 193 countries and employs about 80K people worldwide. Hyundai owned two subsidiaries, Kia Motors (32.8%) and Genesis Motors (100%).

Founded as Hyundai Engineering and Construction Company in 1947, the company was established as Hyundai Motor Company in 1967. A year later, this Korean automaker introduced their first car, the Cortina, with the Cooperation with Ford Motor Company. The first Korean-made car, the Pony, was launched in 1975 and exports began in the following year. 10 years later Hyundai made their one-millionth cars. In the late 20th century, this Korean car company attempted to establish itself as a world-class brand. It invested heavily in the latest technology, adverting, quality, design, manufacturing, and long-term research of its vehicles. Soon, Hyundai set the benchmark in quality, ranking second in ‘initial quality’ in a 2014 survey by J.D. Power and Associates.

The logo of this Korean car brand is itself a symbol of respect, trust, and the mutual bond between the company and its consumers. The brand logo represents two human figures, one of the customers and the other one of the company, united in a handshake. Hyundai manufactures models with unique designs and great quality. Some great examples of their unique designs are Veloster, Santa Fe, Elantra, and Tucson, which did not take a long time to reach success. This Korean top car brand is ready to give tough competition to foreign carmakers with its lineup models including a luxury sedan, a sports coupe, and two new SUVs planning to be introduced in 2020.

Kia Motors

Founded: 1944
Founder: Not Known
Current Status: Running
Headquarters: Seoul, South Korea
Parent Company: Hyundai Motor Group
Website:  www.kia.com

Kia is the second largest Korean automobile manufacturer and sells products worldwide except in Japan. This luxury car brand specializes in passenger cars, commercial vehicles, hybrid electric vehicle vans, and South Korean SUVs. Kia manufactures around 3 million vehicles every year and has nearly 65k employees working in its 14 manufacturing plants situated in 5 different countries. The Korean top brand, Hyundai, is its sister company and owns 33.88% of Kia Motor Corporation. As sister companies, they own a combined of 70% of the South Korean Auto market.

Founded in 1944, it is the oldest Korean vehicle manufacturer. Kia started the business by producing bicycle parts and introduced the first passenger car in 1974. Until 1981, this Korean car brand built the small Brisa range of cars but then it is forced to give up passenger cars due to enforced industry consolidation. In 1986, Kia rejoined the automobile industry in partnership with Ford. During the Asian financial crisis in 1997, this Korean automaker declared bankruptcy and so signed an agreement with Hyundai in 1998 to diversify by exchanging ownership between both companies. The turning point for this Korean luxury car brand was when the Government gave them the order to create KIA K131, which defined the future of the brand.

Kia provides a great combination of quality and price. Kia also has sponsorships with major sporting events like FIFA, UEFA, NBA, LPGA and the Australian Open tennis championship, which aided the company in gaining the respect and trust of the customers. Kia offers a range of vehicles from passenger cars like Picanto, Picanto LPG, Rio 4-door, Rio 5-door, Cerato/Forte, Cerato/ Forte 5-door, Cerato KOUP, Ceed, Ceed GT, Ceed Sportswagon to commercials vehicles such as K2500, K2700, K3000S, and K4000G.

GM Korea

Founded: 2002
Founder: Not Known
Current Status: Running
Headquarters: Bupyeong, Incheon, South Korea
Parent Company: General Motors Investment Pty Ltd.
Website:  www.gm-korea.co.kr

This subsidiary of General Motors is the third-largest automobile manufacturer in South Korea. GM Korea has the capacity to manufacture 9.2 million finished cars, 1.4 million engines and transmissions at four domestic plants in South Korea. This Korean automobile company offers region and brand-specific vehicle assembly kits for assembly by General Motors affiliates in Australia, Brazil, Colombia, China, Germany, India, Mexico and the United States. Additionally, it produces vehicle kits for Buick, Chevrolet, Holden, and Open that are provided in more than 150 markets on six continents.

The roots of GM Korea go back to Shinjin Motors after Toyota’s withdrawal from the company and General Motors purchased a 50% stake. However, the name was changed to Saehan Motors in 1976. Due to insufficient funds, Korean Development Bank took over management in 1976. In 1982, this Korean car brand was purchased by Daewoo Group, and the name was changed to Daewoo Motor. After the Asian financial crisis, Daewoo acquired SsangYong in 1998 but it ran into trouble and so sold to GM affiliate SAIC in 2001. Most of the former Daewoo products were rebadged as Chevrolets. GM’s luxury division Cadillac is also available in South Korea.

After a few name changes and partnerships, GM Korea is now the third-largest automobile company in South Korea. The first car produced under the current name was the 2002 Daewoo Lacetti, which became a GM world car. This Korean car brand owns 7.2% of the South Korean auto market. GM Korea has produced many models and some popular ones include Chevrolet Captiva, Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Orlando, and Damas/Labo.

SsangYong Motor Company

Founded: 1954
Founder: Not Known
Current Status: Running
Headquarters: Seoul, South Korea
Parent Company: Mahindra & Mahindra Limited
Website:  www.SsangYong.com

SsangYong Motor is a subsidiary of Indian multinational car manufacturing corporation Mahindra & Mahindra. It specializes in SUVs, Pickup Trucks, Vans, Buses and luxury cars. However, it only exports SUVs and luxury cars through some 1,600 sales outlets in over 126 countries. This Korean Car brand is respected all over the world for its advanced styling and outstanding performance.

This Korean auto brand was originally started as two separate companies; Ha Dong-hwan Motor Workshop (established in 1954) and Dongbang Motor Co (established in 1962). In 1963, the two companies merged into Ha Dong-hwan Motor Co. to rebuild jeeps, trucks, and buses to be shipped to the USA. In 1986, the company was acquired by SsangYong Business Group. In 1991, SsangYong started a technological partnership with Daimler-Benz to produce SUVs with Mercedes-Benz technology. In late 2004, SAIC took a 51% stake in SsangYong Motor Company. In 2011, after some financial difficulties, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd. acquired the company to help it reach the zenith of success and it actually worked.

This Korean car brand is accelerating its efforts to produce new designs and technologies that can achieve high driving performance and reflect the company’s true identity. Some of the best models by this Korean automobile manufacturer are Tivoli, Chairman W, Rexton W, and Korando.

Renault Samsung Motors

Founded: 2000
Founder: Not Known
Current Status: Running
Headquarters: Busan, South Korea
Parent Company: Renault
Website:  www.renaultsamsungm.com

This Korean luxury car brand is known for its service quality, innovative technology, high quality, and luxury. This Korean car brand deals with luxury cars, electric models, and crossovers. Renault Samsung was recently voted number one for customer satisfaction in sales and after-sales for the 15th consecutive year. It sold 99,846 vehicles in 2017, which led it to become one of the top five car manufacturers in Korea.

The brand was first established as Samsung Motors in 1994 with technical assistance from Nissan. However, after the Asian financial crisis, Renault acquired it in 2000 and renamed it as Renault Samsung Motors. Today, Renault has an 80.1% stake while the remaining 19.9% is still owned by Samsung. The first car manufactured by the company was the Renault Samsung SM5, which improved the company’s sales and increased confidence in the model within the rest of their customer base. Over time, Renault Samsung became an export-oriented auto manufacturer, exporting under Nissan or Renault brand. In the United States and Canada, vehicles from this Korean car brand are well known as the Nissan Rogue.

The seven models in the Renault Samsung Motors range are distinctive with specific characteristics, designed to satisfy demanding customers looking for cutting-edge technology. QM5, for example, combines the comfort of a sedan with the interior space of an MPV, while SM7 is a flexible, dynamic vehicle delivering excellent drivability in all types of environments. With their sole purpose of ‘Never comprise on quality’, this Korean auto brand has been satisfying their customers successfully. Some of the best models by Renault Samsung include SM5, SM7 QM5, and QM6. Also, it unveiled the new SM3 Z.E. the only three-box sedan in the South Korean market.

There are also some minor Korean car brands which are still competing to be on the top 5 list.

  • CT & T United
    Years: 2002 – Present
    Website: www.ctnt.co.kr/default/
  • Genesis Motors
    Years: 2015 – Present
    Website:  www.genesis.com
  • Zyle Daewoo Bus Corporation
    Years: 2002 – Present
    Website:  www.daewoobus.co.kr

In the future, electric vehicles, hybrid electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, and fuel-cell electric vehicles will be the center focus of the Korean car brands. Those days are not very far when the Korean automotive industry will control the market. Korea will continue to lead the automotive market and soon reach the first spot.