Top 16 American Car Brands (With Photos)

Talking of American car brands, the list can go on and on, but not all of them are still active, and some have merged with other, more prominent brands.

American cars are looked upon with a high level of respect because they are always built to a solid standard. There are over 25 active automobile manufacturers in the United States.

This article centers on the top active American car brands; this means car brands that originated or are based in the U.S. Already, popular names include RAM, Dodge, Buick, Jeep, Ford, and Chrysler, but there are many others you should know. Also, it is important to note that this list is not provided in any hierarchy.

Best American Car Brands

1. Tesla

  • Founding Date: July 1, 2003
  • Founder(s): See § Founding
  • CEO: Elon Musk
  • Headquarters: Tesla Road, Austin, Texas, United States

Tesla, Inc., simply Tesla, is an American multinational automotive manufacturer and clean energy company located in Austin, Texas.

The company, headed by Elon Musk, designs and manufactures electric vehicles (cars and trucks), solar panels, solar roof tiles, battery energy storage, and other related products. So, Tesla is not only an American E.V. manufacturer.

Currently, Tesla is the world’s most valuable automaker, with a market cap of over $840b. Tesla had the most worldwide sales of battery electric vehicles and plug-in electric vehicles in 2021.

The company was incorporated in July 2003 as Tesla Motors, with the name attributed to Nikola Tesla, an American inventor, and electrical engineer.

Popular Tesla models include the brand’s first-ever vehicle, the Roadster sports car, then comes the Model S sedan and Model X SUV. Other noteworthy models include Model 3 and Model Y. Tesla is also regarded as a “Luxury” car brand.

2. Rivian

  • Founding Date: June 2009
  • Founder(s): R. J. Scaringe
  • CEO: R. J. Scaringe
  • Headquarters: Irvine, California, U.S.

Rivian Automotive, Inc., simply Rivian, is an American E.V. automaker. The company also produces a wide range of automotive technologies.

Founded in 2009 by R. J. Scaringe, Rivian builds battery-electric SUVs and pickup trucks. Also, Rivian has an active partnership with Amazon to build electric delivery vans.

The Rivian brand has manufacturing plants in Normal, Illinois; Palo Alto, California; Plymouth, Michigan; Carson, California; Wittmann, Arizona; and other locations. While Rivian electric vehicles are not as popular as Elon Musk’s Tesla, they are very reliable, sophisticated, and worthy of their price tags.

3. Lucid Motors

Photo by Phillip Pessar via Wikimedia
  • Founding Date: 2007
  • Founder(s): Bernard Tse, Sam Weng, and Sheaupyng Lin
  • CEO: Peter Rawlinson
  • Headquarters: Newark, California, U.S.

Lucid Group, Inc., simply Lucid, was founded in 2007 in Newark, California. The company operates as an American electric vehicle manufacturer. Initially, the company was building E.V. batteries and powertrains for other manufacturers but rebranded in October 2016.

Along with the rebranding news, Lucid Motors officially announced its move into producing all-electric, high-performance luxury vehicles.

Lucid Motors is yet to produce a substantial number of electric vehicles; its first models were started in September 2021. At the moment, Lucid Motors are owned by Public Investment Funds, which owns up to 61.1% stake in the company.

4. Lincoln

  • Founding Date: 1917
  • Founder(s): Henry M. Leland and Wilfred Leland
  • CEO: Joy Falotico
  • Headquarters: Dearborn, Michigan, U.S.

Initially a Private Company, Lincoln Motor Company, or simply Lincoln, is an American automotive manufacturer focusing on producing luxury vehicles, mostly SUVs and limousines.

Lincoln currently operates as the luxury arm of Ford Motors and is marketed to appear as a worthy rival/alternative to G.M.’s Cadillac brand.

The brand name, Lincoln, was named after Abraham Lincoln and has remained under Ford Motors since February 1922. All Lincoln vehicles are built to a standard – to compete with other models from top competing luxury brands.

Lincoln currently makes luxury crossovers and SUVs; the brand has stopped making limousines.

5. Ram Trucks

  • Founding Date: 2010
  • Founder(s):  
  • CEO: Reid Bigland
  • Headquarters: Auburn Hills, Michigan, U.S.

Ram Trucks are the most popular and among the best-selling pickup truck models in the U.S. Stylized as RAM, and formerly the Ram Truck Division (of Chrysler), RAM is an American automotive brand focused on producing mid-weight trucks and “Hard Tack” commercial vehicles. It operated as a division of Stellantis.

The brand, RAM, was actually established in a spin-off from Dodge in 2010. Hence, earlier models used Dodge’s logo. Since its inception, RAM’s slogan has been “Guts. Glory. Ram.”

RAM trucks are equipped with solid, heavy-duty engines and engineered in a way that when a RAM truck drives past you, you’d definitely know – due to the sound it makes.

6. Ford

  • Founding Date: 1903
  • Founder(s): Henry Ford
  • CEO: Jim Farley
  • Headquarters: Dearborn, Michigan, U.S.

Ford Motor Company, shortened as Ford, is an American multinational automobile manufacturer based in Dearborn, Michigan, United States.

It was founded and incorporated in 1903 by Henry Ford. The company produces and sells different types of vehicles under the Ford brand and Lincoln (its luxury division)

Ford’s current lineup includes trucks, SUVs, sedans, and crossovers. The company is notable for its high-class vehicles.

Also, Ford is the second-largest U.S.-based automaker, following behind its top rival, General Motors. Ford vehicles are not considered to be in the “Luxury” category, but they are certainly astonishing on the inside and outside.

7. Jeep

  • Founding Date: 1943
  • Owner(s): Stellantis
  • CEO: Christian Meunier
  • Headquarters: Toledo, Ohio

The name Jeep resounds “Quality” and “Off Road” whenever it’s mentioned. Jeep is an American automobile marque that has been owned by pretty different companies – with the current owners being Chrysler, a subsidiary of Stellantis Corp.

Chrysler acquired Jeep in 1987 from American Motors Corporation (AMC).

Jeep’s lineup comprise solely of sport utility vehicles (SUVs). The brand produces both crossover SUVs and totally off-road SUVs – with Jeep Wrangler being the brand’s most-respected off-roader.

Also, Jeep has one pickup truck; the brand used to produce pickups, small vans, and a few roadsters but is now focused on making SUVs. Jeep is Fiat-Chrysler’s best-selling brand at the moment.

8. Chrysler

  • Founding Date: June 6, 1925
  • Founder(s): Walter P. Chrysler
  • CEO: Mark Stewart
  • Headquarters: Auburn Hills, Metro Detroit, Michigan

Named after the founder, Walter P. Chrysler, the Chrysler Corporation was established in 1925 from the remains of Maxwell Motor Company.

Daimler-Benz later acquired the brand, and in 1998, it got renamed to DaimlerChrysler. However, in 2007, Daimler disassociated from Chrysler, and the brand operated as Chrysler LLC.

Chrysler is currently owned by Stellantis since 2021 in a merger between FCA (Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles) and PSA Group.

Current Chrysler models include Chrysler 300, Aspen, Sebring, Town and Country, Caliber, Challenger, Grand Caravan, and others. Also, Chrysler vehicles are classified in the “Luxury” category.

9. Dodge

  • Founding Date: 1900
  • Founder(s): John Francis Dodge and Horace Elgin Dodge
  • CEO: Timothy Kuniskis
  • Headquarters: Auburn Hills, Michigan, U.S.

Dodge is an American car brand that produces minivans, vans, cars, and SUVs. The brand operates as a division of Stellantis and is headquartered in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Founded in 1900, the Dodge brand has had an interesting history in the American automobile market.

Also, Dodge had, at some point, produced high-performance cars – it still produces decent cars up to this day. Dodge’s main lineups consist of trucks, full-size passenger cars, compact cars, and midsize cars.

The brand practically produces all kinds of vehicles that compete with Ford models in almost every class.

10. GMC

  • Founding Date: 1911
  • Founder(s): William C. Durant
  • CEO: Mary Barra
  • Headquarters: Detroit, Michigan

Formerly General Motors Truck Company, GMC is a division of General Motors that produces utility vehicles and trucks. GMC also produces off-road capable SUVs and vans. It is a top and notable brand in the U.S., and its products are always among the best-sellers, thanks to their sturdiness and reliability.

At some point, the brand produced ambulances, fire trucks, military vehicles, heavy-duty trucks, transit buses, motorhomes, and medium-duty trucks.

The GMC brand is positioned as a premium offering arm of Chevrolet. In North America, GMC models are sold alongside Buick models at multi-brand dealerships.

11. Chevrolet

  • Founding Date: November 3, 1911
  • Founder(s): Arthur Chevrolet, Louis Chevrolet, and William C. Durant
  • CEO: Mary Barra
  • Headquarters: Detroit, Michigan

Chevrolet, commonly shortened as Chevy, is an American automotive brand currently operating under the Chevrolet Motor Division of General Motors Company. The company was initially established in 1911 as the Chevrolet Motor Car Company. Chevrolet-branded vehicles are sold almost worldwide.

Popular series like the Silverado pickup trucks have remained top competitors to Ford’s truck series. Chevrolet’s main target markets are the Americas, Cambodia, China, Europe, Japan, South Korea, the Middle East, the Philippines, Singapore, and Australia.

When you talk of top American brands, Chevrolet is surely a name to mention.

12. Cadillac

  • Founding Date: 1902
  • Founder(s): William Murphy, Lemuel Bowen, and Henry M. Leland
  • CEO: Mary Barra
  • Headquarters: Detroit, Michigan

The Cadillac Motor Car Division, simply Cadillac, is an American automotive brand currently operating under General Motors (G.M.).

Cadillac is G.M.’s luxury line, and the major target markets are the United States, Canada, and China. Notwithstanding, Cadillac models are sold in about 34 additional markets worldwide.

Cadillac is certainly the first brand to mention when you talk of luxury vehicles in the U.S. The brand manufactures the official vehicle for the President of the United States.

Over 390,458 Cadillac models were sold worldwide in 2019 – a grand record for the brand. Actually, the name Cadillac was gotten from Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, the man who founded Detroit, Michigan.

13. Buick

  • Founding Date: 1899
  • Founder(s): David Dunbar Buick
  • CEO: Mary Barra
  • Headquarters: Detroit, Michigan

Buick Motor, simply Buick, is America’s oldest automotive brand – founded in 1899 by an automotive pioneer, David Dunbar Buick. Buick established General Motors in 1908 and has remained a “premium” automobile brand.

Hence, Buick models are positioned above G.M.’s brands (except the flagship luxury brand, Cadillac). The Buick brand has produced several successful models, with the most popular models being Buick Excelle, Verano, Regal, LaCrosse, Buick Encore, Envision, Enclave, GL6, and Velite 6.

14. Falcon Motorsports

Photo by Ben via Flickr
  • Founding Date: 2009
  • Founder(s): Jeff Lemke
  • CEO: Jeff Lemke
  • Headquarters: Holly, Michigan, U.S.

Falcon Motorsports is an American automotive brand that manufactures high-performance automobiles.

The brand’s most notable series is the Falcon F series – Falcon F5 and Falcon F7. Falcon automobiles are designed as sports cars with super-powerful engines capable of going from zero to 60mph in 2.7 seconds.

15. Hennessey Performance Engineering

Photo by Alexander Migl via Wikimedia
  • Founding Date: 1991
  • Founder(s): John Hennessey
  • CEO: John Hennessey
  • Headquarters: Sealy, Texas, United States

Hennessey Performance Engineering is not really an automobile manufacturer but an automotive tuning company. The brand specializes in modifying sports top luxury cars – optimizing them to perform better.

Established in 1991 by John Hennessey, Hennessey Performance Engineering tunes luxury cars and supercars from popular brands such as Porsche, Ferrari, Chevrolet, McLaren, Cadillac, Dodge, Jeep, Lotus, Lexus, and a good number of others.

The brand is located in Texas and focuses on mechanical component modification to create high-powered cars.

16. Nikola Corporation

Photo by MarcelX42 via Wikimedia
  • Founding Date: 2014
  • Founder(s): Trevor Milton
  • CEO: Mark Russell
  • Headquarters: Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.

Nikola Corporation, simply Nikola, is an American automotive company that focuses on manufacturing heavy-duty commercial battery-electric vehicles.

The company also makes fuel-cell E.V.s and turbine-electric semi-trucks. The Nikola brand is currently headed by Mark Russell and named after Nikola Tesla.

Conclusion: Car Brands in America

These are the top American car brands you should know about. All brands listed here are very much active and have their headquarters located in the U.S.

Apparently, most of these brands are owned under the same parent companies, but they still operate and produce their models individually.

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