Japanese Car Brands

Japanese Car Brands

Japan’s automobile industry is the backbone of the country’s entire industry. It supports a booming economy by manufacturing products for overseas delivery. The leading plants are scattered in the main cities: they are located in Ota, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Hamamatsu, Taeta, Shizuka, and Hiroshima. A special leap occurred in the 60s of the last century, called the “Japanese economic miracle.” Then, there was a sharp increase in the production of cars from Toyota, Suzuki, Mazda, Honda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, and some others.

What are Japanese automobile brands?

Japanese automobile manufacturers are very many as they effectively support the economy of the country. The most famous mass-market brands are Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Nissan, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Suzuki. The luxury segment is represented by Lexus, Acura, Infiniti, Toyota Crown, and Mitsuoka. Heavy machinery is produced by Hino, Isuzu, UD, and Datsun. There are also brands of sports cars: Nissan Nismo, Nissan GT-R, and others.

In the 1970s, Japanese entrepreneurs began to export cars to the United States, which led to a conflict. However, its solution led to the intensification of the automobile industry development in Japan. As a result, by the end of the 80s, almost 13 million cars were produced in the Land of the Rising Sun, half of which were shipped abroad. However, in the early 90s, the industry experienced a downturn, which ended in 2002. Now, there are assembly branches of Japanese companies in most countries in the Asian region.

Mass Market Brands

The mass market of the Japanese car industry is represented by very old brands that have won a wide demand from consumers. Heading the list is Toyota, which has become the most popular among Americans. In 2019, it ranked second in terms of global sales. It is followed by brands such as Honda, Nissan, and Subaru.


Toyota Logo

The car company, which appeared in 1937, specializes in a very wide range of transportation technologies, promoting hybrid models. Its founder is Kiichiro Toyoda, after whom it was named. Toyota Motor Corporation is headquartered in Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture. This automaker was also the first in the world to break the milestone of 10 million vehicles per year, and in 2012, it produced its 200 millionth vehicle.

Starting out as a subsidiary of Toyota Industries, the Japanese auto giant has grown to an incredible size. It currently owns five brands under which it manufactures its passenger cars. These are Ranz, Hino, Daihatsu, Lexus, and the eponymous Toyota.


Honda Logo

Honda Motor Company was founded by Soichiro Honda and Takeo Fujisawa, who brought it to the Japanese automobile market in 1948. Starting its career with piston rings, the brand gradually expanded to produce a huge range of products, including cars and other transportation equipment. By 2019, Honda had become the sixth-largest automaker in the world. It was also the first company to introduce the Acura luxury series (in 1986). The company is headquartered in Minato City, Tokyo Prefecture.


Subaru Logo

The division, founded by Kenji Kita in 1953, gradually turned into an independent unit, very significant in the structure of Fuji Heavy Industries (now Subaru Corporation). In 2017, it became the 21st automobile manufacturer internationally.

Today, the brand focuses on those who want a good drivetrain, a branded engine, and an all-wheel drive for cross-country driving. The brand also specializes in inexpensive sports cars. The name of the company is symbolic: in Japan, it is the name of the Pleiades constellation, which includes seven beginnings, one of which is invisible. The fact is that the company merged with six other firms and formed a separate corporation.


Nissan Logo

The full name of this automobile manufacturer is Nissan Motor Company. Since 1933, it has specialized in the production of transport equipment and currently produces passenger cars of mass demand. Its founders are Masujiro Hashimoto and Yoshisuke Aikawa, and its headquarters are located in the city of Nishi-Ku, Yokohama Prefecture. The name is derived from the merger of two stems – Nihon Sangyo. This is the name the company used to have before, and its current name was given by the abbreviation assigned to it on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Currently, the automaker produces passenger cars under three brands: Nissan, Infiniti, and Datsun.


Mazda Logo

One of the oldest engineering companies in Japan was founded in 1920 and is located in Fuchu City, Aki County (Hiroshima Prefecture). It was founded on the initiative of entrepreneur Jujiro Matsuda, from whom it takes its name. Japanese philosophy also played a huge role in branding, as the image of the deity Ahura Mazda, representing wisdom, reason, and light, was used in the name.

At first, the company did not focus on cars – it switched to them later, in 1931. After reviving production and hiring skilled workers, the brand became recognized worldwide as it quickly began exporting passenger cars.


Mitsubishi Logo

This brand also represents the mass-market car category. It came into existence in 1970 as a division of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Then, the company grew into a large enterprise and joined the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance. It is owned by the German corporation Daimler AG and is headquartered in Minato City near Tokyo. In 2011, Mitsubishi was ranked sixth among Japanese automakers.


Suzuki Logo

The career of the Suzuki company began in the early twentieth century – in 1909, it was called Suzuki Loom Works and produced weaving machines. Despite its success, the manufacturer decided to retrain to keep up with the times. For this purpose, it chose the automobile industry.

In 1937, a new project was launched, which produced several innovative passenger cars. Today, this brand represents a wide range of transportation products, including SUVs, motorcycles, four-wheel drive, and road cars. In terms of sales, this Japanese company ranks third in the domestic market and tenth in the international market.

Luxury car brands

The segment of Japanese luxury cars is a special category of passenger vehicles. After all, manufacturers appreciate, first of all, high-tech stuffing, which makes their cars unrivaled. They care about human comfort and only then about design and what is under the hood. For them, electronics and increased functionality of the car come first; everything else comes second. This can be seen by looking at the list of luxury cars, which includes Lexus, Infiniti, Acura, Toyota Crown, and Mitsuoka.


Lexus Logo

Entrepreneur Eiji Toyoda founded the brand in 1983 with headquarters in Nagoya, operating centers in Brussels (Belgium) and in the U.S. Plano (Texas). Today, the brand’s cars are in demand in more than 70 countries around the world. Lexus products are also highly valued domestically, being the most demanded in Japan. The manufacturer is among the top ten largest international companies by market value. The list of models produced includes SUVs, convertibles, coupes, and sedans, and in 2005, a hybrid version appeared.


Acura Logo

Along with Lexus and Infiniti, this is the youngest member of the luxury class. It appeared in 1986, and since then, it has been supplying the best examples of the Japanese automobile industry to the USA and Canada. Its products are also in demand in Hong Kong, Mexico, China, and Russia. The model range includes both powerful and heavy cars, as well as luxury models.

The company introduced its first flagship car, Legend, in the late 1980s. Its success forced competitors to urgently create something similar. In the early 2000s, the brand brought new models to the market, among which stood out as a unique SUV, MDX. It was presented in two versions – RSX and TSX, which replaced the coupe and sedan Integra.


Infiniti Logo

This representative of luxury brands also appeared in the late 90s of the last century – in 1986. It was founded by Bill Bruce, is located in the Hong Kong city of Wan Chai, and is called Infiniti Global Limited. The brand belongs to Nissan, which is a division of the company. In 2012, the manufacturer announced its intention to switch to the production of electric cars. As a result, in 2021, all of its cars will be either all-electric or hybrid. Outside of Japan, the company launched its first-ever luxury car, the QX60, formerly known as the JX35.

Toyota Crown

Toyota Сrown Logo

This is one of the oldest representatives of the luxury class, existing since 1955. The brand belongs to Toyota and represents a special category of passenger cars – E (executive car). It includes mainly mid-size sedans, capturing the Japanese market and markets of other Asian countries. The Toyota Store car is the most popular with buyers from other countries: it is in demand as a government motorcade.


Mitsuoka Logo

This brand traces its history back to 1968 and is the official distributor of TD2000 retro roadsters in Japan. The automaker also works with production brands. It replaces its elements with its own custom variants, so the brand is known for cars with unconventional designs that mimic the style of the original British cars of the 50s and 60s. The company also launched its Orochi sports car and is a major distributor of classic roadsters.

Truck Brands

Japan is a renowned manufacturer of heavy-duty vehicles, and as a small country, it requires a lot of effort to survive. As a consequence, large trucks of various categories, which successfully replace human labor, are highly popular. Their capabilities are so huge that Japanese trucks are in demand all over the world. After all, they are hardy, durable, and high-tech among the most famous brands: Hino, Datsun, Isuzu, and UD.


Hino Logo

The leading heavy–, medium– and light-duty machinery company came into being in 1942 in Hino-shi near Tokyo. It is part of the Toyota Group and is a subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation. Starting with the production of trucks, today this company also produces buses, which it exports overseas. It is currently the second-largest supplier of heavy equipment in Japan.


Isuzu Logo

This company came into existence in 1916 and was revived in 1934 under the name Isuzu. It specializes in manufacturing medium-duty trucks, construction equipment, diesel engines, and buses. It also designs, assembles, and sells them all over the world. Today, the automaker has assembly plants and production facilities in several prefectures in Japan.


UD Logo

The full name of this brand is UD Trucks Corporation. Its head office is located in Ageo (Saitama Prefecture), and it was founded under the name Nissan Diesel. In 2010, the company received its current name, which stands for “Ultimate Dependability.” The rebranding was done after the company came under the jurisdiction of Volvo Group, which wholly owns it.


Datsun Logo

The year of appearance of this brand is 1931, and the location is Tokyo. The brand is owned by Nissan, which periodically canceled and renewed it. In the period 1958-1986, cars intended for export abroad were so labeled. In 2013, the name Datsun was restored: this name was given to a series of inexpensive cars intended for delivery to markets in developing countries. The company mainly produces economy-class cars and small trucks.

Other Brands

In the Japanese automobile industry, there is a separate category of transportation equipment, which, for a number of reasons, is allocated to an independent group:

  1. It includes sports and high-speed cars.
  2. This segment includes high-performance vehicles.
  3. This category includes compact cars.

They are represented by such brands as Nissan GT-R, Daihatsu, Nissan Nismo, etc.

Nissan Nismo

Nissan Nismo Logo

The company was formed in September 1984, with its headquarters located in Gap. It originated from the merger of two motorsports divisions. It is named after the predecessor brand, Nissan Motorsport. The first word is taken from the first syllable, “Nis,” and from the second syllable, “Mo.” The sports cars compete in many international races, including Formula E, Blancpain GT Series, and Super GT.

Nissan GT-R

Nissan GT-R Logo

This is the name of the luxury car model that is hand-assembled by the manufacturer Nissan Motor Company. It is the successor to the Skyline GT-R series of passenger cars and was designed by Shiro Nakamura. The past high-speed sports car was called the Grand Tourer; the first character is taken to abbreviate the second name. The brand came into existence in 2007. The company is located in Kaminokawa (Tochigi).


Daihatsu Logo

Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd is a subsidiary of Toyota Motor Corporation, which acquired it in 2016. The brand is located in Ikeda City, Osaka Prefecture. The year of its introduction is 1907. In the Japanese market, it produces small, ultra-compact, and subcompact cars known as “kei jidosha.” The company also has hybrid cars and 2-stroke diesel engines in its arsenal.


Autobacs Logo

The brand was founded in 1947 by Toshio Sumino. It first appeared in Fukushima-ku, Osaka Prefecture, and was called Fuji Syokai Co., Ltd. Then its network expanded to several branches. It is a specialty auto parts and accessories store that is a sponsor of the Japanese Grand Prix. It has many outlets in Asia and France.


Scion Logo

Founded in 2003, the company offers affordable, stylish, and compact cars. Each car was sold in a single configuration at a base price. The head office of the firm was located in Torrance, California (USA). In 2016, the brand was absorbed by the parent company Toyota and ceased to exist. The remaining car models were discontinued or renamed Toyotas.

Which is the best Japanese car brand?

The top 10 Japanese car brands in 2021 include Toyota, Honda, Subaru, Nissan, Lexus, Acura, Mazda, Infiniti, Mitsubishi, Suzuki.

What models are Japanese cars?

Every Japanese automaker has a lot of models. For example, Honda has Civic Hybrid, Fit, and CR-Z, Nissan has GT R, 350 Z, and 240 SX, Lexus has HS, IS, and CT, Toyota has Prius, FJ Cruiser, and Corolla. But it is worth noting that the same model in Japan and the world can be called differently. For example, the Japanese do not have a Toyota Yaris – they know this car like the Toyota Vitz.

What is the most popular Japanese car?

In 2021, the Toyota Yaris was the leader in the market. And among mini-cars, the Honda N-Box turned out to be popular.