Korean Car Brands

Korean Car Brands

The automotive industry is one of the largest industries in South Korea. It is also one of the most advanced in the Asian region. Recently, the DPRK has produced about 4.5 million vehicles annually, of which nearly 2 million are exported abroad. As a result, its contribution to the global automobile industry is more than 5%, and it ranks 5th-6th in the world and 3rd-4th in Asia. Accordingly, South Korean automobiles are in high demand.

What are the Korean automobile brands?

The main automobile companies in South Korea are Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, GM Korea Company, SsangYong Motor, and Renault Samsung Motors. But in addition to the giants of the market, there are other South Korean brands, such as luxury sedan manufacturer Genesis, sports car segment Spirra, and Alpheon, which produces economy sedans.

The automotive industry began in the 1960s, coinciding with the adoption of the first Five-Year Plan, a special five-year economic development plan. Since then, the automotive industry has taken a major leap forward and has become a key industry in the country, generating large volumes of production. Moreover, there are five core companies that produce automobiles in South Korea. These include Renault, Samsung Motors, SsangYong Motor, GM Daewoo Auto & Technology, Kia Motors, and Hyundai Motor. They have many industrial sites outside the DPRK.

Luxury Car Brands

The luxury car category is represented by Hyundai Motor Group vehicles. These are relatively young brands, founded in the late XX – early XXI century. Their products are characterized by large dimensions and representative appearance.


Genesis Logo

This automaker appeared as a result of the separation of its line from the parent company. Previously, it was part of the Hyundai Motor Group and presented a series of luxury sedans, Hyundai Genesis, released in 2004. After almost a decade, the owner announced its separation from the main manufacturer and spin-off into an independent brand. There were several reasons for this.

First, Genesis was in the top three in sales. Secondly, for seven years, it was the most demand in the luxury passenger car segment. Third, buyers wanted to see it as a standalone brand. So, in 2015, South Korea launched its own premium brand with an autonomous Genesis model. In 2020, JD Power named it the most reliable car in all of North America.

Renault Samsung

Renault Samsung Logo

Appearing in 1994, the company immediately took the lead as it was the only representative in its class. It is based in Busan, where it produces entry-level luxury cars. Its head office is also located there. Production facilities are divided into three cities: some of them are concentrated in Busan, some are in Seoul, and the third is in Gihyun.

The company got its unusual name thanks to its owners: now, more than 80% of its shares are owned by Renault and about 20% by Samsung. The company is also called RSM. At the beginning of its career, the brand was Samsung Motors. It started selling cars in 1998 before the big crisis hit the Asian region. The company got its current name in 2000 after buying a controlling stake in Renault. Currently, RSM has mastered the production of luxury cars, crossovers, and electric vehicles.

Mass Market Brands

The mass market segment is represented by several well-known brands that are in demand worldwide, not just in Asia. These are Hyundai, Kia, and SsangYong, longtime representatives of the automotive industry that emerged in the middle of the last century. They have accumulated vast experience in the production of passenger cars and have covered a large consumer sector, in some cases displacing European and American models.


Hyundai Logo

The company has been around since 1967 and is known as Hyundai Motor Company. Together with its two subsidiaries (Genesis Motor and Ioniq), it forms the Hyundai Motor Group Corporation. In addition, the firm owns almost 40% of Kia Corporation shares and sells its cars in 193 countries. It also owns 5 thousand showrooms and dealerships.

The company’s main production facilities are located in Ulsan, which is the world’s largest plant for the production of integrated transportation equipment. Its annual capacity reaches 1.6 million vehicles.


Kia Logo

The former name of this automobile giant is Kia Motors Corporation, and the current name is Kia Corporation. It is an international structure headquartered in Seoul, occupying the second line in the list of specialized firms after the parent company, Hyundai Motor Company. Its sales volume reaches about 3 million vehicles per year. In addition, Kia owns more than 20 Hyundai subsidiaries.

The company was founded in 1944, when it was called Kyungsung Precision Industry, and was engaged in the production of steel pipes and bicycle spare parts. In 1951, it released the Samchully bicycle, the very first bicycle in Korea. A year later, the company rebranded and changed its name, becoming Kia Industries and producing motorcycles under license from Honda. It then added trucks and cars to its product lineup.


SsangYong Logo

Today, this car manufacturer is one of the four largest in South Korea and ranks fourth in the domestic auto industry. However, this was not always the case, as the company filed for bankruptcy. It was bought by Mahindra & Mahindra Limited, an international corporation from India that owns it. The parent company owns almost 75% of the shares. SsangYong was founded in 1954 and was relaunched in 2011. The automaker is headquartered in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, South Korea.

Other Brands

The group of other automobile companies in South Korea includes two well-known firms. The first is Spirra, representing the domestic segment of sports cars, and the second is Daewoo, producing economy-class cars. They are also among the leading manufacturers of road transportation equipment, although they are not among the top five South Korean leaders. They also export products to overseas markets. Also included in this group are Alpheon and Asia Motors.


Spirra Logo

This brand is owned by Oullim Motors Inc., which founded it in 2007 with the first sports car of the same name. It is a subsidiary of Oullim Networks, headquartered in Seoul, with production facilities in neighboring Gyeonggi-do Province. The firm is co-founded by Han-Chul Kim, a former SsangYong designer, and Dong-Hyuk Park, creator and CEO of Oullim Networks. The line went into mass production in 2008 and has been supplied to various overseas markets, including the Netherlands, Malaysia, OAO, and China.


Daewoo Logo

The defunct Daewoo was founded in 1982 and was engaged in the production of economy cars. It was headquartered in Bupyeong-gu, Incheon Province. In 2001, it went bankrupt and became part of the American automobile corporation General Motors, which acquired most of its assets. In 2011, the South Korean manufacturer was revived under the name GM Korea.


Alpheon Logo

The automaker is owned by GM Korea Company (formerly Daewoo), a subsidiary of automotive giant General Motors. It entered the market in 1983 and produced several million road cars annually, supplying many countries around the world. The firm mainly focuses on the economy sedan segment, developing American passenger cars between 2010 and 2015.

Asia Motors

Asia Motors Logo

A subsidiary of KIA Motors, it was founded in 1965 and first got involved in the production of military vehicles. A few years later, it retooled and moved into producing heavy vehicles, SUVs, and vans. In 1969, Asia Motors was bought by Dongkuk Steel, which retooled the plant to produce low-cost export vehicles.

Pyeonghwa Motors

Pyeonghwa Motors Logo

Although the automobile industry in North Korea is much less developed than in South Korea, there are large companies here, too. Some of them are even represented on the international market – for example, Pyeonghwa Motors. The name of this manufacturer means “peace” in Korean. It is written in hieroglyphics on the upper part of the shield, which is the basis of the logo. Under the text, there are two doves connected by their tails. This is the personification of the word “Pyeonghwa” as the white dove is a well-known symbol of peace. The shield is triangular in shape and resembles a clam shell. It is divided into several color blocks: the blue center is placed in a wide black frame, and on the edge, it is outlined with a light outline.

Proto Motors

Proto Motors Logo

South Korean company Proto Motors produced several models of sports cars until it ceased operations in 2017. After 20 years of operation, it is remembered for its “PROTOmotors” logo, in which the first letter “O” was replaced by a ring of two arc-shaped lines: emerald and purple. The closest letters (“P,” “R,” “T,” and “O”) were black and capitalized. At the same time, the designers used gray lowercase glyphs for the second half of the brand name. But all letters, regardless of the case, matched in size.


Ioniq Logo

Ioniq is a series of hybrid and electric cars belonging to the South Korean concern Hyundai. It has its own logo: a wordmark in a light blue color. The inscription is in the original bold sans-serif font. All letters, except “Q,” are similar to Canada Type’s Simplicity Pro Bold font. As for the last glyph, it is custom-designed and looks like a ring cut into a square segment in the lower right corner and pushed outward.



The HTWO brand will debut in 2020. It represents the latest fuel cell system invented by Hyundai to transition to clean energy. This development combines state-of-the-art hydrogen technology, so the name HTWO encrypts the hydrogen molecule H2.

The emblem of the brand is not trivial: it contains a “+” sign located between two vertical stripes. All elements are light blue in color. The chosen shade contrasts with the black color of the inscription located just below. For the word “GVS,” designers used the simplest possible font sans-serif. It has many analogs, such as Biryani Bold by TypeOff, Kursk 205 Light by Talbot Type, and Touche Medium by Indian Type Foundry.

Zyle Daewoo Bus Corporation

Zyle Daewoo Bus Corporation Logo

The current name of this South Korean company is Zyle Daewoo Bus. It was opened in 1955 and is currently owned by the Young-An Hat Company. Its logo is a complex geometric figure resembling an oval-shaped steering wheel. Below is the modern name in an austere design.

What is the best Korean car brand?

The best-selling car brands in South Korea are six. Most of the market was shared between Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Motors. They are followed in descending order by Genesis, Renault, Samsung Motors, SsangYong Motor, GM Korea (Chevrolet).

What car brands does South Korea make?

The South Korean auto industry is highly developed. Major manufacturers include Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, GM Korea Company, SsangYong Motor, Renault Samsung Motors.

Which cars are built in Korea?

In South Korea, cars of different price segments are manufactured – from mass market to luxury cars.

What is the famous car in Korea?

As of 2021, Hyundai Porter is in the lead among all South Korean cars. The Hyundai Grandeur occupies second place in sales, and the third is by the Kia Carnival. The fact is that their manufacturers control the overwhelming part of the market: Hyundai and Kia models took all the lines from the top 10 best-selling cars in South Korea, giving way only to the Genesis G80.