There are lots of carmakers from all over the world. Gearheads like to think that they know every brand out there. After all, they have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of cars and the industry.
However, it’s a great big world, and there are almost too many carmakers to count. The chances of knowing every single of them are astronomically slim.
That said, some gearheads go that extra mile and know virtually every brand. Below are 5 of the most obscure car brands that most gearheads don’t know.
In Taiwan, the auto industry is geared towards the local market as opposed to exporting cars. The local companies produce only 400,000 units in total each year, and most of these are Japanese models.
So, it’s no surprise that few people outside the country know their car makers. Yulon is one of the biggest names in the country. In fact, it’s become the highest seller of cars in the country since 2010.
Yulon typically builds cars from Nissan under license. This is a partnership that goes back until 1957 and in 2005, the brand also partnered with General Motors to build Buick vehicles.
China is no stranger to car makers. However, most of the world doesn’t them. Still, if you’ve been to a car show in China, you’ve probably seen some of these brands. The popular ones are like Chery and Geely.
However, there are a plethora of smaller and lesser-known car makers and some of them don’t really care about the ethics of copying designs from other, more well-known brands. One standout brand is Zotye.
Established in 2005, the first car it built was the Zotye RX6400. This car looked suspiciously similar to the Daihatsu Terios.
More recently, the brand has various lineups. One of them has a car called the T600, which is basically a mesh between the Volkswagen Tiguan and the Audi Q5.
Doonkervoort has been around since 1978. It’s set in the Netherlands, and it generally makes sportscars that look a lot like the Plymouth Prowler. Since its inception, the company used Ford engines in its cars.
However, starting from 1996, it replaced them with Audi engines. The company’s motto, “No Compromise”, typically means that the car maker never develops ABS, power steering or Electronic Stability Program for its cars. Instead, the company’s cars get their grip mechanically.
One of the company’s most impactful cars is the Doonkervoort D8. This became one of the quickest speed-legal cars that have ever competed in Nürburgring.
When we think of Indian automakers, the first company that comes to mind is Tata. Their cars aren’t that well-known outside India, but the conglomerate is famous for owning both Land Rover and Jaguar.
However, there’s another Indian company that most people don’t really take note of: Mahindra. The company has been making licensed versions of Willys Jeep since World War II.
It also makes a wide range of SUVs, commercial vehicles, pickups and cars. Outside India—where Mahindra and other companies sell over four million cars annually—Mahindra sells its cars in various countries across Africa and in Europe.
South Korea has a thriving auto industry, thanks to automakers like Hyundai. That said, the nation’s neighbors to the north don’t really garner much attention when it comes to their auto industry.
So Sungri, one of North Korea’s only two car makers, is not that well known in the rest of the world.
Sungri was founded back in 1950. Ever since then, the brand has made plenty of cars for the local market. However, a sizable number of the company’s models aren’t original.
The Sangri Jaju, for instance, is a saloon that bears more than a little resemblance to the 1980’s Volkswagen Passat.