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Ever Wondered Where Your Car's Manufacturer Name Came From?



With car manufacturers hailing from all corners of the globe, it is no surprise that their names have some interesting origins. From Latin influences to tributes to their founders, read on as we teach you the facts about some of the most popular brands.



  • Audi


Audi was founded by August Horch as August Horch & Cie Motorwagenwerke AG. After company mergers and legal issues over the name "Horch", it was decided that the company would be called "Audi". Audi is the Latin translation of the founder’s surname, Horch, which means "listen".




  • Alfa Romeo


The name Alfa Romeo is a combination between the original company’s name, “ALFA” (Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Autobili), and the surname of the entrepreneur Nicola Romeo, who took over the company in 1915. In English, the acronym "ALFA" roughly translates to the "Lombard Automobile Factory Company".




  • BMW


BMW is simply an initialism for the company’s full name – ‘Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’, which translates into "Bavarian Engine Works Company".




  • Citroën


The car company Citroën is named after its founder, Andre Citroën. The surname comes from the Dutch word for "lemon", as the family’s name was originally Limoenman. This was because a grandfather in the family was a merchant of tropical fruit, and Limoenman is Dutch for “lime man”. His son later changed the surname to Citroën.




  • Fiat


The name Fiat has its origins as an acronym for the company’s original name – Fabbrica Italiana Automobil Torino, which is Italian for "Italian Automobile Factory of Turin".




  • Ford


Ford Motor Company takes its name from the company's founder, Henry Ford.




  • Honda


The Japanese motor company Honda is named after the founder Soichiro Honda. The translation of Honda in Japanese is "original rice paddy".




  • Hyundai


The company Hyundai has always been a main player in the design and production of modern vehicles with innovative technology. In Korean, the word Hyundai roughly translates to the word "modernity", so the manufacturer was named this to push the company in this direction.




  • Kia


The South Korean company Kia has got its name from the phrase "to rise from Asia" with the word "Ki" meaning "to rise from", and "A" meaning "Asia".




  • Lexus


The Japanese luxury car brand Lexus takes its name from the Latin word "luxus" and the French word "luxe" which symbolises elegance, being mixed together with the Greek word "lexicon" meaning language.




  • Mazda


Mazda takes its name from a god of an early West Asian civilisation. Ahuru Mazda is the god of harmony, intelligence and wisdom - bringing together what Mazda is trying to convey with their car designs.




  • Mercedes-Benz


This company was originally named Daimler-Benz as a tribute to its founders. However, the company name was changed after original founder Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler passed away, and Emil Jellinek was brought in. Emil Jellinek started naming the new cars after his daughter, Mercedes, whose name translates to "mercy" in Spanish. In 1902, the company became officially trademarked as Mercedes-Benz.




  • Mini


The iconic Mini cars were first created in 1959 by the British Motor Corporation and continued to be produced by its successors until 2000 when the company was taken over by BMW. The company name Mini was derived from the small cars that were designed, called the Austin Mini and the Morris Mini. The name Mini became a brand in its own right in 1969.




  • Peugeot


The French automotive company was named after its founder, Armand Peugeot.




  • Renault


Renault was founded by French brothers Louis, Marcel and Fernand Renault, hence the company’s name.




  • Skoda


The Czech car company Skoda took its name from The Skoda Works, which was one of Europe’s largest industrial companies in the 20th century, that was founded by engineer Emil Skoda. This became a predecessor for the automotive brand that is known today.




  • Suzuki


The company was named after its founder, Michio Suzuki. Suzuki was originally started as a loom weaving company to support Japan’s giant silk industry.




  • Tesla


Electric vehicle giant Tesla was founded in 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning and was named after the inventor Nikola Tesla.




  • Toyota


The name Toyota comes from the founder Sakichi Toyoda. The company was originally called "Toyoda" and was changed in 1936 after a public competition was held to design a new logo, with the winning logo having the name Toyota instead.




  • Vauxhall


The British company was named after the location in which it was founded, Vauxhall in London.




  • Volkswagen


The German automotive company literally translates into the "the people’s car company".




  • Volvo


Although the company Volvo is Swedish, it takes its name from the Latin for "I roll".



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