Smaller Automakers

Behind major car manufacturers such as Ford, BMW, Chrysler, General Motors and Toyota, there are smaller manufacturers that design and build innovative cars that may one day become big hits in the modern automotive industry.

The automotive industry is crowded with many brands. But of course, the contribution of smaller automakers in the industry cannot just be ignored. Fortunately, the internet shows potential car buyers and automotive enthusiasts tons of information—exposing them to lesser-known car manufacturers from different parts of the world. New and used cars are also widely advertised over the Internet, even automobile parts and accessories are found online such as Total Z Parts.

Here are some of the lesser-known smaller automakers that deserve a closer look:

1. Koenigsegg

You may not be familiar with the brand, but Koenigsegg is notable among sports car enthusiasts. The Swedish manufacturer is dedicated to creating the world-class supercars.

In 2010, the Top Gear Magazine awarded Koenigsegg Agera as the Hypercar of the Year. The Agera R broke the Guinness World Record for 0 to 300 km/h with a time of just 14.53 seconds and a 0 to 300 to 0 km/h time of 21.19 seconds. However, a 2014 model, the Koenigsegg One:1 busted Agera’s record, as it proved 0 to 300 km/h in only 11.92 seconds and 0 to 300 to 0 km/h in 17.95 seconds. It could hit 0 to 60 mph in just a glimpse of 2.5 seconds! Being able to produce around 1,341 horsepower, the Koenigsegg One:1 is dubbed as the world’s first megacar.

What makes Koenigsegg more special is that it produces the car systems and components on their own, without relying on contractors, with only 97 employees as of 2015

2. Hennessey Performance

Hennessey Performance may not actually be considered as an “automobile manufacturer,” as it is a performance tuning company, but it has made producing cars a lot impressive. When Hennessey’s Dodge Vipers started racing in the 1990s, it gained the company a reputation as a top-speed addict.

In 2010, Hennessey Performance unveiled the Hennessey Venom GT, a heavily modified Lotus Exige with a speed of around 270 mph. Eight of these have been built for $1 million, one owned by Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler. It is also the fastest legal street car in the world.

3. Caterham Cars

The UK’s Caterham Cars is an expert builder of open, two-seater roadsters. Its cars are hand-built and are often designed for racing. The company also produces vehicles for casual street use.

Caterham vehicles can be availed at a limited number of specialty car dealers, and much of them are sold straight from the factory.

4. Mastretta Cars

During the 1990s, the Mexican Mastretta Cars focused on microbus engineering and chassis design, as well as building kit-cars.

In 2007, Mastretta introduced the Mastretta MXT, a sports car that is meant for the race track. The MXT has a top speed of 161 mph, can go 0 to 60 in less than five seconds, and a 250 horsepower engine. Should Mastretta produce more high-power models, it might become one of the top race car brands in no time.

5. Commuter Cars

Spokane, Washington-based Commuter Cars builds ultra-narrow electric sports cars, with one model in their product offering – the Tango. The compact design might be the future of sustainable cars to help ease congestion and pollution.

What’s amazing about the Tango is that despite its unusual built and all-electric power source, it is surprisingly nimble, as it could rocket to 120 mph and can hit 60 mph in just 3.2 seconds.

This car company achieved its first major milestone back in 2005 when George Clooney took delivery of the first-ever Tango Kit. The actor also helped promote the car through press releases.

6. Local Motors

Local Motors is pioneering a new method of automobile manufacturing by building cars individually using a 3D printing, adapting designs provided by the online community, and working in multiple microfactories. Based in Arizona, the company is getting a lot of media exposure as its flagship Rally Fighter made it into the 2014 film Transformers: Age of Extinction, and is featured in the 2017 movie Fast and Furious 8: The Fate of the Furious. Local Motors was also introduced on NBC’s Today Show, showing off the world’s first 3D-printed electric car.

The company’s latest innovation is the Olli, a self-driving, electric shuttle bus that incorporates IBM Watson’s technology. Olli was announced in 2016 and is still under development to date.

7. Elio Motors

Self-proclaimed as “the next big thing in transportation,” Elio Motors plans to unveil the Elio – a compact, three-wheeled vehicle that can achieve 84 mpg for only $7,300. The original date of release for the car was supposed to be in 2014, but it was constantly delayed and now, the startup company announced it will launch the Elio in 2018. The company has already received about 65,000 customer reservations on its website as of February 2017.

8. SSC North America

SSC, which stands for Shelby SuperCars, is the only supercar maker based in the United States. Based in Washington State, SSC is owned by kart racer and designer Jerod Shelby (not related to Carroll Shelby).

It builds notable supercars, such as the SSC Ultimate Aero with 1,268 horsepower. It was considered as the world’s most powerful production car until the release of Koenigsegg One:1 in 2014. The Ultimate Aero was also a Guinness World Record holder as the fastest production car in 2007 until it was nabbed by Bugatti Veyron Super Sport in 2010.

9. Ariel Motor Company

The British owned company is relatively small, with only 19 employees, but produces high-performance motor vehicles. Ariel Motor’s Atom is the first road-going exoskeletal vehicle in the world. This roadster is a two-seater, lightweight vehicle with around 700 horsepower per ton.

Despite being a small manufacturer, Ariel Motor has managed to release new and innovative units throughout the years. In 2014, they released the Ariel Ace motorcycle which is equipped with car-based engines. The company also introduced Nomad in 2015 and the HIPERCAR, an electric sports car, in 2017.

10. Renovo Motors

Founded in 2010, Renovo Motors is a startup company based in Silicon Valley competing with Tesla Motors. In 2015, it released the Renovo Coupe, a stunning, all-electric supercar comparable to Tesla Roadster with impressive specifications. The Coupe has more than 500 horsepower and can go from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.4 seconds. If this is just the beginning, what more can we expect from Renovo?


When it comes to marketing and distribution, small-time automakers lack the manpower and resources compared to well-established car manufacturers. However, they do make up in terms of efficiency and innovation. In a way, their contributions and influence in the automotive industry have paved the way for the development of better modern cars.