- Toyota (incl. Lexus + Scion + Daihatsu + Isuzu)
- General Motors (incl. Buick + Cadillac + Chevrolet + Daewoo + GMC + Holden + Hummer + Opel + Pontiac + Saab + Saturn + Vauxhall + Wuling + Oldsmobile)
- Volkswagen (incl. Audi + Bentley + Bugatti + Škoda + SEAT + Scania + MAN)
- Ford (incl. Lincoln + Mercury + Aston Martin + Volvo + Mazda + Jaguar + Land Rover)
I let Google Insights for Search compare these sets of names. So what was the result?
The ranking so to speak in Google -popularity worldwide was different from the production-numbers list above:
- General Motors
The discrepancy was most marked for Toyota and Ford that switched places. Actually, Ford was ahead of everyone else. The latter were constantly jostling for position in a narrow band. Most everyone declined through the years except for Volkswagen and Honda. Let us look at some country-specific graphs, beginning with the US:
There was a bit more seasonality here. Otherwise, the only major difference lay in Volkswagen's poor performance and the fact that Honda was the only car company to increase. Note however that "less than 25% of searches containing 'volkswagen+audi…' are categorized as Automotive." Still, I couldn't remove the Automotive filter because a few of the terms had significant non-automobile meanings, e.g., SEAT = seat. What about Germany?
Locally-headquartered Volkswagen was tops, then followed Ford and General Motors. Honda and esp. Toyota were stuck at the bottom. Honda and Volkswagen were the only ones to grow. Next, the United Kingdom:
Ford was solidly in the lead, followed by Volkswagen. All companies declined. Let's make one more graph, this time using data from Japanese (English-savvy) web surfers:
Honda and Toyota were clear leaders on their home turf. Volkswagen and General Motors were struggling. Still, General Motors slightly grew overall. Honda and Ford saw the biggest improvement.