Korean car brands and their logos: The car companies from Korea
If you’re a fan of the automotive industry, there’s a good chance you’re familiar with a handful of Korean car brands, and their iconic logos. Like major brands all over the world, car companies from Korea use their logos as an emblem to attract potential customers, and generate loyalty.
Over the years, some Korean car logos have become so iconic, they’ve transcended the borders of the planet, expanding across the seas to the United States and other major countries. For instance, countless customers are familiar with the Hyundai brand.
Today, we’re going to be taking a closer look at some of the Korean car brand logos, branding, and stories which make these organizations so memorable.
Let’s dive in…
What cars are made in Korea?
Korean car companies are split into a number of segments, from luxury vehicles to mass market automobiles, available for those on a budget. Perhaps most significantly, the cars and vans you’ll see throughout Korea are also distinguished by their Northern or Southern origins.
The Korean car companies in North Korea can be very different to South Korea car companies. For example, in South Korea, there are a number of vehicle brands with global appeal, such as Kia Motors, Hyundai, and even Renault Samsung Motors.
Alternatively, in North Korea, there are only a handful of brands to explore, like Pyeonghwa, an internationally present North Korean business launched in 1998.
Like all countries, Korea is also home to a number of companies which have gone defunct over the years, such as Proto Motors, Sibal, and Shinjin Motors.
How many Korean car brands are there?
Compared to other regions around the world, the Korean automotive industry is relatively small. There are only a handful of Korean cars available today, including models from Hyundai and Korean motors.
There are a handful of additional cars imported into Korea to expand options for the local drivers.
However, the most popular vehicles generally come from the Kia and Hyundai brands. As of 2022, the best-selling vehicle in Korea was the Hyundai Porter with 5.2% of the market share, followed by the Kia Bongo with 4.2% market share.
Which is the best Korean car brand?
As in any part of the world, there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to choosing the “ultimate” Korean car brand. The right option for any consumer will depend on the kind of functionality they’re looking for.
Notably, however, Kia and Hyundai continue to hold onto the top spots as perhaps the most popular brands on the market for virtually all customers.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most famous Korean car brand logos and names popular in the landscape today.
Unique and luxury car brands from Korea
Korean car companies come in a variety of different styles, from state-of-the-art luxury vehicles, to modern mass-market automotives. Let’s start by looking at some of the more luxurious options available to Korean customers.
Otherwise known as Genesis Motor LLC, Genesis is the luxury vehicle division of Hyundai, by far one of the most popular car brands in Korea. Initially, the company was conceptualized as part of a strategy to bring the luxury Genesis sedan to market in 2004.
However, it wasn’t until 2015 when Genesis first hit the market, launching the Genesis G90 as a standalone model. Though a Korean brand, this company produces cars throughout Germany, South Korea, and the United States.
The brand was also named the most dependable brand in 2021 and the most technologically innovative from North America.
An excellent example of one of the top car companies with wings in their logos, Genesis uses a classic symbol with a shield shape in the center and a set of spread wings on either side.
The image creates an essence of freedom and power.
Another sub-brand of the Hyundai Company, Ioniq is one of the most recent additions to the automotive landscape in South Korea. While some may not identify this brand as a “luxury” vehicle company, it does sell slightly more expensive concept cars and electric vehicles.
The Ioniq actually started life as a concept for Hyundai, a small and sporty hatchback equipped with a battery-driven electric drivetrain and a gasoline engine. In 2020, the Ioniq brand launched with a focus on bringing millions of electric cars to the masses in Korea.
The Ioniq logo is as simple and modern as the company itself. The bold blue wordmark is an excellent choice for a company focused on electric vehicle, as it reminds us of electric blue. A stylized sans-serif typography also makes the company look creative and futuristic.
The HTWO Korean car company is still in its very early stages within the market. The company was announced at the end of year in 2020 by the Hyundai Motor Group. According to the parent brand, this sub-brand will be responsible for producing world-leading hydrogen fuelled cars.
The brand name starts for “H2”, the hydrogen molecule. However, according to the company “HTWO” could also refer to the two h’s of “Hydrogen” and “Humanity” which form the basis of the organization’s focus.
The HTWO logo features the name of the organization in a bold sans-serif font, highlighting modernity and simplicity. There’s also a plus symbol with two lines on either side. The two lines could even indicate the concepts of hydrogen and humanity mentioned above.
Mass market car brands from Korea
The mass market landscape is perhaps where Korea has the most standing when it comes to vehicle production. The country is responsible for some of the most successful brands in the world, including Kia Motors, and Hyundai.
Known as the “Kia Corporation” or simply “Kia”, Kia Motors is one of the better-known automotive brands in the world, first launched in 1944. The company hails from South Korea, and is the second largest automotive manufacturer, after parent brand Hyundai.
Interestingly, Kia is only minority owned by Hyundai, which owns a stake of around 33.88%. At the same time, Kia is a minority owner of around 20 different Hyundai subsidiaries.
The company is best-known for creating mass market cars suitable for a range of needs.
While the Kia symbol has evolved a few times over the years, it stands as one of the most famous Korean car brand logos. This logo is beautifully modern and crisp, with all the letters of “Kia” depicted in capitals, and almost blending together.
Easily the most famous of the Korean car brands on this list, Hyundai is the best-selling vehicle company in Korea. The Hyundai Motor Company belongs to the much larger Hyundai Motor Group, which also owns Genesis Motor, mentioned above.
Currently, Hyundai vehicles are sold in 193 countries worldwide. The company is best-known for selling a range of mass market vehicles for different kinds of consumers. It was first launched in 1947, by Chung Ju-Yung, and the very first car to appear on the market was the Cortina.
The most common of any Korean car logos you’ll see in the country, Hyundai’s emblem is simple but elegant. It features the color blue to convey reliability and trust, and a bold sans-serif wordmark in all capital letters.
The Hyundai mark is a stylized “H” turned slightly on its side.
Based in South Korea, the SsangYong Motor Company traces its origins back to 1954, when the SsangYong name first appeared. The company focuses mainly on the development of sport utility vehicles (SUVs).
However, in recent years, SsangYong has begun focusing more on the rise of electric vehicles.
The SsangYong Company originally started life as two separate companies, Dongbang Motor company and Ha Dong-hwan motor workshop. The brand has been responsible for building Jeeps for the US army, as well as buses and trucks.
The SsangYong Motor Company logo is immediately eye-catching, showcasing a bird-like shape, with a diamond for the body of the creature, and a pair of curved wings. The wordmark features all capital letters, though the two capitalized letters in the name are a little larger.
Lesser-known than some of the Korean car brands on this list, but extremely popular throughout the region, Pyeonghwa motors is one of the few internationally renowned North Korean automakers in the market.
Founded in 1998, the company was temporarily owned by both South and North Korea. Primarily, the business is known for smaller cars and microvans.
The name of the company is the Korean word for “peace”, which makes the logo of this company a lot more compelling. Pyeonghwa also has the exclusive rights to all car production, purchase, and the sale of used cars in North Korea, though most locals struggle to afford a car.
The logo for Pyeonghwa features a curved triangle shape turned upside down, with the name of the brand in Korean at the top of the emblem. In the middle of the image, we see two doves facing eachother, perhaps representing the collaboration between the two halves of Korea.
Renault Samsung Motors
Another popular choice among Korean car brands, Renault Korea Motors, or Renault Samsung Motors, was first launched in South Korea in 1995. The brand was initially established with assistance from the Nissan Group, and launched just before the East Asian Financial crisis.
Today, Renault Korea Motors still produces a wide variety of cars, including crossovers and various electric vehicles.
In 2022, RSM’s parent company Renault and the Geely brand signed an agreement to produce vehicles based on the Compact Modular Architecture platform for a domestic market, and new production is set to start in 2024.
The Renault Samsung Motors logo is based on the Samsung image, which features an angled oval shape. This modern image has no typography, unlike many Korean car logos.
Instead, we just see the two halves of the oval coming together, perhaps symbolizing Renault and Samsung.
Defunct car brands from Korea
Since the number of car brands in Korea is very low, to get a clearer insight into the logo trends and image choices for companies in this region, we need to look back. There are a handful of defunct companies which you might be familiar with if you’re a fan of classic cars.
A frequently forgotten car brand from Korea, Alpheon was produced by GM Motors, within the Korean division, between the years of 2010 and 2015. The company produced a version of the Buick LaCrosse sold specifically for the Korean market.
Alpheon was temporarily conceived as a company for selling upper-middle-class cars to users throughout South Korea. Unfortunately, the company didn’t take off nearly as well as hoped.
The name of the business comes from the Greek letter Alpha, and the “Aeon” term, which stands for “eternity”.
The Alpheon logo was an eye-catching and modern image. We see an attractive metallic circle with a pair of curved lines in the middle. The name “Alpheon” was also written around the outline, with large gaps between the letters.
Trading as Asia Motors, Asia Motors Industries was first launched in 1965, and officially closed in 1999. For the period between 1976, and the date when the company became defunct, it acted as a subsidiary of the Kia Motors brand.
The Asia motors brand created a range of military vehicles, busses, and trucks. During the 1970s, it also partnered with Fiat to produce Fiat 124 models. Over the years, the organization diversified into the heavy vehicles and SUV market, producing large and medium duty trucks.
Asia Motors chose a simple but memorable symbol for its logo, similar to a number of designs in the market today. The image features an oval in red, with the word “ASIA” in capital letters within. The full name of the company is also depicted at the bottom of the emblem.
One of the better-known Korean car brands now defunct, the Daewoo brand was established in South Korea. The name comes from a portmanteau of “Dae” which means “Great”, and the name of the chairman and founder for the business, “Kim Woo-Chong”.
The Daewoo Group was a major conglomerate in South Korea, and a car manufacturer for more than 55 years. There were about 20 divisions running under the Daewoo group for a while, all operating as separate divisions.
Daewoo motors was best-known for producing a variety of mass market vehicles.
In 2011, Daewoo stopped production, but the logo remains well-known today. The vague oval shape may look a little like a flower, but according to the brand it’s supposed to represent a seashell.
The image also features the word “Daewoo” in all capital, sans-serif letters. The dark blue coloring symbolizes reliability and trust.
A South Korean sports car manufacturer, and a producer of various kinds of coach models throughout the region, Proto Motors was established in 1997.
Over the years, the company forged a variety of partnerships with companies like GM Daewoo, Kia Motors, and the Hyundai Motor Company.
Proto Motors is best-known for introducing the Spirra, a sports car delivered to the 4th Seoul Motor Show. The company specialized in redesigning various existing models of cars and vehicles, creating a range of convertibles and electric cars.
The company even created a convertible limousine.
Proto Motors used a relatively simple logo for its emblem, featuring the wordmark for the brand in a sans-serif, bold font. The letters were all in capitals, similar to many vehicle brands. The first “O” in Proto is stylized to look like two curved lines.
Other vehicle manufacturers from Korea
As you’ve seen during the course of this article, there are only a handful of car and vehicle manufacturers dotted around Korea. Compared to other regions of the world, the country hasn’t produced nearly as many automotive brands.
However, there are some other brands worth noting…
The Tata Daewoo Commercial Vehicle Company is a subsidiary of Tata Motors. Located in South Korea, the brand is the second-largest commercial vehicle manufacturer in South Korea.
The company was first established in 2002, and was acquired by Tata Motors in 2003.
Tata Daewoo produces a wide variety of large vehicles and trucks for companies throughout the Korean landscape. Although it’s not as well-known in other regions in the world, the company is relatively large within the Korean landscape.
The Tata Daewoo logo is a simple combination mark, depicted in dark blue to create a sense of reliability and trustworthiness. The image also features a symbol with a blue circle, and two white lines in the middle, branching in either direction to represent a “T”, or a forking road.
The GM Korea Company is the south Korean subsidiary of the General Motors brand. It’s also the third largest automotive manufacturer in South Korea. The roots of GM Korea go back to the Daewoo Motors brand, which split from its parent company in 2001.
GM Korea produces a range of brand-specific and region-focused vehicle assembly kits for countries around the world.
The organization has a variety of design, engineering, research, and development facilities across Korea responsible for the production of various products, including small cars.
GM Korea’s logo is based on the standard logo for General Motors, with a unique twist. We see the letters “GM” underlined in white on a blue square background, to symbolize stability. Underneath, the word “Korea” is written in a stylized and colorful font.
The famous car companies from Korea
Ultimately, there aren’t a huge number of Korean car brands and vehicle manufacturers to talk about today. However, this doesn’t mean these organizations haven’t had a significant impact on the global market.
While only a handful of Korean vehicle brands exist, they’ve still managed to capture the attention of vehicle lovers worldwide.
A selection of car companies from South Korea have even made their way into other parts of the world, such as Kia Motors and Hyundai.
North Korean companies haven’t had nearly as much growth, simply because the economy in the landscape makes it difficult for locals to afford a car, even when these vehicles are produced to be as affordable as possible.
If nothing else, the Korean car logos above should offer an insight into the diverse nature of the branding landscape for automotive companies. You can find more amazing car company logos in the other Logofile articles published on Brand Fabrik.