Italian automotive history traces back to the late 19th century, with pioneers like Fiat laying the foundation for an industry that would soon become synonymous with performance, elegance, and innovation.
In the global automotive industry, Italian car companies hold a revered position. They are popular for their unparalleled craftsmanship and strong commitment to pushing the boundaries of automotive engineering.
From the legendary prancing horse of Ferrari to the roaring bull of Lamborghini, Italian companies exemplify the pinnacle of automotive performance and luxury.
And as we enter into the new automotive era, these Italian brands shine bright with advancements in electrification, autonomous driving technology, and sustainable mobility.
In this overview article, we’ve highlighted the most popular Italian Car Brands that are known for their elegance, performance, and distinctive flair. Each company represents a unique chapter in the ongoing saga of Italian automotive excellence.
Did you know?
Zagato, a well-known Italian coachbuilding firm, has collaborated with various manufacturers to produce limited-edition models, including Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, Lamborghini 5-95 Zagato, and Alfa Romeo TZ3 Stradale.
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Founded in 1930
Revenue: $73 million+
Majority Ownership: Mahindra Group (76%)
Pininfarina is an iconic automotive design and engineering company that combines artistry with engineering. Their timeless designs reflect the spirit of Italian elegance and craftsmanship.
Pininfarina has collaborated with numerous automakers over the years, creating some of the most popular cars in automotive history. So far, the company has designed more than 1,200 cars for big automakers like Ferrari, Rolls-Royce, Maserati, and Alfa Romeo.
Some of its most famous designs include the Alfa Romeo Spider, Lancia Aurelia B24, Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta, and Ferrari Testarossa.
The company’s expertise isn’t limited to traditional design; they’re also making strides in electric mobility and autonomous vehicles. They’re actively engaged in developing electric vehicles (EVs), with one notable project being the Battista, an all-electric hypercar.
Pininfarina has received many accolades for its design, including multiple “Car Design Awards” and the prestigious “Compasso d’Oro” design award in Italy.
Founded in 1988
Once based in Modena, Italy, Cizeta is now a manufacturer located in the United States. It gained fame for its unconventional and luxurious vehicles that combined Italian design flair with cutting-edge engineering.
The company was founded by a former Lamborghini engineer, Claudio Zampolli, and music composer, Giorgio Moroder. They aimed to create a unique supercar that would rival the performance and exclusivity of established automakers.
Cizeta’s flagship model, V16T, was introduced in the early 1990s. It featured a 6-liter V16 engine, developed by integrating two Lamborghini Urraco V8 engines. While the engine produced a distinctive exhaust note, the chassis and suspension of the car offered exceptional handling and stability.
The production of the Cizeta V16T was limited, contributing to its high demand among collectors and enthusiasts. Today, Cizeta Automobili continues as a niche manufacturer, producing bespoke supercars for selected clients.
8. Alfa Romeo
Alfa Romeo Giulia
Founded in 1910
Majority Ownership: Stellantis Italy
Production output: 44,100+ units
Annual Revenue: $2.5 billion
Alfa Romeo has a rich history in motorsport. It achieved numerous victories in prestigious racing events like Formula One, Targa Florio, and Mille Miglia.
These triumphs helped the company solidify its reputation for performance and engineering excellence, with iconic models like the Alfa Romeo 8C, Tipo 33, and Giulia dominating the race tracks.
Drawing inspiration from its rich heritage and Italian flair, Alfa Romeo’s modern design language showcases aggressive styling cues, sleek lines, and driver-centric interiors.
In recent years, the company has made some changes to expand its product lineup, improve its brand image, and reestablish itself as a competitive player in the premium automotive segment.
Their future lineup is expected to include a mix of performance-oriented models, electrified vehicles, and SUVs.
While the brand has a global presence, it has faced challenges in certain regions. Alfa Romeo has experienced fluctuations in sales over the years, with varying levels of success in different markets. Nevertheless, their future sales and revenues are anticipated to stabilize.
Abarth Cars and its founder Carlo Abarth | Abarth’s official website
Founded in 1949
Annual Revenue: $280 million
Majority Ownership: Stellantis Italy
Abarth is known for its high-performance tuning of Fiat vehicles and its production of small, sporty cars with distinct styling. Its iconic Scorpion logo symbolizes the brand’s agility, speed, and determination on the racetrack.
Abarth has created various iconic models since its inception, including Abarth 124, Abarth 500, Abarth 595, and Abarth 695 Biposto. These models feature aggressive styling cues, fine-tuned engines, and upgraded suspensions, appealing to enthusiasts seeking spirited driving experiences.
The Abarth 500, in particular, has gained popularity for its compact size, nimble handling, and unique exhaust note.
Abarth’s tuning expertise is evident in its vehicles, which are engineered for maximum performance on both road and racetrack. The company has achieved numerous victories across different racing disciplines, including circuit racing, hill climbs, and rallying.
Lancia Pu+Ra HPE was named “Revelation” at the sixth edition of Automobile Awards ceremony held in Paris. Lancia Pu+Ra HPE embodies the design of all next Lancia models, including the New Ypsilon to be revealed in February.#LanciaPuRaHPEhttps://t.co/BwDOTd76bQ pic.twitter.com/4YfQcrFObw
— Lancia (@lancia_official) January 12, 2024
Founded in 1906
Production Output: 44,000+ units
Majority Ownership: Stellantis Italy
Lancia was founded by an Italian racing driver, Vincenzo Lancia, and an automotive engineer, Claudio Fogolin. The company introduced its first car, Tipo 51, in 1907, featuring innovative design elements and advanced engineering for its time.
Their design philosophy is characterized by elegance, sophistication, and timeless beauty. All their vehicles feature sleek lines, harmonious proportions, and attention to detail.
Lancia introduced several innovations, including the first production V6 engine, monocoque construction, and independent front suspension in production cars.
The company has created various iconic models throughout its history. Notable ones include Lancia Fulvia, Lancia Aurelia, Lancia Thema, Lancia Delta, and Lancia Stratos.
However, in recent years, the brand has faced challenges, including declining sales, financial difficulties, and changing market trends. Lancia’s global presence has decreased, with its focus primarily on the European market.
Stellantis Italy, the parent company of Lancia, plans to reposition the brand within the premium segment, focusing on limited-production models and leveraging its heritage and iconic status.
Maserati grecale model
Founded in 1914
Annual Revenue: $2.51 billion
Majority Ownership: Stellantis
Maserati is famous for producing high-performance sports cars, sedans, and SUVs. In its early years, the company focused on motorsport. It has an impressive racing heritage, with more than 1,000 victories in various motorsport competitions, including endurance racing, Formula One, and GT championships.
Maserati is dedicated to making top-notch cars, emphasizing performance, innovation, and driving dynamics. Their cars are powered by potent engines developed in-house, delivering exhilarating acceleration and a thrilling driving experience.
They utilize advanced tech like adaptive suspension systems, electronic drive aids, and all-wheel drive to optimize performance and ensure driver confidence in different driving conditions.
Their lineup includes models such as Ghibli (sport sedan), Quattroporte (luxury sedan), GranTurismo (grand tourer), and Levante (luxury SUV), each offering a unique combination of style, comfort, and performance.
The Maserati Quattroporte, in particular, has been in production for over five decades, making it one of the longest-running models in the automotive industry. Moreover, the Levante model, launched in 2016, has become a popular choice among buyers, contributing to Maserati’s expansion into the luxury SUV segment.
These vehicles are sold in over 70 countries, with a strong presence in the United States, Europe, and China.
Maserati is planning to introduce electric cars in its upcoming lineup, aiming for sustainability and great performance.
It is not afraid of the track, but it is built for the road.
Hyper-fast. Hyper-light. Hyper-tech.
You asked for it, you waited for it, and here it is.
It is the Imola Roadster.
— Pagani Automobili (@PaganiAuto) November 23, 2023
Founded in 1992
Annual Revenue: $12.35 million
Number of employees: 160+
Founded by Horacio Pagani, an Argentine-Italian automotive engineer and designer, Pagani has risen to prominence as one of the world’s most exclusive and revered automotive brands.
Pagani believes in chasing perfection by blending art with engineering. Every Pagani model is a work of art, meticulously built to the highest standards of quality and precision.
The company prefers using lightweight materials like carbon fiber and titanium to optimize performance and enhance agility on both roads and tracks.
Their cars are capable of reaching staggering top speeds. For instance, the Pagani Huayra BC Roadster can go up to 238 mph (383 km/h), which makes it one of the fastest production cars in the world
Pagani manufactures its cars in limited quantities. This limited-production approach allows for a high level of customization, with buyers able to tailor their cars to exact specifications, from interior trim materials to exterior paint colors.
Mastering ice driving is another skill that our super sports cars possess. We took part in the classic F.A.T. race event in Zell am See, where winter enthusiasts and automotive fans gathered for an unforgettable experience.#Lamborghini
— Lamborghini (@Lamborghini) January 31, 2024
Founded in 1963
Majority Ownership: Audi AG
Annual Revenue: $2.58 billion
Production output: 9,233+ units
Lamborghini started with a big dream: creating groundbreaking sports cars that could compete with the best ones from famous brands like Ferrari. Today, Lamborghini has established itself as a symbol of luxury, innovation, and engineering excellence.
Lamborghini cars stand out for their striking design, aggressive styling, and aerodynamic shapes. Their iconic scissor doors, angular contours, and bold lines make them instantly recognizable. Plus, they utilize top-notch materials like carbon fiber, aluminum, and titanium to reduce weight, optimize performance, and enhance handling characteristics.
The company has produced several iconic models, leaving an indelible mark on the automotive world. These include the Lamborghini Miura (often referred to as the world’s first supercar), the Lamborghini Countach (famous for its scissor doors and futuristic design), and the Lamborghini Aventador (that features a powerful V-12 engine).
More recent models, like the Lamborghini Huracán and the Lamborghini Urus SUV, have further expanded the company’s lineup, offering a blend of luxury, performance, and versatility for a broader range of customers.
Their future model will most likely feature hybrid powertrains and advanced driver assistance systems, keeping Lamborghini ahead in automotive excellence in the 21st century.
Founded in 1939
Majority Ownership: Public (65.49%); Exor N.V. (24.21%)
Annual Revenue: $6.25 billion
Production output: 13,200+ units
Ferrari has long been regarded as one of the most prestigious and recognizable names in the industry. Its iconic red cars adorned with the prancing horse logo represent speed, power, and racing pedigree.
Ferrari has a rich racing heritage, and its success in prestigious racing events (like Formula One and GT championships) has played a pivotal role in shaping the brand’s identity and reputation for performance.
From classic models like the Ferrari 250 GTO and Ferrari Daytona to modern-day supercars such as the Ferrari SF90 Stradale and Ferrari LaFerrari, each represents the pinnacle of automotive engineering, design, and performance.
The company maintains a reputation for exclusivity and prestige, with its car being highly coveted by automotive experts, collectors, and enthusiasts. Buyers often become part of an exclusive community where they share a passion for Ferrari’s history and craftsmanship.
Did you know?
Scuderia Ferrari, the racing division of Ferrari, has competed in every Formula One World Championship since its inception in 1950 and has won over 230 Grand Prix prizes.
Fiat 500 Model
Founded in 1899
Production output: 1,300,000+ units
Majority Ownership: Stellantis Italy
Fiat produces a broad range of vehicles, including compact cars, hatchbacks, sedans, SUVs, and commercial vehicles like vans and trucks, catering to multiple segments of the automotive market.
Fiat cars are popular for their practicality and affordability. They stand out with their eye-catching aesthetics and efficient use of space.
The company has a global presence, with operations in more than 100 countries and a vast network of dealerships and manufacturing facilities across the world. It has a strong presence in Europe, particularly in Italy, where it is the leading automotive brand.
The Fiat 500 consistently ranks among the best-selling cars in Italy and other European markets. Their other top-selling models are the Fiat Panda, Fiat Egea, and Fiat Strada, each selling over 120,000 units annually.
The company continues to evolve and adapt to changing market trends and consumer preferences. In order to stay relevant and competitive, they regularly update their product lineup and introduce new models that resonate with contemporary lifestyles.
New Italian Car Brands
11. Automobili Estrema
Founded in 2020
Automobili Estrema is a high-performance automotive company that aims to push the boundaries of EV technology and performance.
Their debut model, the Fulminea, boasts 2,040 horsepower generated by four electric motors. It can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in under 10 seconds, reaching a top speed of 320 km/h. Moreover, its impressive range of 520 kilometers on a single charge underscores its practicality and versatility.
The company is still in its early stages. Its reception in the automotive market, including interest from enthusiasts and media, would serve as an indicator of its future success and impact.
12. Automobili Pininfarina
Each #AutomobiliPininfarina is a manifestation of its owners’ dreams and opportunity to express creativity partnered with our Atelier team in #Italy. The latest ‘Centocinquanta’ #Battista revealed at our partner in Newport Beach is just that. pic.twitter.com/Y1wUNAz5GS
— Automobili Pininfarina (@AutomobiliPinin) January 19, 2024
Founded in 2018
Automobili Pininfarina is a subsidiary of the renowned Italian design house Pininfarina.
Its debut model, the Battista, is an all-electric hypercar boasting over 1900 horsepower and a top speed exceeding 350 km/h. It’s one of the fastest electric vehicles ever produced, with acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h in just 1.8 seconds.
The company plans to manufacture a limited number of hypercars, adding to exclusivity and appeal among automotive enthusiasts and collectors. In addition to the Battista, they have plans to expand their lineup with new electric vehicles, including luxury SUVs and GT cars.
Founded in 2018
Production Capacity: 150,000 units
XEV, short for X Electrical Vehicle, is dedicated to making compact and practical electric cars designed for city life. Their goal is to meet the growing need for eco-friendly transportation while tackling issues like traffic and pollution in urban areas.
They’ve introduced the LSEV (Low-Speed Electric Vehicle), which has a lightweight chassis and body. Many components are made using 3D printing, which saves significant time and money compared to traditional car production methods.
Their flagship model, YOYO, unveiled in 2021, has a top speed of 50 mph and a maximum range of 93 miles. Unlike traditional cars that consist of thousands of components, the Yoyo is made with only 57 components
The innovative use of 3D printing technology allows for the creation of intricate parts with enhanced nylon and thermoplastic polyurethane materials, minimizing waste and maximizing design flexibility.
More to Know
Which brand sold the most vehicles in Italy?
In 2023, Fiat was the best-selling automobile brand in Italy, selling over 230,700 vehicles. Following Fiat were Volkswagen, with around 101,960 vehicles sold, and Peugeot, with approximately 98,000 units sold.
Comparison of Italy’s two most luxurious car brands
|Founded in 1947 by Enzo Ferrari
|Founded in 1963 by Ferruccio Lamborghini
|Has a rich history in Formula One racing
|More focused on producing road cars and GT racing
|Emphasizes elegance and refinement
|Known for aggressive and futuristic designs
|Iconic models include Ferrari 250 GTO, LaFerrari, 488 GTB
|Lamborghini Miura, Countach, Aventador
|Positioned as a premium luxury brand
|Positioned as a high-performance supercar brand
|Symbol of luxury, exclusivity, and performance
|Exudes boldness, power, and audacity
|Offers exclusive ownership programs like Ferrari Clienti and Ferrari Classiche
|Offers VIP ownership experiences, including factory tours and exclusive events
|Enjoys a strong and loyal fan base
|Enjoys a passionate following among enthusiasts
The table only provides a general comparison; individual preferences and opinions may vary based on personal tastes and experiences.
The Italian automotive sector
Italy’s automotive industry is a major economic driver, employing 268,300 people. In 2022, the sector generated a turnover of €92.7 billion, contributing nearly 9.3% to Italy’s manufacturing turnover and 5.2% to its GDP.
Moreover, Italy ranks as the fourth largest European automotive market, trailing behind Germany, the UK, and France. In 2022, Italy produced over 782,600 vehicles, including 486,100+ cars, 234,700+ light commercial vehicles, and 61,700+ trucks and buses.
In 2023, according to the report from the Foreign Car Distributors Association, Italy saw the sale of 449,630 gasoline-powered passenger cars, 282,840 diesel cars, 575,480 plug-in hybrid cars, and 66,679 electric vehicles.