The Automobile industry is a fierce one, with manufacturers competing for the ever-growing slice. There are car producers that have been dominant over the years, but you can't always expect the status quo not to be challenged. Toyota, for the last 2 decades, has been one of the best-selling car producers. No one thought that Volkswagen would one day overtake Toyota as the most selling vehicle in the world.
According to Car and Driver, the automobile industry is known to be a notorious cycle. The process is in most cases automated, and you know your estimates before you start the assembly. The revenues can also be estimated given the history of the sales. This leaves automakers with a lot of time on their hands and money to burn. It enables them to diversify into other projects that are not necessarily car related. As long as they are focusing on the core business, an extra source of revenue is not such a bad idea.
Some car manufacturers, like Honda, decided to go big with the side business and are currently manufacturing chartered planes although, not on a large-scale basis. There are also car manufacturers that have decided to branch out to consumable products and even services. Here are 23 things you didn't expect to be made by car companies.
23 Peugeot Pepper Mill
The Peugeot name dates backs to the early 1800s and it was not always used on cars. According to Wikipedia, the company was founded in 1810 and was run by the family. By 1840, pepper mills and coffee grinders had become the focal points for the family business. There was divided opinion about cars among family members as the years went along, and some of them decided to veer off and focus on motoring and bicycling. The businesses were reconciled after a couple of generations. Just a couple of years ago, Peugeot merged with Citroen, but still maintained a big stake in the business. The family later sold a big chunk of their shares and are no longer in control of the company.
22 BMW Bobsled
One would have never thought that BMW could actually build a bobsled. Bleacher Report has described it as a "Batmobile" and it does look like one. According to Car and Driver, the BMW Bobsled was specifically designed for Team USA to compete in the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Bobsledding is a very intensive sport and a millisecond could mean the difference between winning and losing.
The driver at that time, Steve Holcomb, admitted that it was not fun to drive but would give him a competitive edge. It is probably the first automobile that BMW built that had no engine or wheels. The real changes that BMW made were on the sled. They made it shorter for improved handling, especially when maneuvering steep curves.
21 Chrysler Rockets
Chrysler as a car company has always been experimenting with other verticals. According to Allpar, Chrysler first gained the trust of the American government when it supplied it with engines during the Second World War. This led to Chrysler being awarded a multi-million dollar contract in 1953 to build a secret guided missile for the American government.
In 1962, Chrysler delivered the guided missile which came to be known as the Apollo Telemetry. Chrysler went on to immensely contribute to America's space program.
They also came with a CCTV system that could work during the day and also at night. There was a period when Chrysler was in charge of all the automotive electronics that were required by NASA. They also built a rail traffic control system that was electronically computerized.
20 Hyundai Container Ships
Hyundai as a car company was founded in 1967 and has just recently celebrated its 50th birthday. According to Wikipedia, Hyundai, with its subsidies, is the third largest automobile manufacturer in the world. Hyundai also has the largest car plant facility in the world with an annual output of 1.6 million units.
It has not always been a smooth sailing for the South Korean manufacturer. They have experienced difficult challenges on the road to having a slice of the North American market. Other than vehicle manufacturing, Hyundai is currently the world's largest shipbuilding company. Hyundai Heavy Industries was formed in 2002 in order to distinguish it from the parent company. They have also specialized in oil and gas production and building electrical power plants.
19 M18 Hellcat (Buick)
The M18 Hellcat is notoriously known for its role in the second world war. To some observers, the M18 Hellcat played a big role in the outcome of the war. According to Wikipedia, the M18 Hellcat was the fastest tracked armored vehicle to be used in World War II. This was made possible because the vehicle only had the bare minimum when it came to the armory.
According to Wikipedia, the M18 Hellcat was termed as the most effective tank destroyer used in World War II. There was not any other tracked armored vehicle which had a higher kill to loss ratio than the M18 Hellcat. The vehicle was made by Buick, which was a division of General Motors at that time. There were 2507 units sold.
18 B-24 Liberator (Ford)
The B-24 Liberator was another great contribution by Ford. In addition to building over 200,000 units for the World War II, ford also contributed to the manufacturer of the B-24 Liberator at a pace that might not be possible today.
According to Car and Driver, Ford built over 9,000 B-24 Liberator and was producing them at a rate of one per hour.
According to Wikipedia, the B-24 Liberator holds the record for the world's most produced heavy bomber, a feat that has yet to be replicated ever since the plane was retired in 1968. The B-24 Liberator was estimated to cost $297,627, which could be about $4.95 million in today's currency. It is highly unlikely for Ford to replicate such an achievement even with the advancement in technology.
17 Aero Subaru
Of all the car manufacturers, no one would have thought that Subaru could make an airplane. It might come as a shocker as Subaru started experimenting with airplanes as early as 1964. According to Wikipedia, the first flying prototype was finished in 1965. Subaru's parent company, Fuji, was in charge of the flying division. Mass production started in 1968 to 1985 during which a total of 275 units were built. There were a couple of variants built over the course of 17 years.
According to Aviation Safety, there has been one crash reported in May 2017 involving the Fuji Aero Subaru airplane in which all the occupants died. The investigations have never been conclusive and it still remains a mystery as to what could have happened on that fateful day.
16 Toyota Houses
Toyota has an imprint in almost every industry. It is no surprise that they are also involved in the housing sector. According to Car and Driver, Toyota has automated the building of houses by using assembly lines. They use the same principles when coming up with their cars to build their houses.
According to Jalopnik, Toyota making houses is not a new phenomenon, as they have been doing so since 1975.
Toyota has built more than 300,000 houses ever since they started and they are currently building more than 5,000 units every year. The houses don't come cheap, as you would have to pay between $200,000 and $800,000 for one. Most of the houses have been built in Japan because that is where the main factory is located.
15 Philco Products (Ford)
Philco is one of the oldest indigenous American companies, as it was founded in 1892 in Philadelphia. The company was known for its battery products. According to Car and Driver, Ford decided to buy the company in 1961. The Ford brand appeared in almost every Philco product from refrigerators to gaming consoles.
The company was going to be declared bankrupt before Ford came to its rescue. According to Wikipedia, Ford went into a partnership with the company to supply radio receivers for their vehicles. Their relationship ended when Ford decided to sell the company to GTE in 1974. Ford can pride itself on making investments in almost every industry even though they were not all successful, with some costing the company a fortune.
14 Bugatti Auto Rail
Bugatti prides itself on being an exclusive auto manufacturer. The company was founded in 1909 and has produced some of the finest cars to ever grace the auto industry. The current generation of Bugatti vehicles epitomizes performance and everything you'd want in a sports car.
The Bugatti Veyron was the fastest sports car in the world for 10 years. According to Car and Driver, the Auto Rail was born out of frustrations. Bugatti had just finished working on the limited edition Type 41 Royale. There were only 25 units built with three units sold which was disheartening to the car manufacturer. The company decided to use the engines from the Type 41 Royale on an Auto Rail. The four engines used produced a total of 200-HP and were able to propel the trains to a top speed of 122 mph.
13 Porsche Everything
The Porsche brand is synonymous with vehicles, but they are involved in just about every market you can imagine. According to Yahoo News, Porsche produces watches, music equipment, electronics, furniture.
The German manufacturer is aware they have a big fan base that is willing to spend on just any product they put out. According to Business Insider, there is even a drive down jacket by Porsche that costs $800.
Other notable products include sunglasses that cost $600, running shoes, navigator sports bag, the list goes on. Should you decide to buy a Porsche vehicle, you have the chance to match it with your clothing and every accessory that you own. It is blind brand loyalty to some extent, but it is what Porsche is trying to create with the different product offerings.
12 Volkswagen Spicy Sausages
Volkswagen is currently the biggest auto producer going by the sales numbers. According to reuters.com, Volkswagen sold 10.7 million cars in 2017, beating Toyota in global figures. This came on the backdrop of the biggest scandal the car manufacturer has been involved in.
The Asian market contributed the biggest chunk of Volkswagen sales in 2017. The German company is known for its diversity in investing in other industries that don't have anything to do with cars.
According to Yahoo News, the car company also produces spicy sausages, which are big in Germany. In addition, Volkswagen also owns Wolfsburg FC which plays top flight football in the Bundesliga. The team has not been performing well over the course of two seasons, which has affected the finances.
11 GM Mechanical Heart
GM has been involved in most industries since it was founded in 1908. According to Wikipedia, GM has 396 facilities on 6 continents. They are still involved in almost every industry. GM was the biggest automobile producer from 1937 to 2007. Achieving such success gives the company the opportunity to invest in other industries.
According to Car and Driver, General Motors were involved in the research and development of the first-ever mechanical heart to be used in open-heart surgery in 1952.
The story that is told that is the designers got the inspiration from the Cadillac V-12. It should be noted that the funding came from the American Heart Association. A couple of machines were developed after that since the one from GM proved successful.
10 HondaJet HA-420
Honda is one of the most popular foreign car manufacturers in the United States. What many people don't know is that Honda first entered the North American market selling motorcycles. According to Car and Driver, Honda currently sells lawn mowers, generators, and even power sports equipment.
Honda is also the biggest motorcycle company in the world by market share, but the most interesting product from the Japanese company has to be the HondaJet HA-420.
According to Wikipedia, Honda started studying and exploring small size business jets in the 80s. Construction for the factory began in 2007 and was finished in 2011. The first Jet was delivered to a customer in North Carolina in 2015. It is approximated that Honda plans to build 100 units with 20% of the customers coming from Europe.
9 Chrysler Boats
Chrysler cars have been criticized over the years, but not a lot of complaints have been raised about their boats. Most car manufacturers have a tendency for producing engines for boats because there is a lucrative market. According to Car and Driver, Chrysler acquired West Bend Outboard and Elgin, which gave the company a 1/3 of the outboard-motor market share at that time.
According to allpar.com, Chrysler became a dominant force in the motorboat market as they offered more than 43 different sailing boat models. This happened in the 70s when motor boats were becoming very popular. Chrysler can't help but reminisce about the old days, as the glory is all gone today because of competition and advancement in technology.
8 GM EMD FT 103 Demonstrator
No one would have expected that GM was in the business of building trains. The story, according to Car and Driver, started in the 1920s. The then GM research chieftain was looking around for an engine that he could use on his yacht. General Motors ended up buying companies that he vetted, and one of them was Ohio's Winton Engines.
It was a coincidence of sorts because the Ohio based company had just started experimenting with steam engines which were a big deal in the railroad business in the 20s and 30s.
GM became interested in the project and there were already prototypes before they were introduced to consumers in the 30s. The railway engines became wildly successful after World War II with GM selling 15,000 units of diesel locomotives.
7 Ford Trimotor
Honda is not the only car producer that has tried building airplanes. According to Car and Driver, Henry Ford saw an opportunity that presented itself after the second world war. This lead to Ford buying Metal Airplane, a company that was focused on building airplanes. This, in turn, lead to commissioning of the Ford Trimotor, which was inspired by the German Fokker.
There were a total of 199 units built between 1926 to 1933, which is remarkable for a company that had very limited experience in engineering. I'd bet there are a lot of Ford enthusiasts that don't know the company used to manufacture airplanes before they were even cool. The first Trimotor could accommodate up to eight people while the 5-AT could carry up to 13 people.
6 Tractors (Many)
There are automobile manufacturers like Ford and Mitsubishi who are known to build tractors. It would be a surprise to hear that one of the first automobiles from Lamborghini was a tractor. There are also tractors that have been built by Porsche.
According to Wikipedia, Ferruccio Lamborghini started his tractor business in 1948, having been inspired growing up on the farm. His father was a farmer but he was more inclined towards engines. He later on went to sold half of the business to finance his new business after he was disappointed with the Ferrari he bought. The Porsche tractor was first launched in the 1930s and was designed by Dr. Ferdinand Porsche. There is also an Aston Martin tractor, which was one of the early vehicles from the manufacturer.
5 Mitsubishi Everything
Unlike Porsche, Mitsubishi doesn't focus on high-end products. According to Car and Driver, the car business is only a fraction of its industrial might. The company was founded in 1917. According to Wikipedia, Mitsubishi is the sixth biggest car producer in the world.
The Japanese company has interests in diverse industries ranging from food packing to industrial products. The air conditioner in your house is likely to be a Mitsubishi product.
According to their website, they have products for virtually every industry you could think of. They have invested in space systems and they can offer satellite platform and components including ground systems. Their home products include freezers, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers air purifiers and dehumidifiers. They even build elevators and moving walks.
4 Aston Martin Furniture
Aston Martin was founded in 1913 and has been associated with luxury grand tours since the 50s. Their cars are generally sporty in nature and don't come cheap. There have been several models over the years, and Aston Martin has cut a name for itself for providing luxury and performance in their vehicles.
They have extended the exquisite taste to furniture and customers are not only limited to cars. According to Yahoo News, Aston Martin decided to partner with to partner with Formatilia to come up with the furniture. Aston Martin car owners can expect the same level of craftsmanship in their living room. The furniture is said to go on sale in September 2018. You can get a bed, coffee table, armchair, and a sofa.
3 Honda Lawn Mower
Honda is another company that is known for producing products that are not cars. One of their interesting products is the Honda Robotic Lawnmower. According to newatlas.com, the Honda lawn mower has been selling in Europe for a couple of years and was only introduced to the America market in 2017.
What makes it an interesting piece of technology is the fact that it is fully autonomous. It has a timer which can be set depending on the time of day. The settings can also be adjusted depending on the season.
The initial setup may require a little bit of work but that is likely going to be the only challenge you will experience. Honda has heavily invested in robotics and we are more likely to see more autonomous products from the company.
2 Fiat Publishing
Fiat is one of the oldest automobile manufacturers. According to Wikipedia, Fiat was founded in 1899 and is currently the biggest car manufacturer in Italy. The company has been involved in other industries during the 118 years it has been in existence. The company has received 9 European car awards and has the lowest carbon emissions in Europe.
According to Car and Driver, Fiat has built railway lines and engines, built aircraft and even built weaponry, like the Ravelli Modello in 1914. The Ravelli Modello was used by the Italian army during the First World War. Fiat has also invested in publishing and has owned the La Stampa (The Press) since 1935.
1 Saab Tunnan Jet Fighter
According to Car and Driver, Saab started as a jet maker before it went into vehicle manufacturing. The parent company was founded in 1937 while the automobile in 1947. According to Wikipedia, the company made airplanes with the main focus being fighter jets.
The last civilian airplane to be made by the Swedish manufacturer was the Saab 2000. The company decided to venture into the automobile industry as means of diversification. It might be a strange coincidence but the production numbers and top speed are almost identical at 661 units and 660 mph. The SAAB group still functions, but is mainly focused on military contracts. SAAB automobile became an independent company in 1989 and is restricted to only car production.
Sources: carnanddriver.com; wikipedia.org; news.yahoo.com