You already know how Kia and Hyundai turned South Korea into the emerging automotive powerhouse of 2011, but the field for the future is wide open. We asked Jalopnik readers to pick the ten countries who may be the big auto producers of the future.
Welcome back to Answers of the Day — our daily Jalopnik feature where we take the best ten responses from the previous day's Question of the Day and shine it up to show off. It's by you and for you, the Jalopnik readers. Enjoy!
Photo Credit: BYD
Suggested By: Dragan Čelan
Why it's the next big thing: Croatia as a country will have a hard time convincing the world that it's an automotive superpower in vehicle production but it may be a source of new design talent. Croatia plays home to one of the most innovative supercar designers in the world, Mate Rimac.
Photo Credit: Rimc Automobili
Suggested By: Drachen
Why it's the next big thing: You may not have known that Indonesia even has a car industry, but it does, building cars and components that are shipped across Asia. With a growing middle class in an already large population, Indonesia may boom into a more well-known piece of Asia's industrial power.
Photo Credit: Daihatsu
8.) South Africa
Suggested By: Baja Bug & (Hopefully Still) Volvo
Why it's the next big thing: South Africa is the most industrialized of all the African nations, other than Egypt, who will probably be busy this year dealing with its own political situation following the Arab Spring. South Africa is the home of Superformance, who build kit cars and replica cars of Ford GT40s and Daytona Coupes, as well as the mid-engined British rocket ship, Noble.
If any African nation is going to grow to be a significant player in the automotive marketplace in 2012, it will be South Africa.
Photo Credit: Superformance
Suggested By: ranwhenparked
Why it's the next big thing: Iran is usually left out of discussions of growing car markets, but that's mainly because the country finds other ways to keep its name in the news.
Still, Iran has been building their own cars since the 1970s, with Iran Khodro enjoying relative success domestically and with exports in the region. Though their cars have been almost exclusively licensed copies of British and Italian designs, the Iranian government is pushing for more domestic R&D, and they have the money to back up their plans.
Photo Credit: Iran Khodro
Suggested By: Jack Trade
Why it's the next big thing: The biggest player in the Malaysian car industry, Proton, may be looking at some financial trouble for 2012, but even that may not stop the country from merging as a much more well-known and recognized player in the international automotive scene.
Like Indonesia, Malaysia has a large population, a growing middle class, a stable government, and great positioning for shipping manufactured vehicles and components across Asia.
Photo Credit: Proton
Suggested By: Xander Crews, Proud of BOXER
Why it's the next big thing: Mexico has been growing its automotive production capacity for some time now, building many of the foreign and domestic cars for sale in America. The US is still the second biggest car market in the world, lagging only behind China in sales, and Mexico stands to grow into a veritable superpower by simply manufacturing vehicles for the United States.
Photo Credit: Mastretta
Suggested By: Brandon Sharp
Why it's the next big thing: Russia puts the "R" in BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China), the go-to acronym for countries that are rapidly developing into first-rate industrial and capital giants like the US, Germany, and Japan. There's money in Russia and with Renault-Nissan making a strong drive to snatch up Russian car buyers, which might mean there will be more than just Bentleys, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis clogging up the Moscow car dealerships for the country's super-wealthy oil magnates.
Photo Credit: Lada
Suggested By: Kiwi_Commander
Why it's the next big thing: Brazil is on the rise with new customers and new wealth growing within the borders. These people are buying cars, and Brazil's car market is only going to swell, with foreign car companies like Volkswagen are flocking to the country with low-cost, rugged cars. Reader Gamecat235 gives his take on the nation:
Brazil. They have, along with Mexico, been an emerging market for both purchasing and manufacturing vehicles. With the impending re-emergence of Brazil with the 2014 World Cup I can see them trying to reach the world stage by taking their stance with being self-sustainable in terms of oil dependence and attempting to broaden it to other nations.
It might take them a decade or two to work out the infrastructure and corruption, but I can see Brazil rising to new levels far beyond Troller (not a joke, that's the name of the company).
Photo Credit: Fiat
Suggested By: SecondSpitter
Why it's the next big thing: From Tata Nanos to ancient Hindustans, India has plenty of cars to put on sale. More than that, they have pretty much the largest bunch of potential customers within their borders. With Indian money now controlling Land Rover and Jaguar, India even has the luxury and supercars that a country needs to really step into the big leagues.
Photo Credit: Associated Press
Suggested By: Slopos
Why it's the next big thing: In spite of your concerns over how much every Chinese-designed car looks like a rip off of some American/Italian/Japanese design from five years ago, the might of the Chinese automotive industry will continue to expand.
Photo Credit: BYD