A guide to: Automotive brands in esports
In recent years automotive brands have become increasingly prevalent in esports.More and more, car manufacturers race toward partnerships that aim to inspire gamers to visit their local dealers.To help keep track of it all, we have compiled a list of automotive brands in esports and their activations.Automotive brands in esports Note: Companies are listed in alphabetical order.This list will be updated periodically.Aston Martin Parent company: Aston Martin Lagonda Group Limited Country of origin: United Kingdom Esports partnerships: In may 2020, Aston Martin made its esports debut in The Race All-Star Series — Powered by ROKiT Phones, taking home first place in the sim racing Pro Cup.
Audi/FAW Audi Parent company: Volkswagen Note: FAW-Audi is a sub-brand of FAW-Volkswagen, a joint venture between China FAW Group Corporation, German Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen (China) Investment Company.
Country of origin: Germany Esports partnerships: Audi made its leap into esports by partnering with Astralis Group in February 2017 and sponsoring the Danish Counter-Strike: Global Offensive team.In January 2019, Audi joined as principal partner of Astralis Group’s League of Legends franchise, Origen, and in December 2019 partnered with Future FC, Astralis’s FIFA brand.Audi entered partnerships with German FIFA teams FOKUS CLAN and Schanzer Esports, the esports arm of FC Ingolstadt 04, in 2018.
To promote the Audi Q2L in China, Audi-Volkswagen manufacturer FAW-Volkwsagen collaborated on a variety show for PandaTV.Audi’s official Formula E factory team, Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler, briefly crossed over into esports during the COVID-19 outbreak.
The series, which is run on rFactor 2, was part of Formula E’s fundraising partnership with UNICEF.In January 2020, Audi became a sponsor of Riot Games‘s new League of Legends Belgian League.Chinese organisation TOP Esports announced a sponsorship deal with subsidiary brand FAW-Audi in September 2020.BMW Parent company: BMW Group Country of origin: Germany Esports partnerships: BMW has been active in the esports space for several years, first by sponsoring the 2017 EU League of Legends Championship Series Summer Finals in Paris.
The auto giant sponsored its first esports team in 2019 with Cloud9, followed by Brazilian organisation paiN Gaming.BMW expanded its global reach in 2020 by partnering with Fnatic, FunPlus Phoenix, G2 Esports, and T1 Sports & Entertainment.The unusual move was part of a #UnitedinRivalry campaign that saw all teams playfully mocking one another on social media.In December 2020, BMW Motorsport joined forces with Team Redline, G2 Esports, Williams Esports, and BS+COMPETITION to expand the company’s presence in sim racing.
In April 2021, BMW Esports—the company’s esports division—announced ‘Heroes Of Rivalry’, a manga series featuring its United in Rivalry team partners: Cloud 9, Fnatic, FunPlus Phoenix, G2 Esports, and T1.Cadillac Parent company: General Motors Company Country of origin: USA Esports partnerships: Cadillac was named the exclusive automotive partner of TSM in January of 2021.Ford Motor Company Parent company: N/A Country of origin: USA Esports partnerships: In 2019, Ford launched the Fordzilla brand to house its first-ever esports competitors in Forza Motorsport 7 and other racing titles.The brand revealed a new virtual race car in August 2020 called the Fordzilla P1.
In 2020, Ford became the presenting sponsor of the Rocket League Championship Series X Winter Majors in 2020, and for the RLCS X Winter Split in 2021.Haval Parent company: Great Wall Motors Country of origin: China Esports partnerships: Haval entered the esports arena in July 2020, becoming the exclusive automotive sponsor of Virtus.pro.Activations will be centred around the Russian organisation’s Dota 2 team.In November 2020, Haval was named the exclusive automotive partner of the second season of EPIC League.Honda Parent company: N/A Country of origin: Japan Esports partnerships: Honda was named the official automotive partner of Riot Games’s North American League of Legends Championship (LCS) series in 2019.Soon after, LCS Scouting Grounds was renamed to Honda Scouting Grounds.Honda also became the first confirmed in-game banner sponsor to be featured in League of Legends.In November 2020, Honda targeted esports fans by becoming the first automotive brand to reveal its latest car on Twitch.
The 2022 Honda Civic was unveiled on Honda’s official gaming channel, Head2Head.Honda also sponsored Team Liquid in 2019.Kia Motors Parent company: Hyundai Country of origin: South Korea Esports partnerships: Kia sponsored Counter Logic Gaming’s Rocket League team in 2018 as presenting partner for an episode of CLG’s ‘ROADS’ video series.Kia also became the main sponsor of the League of Legends European Championship (LEC) in 2019.The brand must have enjoyed its ‘test drive’, because this partnership was renewed for the 2020 and 2021 seasons.In 2020, Kia became the official automotive partner of South Korean esports team Thunder Predator and North American organisation Rogue for its LCS team.In addition, Kia became the naming sponsor of League of Legends world champions DAMWON Gaming, which subsequently changed its name to DWG KIA.Lamborghini Parent company: Audi Country of origin: Italy Esports partnerships: This luxury car brand has licensed its cars for video games in the past but ventured into esports in July of 2020 by forming its own esports series called ‘The Real Race‘ in collaboration with the video game Assetto Corsa Competizione.
In April 2021, Lamborghini partnered with Rocket League developer Psyonix to sponsor the Rocket League Championship Series (RLCS) X Lamborghini Open and a new event titled the ‘Battle of the Bulls’.McLaren Parent company: McLaren Country of origin: United Kingdom Esports partnerships: UK-based McLaren has been active in sim racing for many years, partnering with Logitech G for a number of events and activations.McLaren Seoul entered esports in 2020 as the official partner of Korean organisation DragonX.Mercedes-Benz Parent company: Daimler AG Country of origin: Germany Esports partnerships: Mercedes-Benz is no stranger to esports, first entering in 2017 with ESL — a deal the two parties extended in 2020.
The brand also signed an agreement with the Chinese League of Legends side Royal Never Give Up (RNG), and launched its own team in the F1 Esports Series.
In 2019, Mercedes parent company Daimler AG, along with FC Köln, purchased 67 percent of ESforce’s stake in German multi-gaming organisation SK Gaming.The deal included Mercedes-Benz logos on the front of SK Gaming’s jerseys.In April 2021, The Polish branch of Mercedes-Benz inked a partnership with Polish esports org Illuminar Gaming and is now the title sponsor of esports and gaming venue ESPOT Gaming Concept (now named ‘ESPOT Powered By Mercedes-Benz’) in Warsaw, Poland.Mitsubishi Parent company: N/A Country of origin: Japan Esports partnerships: In 2019, the UK arm of Mitsubishi Motors hosted an online competition among gamers to design the ‘ultimate esports vehicle’ in a ‘Truck King Battle’.
The result was the L200 eSports Concept, a truck outfitted with a pair of driving rigs in the bed area of the pickup, complete with curved LED screens and Logitech G920 wheel, pedals and shifters, along with a racing seat.Mitsubishi Motors Taiwan was set to sponsor the Hearthstone Grand Masters Asia Pacific in 2019 but dropped out following the controversial suspension of Hong Kong-based Hearthstone player Chung ‘blitzchung’ Ng Wai.Nissan Parent company: N/A Country of origin: Japan Esports partnerships: Nissan entered the esports industry in 2019 through partnerships with two North American organisations, OpTic Gaming and FaZe Clan.
Porsche Parent company: Volkswagen Country of origin: Germany Esports partnerships: Porsche launched the Porsche iRacing World Championship Series in 2018 in partnership with online racing simulator iRacing.The Porsche TAG Heuer Esports Supercup entered its third year in 2021.
In 2019, the brand partnered with Hamburger SV‘s esports division.The Porsche Centre in Hamburg joined forces with the Bundesliga club’s FIFA team, with room for expansion into other games.
Subaru Parent company: Subaru Corp Country of origin: Japan Esports partnerships: in 2017, Subaru of America partnered with esports agency Damage to create its own $20,000 Subaru Invitational in CS:GO complete with a dedicated Twitch channel.In 2020, Subaru of America became the entitlement sponsor of the Subaru iRX All-Star Invitational in partnership with iRacing.Toyota Parent company: Toyota Industries Country of origin: Japan Esports partnerships: Toyota was a launch partner for Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League in 2018, and in that same year announced the Toyota Masters CS:GO Bangkok, the first international Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament in Thailand.In 2019, Toyota became the BLAST Pro Series’s first car partner by sponsoring the tournament in Moscow.
Then in 2020, the Southern California Toyota Dealers Association, which comprises 59 dealerships in the region, partnered with Immortals for ‘prominent logo placement’ on the team’s LCS jerseys and to be the team’s official automotive partner.The partnership was renewed for 2021.Follow ESI on Instagram.