The use may constitute trademark infringement if it implies sponsorship or endorsement
I'm going to assume US jurisdiction for this question, because you've not provided one, and you haven't provided enough car manufacturer names to suggest that this wouldn't apply to the US. I'll also only cover Federal law (the cases were tried in state courts), so be aware that there may be additional responsibilities under state law that I don't examine here.
15 U.S. Code § 1114:
(1) Any person who shall, without the consent of the registrant—
(a) use in commerce any reproduction, counterfeit, copy, or colorable imitation of a registered mark in connection with the sale, offering for sale, distribution, or advertising of any goods or services on or in connection with which such use is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive; or
(b) reproduce, counterfeit, copy, or colorably imitate a registered mark and apply such reproduction, counterfeit, copy, or colorable imitation to labels, signs, prints, packages, wrappers, receptacles or advertisements intended to be used in commerce upon or in connection with the sale, offering for sale, distribution, or advertising of goods or services on or in connection with which such use is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive,
shall be liable in a civil action by the registrant for the remedies hereinafter provided. Under subsection (b) hereof, the registrant shall not be entitled to recover profits or damages unless the acts have been committed with knowledge that such imitation is intended to be used to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive.
15 U.S. Code § 1125:
(1) Any person who, on or in connection with any goods or services, or any container for goods, uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, or any false designation of origin, false or misleading description of fact, or false or misleading representation of fact, which—
(A) is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection, or association of such person with another person, or as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of his or her goods, services, or commercial activities by another person, or
(B) in commercial advertising or promotion, misrepresents the nature, characteristics, qualities, or geographic origin of his or her or another person’s goods, services, or commercial activities,
shall be liable in a civil action by any person who believes that he or she is or is likely to be damaged by such act.
These actions - the use of the trademarked manufacturer logo within the app - is likely to constitute trademark infringement, if the trademark owner's permission is not sought prior to publication, and the use of the trademark is likely to cause confusion as to the source, sponsorship or approval of the goods.
What this means, is that if the trademarks are used in such a way that a reasonable person is likely to think that:
- The product is an official product from the owner/brand associated with the trademark;
- The product is sponsored by the owner/brand associated with the trademark; or
- The product is approved or endorsed by the owner/brand associated with the trademark.
Then an action in trademark infringement may be brought by the trademark owner.
Consider the following two cases:
- Nominative use of a mark
When a mark is used solely to identify a product, this use is privileged.
- A descriptive mark used for its primary purpose
Descriptive marks are a subtype of trademarks, which are descriptive in nature but have acquired a secondary meaning. Here, using a descriptive mark for its primary purpose has been found not to constitute infringement.
- General First Amendment protection
Satire and parody are generally recognized as defenses if the primary purpose of the use is not directly commercial.
- If the products are not similar enough to be likely to cause confusion; and
- The use does not imply endorsement, sponsorship or approval of the product by the trademark owner
then it should be fine.
It seems that the situation in the question above would not give rise to confusion (unless the car manufacturer also develops an app, for instance), the second issue - endorsement - should be avoided.
Many programs will have a legal section that includes ownership information and disclaims any association with the trademark owner(s). I have not been able to locate any cases where the effect of these sections have been tested.