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The Basque Automotive Sector

The Basque automotive components industry is one of the most competitive and innovative in the world. It applied highly advanced management with high levels of efficiency and effectiveness in all its processes.

It comprises 300 companies which between them invoice over €20 billion and employ over 120,000 people worldwide, including 40,000 in the Basque Country.

It includes 48 multinationals with foreign capital which have been investing in the territory for many years. 50% of Spain’s automotive component companies are based in the Basque Country. Indeed, the Basque Country is home to 3 of the 4 Spanish multinationals ranked among the world’s top 100.

Then there is the specific weight of Mercedes, with close to 165,000 vehicles per annum and 4000 jobs. The Basque Country also hosts major electrification projects for buses, light trucks, quadricycles, motorcycles and bikes.

AIC-Automotive Intelligence Center is worth mentioning as a pioneer in open innovation whose purpose is to generate value for the automotive sector through cooperation in areas such as knowledge, training, technology, industrial development and new business. It has been up and running since 2009.”


The automotive sector is characterised by a very small working environment, with a value chain that runs from raw materials through universities, research centres, consultancy firms, engineering firms, etc. to capital goods manufacturers, die cutters and machining firms.

  • Manufacturing of steel, aluminium, composites, etc.
  • 80 machine-tool manufacturers.
  • 70 machining firms.
  • 4 universities.
  • 19 technology centres.
  • 64 corporate R&D units.
The Basque sector is present in all vehicle functions :
  • Structural elements
  • Drive train
  • Power train
  • Internal components
  • External components
  • Electrics, electronics & connectivity
  • Tyres & wheel rims


90% of the turnover of the Basque automotive sector comes from international projects. And over 50% now comes from outside Europe. The sector has 350 production plants outside Spain, mainly in Mexico, Brazil, China, India and Eastern Europe.

  • ASIA

This international presence makes it possible to accompany customers who are vehicle makers and tier-one suppliers in their globalisation process, offering the utmost rigour and earnestness.

The Basque Country is home to 48 multinationals in this sector, who have major skill centres that add value to the industry as a whole and its source organisations.


The automotive sector is feeling the impact of three major trends: connectivity, electrification and the automation of vehicles. This is bringing about radical changes in its business model.

The sector in the Basque Country has reacted accordingly with a highly active R&D policy in these areas. 70% of the automotive firms in the Basque Country have R&D&i departments, and the proportion of their average turnover that they earmark for R&D is 5%, with steady increases envisaged for the coming years.

Basque firms have identified a need to increase the value added to their products by upgrading their capabilities for design, prototyping, validation and advanced manufacturing. Businesses are therefore opting for research into new materials with better formability properties for optimal industrial processing and strength-to-weight ratio, so as to provide better performance in their ultimate in-vehicle applications.

All Basque firms in the sector are certified compliant with ISO 9000 or an equivalent. Around 90% of them are certified under benchmark environmental and safety standards.