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Automotive Industry
The United States is the world's second largest market for vehicle sales and production.

SelectUSA Automotive Industry

Industry Overview

The United States has one of the largest automotive markets in the world. In 2020, U.S. light vehicle sales were 14.5 million units. Overall, the United States is the world’s second-largest market for vehicle sales and production. Autos Drive America reports that international automakers produced 5 million vehicles in the United States in 2020. 

The U.S. affiliates of majority foreign-owned automotive companies directly support more than 400,000 U.S. jobs. In addition to the auto assembly plants, many automakers have U.S.-based engine and transmission plants, and conduct R&D, design, and testing in the United States. Total foreign direct investment in the U.S. automotive industry reached $143.3 billion in 2019. According to a study conducted by IHS Markit and released by the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association in 2021, the vehicle supplier industry generated a total of 4.8 million U.S. direct, indirect, and induced jobs in 2019.

The automotive industry is also at the forefront of innovation. New R&D initiatives are transforming the industry to better respond to the opportunities of the 21st century. International automakers now have almost 70 U.S.-based R&D facilities that employ more than 7,000 workers.

In 2020, the United States exported 1.4 million new light vehicles and 108,754 medium and heavy trucks (worth a combined value of over $52 billion) to more than 200 markets around the world, with additional exports of automotive parts valued at $66.7 billion. With an open investment policy, a large consumer market, a highly skilled workforce, strong R&D capabilities, available infrastructure, and local and state government incentives, the United States is expected to remain a leading market for the 21st-century automotive industry. 

Industry Subsectors

The United States has an extensive network of automotive parts suppliers serving the industry. In 2019, this network directly supported over 600,000 U.S. jobs. According to a study conducted by IHS Markit and released by the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association in 2015, the total employment impact of the auto parts industry in the United States was estimated to be over 4 million direct and indirect jobs. There were 4,965 establishments in this industry in 2017. Foreign direct investment totaled $68.7 billion in 2019 and supported over 344,000 jobs in 2018. The percent of total employment in 2018 due to FDI was about 58 percent.

The top occupations in this industry are production occupations. In 2019, there were 395,100 workers employed in these occupation making an average annual wage of $40,250. Of these workers, 181,220 were employed specifically as assemblers and fabricators making an average annual wage of $36,950. The second most common occupations were architecture and engineering occupations which were comprised of 44,030 workers making an average annual wage of $79,260.

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Industry Factsheet

Explore the impact of foreign direct investment on U.S. jobs, exports, and innovation in the automotive industry.

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Investor Guide

The Investor Guide is a high-level view of everything from taxes to immigration and workforce to business structures.

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SelectUSA Stats

SelectUSA has created several dashboards to help analyze key FDI data from a variety of sources.

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Industry Associations
A comprehensive list of associations in the automotive industry.
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Browse this state incentives database developed by the Council for Community and Economic Research (C2ER).
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