The development and regional significance of the automotive industry: supplier parks in western Europe


Supplier relationships in the automotive industry have changed considerably in recent decades. Increasing levels of outsourcing and modular production combined with just–in–time deliveries have increased the demand for logistical coordination of the manufacturing process. This article specifically looks at the use of supplier parks in the automotive industry. Five supplier parks located in Sweden, Germany and Spain are analysed using case studies. One observation is that the logic of proximity in these cases is highly linked to the use of sequential synchronous just–in–time deliveries. This is combined with a high degree of modular production as well as outsourcing strategies. Together, these factors have pushed supplier companies to establish themselves in supplier parks. The cases also reveal very limited links to the local and regional economy. Most companies have the sole function of serving the adjacent customer with reliable deliveries. One further observation is that investment in infrastructure is to a great extent made through public funding, as supplier parks are typically ‘produced spaces’ in order to support the car–makers in the region.