Automotive industry Bavaria: automotive centre of the past, present and future. Andreas Flocken developed the first electric car in Coburg in 1888, Rudolph Diesel invented his compression ignition engine in Augsburg in 1893, and in 1951, Walter Linderer patented the airbag in Munich. Today, the cutting-edge trends in the automotive sector are electromobility, networked vehicles and autonomous cars.


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Compact industry

Bavaria-based OEMs are among the most innovative automotive manufacturers in the world in the fields of electromobility, networked vehicles and autonomous driving.  Pilot projects such as the partnership between MAN and DB Schenker and the consortium involving Audi, Ducati, Ericsson and Qualcomm and other players are a clear demonstration of the leading role of Bavarian businesses internationally. One landmark project is the motorway digital test bed between Nuremberg and Munich. The combination of modern road infrastructure and the latest communication technology makes the motorway digital test bed a unique opportunity for practical trials for the automotive industry, suppliers, telecommunications companies and research facilities alike.

To promote the integration of the electromobility concepts developed into everyday life, the Bavarian government has its own regional funding programme to drive forward the development of a state-wide charging infrastructure. The target is to install 7000 publicly accessible charging stations in Bavaria by the year 2020. BMW, Allego, Porsche and Siemens were among those involved in "Fast Charge", a project with an ultra-fast charging station in Jettingen-Scheppach, Bavaria. In addition to electromobility, Bavaria is focusing especially on hydrogen as the energy carrier of the future, thus making a pioneering contribution to the mobility revolution. With its own strategy for hydrogen and the "Hydrogen Alliance" Bavaria wants to become the world's leading expert in H2 technology through promoting companies, mobility research or test and application facilities.

1,100 businesses in Bavaria along the entire value chain

Current projects and developments are, of course, bolstered by the fact that Bavaria is home to the headquarters of world-famous premium manufacturers such as Audi, BMW and MAN, and branches of around 1100 other leading businesses from all sections of the value chain. These include suppliers such as Bosch, Brose, The Dräxlmaier Group, Rexroth, Schaeffler and Webasto. Together, they generate 32.24 percent of turnover in Bavaria's industrial sector.

Automotive industry figures

employees in the automotive sector
STEM graduates in Bavaria
companies in the automotive industry
% of all German patents in the field of vehicle construction (IPC B60R)

Well-known representatives

The global players of the automotive sector

Talent & research

Leading research institutes and university research groups across Bavaria are exploring what the future of mobility looks like. The Fraunhofer Institutes IIS(for integrated circuits) and IGVC (for casting, composite and processing technology) but also the iwb user centre in Garching and Augsburg are exemplary for outstanding Bavarian research. The research work by experts and students from universities and universities of applied sciences on advanced future technologies is the ideal breeding ground for innovation in Bavaria. Engineers, designers, software development and IT specialists work together to develop solutions for the future.

The student research group WARR at the Technical University of Munich is a typical example of Bavaria's great success in this area. Four times already, the Bavarian student team has seen off 120 other competitors from around the world to win the prestigious international SpaceX Hyperloop Competition.

Bavaria offers an excellent dual training system alongside purely academic options. One element of this system is integrated degree programmes. Students in Landshut can specialise in automotive computer science, students at Coburg University of Applied Sciences and Arts in automotive engineering and management, and students at Hochschule Ingolstadt in automated driving. There are also traditional dual vocational training programmes, on which businesses and chambers of commerce work together to ensure high-quality training with a strong focus on practice. Apart from this talent factory and source of innovation, Bavarian companies also benefit from another research partnership and start-up platform that is unique in Germany: the Zentrum Digitalisierung.Bayern (ZD.B). The ZD.B drives forward cooperation between industry, science, professional associations and public programmes and has dedicated one of its thematic platforms to networked platforms.


Bavaria is not just a pioneer in networked vehicles. The region also promotes strong interdisciplinary links between stakeholders from industry, politics and research. The M.A.I. Carbon network, for example, is facilitating Bavaria's development as a European centre of fibre-reinforced plastics. Technology companies and businesses from the mobility sector are pooling their expertise in the Mobility Digital Hub. The Bavaria-wide Automotive Cluster provides a strong basis for excellent networking with 730 players from pioneering research and industry. The main objective? To drive forward innovation in Bavaria.

Bavaria is also a key centre for global industrial partnerships: the BMW Group opened a second Autonomous Driving Campus in Munich in 2018. Together with international experts from FCA, Intel and Mobileye, BMW is working on the implementation of highly and fully automated vehicles. Zenuity, the Volvo and Autoliv (now Veoneer) joint venture, is also exploring this area at its Bavarian facilities. Furthermore, at the IBM Watson IoT Center in Munich the BMW Group and IBM are currently conducting a joint project on the i8 hybrid sports car to research intelligent driver assistance systems with the aim of creating a personalised user experience.


Accelerators, incubators and sector-specific ventures for mobility start-ups have, of course, also developed in recent years alongside traditional networks. In Bavaria, there is close collaboration between start-ups and renowned research institutions and leadings OEMs, for Bavarian start-ups are particularly strong in the B2B sector. OEM initiatives such as that launched by MAN or Next47 by Siemens, as well as BMW's Startup Garage provide helpful access to a network of top engineers and managers. And suppliers have also set up their own cooperation options, for example REHAU with UNLIMITED X or Schaeffler with its Venture Forum.This exclusive access to the who's who of the automotive sector is invaluable. For example, Argo AI, which Audi invests in, has its European headquarters and fifth Engineering Center in Bavaria and the augmented and virtual reality start-up RE'FLEKT is developing a communication technology that enables industrial companies to use step-by-step instructions, e.g. for repair work. The company's customers already include Audi, BMW, Bosch, Hyperloop, Hyundai, Porsche and Thyssen Krupp.

Besides numerous other start-ups, Sono Motors has also attracted attention with a trend-setting innovation. The Munich start-up was founded in 2016 with the idea of creating a vehicle that runs completely oil-free. The "Sion", an electric vehicle, was developed under this premise with barely visible solar cells already integrated into its surface and it is so convincing that Sono Motors is already cooperating with Bosch and Continental, among others, and collected EUR 53 million for further development through a crowdfunding campaign at the beginning of 2020.


Last but not least, another reason Bavaria is the ideal start-up location is its great range of collaboration spaces in each field. These include the Volkswagen Data:Lab and the Digital Mobility Hub, the latter launched in Munich as part of the nationwide Digital Hub Initiative.


This cross-sector exchange of information and experience through extensive networks, and close geographical proximity to major OEMs, innovative start-ups and excellent research, make Bavaria a leading automotive industry centre.

This is also reflected in the decision by the International Motor Show (IAA), which will be held in the Bavarian capital from 2021. Germany's leading innovation hub with its mix of industries and outstanding partners provides the ideal framework for the motor show’s reorganisation: in addition to the main exhibition on the exhibition grounds, there will also be events in Munich city centre, such as air taxi shows, environmental forums and concerts.

Our service for you

Are you interested in Bavaria as a business location for your company in the automotive industry? We are happy to support you with the entire establishment process: from planning to the search for a location, formalities and visa issues. Even once you have established yourself in Bavaria, we will put you in touch with networks, associations and clusters. Start-ups can also benefit from our specially tailored “Ois Easy” start-up package. Simply get in contact with us – the team at Invest in Bavaria is looking forward to hearing from you.


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Location map

Companies in the automotive industry in Bavaria