Car factories are hives of industry, with the largest producing more than a million vehicles in a year. Here’s our list of the biggest factories by production numbers, which is based on data from 2019 – as 2020 was such a mess it would not be useful to use data from it – and arranged in ascending order.
Slide 1 of 33 Stellantis: Belvidere, USA – 208,000 Cars were first built at the Belvidere Assembly Plant in 1965, when it was used to make Plymouth and Dodge vehicles. A $350 million refit in 2016 saw the plant changed to focus on building the Jeep Cherokee and 208,000 of these rolled off the line in 2019. There are 2500 workers at the Belvidere plant, which is now under the banner of Stellantis (the newish name for the combined Fiat-Chrysler and PSA Group), and the site covers 280 acres.
Slide 1 of 33 Geely: Xiangtan, China – 240,000 Geely is unusual in China for being a privately owned and run company with no state involvement. It has allowed the company to evolve quickly and the Xiantang factory produces as many as 240,000 cars per annum out of a total production of around 1.3 million each year excluding Volvo. At Xiantang, Geely produces its Vision small SUV, and the SC7 and GC7 saloons.
Slide 1 of 33 Mercedes-Benz : Tuscaloosa, USA – 300,000 Tuscaloosa in Alabama in the US is where Mercedes builds around 300,000 SUVs every year. It now employs 4400 workers producing the GLE and GLS, as well as the Mercedes-Maybach GLS. The plant is also where the battery-powered EQE and EQS SUVs are destined from. It was set up in 1995 and was the first major Mercedes production facility outside of Germany.
Slide 1 of 33 Ford: Louisville, USA – 300,000 The Louisville, Kentucky, plant is one of the longest-running in Ford’s large network of factories in the US, and the company began making cars there in 1913 with the Model T. The current 180-acre site was established in 1955 and produces up to 300,000 cars each year. It is now where the Escape and Lincoln Corsair models are built. At Louisville, 4500 people are employed at the factory, which is right next door to Louisville International Airport. Inside the plant, there are 20 miles of conveyor belts carrying parts around the factory.
Slide 1 of 33 Shanghai-Volkswagen: Changsha, China – 300,000 About 550 miles to the west of Shanghai, the Changsa factory run by Shanghai-Volkswagen is VW’s 20th plant in China and another joint venture with Shanghai. It produces the VW Lavida and Skoda models for the Chinese market, and there are 4000 people working in the factory. The building is one of the most energy-efficient car plants in the world as it uses solar power to generate 10,000MWh of electricity. It also recycles rain water and recycles the water from the production processes to reduce overall water consumption by 20%.
Slide 1 of 33 General Motors: Fort Wayne, USA – 301,000 It’s no wonder the GM’s Fort Wayne, Indiana, plant is one of the biggest in the world when it produces two of the most popular pick-up trucks in the US. In 2019, more than 300,000 GMC Sierra 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 models left the factory, which has 40 miles of conveyor belts and 2276 robotsto help build the vehicles. A measure of how much material is used every year is there are 97 truck docks at the plant, with a delivery made every 2.6 minutes.
Slide 1 of 33 Mercedes-Benz: Sindelfingen, Germany – 310,000 Cars have been built at Mercedes’ Sindelfingen factory, positioned to the south-west of Stuttgart, since 1915. It employs 25,000 staff on the production lines and a further 10,000 in other parts of the site as it’s also used as Mercedes’ corporate research headquarters. Sindelfingen produced 310,000 cars in 2019, including the S-Class, E-Class, and AMG GT models. In 2022, the GLC will also roll down the plant’s lines.
Slide 1 of 33 Honda: Lincoln, 340,000 Honda puts together around 340,000 of its Odyssey, Pilot, Ridgeline, and Passport models at the Lincoln, Alabama, factory in the US. It cost $2.6 billion (£1.95 billion) to build and started production in 2001. The plant covers 1350 acres and employs 4500 workers. Staff at the plant are paid, on average, 67% more than the Alabama state average salary.
Slide 1 of 33 Hyundai: Alabama, USA – 399,500 Opened in 2005, Hyundai’s Alabama factory can turn out a maximum of 399,500 cars every year and makes Alabama one of the US’s largest car-producing states. There are 3000 workers employed at the plant and the site covers 1774 acres. As well as the factory making the cars, the Alabama factory has a two-mile test track within its grounds.
Slide 1 of 33 Nissan: Sunderland, UK – 346,535 Nissan founded its Sunderland plant in 1984 and it turned out 346,535 vehicles in 2019, mostly Qashqai and Juke SUVs, but also the Leaf EV. Around 7000 people work at this factory and the site is divided into three main areas: body assembly, paint, and final assembly. All of the production line workers at Nissan’s Sunderland plant are trained inthree jobs. This allows workers to change job routinely to reduce boredom and to help with any staff absences.
Slide 1 of 33 Kia: Zilina, Slovakia – 350,000 Established in 1984, Kia’s factory in Zilina, Slovakia was the company’s first manufacturing site in Europe and now accounts for 8% of the company’s global workforce, with 3800 people working there. There are five miles of production lines to produce 350,000 cars each year, helped by 530 robots. The cars built at the Zilina factory are sold in 76 countries and account for half of all Kia’s European sales in a year.
Slide 1 of 33 Kia: Georgia, USA – 360,000 Kia’s factory is the only car-producing plant in Georgia in the US. The site covers 2200 acres and cost $1.8 billion (£1.35 billion) to create. There are 2700 people working at this site, operating in three shifts and 24 hours a day. The main cars built at the Georgia factory are the Telluride, Sorento and K5 saloon. Cars are exported from Kia’s Georgia factory to Canada, Mexico, and the Middle East, as well as being built for its domestic market.
Slide 1 of 33 Toyota: Derbyshire, UK – 360,000 There are 3800 employees at Toyota’s factory in Burnaston, Derbyshire and the company has been building vehicles since late 1992. The first car off the line was a Carina E and the plant currently makes the Corolla and the closely related Suzuki Swace. At full capacity, the factory can make 360,000 cars in a year, though it has been running at less than that for some years. It built its 4.5 millionth car in June 2020.
Slide 1 of 33 Ford: Chicago, USA – 382,000 Covering 113 acres, Ford’s Chicago plant is home to the Explorer, Lincoln Aviator, and the Police Interceptor Utility, which is an off-the-shelf police car. Strong demand for the Explorer means Ford has added to its workforce at this plant, which now totals around 5700 employees. The factory first opened in 1924, making it one of the oldest within the Ford business. It now uses 3D printing to help with the speed of production.
Slide 1 of 33 Ford: Rouge Center, Dearborn, USA – 400,000 The first machine to come off the line at Ford’s Rouge Center was a submarine destined for the US Navy during the First World War. Since then, what is colloquially called ‘The Rouge’ has developed into the current Rouge Center that comprised several factories, including one that produces Ford’s battery-powered F-150 Lightning. The factory’s green credentials are enhanced by a 10-acre sedum roof that uses rain water to feed the plants that grow on it. This water is then used in the plant, saving it having to be processed separately.
Slide 1 of 33 General Motors: Arlington, USA – 400,000 Arlington is where General Motors builds its large SUVs, such as the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon, and the Cadillac Escalade. At full tilt, around 1200 SUVs leave the factory gates every day of the year, built by 4225 employees. The site is positioned on 250 acres of land in Texas and generates more than $1 million (£750,000) in wages for its staff each day.
Slide 1 of 33 SAIC-GM-Wuling: Chongqing, China – 400,000 The Chongqing factory is the third such development between SAIC, General Motors, and Wuling. It was designed from the outset with the ambitious target of producing 400,000 cars each year, which gives the joint venture a total manufacturing output of 2 million vehicles per annum in China. The factory at Chongqing took 15 months to build. SAIC has a 50.1% stake in the business, while GM owns 44% and Wuling has a 5.9% share.
Slide 1 of 33 Stellantis: Vigo, Spain – 400,000 The Vigo factory started life in 1958 building the Citroen 2CV van for the Spanish and North African markets. In the 1970s, when Peugeot acquired a stake in Citroen, the factory began making the Peugeot 504. Between 2014 and 2018, the plant was radically updated. More than 15 million vehicles have been built at Vigo since it started and there are now 6500 workers employed there.
Slide 1 of 33 BMW : Spartanburg, USA – 411,000 BMW makes most of its X SUV models at the Spartanburg factory in South Carolina in the US. This is home to the X3, X4, X5, X6 and X7, with the X3 and X5 accounting for around three-quarters of annual production each year. Since it was first opened in 1994, BMW has built more than 4.8 million vehicles at this factory. It employs more than 11,000 workers and the cars are exported to 125 countries.
Slide 1 of 33 Mazda : Hofu, Japan – 416,000 Yamaguchi in the south-west of Japan is where Mazda has its Hofu plant, which is capable of producing 416,000 per annum. Its main models are the CX-5 and Mazda6, though it also builds the CX-3 and Mazda2. The Hofu plant does not use conveyor belts like many car factories. Each car is instead built on a moving dolly that allows workers easier access all around the car and makes it simpler to reconfigure a production line to make a different model.
Slide 1 of 33 Tesla : Fremont, USA – 490,000 There are more than 10,000 people working at Tesla’s Fremont, California factory in the US and it can produce up to 490,000 cars a year. The whole site covers 370 acres and the first Model S left the line in June 2012. Among its features, the Fremont factory has skylights so workers can see by natural light, while food trucks help feed the staff. Tesla bought this factory in 2010 from Toyota. Prior to this it was operated by Toyota and GM in the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc (NUMMI) partnership, and before then operated by General Motors itself from 1962 to 1982.
Slide 1 of 33 SEAT: Martorell, Spain – 500,000 Just outside of Barcelona lies the Martorell factory where SEAT produces around half a million Volkswagen Group cars every year. It started production in 1993 and now employs 11,000 people on a site covering 692 acres. Making the most of the Spanish climate, the factory has 53,000 solar panels on the roof to generate enough electricity to run the plant and save 7000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year.
Slide 1 of 33 Ford: Kansas City, USA – 500,365 The Kansas City factory is located in Claycomo, Missouri, about 10 miles to the north of the place it takes its name from. This is where Ford builds many of its F-150trucks, so a large production number is to be expected when this is the US’s best-selling vehicle. There are 7000 workers in the 1270-acre plant and it has more than doubled in size since it first started making civilian vehicles in 1956. Before that, the plant made military vehicles from 1951, and it now also produces the Ford Transit for the US market.
Slide 1 of 33 Toyota: Kentucky, USA – 550,000 Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK) is the largest single factory in Toyota’s portfolio and it was also the first wholly owned by the Japanese firm in the US. It kicked off production in 1988 with the Camry and it has never looked back since thanks to this model’s popularity in the US.TMMK continues to make the Camry, alongside the RAV4 and Lexus ES. The factory employs 10,000 staff.
Slide 1 of 33 Kia: Hwaseong, South Korea – 563,000 The scale of Kia’s Hwaseong plant is impressive and the huge site has its own foundry, body press shop and test track, as well as the production lines turning out several of Kia’s biggest models. The site covers a total of 815 acres and is on the west coast of South Korea so cars can be loaded straight on to ships to export them around the world. The test tracks within the Hwaseong plant offer 12 different routes along nine miles of road and over 32 different surfaces.
Slide 1 of 33 Mazda: Hiroshima, Japan – 569,000 Mazda’ Hiroshima plant in Japan is one of the real big hitters when it comes to making cars. It has an annual capacity of 569,000 units and is home to most of the company’s models, including theCX-3, CX-5, CX-8, CX-9, and MX-5. The plant has had solar panels fitted to its roof that now generate 1.1MW of electricity that is enough to power the entire plant and also charge the MX-30 EVs also built at the factory.
Slide 1 of 33 Kia: Autoland Gwangju, China – 620,000 Kia’s AutoLand Gwangju plant in South Korea is where the Carens, Soul and Sportage are built, so it’s no surprise it’s one of the largest car plants in the world. At full capacity, Gwangju can turn out 620,000 cars per year, which equates to one rolling off the line every 51 seconds. The entire manufacturing process is dealt with at Gwangju as it makes the engine blocks, presses the bodies, and then puts all of the parts together to make a car.
Slide 1 of 33 Nissan : Smyrna, USA – 640,000 Nissan’s Smyrna factory is up there with the biggest in the US as its able to make as many as 640,000 cars each year from its plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. The 884-acre site is home to the Leaf in the US. There are 6700 workers at the Smyrna factory and the plant has been running since 1983, when it started by building Datsun pick-up trucks.
Slide 1 of 33 Renault: AVTOVAZ Togliatti, Russia – 650,000 Six hundred miles to the east of Moscow on the Volga River lies the Togliatti car plant. It was built in 1966 and produces up to 650,000 cars each year. It employs 35,000 people and is part of the Renault Group. Among the cars built at Togliatti are the Lada Granta, which is the most numerous, and Renault Logan. The factory also builds cars under the Datsun brand.
Slide 1 of 33 Volkswagen: Wolfsburg, Germany – 815,000 A measure of the scale of Volkswagen’s Wolfsburg factory is it has more than 36 miles of railway track and six locomotives to move parts around the huge site. In total, the factory is larger than the whole of Monaco and employs 60,000 workers. As well as the Golf, VW builds the Tiguan and Touran at Wolfsburg, as well as the SEAT Tarraco. The factory was founded in 1938 and, post-war, built its one millionth car in 1955.
Slide 1 of 33 Kia: Yancheng, China – 890,000 This factory is a joint venture between Kia and the Dongfeng Motor Corporation and the Yueda Group. Together, they produce 890,000 cars per annum, making it one of the largest vehicle production sites in the world and the sites covers 817 acres. The factory was founded in 2002 and now makes various Kia models, including the Sportage, Rio, and the KX7 for the Chinese market. Kia and Dongfeng now have three factories in this region of China.
Slide 1 of 33 Hyundai: Ulsan, South Korea – 1.53 million The Ulsan factory operated by Hyundai in South Korea is the single biggest car factory in the world, producing 1.53 million cars at peak capacity. Ulsan is so vast that it has five individual plants within its overall size, with separate areas to build engines and transmissions before they meet bodyshells. Such is the size of Ulsan, it can produce 14 different models and a new car is completed on the site every 10 seconds. Many of Hyundai’s most popular cars are made here, including the Santa Fe, i30, i40, Kona, and Ioniq 5 EV by 34,000 workers.