The international auto industry is one of the most important in the world in terms of its size, economic significance and employment generation. Transnational corporations will largely affect what will be produced where and how. The activities of these firms have important consequences not only for developed countries but also for developing countries where transnational corporations operate or where there is aspiration for participation in the industry.
There are few industries in the world where a small number of corporations account for so much of the world production and trade as in the international auto industry. At the beginning of the 1980s, 22 transnational corporations operating in the market economies accounted for about 90% of total world-wide production in the industry. These transnational corporations produced some 27 million vehicles in their respective countries of origin and about 7 million in foreign locations. Accordingly, international production (not including assembly activities) came to 20% of their total production and 25% of their home production. Within the group of the 22 transnational corporations, 13 had foreign production facilities; all had foreign assembly in their own affiliates or licensees.