European suppliers:
automotive excellence in the
past, present and future

Today, like yesterday, European automotive suppliers are an integral part of what makes the region’s auto industry competitive. Focus may be shifting from vehicles to mobility, from combustion engines to electric motors, and from mechanical systems to software, but the European supplier community continues to develop the innovation that underpins the success of the industry.

European suppliers have played this key role for as long as cars and trucks have been produced. From the start of the last century, they have been instrumental in developing the systems that made cars and trucks more reliable, more efficient, safer and more fun to drive. The history of the auto industry is defined by supplier innovations that propelled mobility to the next level. Spark plugs, ABS, ESP, seatbelts, high-performance tires, exhaust aftertreatment, new forming and joining technologies, turbochargers, common-rail diesel, LED lights, adaptive cruise control. The list is long and, for all these technologies, auto manufacturers relied heavily on suppliers to provide the core innovations.

Components and systems from automotive suppliers consistently represent around 75% of the value of a car and this ratio is expected to remain stable in the future. Suppliers, many of whom are evolving from component makers to full-system providers, will continue to develop and introduce technologies to make cars safer, to lower CO2 emissions and to improve the ride. At the same time, as new technologies make their way into cars and trucks, they are investing heavily in areas such as electrification, connectivity and artificial intelligence, which will be crucial in tomorrow’s mobility sector.

The European supplier community includes some of the biggest tier 1 parts and systems makers, but it is also characterised by its variety. Some suppliers are true global multinationals, while others are highly specialised niche players. The backbone of the industry is the thou- sands of small and medium-sized companies that provide essential components and systems for the vehicle industry. And the supplier community plays a dual role in catering both to the new-car market and the aftermarket, where vehicles need to be serviced, repaired and kept up-to-date.

“European automotive manufacturers are among the most demanding customers globally, so European suppliers provide high levels of quality and more technology”

Patrick Koller, CEO, Faurecia

Automotive innovations where European suppliers have played an important role:

Spark plugs




Gasoline direct injection

Radial tires

Exhaust aftertreatment


Common-rail diesel

LED lights

Adaptive cruise control

Platform strategy


An average car is made of 30.000 parts
and CLEPA members cover all of them