Automotive Industry Overview

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Since the first motor vehicles were developed more than 100 years ago, the industry has been at the forefront of innovation and technological change. New super-lightweight body materials, battery electric vehicles and wireless electronic connectivity are just some of the technologies that will continue to shape the industry in coming years.

The industry has a long and proud tradition of apprenticeship training and this has resulted in the development of a strong industry capability and large pool of highly trained personnel. Australia’s automotive manufacturing operations rate among some of the best in the world, with many highly qualified personnel in the industry travelling globally to extend their careers in this sector.


The automotive industry is global. Many contemporary vehicle types are produced in Australia and overseas using common body, electrical and mechanical technologies. This means that skills learnt in Australia can be applied both domestically and around the world. Australia has a strong reputation for producing high-quality tradespeople in automotive and this had led to great career paths for people in the industry both at home and overseas. As skills are developed and deepened around specific areas of the vehicle, so does the capacity for people to become specialists and leaders in their field.

Automotive continues to be a vibrant and dynamic area to start and build a career. Once basic skills have been developed in the industry there are multiple pathways to explore, including those in technology development, leadership management and business ownership.

Looking ahead, we know the shape and form of vehicles of the future will be very different from that of today, using autonomous driving systems, independent satellite navigation and an increasing use of vehicle dynamic control systems.


The automotive industry comprises of two distinct sectors – the manufacturing sector and the retail, services and repair (RS&R) sector. The automotive manufacturing sector encompasses the manufacture of motor vehicles, including:

  • cars
  • sport utility vehicles (SUVs)
  • light commercial vehicles
  • buses
  • vans
  • medium, heavy and special-purpose highway trucks. 

The manufacturing sector also includes the production of motor vehicle bodies and automotive parts and accessories.

The automotive retail, service and repair sector encompasses:

  • vehicle and vehicle parts sales
  • vehicle maintenance through regular servicing
  • the repair of damaged vehicles
  • the supply of aftermarket equipment
  • heavy vehicle repair and servicing
  • vehicle recycling and disposal
  • fuel retailing
  • motorsport 
  • marine
  • bicycles
  • outdoor power & equipment.

The automotive retail, service and repair sector is by far the largest component within the Australian automotive industry, accounting for approximately 87 per cent of employment. As the vehicle fleet increases so does the demand on skill supply to the industry. In many areas there are insufficient tradespeople to meet the demand for services and this has meant there are many great career opportunities available to new entrants, including apprentices and trainees.