Global greenfield investment in the automotive sector is on the rise again. Cross-border project numbers as of December 1, 2011, have already surpassed year-end 2010 figures and are well above 2009 figures as well. However, capital expenditure has remained flat over the past year, suggesting a trend of lower dollar-value investments. The number of jobs created through automotive investments has also remained roughly the same in 2010 and 2011.

Project numbers in the sector, as recorded by fDiMarkets, hit a peak in 2008 at 843 before dropping to under 700 after the global financial crisis and auto-company bailouts in the US. Activity picked up again in 2010, when auto-makers made 772 new investments or facility-expansions in foreign markets. To date in 2011, there have been 869 such projects. Estimated capital expenditure on these projects amounted to $69.83bn in 2008, $55.20bn in 2009, $69.93bn in 2010 and $69.61bn for the first 11 months of 2011.

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The top destinations for these investments in 2011 have been the US followed by China and India. Russia and Mexico complete the top five list of preferred destination countries, although both lag far behind the top three. Germany, Thailand and Hungary have seen their inbound automotive investments reduced by half since 2010 while the UK has seen an increase from 18 to 27. The most popular cities for investment are Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Chennai and Pune.

The companies in the most expansive mode are Toyota, with 30 projects, Volkwagen (27), Ford (25), PSA Peugeot-Citroen (22) and General Motors (20).