Virginia's Assets

The Commonwealth serves as a location of choice for both traditional automotive suppliers and those of the future as the industry advances to more connected and autonomous technologies.

Virginia’s existing sector base is strong, with global companies including:

Virginia Tech Transportation Institute

(VTTI) is the 2nd-largest university-level transportation institute in the U.S., with more than 500 employees and $45 million in annual sponsored program research expenditures. VTTI consists of 12 research centers and three global centers aimed at improving driver safety, advancing vehicle automation, and reducing environmental impacts.

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Virginia Tech Transportation Institute

Virginia Tech Transportation Institute


VTTI facilities include:

  • The Virginia Smart Road, a unique, state-of-the-art, 2.7-mile full-scale, controlled-access test track and closed test-bed research facility. An expansion currently underway will more than double the current length and add new urban and rural roadway features.
  • Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va., which allows the Institute to conduct projects in a multi-use testing environment that includes both closed-course and open traffic conditions. The raceway track can be configured to five different courses ranging from 1.1 miles to 4.2 miles and includes such topography as hairpin curves and blind passes.
  • The Global Center for Automotive Performance Simulation (GCAPS), a collaborative effort led by the VTTI in alliance with the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR), General Motors, and the Virginia Tobacco Regional Revitalization Commission. The Center encompasses: the National Tire Research Center (NTRC), the Southern Virginia Vehicle Motion Labs (SoVa Motion), and the Virtual Design and Integration Laboratory (VDIL). The Center houses the world’s only force-and-moment tire testing machine capable of testing at speeds up to 200 mph under combined loading conditions.
  • The Virginia Automated Corridors, (VAC) providing an automation-friendly environment that government agencies, original equipment manufacturers, and suppliers can use to test and certify their systems, providing a system migration path from test-track to real-world operating environments. The VAC provides efficient solutions for automated-vehicle testing on real roads.
  • The Virginia Connected Corridors (VCC), encompassing both the Virginia Smart Road and the Northern Virginia Connected-Vehicle Test Bed to facilitate real-world development and deployment of connected-vehicle technology using more than 60 roadside equipment units.
  • The Center for Injury Biomechanics Crash Sled Lab, used primarily in the study of transportation-related trauma.

Virginia is particularly business-oriented, with its pro-business laws, Port of Virginia access, logistics and infrastructure. We found a community of genuine and collaborative people, focused on supporting investment in a practical way and with great commitment. We found top-class universities and a great community college, with programs dedicated to the mechatronics sector that will grow excellent young engineers with the skills necessary to run Eldor’s advanced automated lines.

Pasquale Forte President and CEO, ELDOR

Additional Automotive R&D in Virginia

Virginia’s diverse automotive R&D facilities allow companies to develop, test, and commercialize next-generation technologies.

The University of Virginia’s Center for Applied Biomechanics

The University of Virginia’s Center for Applied Biomechanics, the largest university-based injury biomechanics laboratory in the world specializes in impact biomechanics for injury prevention. One primary research focus of the center is automotive safety, including restraint studies and rollover research.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Vehicle Research Center

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s Vehicle Research Center in Ruckersville, a 22,000-square-foot crash hall with three runways to accommodate front and side tests replicating crashes into another vehicle or fixed objects. The Center conducts 50-70 crash tests per year and also uses the runways to evaluate new technologies such as adaptive headlights and rearview camera systems.

The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM)

The Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM), an applied research center that provides production-ready advanced manufacturing solutions to member companies across the globe. Members guide the research, leveraging talent and resources within CCAM and at Virginia universities through a collaborative model that enables them to pool R&D efforts to increase efficiencies. Strategic research areas include adaptive automation systems, surface engineering, additive manufacturing, and machining science and technology. Partnering with John Tyler Community College, CCAM is creating diverse pathways for students, veterans, displaced workers, and others to enter high-demand, skilled careers in the manufacturing industries.

The ChemQuest Technical Institute

The ChemQuest Technical Institute, a coating and finishing technology center housing 11,000 square feet of environmentally controlled space, and a suite of state-of-the-art advanced manufacturing coating and finishing equipment. ChemQuest’s mission is to become an industry-recognized national standard and world-class facility for workforce training, education, and research for a wide variety of industrial coating processes and technologies.

OEM Automotive

A Strategic Location for Suppliers

Virginia’s location provides strategic access to existing OEM clusters in the Midwest and South. The Port of Virginia, the 3rd-largest port on the East Coast, is a gateway to international markets for importing production materials and exporting finished products. The Port moved over 24,400 vehicle units in 2018. The Port has seen growth in auto part imports that supply production facilities in the Southeast. Expansions at the Port's Virginia International Gateway and Norfolk International Terminals facilities provide added container handling capacity to support the growth of auto production in the South, and both Newport News Marine Terminal and Portsmouth Marine Terminal can handle finished vehicles today.


Volkswagen, Fairfax County

A Skilled and Ready Workforce

Virginia’s 179 automotive companies employ over 21,500 people in Virginia, and its top-ranked educational institutions offer world-class engineering programs that are training the workforce of the future to provide a pipeline of skilled workers to the automotive industry.

Developing the Talent of Tomorrow

Major investment in a manufacturing facility requires not just certainty that an adequate amount of talent is available today, but also that enough talent will exist tomorrow to support continued success and expansion.

The Commonwealth has set the ambitious objective of becoming the best-educated state in the country by 2030, to be achieved through unprecedented investment coupled with innovative approaches and partnerships. This vision embraces both traditional degrees and workforce credentials, which play an equal role in meeting the needs of industry.

65,000 Students

enrolled in manufacturing/STEM continuing and technical education programs at secondary and post-secondary level

19,000 Associate Degrees

awarded in 2018-2019 by Community Colleges in Virginia

17 Universities

with engineering programs

Higher Ed Map

America's Top State For Business

Virginia is consistently ranked as a top location for business, and boasts a stable pro-business climate. Virginia is a right-to-work state with the 5th-lowest unionization rate in the U.S. at 5.5%.

Virginia 1 top state for business
Virginia is 3 best state for business regulatory environment
Virginia 1 best quality of life

Liebherr, Newport News

A Welcoming Business Climate for Manufacturers

  • 2019 electricity rates are below the U.S. average at 6.24 cents per kilowatt hour vs. 7.01 cents nationally.
  • Unemployment insurance taxes are the 5th-lowest in the nation and 43% lower than the national average.
  • Average workers' compensation costs are among the nation’s lowest.
  • Effective tax rates for labor-intensive manufacturing rank No. 2 according to the 2015 Location Matters Study by the Tax Foundation.
  • The corporate income tax rate of 6%, not increased since 1972, demonstrates the Commonwealth’s stability for business.
  • Average manufacturing compensation in Virginia is 12.4% below the national average.