The Spanish Motor Industry in the First Third of the 20th Century: A Lost Opportunity
The Spanish automobile industry had a late start. Although the country proved capable of short production runs of high- quality vehicles during the first third of the century it never managed to build up its own industry, unlike Great Britain, France, or Italy. What then, were the critical shortcomings that prevented the establishment of large Spanish motor manufacturers? Put another way, why did all of the companies set up during the first half-century fail to survive? This paper attempts to shed some light on these questions, employing a wide-ranging analysis of both internal and external factors affecting the industry. A feeble internal market, lack of resources and production factors are usually adduced as reasons, as are Spain's general economic backwardness and the role played by the public authorities. However, this paper mainly focuses on the internal factors concerning company strategy and organisation. A comparison with the Italian case helps put the traditional arguments in proper perspective and highlights those covering business strategies. Finally, we argue that a broad range of factors needs to be analysed to fully understand why Spain failed to establish a motor industry.
Automobile industry, firm organization and behavior, government policy, Spain
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