Automotive Innovation Programme

Abruzzo, a dynamic automotive ecosystem

In Abruzzo region, the productive sector is young and dynamic. Industrialization is particularly high and aligned with northern regions, notably richer and more developed.

Automotive industries (both large and small-medium sized enterprises) are involved in both automotive and mechatronics sectors (as manufacturers or sub-contractors in the production of products or car components). The industry employs about 23.000 workers in total, 20.000 only in the province of Chieti and has a turnover of more than EUR 8bn, equal to a 27% of the whole manufacturing industry’s turnover and 48% of the regional export activities.

The Region of Abruzzo identified the focuses of its Automotive and Mechatronic Smart Specialisation Strategy in:

Abruzzo plays a role in the Automotive supply chain and leads in the light commercial vehicles (“LCV”) and two-wheelers sectors.
For LCVs, the Stellantis Europe Atessa (formerly Sevel), produces “Ducato”, the best-selling light commercial vehicle in Europe. Since its debut in 1981, Ducato evolved to meet the growing and ever-changing needs of its customers and got awarded as “Best base for motorhomes”. Today, three motorhomes on four sold in Europe are built on a Ducato base. At the end of 2022, more than 7 million vehicles were produced in Atessa. The product (under the brands FIAT, Peugeot, Citroen, Opel and now also Toyota) is in highly wanted and demand exceeds the current production capacity. In 2021, around 260,000 vehicles were produced (equals to 12% of European production and 90% of Italian production). In 2022, despite production was cut by 23% due to component shortages – equal to around 206,000 vehicles – still remained around 12% of the total production in Europe.
Speaking of two-wheelers, the reference is to Honda Italia Industriale, founded in 1971 in Atessa – the only one Honda manufacturing site in Europe for two-wheelers. After the crisis faced about a 10 years ago, the plant has grown in terms of productivity and employment. In 2021, it produced around 88,000 motorcycles; in 2022 about 111,000. Honda recently committed to hire around 110 additional employees.

Set up in 2010, the Automotive Innovation Pole counts about 50 partners, including enterprises of different sizes as well as research centres and the Engineering Department of the University of L’Aquila.

All partner companies participate to the regional economy with:
Turnover: EUR6 billion;
Export: 50% of the regional export activities;
Employees: around eur 18.000.

Other business partners, located in Piemonte, Lombardia, Emilia Romagna, Marche and Campania operate in their own production sectors, such as:

  • Motorcycle sector (HONDA and the majority of SMEs, etc.);
  • Automotive (STELLANTIS, DENSO, etc.);
  • Other players (I.M.M. Hydraulics, etc.).

Or could be classified as:

  • End-product manufacturers;
  • Single part manufacturers.

The Automotive Innovation Pole acts within the framework of the Programme for Automotive Innovation, aiming at innovating the production of business and non-business vehicles (as two and four-wheel transport means for both goods and individuals) so as to strengthen the ecosystem and the industry competitiveness.

As a priority, the programme seeks to encourage the establishment of larger international companies that are successful in terms of innovation, product quality and flexibility in innovating productive processes, to the benefit of research and development, skills, education, business culture and cooperation amongst all players across the chain.

In the first place, the strategy focuses on integrating local resources and encouraging the internationalisation of businesses. Its goal is, ultimately, improving interdependency and liability as well as cooperation amongst companies, employees, educational system and institutions.


The Automotive Innovation Pole already gathers about 50 entities, including research bodies, and it is currently evaluating other application requests.

The Automotive sector represents the backbone of the regional industry sector and few figures can easily demonstrate it. Today, the Pole member companies employ about 18.000 people and have an annual turnover of 6 billions euro,

Companies who joined the Pole can be classified in 3 different categories according to the supply chain they belong to:

  • 2-wheels operators
  • 4-wheels operator (mainly LCV)
  • Others

At the same time, we can differentiate into:

  • End product manufacturers;
  • Components and parts manufacturers.

The Automotive Innovation Pole Partners have the opportunity to work in close contact with key sectoral stakeholders and acquire cutting-edge skills. Being a member of the Pole network means befitting from the wide expertise built during this years of activity.

All the partners of Automotive Innovation Pole


The Automotive Innovation Pole aims at contributing to the reinforcement of the regional innovation system in the automotive sector.

System actions

  • Construction of common knowledge tools for marketing and identity;
  • Organization and management of thematic working groups;
  • Organization of partnership for networking and sharing projects;
  • Management and governance of the Pole.


The Automotive and Mechanical Innovation (acronym IAM) corporation was born on 28 July 2008.

It has as its objective the strengthening and consolidation of the supply chain of the Automotive companies. The company will take care of the organization, the definition, implementation and management of projects, including those aimed at strengthening and/or completion of business networks, including through public contributions. It is clear that many may be the synergistic actions to be put in be.