Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2021, Vol. 76 ›› Issue (8): 1848-1864.doi: 10.11821/dlxb202108003

• Industrial and Regional Development • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Beyond locality in restructuring the spatial organization of China's automobile industry clusters under modular production: A case study of FAW-Volkswagen

ZHAO Ziyu1(), WANG Shijun2, CHEN Xiaofei3()   

  1. 1. School of Tourism and Geography Science, Qingdao University, Qingdao 266071, Shandong, China
    2. School of Geographical Sciences, Northeast Normal University, Changchun 130024, China
    3. Key Research Institute of Yellow River Civilization and Sustainable Development & Yellow River Civilization by Provincial and Ministerial Co-construction of Collaborative Innovation Center, Henan University, Kaifeng 475001, Henan, China
  • Received:2020-05-18 Revised:2021-04-19 Online:2021-08-25 Published:2021-10-25
  • Contact: CHEN Xiaofei;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(41630749);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41771161);National Natural Science Foundation of China(42001176);Youth Foundation of Humanities and Social Sciences of Ministry of Education(20YJCZH241)


Under the background of the third revolution of production mode in the automobile industry, as represented by modularization, there arise a series of urgent theoretical and practical problems: how the new production mode affects the evolution of the spatial organization of the automobile industry, how to explain its mechanism based on economic geography, and how to analyze its effects on specific industrial clusters. Taking FAW-Volkswagen as an example, based on the local full-coverage first-level supply chain mapping industry cluster organization of vehicle manufacturing, this paper explores the effects of modular production on the spatial organization of automobile industry clusters at the local-regional scale. Results indicate that: (1) The degree of local agglomeration decreases with the decline of local economy. To a certain extent, the scale economy created by modular production overcomes transportation cost, leading to both the weakened production dependence of large-scale vehicle groups on the host area after industrial transfer and the reduced spatial agglomeration of parts suppliers. (2) Beyond locality: the production network between regions is reconstructed. Under modular production, regional production networks will be reorganized, which reflects the importance of scale production and scale reorganization for spatial economic dynamics. When the Yangtze River Delta region, with its regional advantages in the manufacturing industry and its complete auto parts industry chain, takes part in the division and cooperation of the production network of FAW-Volkswagen automobile factories in four cities across the country in the form of industry clusters, "beyond locality" competitive advantages are created. (3) Scale economic effect, knowledge technology sharing, and enterprise organization strengthening jointly drive the spatial reconstruction of China's automobile industry clusters under modular production. This study provides insight to understand the interactive mechanism between the adjustment of production mode and the evolution of the spatial organization structure of manufacturing industry clusters, offering beneficial complements to studies on industrial geography from the perspectives of economy, system, society, and innovation.

Key words: industrial cluster, cluster network, modular production, supply chain, automobile industry, China