Automotive electronics manufacturing in Bulgaria

Electronics Technical ArticlesSouth-East European INDUSTRIAL Мarket - issue 4/2022 • 08.11.2022

The production of automotive components is one of the fastest growing sectors of the Bulgarian economy in recent years. According to the Bulgarian Investment Agency, 80% of all sensors and over 90% of airbag sensors in European cars are produced in Bulgaria. Other products manufactured in the country include brake, fuel and engine sensors, climate control sensors, exhaust gas sensors and transmission sensors. The Bulgarian production of automotive electronics is developing in line with the global trends towards electrification and digitalization, which are among the main drivers of the annual increase in the number of electronic components in cars.

Bulgaria-based manufacturing plants produce different types of cables and electronic components for the operation of various systems and services in cars, such as engine ignition, fuel injection, audio and communication systems, exhaust control, heating/air conditioning, navigation, safety, etc.

 

Strong automotive and electronic manufacturing development

According to Automotive Cluster Bulgaria, over 100 manufacturers of components and automotive parts operate on the territory of the country, and a large number of foreign investors plan or have already built or operate a second or a third local factory. Represented in the product mix of companies engaged in manufacturing activity are bearings, cables, air conditioning systems, fuel, air and oil filters, batteries, gears, bushings, springs, automotive alternators, starters, pistons, piston rings and bolts, levers for blinkers and wipers, entire steering wheel assemblies, sealing systems, gas injection systems and modules, alarm systems, electrical wiring, airbag sensors, car seat upholstery, etc. The production is intended for leading brands in the automotive sector, such as Аudi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Mini Cooper, Porsche, Bentley, Lamborghini, Ford, Nissan, Seat, Alfa Romeo, Volkswagen, Volvo, Renault, Mitsubishi, Skoda, Fiat, Tesla, etc.

Electronics manufacturing is a traditional sector of the Bulgarian industry which has been steadily developing over the years. In 2015 the electrical and electronic equipment segment dominated the automotive industry in Bulgaria and accounted for more than 70% of the market shares in terms of revenue.
According to the marketing analytics agency IBISWorld, the market size, measured by revenue, of the electronic component manufacturing in Bulgaria is EUR 241,7 millon in 2022. The market size has grown 7,9% per year on average between 2017 and 2022.

The average business in the sector now employs more workers than it did five years ago, the report also informs. There are 92 electronic component manufacturing businesses in the country as of 2022, an increase of 5,3% from 2021. The electronic component manufacturing industry in Bulgaria has low market share concentration and there are no companies with more than 5% market share, IBISWorld further states. There are a number of local and foreign large, middle-sized and small companies currently operating in the country.

 

Arkomat

is an international manufacturer of wire harnesses for many global automotive companies, including Volkswagen Electrical Systems, Fiat and Renault. The company’s first subsidiary in Bulgaria was opened in Kazanlak in 1999. A second production plant was announced in 2015, in Karlovo.
Behr-Hella Thermocontrol
(BHTC) is a manufacturer of climate control and thermal management solutions for the automotive industry. It has been active on the Bulgarian market since 2013 and opened a production plant for control panels for vehicle air conditioning in May 2015. The company also established a development centre for innovations in Bulgaria.

 

BRSP Autoelectronica

is a joint company established in 1986 as the only producer of automotive electronic modules and microprocessor systems for the former Russian and East European markets. Today it manufactures electronic voltage regulators, dry ignition coils and ignition control modules for the automotive industry. It is orientated towards the production of competitive articles for the Bulgarian and foreign markets.

 

Elektrokabel Bulgaria

is a subsidiary of Nexans Autoelectric – the German producer of cabling systems and electromechanical components for leading automotive and system manufacturers worldwide. Nexans’ production range includes individual system parts, mounting parts and microswitch applications for vehicle interiors as well as entire vehicle wiring systems. It opened its first production plant on the Bulgarian market in 2015 at the Industrial and Logistics Park of Pleven. The facility occupies an area of 5000 sq m and is specialized in the production of electrical systems for BMW’s vehicles.

 

Festo

is a global producer of sensors and sensor solutions for a wide range of industries, including the automotive sector. Since 1997 Festo Bulgaria has been specializing in the manufacturing of sensors and sensor applications and operates two manufacturing facilities in the country – in Sofia and in Smolyan. Festo’s main products manufactured in Bulgaria include fluid and magnetic flow and pressure sensors, as well as connecting cables for sensors, electric drives and valves.

 

IDT

is a global provider of high-performance, energy-efficient analog and mixed-signal semiconductors and application-specific ICs. At the end of 2015 IDT completed the acquisition of ZMDI, which allowed the company to operate in the automotive and the industrial sector, adding high-performance programmable power devices and signal conditioning solutions to its portfolio. IDT’s design center in Bulgaria, IDT Bulgaria (former ZMD Eastern Europe), was established in 2008 for the design, marketing and sales of ASICs and ASSP. IDT Bulgaria operates two locations – in Varna and Sofia.

 

IMI Bulgaria

(Integrated Micro-Electronics Bulgaria) is a tier 2 and producer of electronic components and services for manufacturers of original electrical and electronic parts and devices for the automotive, industrial and consumer sectors. The production facilities are located in Botevgrad and the development team is in Sofia.

 

Kemmler Electronic

manufactures a wide range of customised cable assemblies mostly for the automotive industry, which accounts for about 80% of its production. An important milestone in the international history of the company was the establishment of the Bulgarian subsidiary in March 2013. The city chosen to become a site for the next production base was Rakovski, which was already operational in the summer of 2014.

 

Kostal

is an independent family enterprise established in 1912 in the German town of Ludenscheid. In 2016 Kostal Bulgaria Automotive was established in the city of Pazardzhik. The company manufactures and supplies components for more than 5 million cars worldwide. In 2019 it expanded its production in Bulgaria by the addition of 13 000 sq m of production area with manufacturing facilities. In September 2022 the company inaugurated two new assembly lines for the production of Porsche understeering parts.

 

LEM

develops and manufactures high quality solutions for measuring electrical parameters. Its core products – current and voltage transducers, are used in a broad range of applications. LEM has production plants in Beijing (China), Geneva (Switzerland), Sofia (Bulgaria) and Tokyo (Japan). The company’s Automotive division specializes in developing and manufacturing current transducers for battery management and motor drive applications in cars, buses and trucks.

 

MD Elektronik

In 2019 the German manufacturer of components for the automotive industry MD Elektronik started the construction of its first Bulgarian plant in Vratsa. The factory covers an area of 10 000 square meters and produces cable systems and electronic modules for numerous car manufacturers. In addition to Bulgaria, the company has factories in the Czech Republic, China and Mexico.

 

Melexis

designs, develops and delivers innovative microelectronic solutions for customers from the global automotive, industrial, consumer and medical markets.
In Bulgaria, the company exists as Melexis Bulgaria and was established in 2000. Its scope of activities includes microelectronic component manufacturing, sensors, ICs for the automotive industry. Melexis Bulgaria ICs are used in the vehicles of companies like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, VW, Suzuki, Toyota, GM, and Ford.

 

Nursan Otomotiv

In 2002, in a joint collaboration between Nursan Electric Donanam and Koush Group, Nursan Otomotiv was founded, which currently operates in an enterprise located in the village of Lulakovo, municipality of Burgas, which occupies 7000 sq m. Nursan works with clients from Turkey, France, Italy. The company produces automobile cable systems and battery cables for cars, light-trucks and trucks.

 

SE Bordnetze

is Bulgarian manufacturer and supplier of components for the automotive industry with headquarters in Karnobat. It has over 3000 employees. The company manufactures wiring harnesses for Volkswagen Group vehicles. In 2008 it founded its second plant in Bulgaria, located in the town of Mezdra. Currently SE Bordnetze operates a third location in the country, in Sliven, owned by its subcontractor Ates.

 

Sensata Technologies Bulgaria

is headquartered in Sofia. Its main activity is the production of high-temperature sensors for the automotive industry, mainly for exhaust gas treatment systems. The company is part of the American Sensata Technologies Holding group. It has production and business centres in 11 countries on 4 continents. Bulgaria is Sensata’s largest location in Europe. The company has two factories in the country for the production of car sensors – in Botevgrad and near Plovdiv, as well as a business centre and a test laboratory in Sofia.

 

Tremol SMD

was established in 2006 in the city of Veliko Tarnovo as a company in the field of outsourcing of high-tech assembly of electronic components SEM (Contract Electronic Manufacturer). Automotive, Industrial, Medical and Aviation electronics. It is part of Tremol Group Bulgaria and currently employs more than 240 people. The company produces electronic modules in its 7000 sq m production site, with a 1000 sq m administration and engineering site and an additional PTH manual assembly division in the town of Svishtov.

 

Established in 2000 Visteon

boasts a long-standing automotive heritage, starting as a division of Ford Motor Company and acquiring the electronics division of Johnson Controls in 2014. As one of the world’s largest automotive electronics suppliers, focused exclusively on cockpit electronics, Visteon creates, designs and manufactures high-tech electronics products and solutions for connected cars. It supplies almost all leading car manufacturers, including BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan and Hyundai.

Visteon Electronics Bulgaria is a technical centre with over 940 employees with experience in the development of software, hardware and mechanics. It is Visteon’s largest global technology centre, currently focusing on the design and development of platforms and custom solutions for millions of vehicles in future mass production.

 

Wurth Elektronik iBE BG

is a manufacturer of noise suppressing elements for the automotive industry. The production base is located in the village of Belozem, Plovdiv region. Wurth Elektronik iBE BG was established in 2002 as a subsidiary of the German company Wurth Elektronik iBE, part of the Wurth Elektronik group. The production base in Belozem is the largest of the six divisions of the Wurth Elektronik iBE group. The remaining five production sites are located in the Czech Republic, Mexico, China and Germany.

 

Yazaki Bulgaria

is 100% owned by Yazaki Corporation. The company’s activity in Bulgaria dates back to 2006 and is related to the production of automotive cable installations, with the main customers being the car manufacturers Renault, Ford and Daimler. Yazaki Bulgaria’s first plant in the country is in Yambol and its official opening took place in 2007. The plant has a production area of 15 500 sq m. With its three plants in Yambol, Sliven and Dimitrovgrad, Yazaki Bulgaria is one of the largest employers in Bulgaria, with over 5500 workers.

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