The biggest factories on Earth are pivotal to society, not just as centres of employment but often serving as the beating heart of global supply chains. They forge, assemble, and create many of the goods considered indispensable to modern life. Cars, electronics, aircraft, clothing – each product emerging from these astonishing facilities represents a tiny piece of a global production network that feeds, clothes, transports, and entertains billions of people.
Intricately weaving technology into their operational blueprint, these industrial behemoths exemplify human technological evolution. They incorporate cutting-edge robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and advanced automation systems – turning what was once the realm of science fiction into a modern, functioning reality.
The complex blend of human skill and sophisticated machinery in the largest manufacturing plant in the world translates into unprecedented levels of efficiency; a human-machine collaboration that produces wonders at a scale and pace that was unimaginable just a few decades ago.
With relentless precision, efficiency, and consistency, the world’s biggest factories, including the biggest car factory in the world, often eclipse small towns in services, facilities and populations. Here are some of the biggest factories on the planet, ranked by floor area.
NASA Vehicle Assembly Building
Location: Florida, USA | Opened: 1966 | Size: Approx. 32,000 m2
One of the world’s largest single-structure buildings may not be the largest factory in the world, but it is arguably among the most famous. It was designed to assemble pre-manufactured components for space vehicles, and its roll of honour includes the Saturn V rocket, the Space Shuttle and the new Space Launch System, or SLS. Located at the Kennedy Space Center next to Launch Complex 39, it’s home to the world’s largest doors at 139 metres high. The VAB was built using almost 90,000 tonnes of steel, and the foundations used 23,000m3 of concrete.
Location: Liepāja, Latvia | Opened: 1969 | Size: Approx. 111,500 m2
Lauma Fabrics is Europe’s biggest manufacturer of textiles and medical material. The company produces over 300 kilometres of fabric every year, from one of the world’s biggest factories. The factory produces elastic knitted fabrics, rigid knitted fabrics, elastic laces, narrows and embroideries as well as medical supplies including woven bandages and compression socks.
Jean-Luc Lagardere Plant
Location: Toulouse-Blagnac, France | Opened: 2004 | Size: Approx. 122,500 m2
The assembly plant for the double-decker Airbus A380 opened in 2004 at a cost believed to be in the region of $450 million. The structure used 35,000 tonnes of steel and the site includes a main manufacturing hall measuring 250 metres x 115 metres, six further 100 metre x 100 metre halls, as well as a runway and fluid and energy production plants.
Boeing Everett Factory
Location: Washington, USA | Opened: 1967 | Size: Approx. 399,500 m2
One of the world’s biggest factories is also the world’s biggest building by volume, at almost 13.4 million cubic metres. Built to manufacture the Boeing 747, it has since been expanded to build the 737 MAX, 767, 777, and the 787 Dreamliner. The building is so big it houses a fire station, daycare centre, gyms, coffee shops and restaurants for its 30,000 employees. There are 2.3 miles of pedestrian tunnels under the factory floor and workers have the use of over 1,000 bicycles to move around the vast complex.
Location: Nevada, USA | Opened: 2016 | Size: Approx. 500,000 m2
Known also as Gigafactory Nevada, Giga Nevada and Gigafactory 1, this contender for the biggest factory in the world manufactures lithium-ion batteries and electrical components. Up to 10,000 people work at the factory, which has been perfectly aligned due north so the technical equipment can be precisely mapped by GPS.
Location: Ulsan, South Korea | Opened: 1968 | Size: Approx. 5.05 million m2
A contender for the biggest car factory in the world, as well as the largest manufacturing plant in the world, Hyundai’s Ulsan plant is spread over five sites and the 34,000 employees are said to be able to produce over 1.5 million cars every year. The entire plant is spread over 1,225 acres of waterfront land and boasts its own road network, a hospital, fire station and sewage treatment plant. The adjoining port can host three, 50,000-tonne cargo ships simultaneously, and the 3.2 kilometre proving ground is designed precisely to reproduce real-life road conditions.
Wolfsburg Volkswagen Plant
Location: Wolfsburg, Germany | Opened: 1938 | Size: Approx. 6.5 million m2
The biggest car factory in the world produces a staggering 700,000 – 800,000 cars every year. Around 15,000 people work at the Wolfsburg Volkswagen factory. Since full-scale series production began in December 1945, approximately 50 million cars have been built at the Wolfsburg plant.