There are two primary categories of executive in the automobile industry -- top executives, and general and operations managers. Chief executives, sometimes called CEOs, are responsible for directing the activities of entire companies. General and operations managers oversee one or more specific stores or manufacturing plants. While general and operations managers are well-paid, chief executives tend to earn higher wages than any other employees. The expected salary of auto industry executives depends on the sector of the industry in which they are employed.
Executives in Auto Manufacturing
Chief executives of motor vehicle manufacturing companies reported a high average salary of $200,750 per year in 2012, according to figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Chief executives of motor vehicle parts manufacturers averaged $179,690 per year, while those at the helm of motor vehicle body and trailer manufacturing companies reported a comparable average salary of $179,860. Average salaries for general and operations managers of auto manufacturing facilities ranged from a low of $109,540 for the auto body and trailer manufacturing industry to a high of $140,870 in motor vehicle manufacturing factories.
Companies in the automotive wholesale industry sell automobiles, parts and accessories to retail stores. As of 2012, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the automotive wholesale industry employed about 790 chief executives, who earned an average salary of $184,500 per year. General and operations managers working in this subsector of the automotive industry reported an average income of $111,680 per year.
Local automobile dealerships with one or two locations may not require a chief executive, and may instead have a general and operations manager at the helm. These general managers earned an average salary of $135,680, as of 2012, according to to the BLS. Those dealerships run by chief executives paid them an average annual salary of $184,500.
Auto Parts Retailers
Automotive parts stores sell motor vehicle supplies, tires, and accessories directly to consumers. As of 2012, general and operations managers employed by auto parts retail stores earned an average annual salary of $83,300, the lowest average salary for this position in the automotive industry. Chief executives of auto parts and tire stores reportedly earned an average salary of $185,990 per year.