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Competitiveness, taxation and training, the keys to sustain the automotive industry in Spain

Automotive News

Automotive manufacturing in Spain, digitization and public policies have been the main topics of the first table of the El Mundo Automotive Cycle seminar.

Spain’s ability to remain at the European and global forefront as a vehicle and component manufacturing country that it is today is not questioned by the automotive and mobility actors in our country. It is one of the conclusions of the first round table of the EL MUNDO Automotive Cycle, a seminar that will last until tomorrow with the participation of the most prominent representatives of the automotive and mobility industry. The title of the first conference, The re-evolution in the motor industry, had the contributions of José López-Tafall, CEO of Anfac, José Portilla, CEO of Sernauto, Pedro Mier, President of Ametic and José Luis Rodrigo, President of Fundación Ibercaja.

The act of this Thursday has been inaugurated by Antonio Fernández-Galiano, president of the Editorial Unit, who recalled that “since its inception, EL MUNDO has in its founding spirit the determination to cover and follow everything that affects the automotive world” . Fernández-Galiano has pointed out that the sector, which “has been representing the main industrial element in Spain for many years”, is currently facing “transformation processes”. Among these challenges, the president of the Editorial Unit has highlighted “the ecological transition and the environmental impact, challenges that the automotive industry has responded to quickly and efficiently.”

“Research and development in technology in recent years, both in the manufacture and in the use of the car itself, has been spectacular,” added Fernández-Galiano. Before giving way to the presentations, the president of the Editorial Unit highlighted “the golden opportunity” of being able to listen to the experts on topics “that are already recurring at any gathering of friends.”

José López Tafall, president of the manufacturers’ association, Anfac, explained the importance of the Spanish automobile industry. “The strengths of the Spanish industry are multiple. The numbers are known, we represent 10% of GDP and 9% of employment. But not only for that reason it is a sector to conserve. Spanish society will evolve to the extent that this strong sector is protected. Why is it strong? The factors that make us the second European manufacturer and ninth worldwide. They are based on the fact that we have managed to be competitive. After the 2008 crisis we have known how to maintain ourselves and even improve, ”he said.

López-Tafall advanced the challenges of the industry. “The sector has competitive elements that we have to adapt to the new environment. In this scenario, Anfac aims to promote the development of a roadmap and lead towards the digital and decarbonisation transition in an inclusive way, I mean that we must all go in the same direction: industry, social entities and administrations. The values ​​of our industry cannot be put at risk: competitiveness, a positive framework of labor relations … Any step backwards in this would be misperceived. We are in the big leagues, with Germany, France. To continue there, we must be ‘friendly’ with the sector, both in production and in the market. ”

José Portilla, representative of the automotive components industry Sernauto, insisted that “the Spanish components sector is very powerful in a globalized automotive environment. We play on the global field and compete against the rest of the world. Being where we are has been possible by activating a series of levers and one of them is our competitiveness. Manufacturers operating in Spain are all of foreign capital. The Germans and French could contract to manufacture their components in their countries, even for logistical reasons, but Spain has remained competitive. And not because we are ‘low cost’ manufacturers, but flexible to adapt to the needs of manufacturers. Spanish component manufacturers have become almost ‘partners’ of vehicle constructions “.

Portilla prefers to talk more about an electrified car than an electric one. “The sector is committed to the decarbonisation process, but the reality in 15 to 20 years’ time is that the combustion engine will continue. Cleaner (with the euro 7 ordinance) and accompanying technologies such as gas, hydrogen, hybridization and 100% electric cars, which will increase their autonomy ”.

Portilla agrees with López-Tafall that “Spain’s path is to continue being an automotive friendly country, with institutional support for the industry and the innovation ecosystem that we have created. For them it is necessary to invest in R + D + I and the automotive sector already supposes the triple of the industrial investment in this field. Many of our component manufacturers are on progress technologies. ” He added that investment and training.

The second table has focused on glimpsing how the decarbonization process that will expire the combustion engines between 2040 and 2050 can affect the car, and if it is time for the electric car or when it will be the turn of hydrogen, a technology that has been in the bedroom for decades. Everything, not forgetting that there are two decades ahead, enough time to respond to the demands and needs of the customers who buy, of the brands that make those cars and of the Governments that have the tool to determine their economic, social and environmental impact. .

In this context, a future is in sight that, according to Miguel Carsi, president of Toyota Group Spain, “will be multi-technology and among them, the hybrid car will continue to be key. It is a technology we have been offering for 20 years, from the first Prius ”. Although in the longer term, hydrogen and especially green hydrogen will also be a great opportunity. “Especially because of the energy vector component that can be a great opportunity for Spain.”

The Government’s idea, according to the times set by the EU, is that in 2040 the cars sold will be zero emissions, which given the foreseeable evolution of technology, means giving the leading role to the 100% electric cars. “Manufacturers are already involved in it, my group will launch 75 electrified vehicles in five or six years” says Francisco Pérez-Botello, president of VW Group Spain Distribution, “but to land this technology you must also work on infrastructure and encouragement Of demand. In this sense, reduced taxation within a stable framework is key. “And all this without forgetting that” decarbonisation involves eliminating that 20% of cars with more than 20 years of age that represent 80% of emissions.

Furthermore, Manuel Terroba, President of BMW Spain and Portugal, gives voice to customers: “It is essential to take into account their needs. They are not the same in Madrid as in Asturias, for example. And that forces manufacturers to have to offer all the alternatives, from 100% electric diesel, even within the same model, which means adapting factories to that production. ”

Although what buyers want, needs, and can afford is one thing. And brands must be there offering it. But that supply and demand will marry optimally or not depending on what the governments decide, says Joan Caballe, managing director of Automotive at Accenture: “The transition of the car in the coming years will be determined by what each country wants to do and its economic strength. But if you want to quickly tackle decarbonisation, the car with the combustion engine is the best hinge, it is efficient in this task and, in addition, very competitive in price. Encouraging battery cars is important, going from 100 grams of CO2 to zero. But it is more lower from 400 to 100 ″.

Diesel and gasoline cars, even hybrids, have a great advantage: their combustion engines use gasoline and diesel that are refueled at the thousands of gas stations that exist in Spain in just a few minutes. A situation radically contrary to that faced by the user of a 100% electric car. And not because he is lazy to be aware of recharging his batteries ”says Alberto de Aza, CEO of FCA Spain. “The great brake on sales of these vehicles comes from the fact that the infrastructure is unknown. Will there be electroline stations? How long will it take to recharge the car? Can I put an outlet in my community garage? ” In his opinion, this is actually holding back a demand that, and here coincides with Terroba, “has only begun to show itself in large cities and, especially, Madrid. In the rest of the national territory “it hardly exists”.

Raül Blanco, Secretary General for Industry and SMEs of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, has been in charge of closing the first day of the Cycle. In it, he agreed with the speakers that “the period of five to 10 years to establish the electric car seems prudent if the impulse and infrastructure plans continue.”

Regarding the recovery of the sector, Blanco stressed that everything will depend on the health situation, although he pointed out that “if the activity remains at a level similar to the current one, the momentum should be recovered.” The secretary general stressed that thanks to the demand plans, the administration seeks to promote consumption so that “in the second semester there are figures that allow the end of the year with falls that enter parameters closer to stability.”

In conclusion, Blanco has pointed out “the central role” that the automotive industry must play in reconstruction, both at national and European level. He has acknowledged that “the industry is probably asked for the greatest effort in its history at a time when profitability is very low”, for which he pointed out that “the public role must redouble its effort to accompany the sector and that I can make your transformation while keeping demand at an acceptable level. ”

Automotive Cycle of El Mundo  – First debate

El Mundo – Madrid – Thursday, July 16, 2020 (Translation Soft)

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