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Mª Helena Antolin: “One thing is what Google does and quite another, to make a car”

Automotive News

Defends that if Spain today has a large presence of car factories, it is because behind there is a very important network of suppliers

Based on the innovation in which they invest so much, she says she does not fear the arrival of technology in the automobile.

María Helena Antolin is already informed by her surname, the daughter of one of the founders of the Antolin Group, a Spanish multinational of world-wide importance among the automotive component supplier industry. For example, it is considered to be one of the top 25 directives of the automotive sector in Europe, according to the ranking of Automotive News Top 25 Leading Women 2016. The recognition came last autumn, only A few months after being elected president of Sernauto, the association that represents the manufacturers of parts in Spain, and as such it serves EL MUNDO.

It does so just the year that the association celebrates 50 years defending the role of an industry that defines as “strategic” for the Spanish economy and also as “discrete”. Something that does not respond to a kind of modesty because they earn a lot of money – “we do not move in large margins, not double digits at least” – but because “it is formed by entrepreneurs who have dedicated themselves to work but not to tell what they do

“Although things are changing, and our associates are getting more and more heads to tell everything they do and where they do.” While she, on behalf of all, claims the role that corresponds to them. For the numbers of those who show off and because, he presumes, “if today Spain has the factories of vehicles with which it has, it is because behind it has a very important network of suppliers without which it would be impossible to have reached that level. We contribute 75% of the added value of each car. ”

The numbers he speaks have several readings. In internal code, it is necessary to measure the 34,000 million, a 6% increase, which they invoiced in 2016, their best year. Employment gives a measure of its weight in the national economy: after creating 7,000 direct jobs, the workforce of the sector amounts to 212,000 people (343,500 with indirect jobs). And to assess its international dimension equal serve the 19.5 billion that exported in 2016 and, above all, to be present in the five continents, collaborating to assemble vehicles with marchamo made in Spain.

Although the figure of which this executive of exquisite international formation is most proud is the investment in R + D + i. “During the crisis we continued investing in this chapter and in 2016 we reached 1.350 million, 4% of our turnover and three times the national average.” Spending is even more necessary because of ‘disruption caused by the self-contained, electric and connected car, and the arrival of new agents’. It refers to technology and does not fear it. “We have to be smart and look for collaborations with them. It was said that Google would make its own car, but it will not. It will bring the software or whatever, but making a vehicle is a very complex task and another, say, the technology of connectivity. They are two totally different worlds. ” “These collaborations will allow us to offer new products to the manufacturers: intelligent fabrics, new mechanical forms, tactile elements, etc.” Antolin highlights several fields that focus on R & D & I: light materials, Industry 4.0 – which are a reference – propulsion systems and alternative fuels and more autonomous safe mobility.

In this sense, it raises one of the few requests that it makes to the Administration. “We are leaders, especially in process innovation and we have to get the tax relief for these costs to go from 12% to 25% that are spent on product improvements.” He would also have liked that, in the reform of the regulation of vehicles at the end of their useful life, the scrap yards would have been forced to mark with their logo the used spare parts that they commercialize.

Instead, “although you can always ask for more”, you are satisfied with the existing labor framework. And recognizing that they have spent a year “visiting all the ministries.” So I can guarantee you know us. Another thing is the level of repercussion because it is more glamorous to sell a car than a seat or a brake, but we aspire to have the visibility that we We deserve our specific weight. ”

Then, facing the outside, the work of Sernauto goes through multiplying the international presence of the suppliers, not only the first level that are already there where the cars are manufactured. “The fundamental thing is to make the ecosystem complete, that is to say, that Tier 2 (supplier suppliers) also go out and that is what commercial missions such as the one we plan to do in Mexico or Iran respond to.” At this point, Antolin believes it is too early to assess the effects of Brexit as well as US policies on the automobile, but admits that they are both a risk and an opportunity that they can take advantage of because of their flexibility to move wherever they move production.

“In addition, if I had to emphasize a strength of the Spanish suppliers, I would say that it is their reactivity, their ability to react fast and agile in complex situations where a German company or, even more a Japanese company, are very rigid. To shine even more in a sector as disputed as ours, and this the customers tell us. ” Meanwhile, on the side of weaknesses or challenges, apart from insisting on maintaining competitiveness at all costs, he points to the fact “not having a Spanish car brand. That forces us to be the first of the class before manufacturers that demand us Products of very high quality at very tight prices “.

It also notes that the transformation of the world of the automobile requires major changes in employee preparation, where dual training is already a common tool for many of its partners, and that Part of product development, with more engineers or developers, compared to the production itself. ”

And all this, within a road book known as “Strategic Agenda Components 2020” that was presented three years ago and which have already reached degrees of compliance ranging from 66% (case of job creation for the Period, 31,000) to 100% in terms of exports. “And that growth, which we estimate for example 7% in the case of billing for this year, will slow down in the future. If we continue at this rate, we would surpass all,” he concludes.

FÉLIX CEREZO – EL MUNDO – Madrid – 21 jun. 2017

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