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December 2020 | Platform

We are prepared for the future and the future is now

The times we are living in are plenty of uncertainty and change in the individual day-by-day aspect of life and, undoubtedly, in the economic and business sense as well. All of it comes as a result of COVID-19’s impact in our lives. The automotive sector in Spain is no stranger to such reality. We witnessed, during these months, how the whole supply chain was put off as consequence of measures applied to stop the pandemic and the crisis worldwide. Eight months has gone through since the halt began and the sector is progressively getting back to normal in a slow and somehow uneven fashion depending on what markets or clients we are serving to. Anyway, we are firmly and decidedly moving on and trying to minimize losses which, in terms of production volume and billing, are expected for the end of the year. Concerning to automotive suppliers, an estimated decrease between 20 to 30 % in billing is expected, figures never seen before in six decades of history and presence of automotive components manufacturers in Spain.

But not everything is negative. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, the sector was already immersed in an intensive transformation process towards a carbon-free economy, facing the digitalization, connectivity and automation challenges, all of that under the sustainability premise. This health crisis has just pushed up this process faster by relocating geographically some vehicle’s system and components with the purpose to strengthen the supply chains facing future threats. Besides, in current circumstances, the consumer is inclined to go for using private vehicles in detriment to public transport due to protection and safety reasons. These data remind us that, though we are immersed in an uncertainty environment, we should act quickly, smartly and creatively to keep on being a competitive industry. Taking into account that suppliers provide around 75% of the vehicle’s value, this industry’s competitiveness is an easy guess. Therefore, it is one of the main tools to launch the transformation process.

We are prepared for the future and the future is now

We perform at  a strong and consistent ecosystem formed by 1000+ automotive suppliers and first-class technological centers which are a powerful hook for vehicle manufacturers all over the world. The Spanish automotive component sector has already been working for several years on initiatives for innovation such as: propulsion systems and alternative fuel, more autonomous mobility and advanced manufacturing. Autonomous driving is unthinkable without these new technologies: high-performance computing, cyber-security, artificial intelligence, monitoring sensors for the vehicle surrounds and precise location technologies. To do so, it is indispensable that  automotive suppliers keep on increasing the I+D investment levels ( in 2019 4% of billing was invested, which means three times the industrial average), keep the sustainable 4.0 industry scope, where nobody will be left behind, providing employees with training to keep up with the jobs digitalization is demanding.
Sustainable mobility is another of our distinguishing features, which is supported by the whole value chain. As stated in the White Book “contributions of automotive component industry to sustainable development”, there are numerous initiatives and projects suppliers have in mind while working on achieving the UN 2030 Agenda For Sustainable Development Goals. For instance, EU projects to promote circular economy are being supported as well as The Circular Vehicle initiative, which was created as part of the World Economic Forum, officially launched in Davos in 2020. 

We cannot forget that action is what we need. Get down to business in order to avoid staying behind as country and as continent. In a such competitive sector as ours is, the game is not only played here but overseas. And we must keep up with our leadership as that 2nd vehicle producer in Europe (the 1st for industrial vehicles) and the 9th worldwide. We will, through the digital platform Autoparts from Spain, provide the huge potential of the Spanish offer of made-in-Spain components. All companies belonging to this initiative are committed with the decarbonization goals set by the European Union and with the high quality and innovation standards vehicle manufacturers and distributors demand all over the world.
We are living through high times; we must be united. Only in this way, we will overcome this serious challenge, just as we have done it before in Spanish and European history. Now more than ever, we must show that we have what it takes to handle this so disruptive process by displaying trust and tirelessly work, consensus and public-private collaboration. We got the fabric for it, now it’s time to build, in this present, the future we hope for with ambition and full of opportunities.

 

José Portilla, CEO of SERNAUTO (Spanish Association of Automotive Suppliers)
 

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