Today the High Level Group (HLG) GEAR 2030 has issued its report on the competitiveness and sustainable growth of the automotive industry in the EU.
The report offers recommendations on how the automotive industry can anticipate and adapt to current trends - thereby turning short to medium-term threats into long-term opportunities. The HLG consists of public and private sector representatives.
Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs said on the occasion: 'The next decade will change the automotive landscape almost beyond recognition. Our industry must rise to the challenge if we are to maintain our world-leading position. The emissions scandal has seriously damaged the reputation and credibility of the industry, but today's report can be the basis for a (re)start. It clearly identifies the tasks ahead. With continuing close cooperation between government and industry, we can look forward to a bright future.'
Opportunities to seize
The report identifies two fields in which the European industry must move forward to stay globally competitive: zero emissions and zero emissions-capable vehicles (ZEVs and ZECs) and connected and automated driving (CAD).
To reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants (NOx and particulates) by 2030, support must be provided for ZEVs and ZECs vehicles as they enter the market – but their success will be largely dependent on improved battery performance. The HLG therefore recommends that the Commission and EU countries work with industry to strengthen research, development and manufacturing of the next generation of batteries in the EU.
As for CAD, the report encourages large-scale research and financing programmes at EU and national levels, while supporting further policy and regulatory actions to create a real EU internal market as well as a real EU governance to ensure a coordinated approach. It also recommends that CAD’s potential impact – especially on jobs and ethical issues – be assessed, discussed and accounted for in broader EU policies.
Changes to embrace
The automotive sector is a major part of Europe's industrial landscape. Around 12 million Europeans have jobs in the automotive and mobility sector. The sector generates a substantial positive trade balance with the rest of the world of around €90 billion (2016). It also invests around €50 billionin R&D (2015). However, while currently globally competitive, the sector is not immune to the transformation brought by the new industrial age. The report presents 5 areas for the European automotive sector to address and makes a number of recommendations:
- new technologies and business models – requiring high investment
- climate and health concerns – such as the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
- societal changes – changes in consumer behaviour with regard to cars
- globalisation – remaining competitive and responding to international demand, as well as ensuring fair access to international markets
- structural change – the impact on the workforce as the industry moves towards automated driving and low and zero emission vehicles
While it will be for the industry itself to embrace the structural change required for maintaining competitiveness and meeting consumer demands, the report identifies opportunities for the Commission and EU countries to support the sector in this transition.
The transformation of the industry will significantly affect the workforce. The HLG highlighted the importance of helping workers acquire new skills through EU and national measures, such as apprenticeships and non-formal learning certification.
With the mandate of the HLG coming to an end, the Commission will now reflect on the recommendations and discuss policy options with relevant experts from EU countries, industry and other stakeholders.
A number of initiatives are already in the pipeline, including:
- In the framework of the second mobility package scheduled for November, the Commission will propose revised CO2 standards for cars and vans for the post-2020 period.
- The Commission will also push for a full value chain of batteries in Europe with large-scale battery cells production and the circular economy at the core. Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovic recently launched this process by convening a high-level meeting on battery development and production in Europe. In February 2018, at the Clean Energy Industrial Forum (part of the EU Industry Days), Member States, EU industry and Commission plan to present a comprehensive roadmap for an EU battery alliance.
- On the basis of the vehicle safety report issued in December 2016, the Commission has launched a public consultation on potential improvements to current vehicle safety measures. The Commission will analyse the responses received, study new emerging safety technologies and assess the impact of any potential new measures.
About the HLG
Established by the European Commission in October 2015, the HLG is made up of authorities from EU countries and key stakeholders representing:
- the automotive industry
- road safety
- environmental protection
The HLG was tasked with developing medium and long-term recommendations to 'address the main challenges and opportunities for the European automotive industry in the run-up to 2030 and beyond.'