CLEPA Newsletter Editorial February 2019: Shifting focus to “how to get there”

Just a quick look at the press releases CLEPA issued in the past ten days is enough to show the diversity of issues the automotive supply industry is actively involved in as well as strongly affected by. In random order:


Road safety: the internal market committee of the European Parliament called for an ambitious revision of the General Safety Regulation (GSR) which will help save many lives on the EU’s roads by mandating the next level of safety standards for all new vehicles on the continent: a strong commitment to improving safety on Europe’s roads, fully supported by CLEPA.


International trade: the U.S. Commerce Department has submitted its report on the effects of imports of cars and auto parts on U.S. national security. Automotive suppliers in the EU and the U.S. strongly oppose the imposition of any tariffs. Rules-based international trade is a key priority for the automotive industry and its complex international value chains. Additional tariffs, on the magnitude apparently considered by the U.S. administration would have a strongly negative effect on the automotive industry, workers and consumers in Europe and the U.S.


CO2 legislation: the EU requires manufacturers of heavy-duty vehicles to reduce average carbon emissions by 15% by 2025 and 30% by 2030. The challenging level of these reduction targets was among the most controversially discussed elements between the European Parliament and the Council. Meeting the targets will indeed be difficult, for all actors involved. While transport of goods has increased by over a third since 1995, emissions have barely risen. This shows how much pressure the market already exerts towards more efficient vehicles. Automotive suppliers are committed to meeting the obligations under the Paris agreement. Going forward, more technology solutions must be allowed to contribute to achieve the CO2 reduction goals.


Innovation: our calls for applications for the 4th “CLEPA Innovation Awards” edition are now open, aimed at acknowledging the important contributions of automotive suppliers to making mobility ever more sustainable, safe and smart. Only in 2018, European automotive suppliers invested more than 22€ billion in R&D, bringing new technologies and systems on the way and supporting European technology leadership in the fields of automotive safety, environment and connected and automated mobility.


Innovation, of course, underpins all efforts to master challenges, harness opportunities and strengthen the competitiveness of the sector in the global arena. With the magnitude of change in mind, this is more true than ever. Decarbonisation, digitalization, circular economy: these concepts are meanwhile firmly accepted and translated into very real objectives: CO2-targets, road safety targets, roadmaps for connectivity and automation, a life-cycle approach to sustainability, and many more.


What needs to happen next, is the actual transition. Moving beyond the “We must get there”-thinking. Asking ourselves: “How will we now actually get there, in real terms, in real life, in real actions and in dealing with the real consequences?”


The good news is that this shift is visible. In the industry, with a multitude of technologies for decarbonisation and automation ready or close to market. Not the ultimate solutions always, yet, but solid steps in the right direction. Hybridisation as well as full-electric solutions. Driver-assist technologies previewing full autonomy. Finding a balance between what might be, soon enough, and what consumers are ready to accept and pay for, today. An illustration that change usually doesn’t happen overnight, but comes in steps and phases.


In policy, too, this shift is notable: implementation of policies means more action at national and regional level where investment decisions are made and local realities confronted. How to keep all stakeholders on board? How to circumvent ‘not in my backyard’ reactions: Windmills in my village? A driving ban in my town? Dad in a driverless bus? My ‘legacy’ job disappearing? These questions are pertinent, both in perspective of the upcoming European elections, but certainly also beyond. It’s about building and maintaining the trust that is needed for change. And about working together, shaping new alliances on the way, to solving very real challenges.


Sigrid de Vries, CLEPA Secretary General



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