María Helena Antolin: «Debemos seguir impulsando la industria de Automoción en España para no quedarnos atrás y perder nuestro liderazgo»

De cara a los retos a los que debe hacer frente el sector, SERNAUTO, la Asociación Española de Proveedores de Automoción, reitera al Gobierno de España la importancia de establecer una estrategia-país que facilite la transición industrial y tecnológica de los fabricantes de componentes para automoción.

in SERNAUTO, 31-01-2019


En este sentido, SERNAUTO considera prioritario la firma y puesta en marcha del Acuerdo Estratégico del Sector de Automoción a partir del cual se fijen una serie de objetivos y medidas concretas para conseguirlos. Es imprescindible contar con un plan en el que participen todos los actores implicados y en el que se tengan en cuenta tanto factores medioambientales como económicos y sociales.

La industria de componentes en España factura más de 36.000 millones de euros (de los que el 55% corresponde a exportaciones), emplea a más de 365.000 personas directa e indirectamente e invierte en I+D+i más del 4% de su facturación.

“Si queremos seguir siendo competitivos, debemos promover entre todos la transformación de las empresas, especialmente de las pymes. Para ello, como ocurre en otros países, debemos actuar con determinación, definiendo entre todos una estrategia a largo plazo que cuente con dotación económica y recursos suficientes”, afirma la Presidenta de SERNAUTO, María Helena Antolin.

Como se ha trasladado al Ejecutivo, ese plan debería contemplar ayudas a la I+D+i (que incluya la puesta en marcha de una iniciativa de colaboración público-privada), una nueva fiscalidad para la innovación en procesos, ayudas a la internacionalización de las empresas (con una mayor dotación presupuestaria para el ICEX) y el apoyo a la transformación industrial del sector.

El sector de componentes está comprometido con la descarbonización y trabaja ya de forma activa en el desarrollo de tecnologías, para aprovechar las oportunidades que generará la movilidad segura, conectada, autónoma y sostenible, y seguir así contribuyendo al desarrollo económico, social y laboral en España.

En palabras de Maria Helena Antolin: “Hemos logrado alcanzar unas cifras muy positivas, convirtiéndonos en una de las industrias más innovadoras del país. Además de seguir trabajando duro para mantener estas cifras, necesitamos el apoyo firme de la Administración en áreas como la I+D+i, la internacionalización o la digitalización. Y, por supuesto, que desde el Gobierno se aporte estabilidad y certeza para acometer proyectos y atraer inversiones a nuestro país”.



OPTIMAL @ CompInnova

OPTIMAL joins the H2020 CompInnova project, which is focused upon the development of an innovative inspection methodology, with automated and manual capabilities, for any type of composite and metallic aircraft structures .

in OPTIMAL, 31-01-2019


CompInnova consortium, is led by the University of Cranfield, and includes the University of Patras, the Lulea Tekniska Universitet and the University of Ioannina.

Among other activities, OPTIMAL will be involved in providing the demonstrator for the technology validation, and in providing an industrial perspective of the technology application, and comparison with existing NDT methodologies.





OPTIMAL´s involvement with the space market has been growing over the past years.

in OPTIMAL, 31-01-2019


Considering this, it was decided to create a business unit dedicated only to this market, and focused on its specific needs. This unit will take advantage of the engineering and manufacturing capacities installed at OPTIMAL, always having in consideration the specific mindset of this demanding market.





UK auto investment drops almost 50% as Brexit chills spending

The British automotive industry saw investment plunge last year as automakers delayed decisions on upgrading machinery and factories amid mounting concern about the impact of a hard Brexit.

in Automotiove News Europe, 31-01-2019

Spending plunged 46 percent to 589 million pounds ($769 million), the lowest since the global financial crisis, the Society of Motor Manufacturers said in a statement Thursday. Since 2013, spending has dropped 90 percent.

Concern about the impact of a possible no-deal split on supply chains and demand has prompted companies to devote less cash to the UK.

Britain’s biggest automaker Jaguar Land Rover, which has been hit by a slump in demand from China and for diesel models, recorded a 16 percent drop in domestic output, while output at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, Britain’s largest car factory, fell by 11 percent

Nissan has delayed wage talks at Sunderland until Brexit terms are clear. Jaguar Land Rover has cut thousands of jobs and is moving Discovery SUV production to Slovakia as the looming Brexit schism adds to pressure from lower diesel sales.

“Automotive investment is cyclical, but there are underlying investments manufacturers need to make to maintain productivity, to remain competitive. A lot of that is on hold,” SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said.

Spending dropped below 1 billion pounds for the first time since 2012, when the group started compiling investment statistics, Hawes said.


Production plunge

UK car output fell 9.1 percent to 1.52 million autos in 2018, a five-year low. The number of those vehicles sold in Britain dropped 16 percent, exacerbated by uncertainty about government policy on taxing diesel models.

The slowing Chinese economy took a toll on auto exports, down 24 percent to the Asian nation and 7.3 percent overall. The UK sends eight out of every 10 cars it produces abroad, with the European Union accounting for about half the total.

Volumes have also been hit by a crackdown on diesel and stricter emissions WLTP rules disrupting supply, the SMMT said.

Brexit ‘fantasy’

Trading on World Trade Organization terms after a no-deal break from the EU would be “incredibly damaging” in terms of tariffs and supply-chain friction, undermining competitiveness, Hawes said, describing suggestions that the situation will be manageable as “a fantasy.”

“Brexit uncertainty has already done enormous damage to output, investment and jobs,” Hawe said, calling on the government to avoid a no-deal exit.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit the cost of EU-made cars would go up, Hawes said, though Britons would be unlikely to abandon brands such as BMW and Volkswagen.

The UK autos sector employs some 850,000 people in Britain and has been lauded by politicians as a rare manufacturing success story.

Output is expected to fall another 3 percent this year based on Britain leaving the EU with a deal followed by a transitional period.

Vauxhall fears

A series of investment decisions are coming up, including whether PSA Group will keep Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant open, where staffing will fall to just 850 people by the end of 2019 after a series of job cuts. Output there fell by 16 percent last year, the biggest decline of any of Britain’s six big automakers.

PSA will also decide later this year on whether to build electric vans at Vauxhall’s Luton facility.

The Chinese Geely-owned London Electric Vehicle Company, which builds the London black taxi, is cutting 70 agency staff at its central English plant, around 20 percent of its line-side workforce.

Reuters contributed to this report



CLEPA | Outlook on 2019 – Watch this space

The year 2019 promises to be a challenging year for many European automotive suppliers. The global economy is slowing down, most pertinently in China and Europe. Global trade tensions are aggravating matters. And the new EU CO2 emission targets, which are causing dramatic shifts in the vehicle manufacturers’ new-car portfolios, are beginning to bite hard at many a supplier’s side too.

in CLEPA, by Sigrid de Vries, CLEPA Secretary General, 31-01-2019

Certainly: alternative powertrain solutions offer chances for new business as well – there is a lot of European technology in a Tesla. But the volumes aren’t yet there to match the drawback in other areas. A similar story can be told of the, in itself highly-promising and increasingly sought-after, new-mobility solutions for connected and automated driving. The march is definitely on, but investment precedes revenue as volumes are still developing.

This doesn’t mean sentiment is bad. Automotive suppliers are champions in adjusting to new product- and market opportunities. They are at the forefront of new technology and mobility developments, and dealing with cyclical economic developments as well as ‘uncertainty’ is ingrained in their DNA. Automotive suppliers always strive for new openings and opportiunities.

Yet, some of the forces currently at play, do cause concern. Take the global trade disputes and Brexit: here’s a marked disruption of the integrated value-chain that has helped the automotive supply industry be the innovators and technology leaders they are today. The effects are potentially long-lasting. Many of the relocation and investment decisions taken by customers and suppliers in recent time will be irreversible, no matter the actual outcomes on the global stage.

Or, take the new CO2 emissions reduction targets set for cars and vans. It’s not that the direction wasn’t clear, or the technology unavailable. Automotive suppliers have in fact been advocating ambitious reform. But the timing, volumes and preferences that shape a new market were unclear – and still are, to a large extent, in the absence of charging infrastructure and knowledge of how consumers will respond.

Now, however, the suppliers’ first and foremost customers (read: car manufacturers) are responding. And they do not merely ‘shift’ their production plans; it’s in many cases more like a rupture: sudden and vast. The ‘disruption’ that this signifies, might be applauded from a need-for-change perspective – leaving aside the admittedly rhetoric question if ‘electric’ truly is the only solution to decarbonising transport and mobility.

But the disruption this causes, is painful at economic and societal level, exactly because of the fact that a rupture in demand for one and the dramatic ramp-up of production of another solution is an enormous challenge to manage without any damage: a negative impact in terms of costs, job losses, skills shortages and investment write-offs that would be avoided by going the more harmonious path of a transformation, without necessarily giving up on ambition.

So what does this mean for 2019? Adjustments by and in the industry. Close coordination with customers and societal stakeholders. Competition for new markets, both in Europe and in other geographies. Beating the macro trends with targeted strategy; building on key competencies, innovative power and a deep understanding of the longer-term direction that mobility of people and goods will take.

In Brussels, it’s going to be a transition year moving from one Commission and Parliament to another. Industry still hopes to make as much progress as possible with pending files – General Safety regulation, Heavy-duty CO2 emissions, Multi-annual Financial Framework, to name just a few – before the European elections in May. At so-called working level, the shaping of policies for pollutant emissions reduction and access to data will surely continue. In Geneva, UN-ECE will progress its important work on highly-automated vehicles.

CLEPA, the association, celebrates its 60st anniversary in 2019, and will launch a ‘white book’ on the future of mobility to mark that feat. Sixty years of shaping our automotive landscape and now driving the transformation to new mobility. What bright future is in stock? What does the automotive supply community have on offer? Watch this space!




After WLTP emissions testing chaos, EVAP headache looms

Automakers are bracing themselves for added costs and renewed market volatilities as the next stage of Europe’s new WLTP testing regime goes into effect later this year.

in Automotive News Europe, by Christiaan Hetzner, 31-01-2019 

WLTP’s introduction last September forced some automakers including Volkswagen Group, BMW and Renault to pull models from the market and halt output because of bottlenecks in getting vehicles certified for sale in time for the deadline.

VW, Daimler and other automakers are looking with concern at the next WLTP stage, which includes changes to the mandatory evaporation test (EVAP).

Volkswagen Group’s sales chief Christian Dahlheim said that to pass the latest tests nearly all engine-transmission variations will again have to go through “time consuming” WLTP certification processes.

“Compared with 2018, we are confident that we can dampen the effects of the second stage considerably. Nevertheless, we cannot rule out temporary limitations to some of the models in our range in the second half of this year,” he said.

Daimler said the industry has had little time to prepare for the second set of tests. The new regulations were only published in their final form at the end of November and, in the case of new vehicle types, required compliance already at the start of the year, the company said in a statement.

“It remains challenging because the effort for everyone involved with the new processes has risen enormously,” Daimler’s sales chief Britta Seeger told Automobilwoche, a sister publication of Automotive News Europe. Seeger is confident that the challenges can be met. “In 2018, we learned a great deal. We can now plan better,” she said.

WLTP (Worldwide harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure) replaces the outdated New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) as the homologation process for new passenger vehicles in EU markets.

Getting ready

Some car companies are ready for the change.

PSA Group’s Opel/Vauxhall unit said it was confident that its business will not be interrupted. “Opel took extensive precautions early on to ensure the timely certification of all models in keeping with the coming emissions limits. We expect we will be at all times capable of meeting demand, just as was the case in 2018 with the initial changeover to WLTP,” a spokesman said.

PSA prepared well and suffered little disruption from WLTP’s introduction. PSA’s Europe chief, Maxime Picat, said earlier this month that the company’s ability to meet last September deadline gave it a sales advantage in the second half of 2018.

BMW Group also said it does not expect any problems homologating its vehicles under EVAP. “BMW has set up a special project team with enough time in advance to cope with the considerable additional time expenditure required, such as making the necessary IT adjustments,” a spokesman said. “The changeover process for the new type approvals is proceeding according to plan.”

VW’s big hit
VW expects less disruption from the second stage than it suffered last year when a shortage of engineers partly contributed to it failing to get vehicles ready for certification, causing delivery bottlenecks and a big sales hit in the last quarter.

Last August VW and many other automakers offered discounts on new cars that were homologated under the outgoing NEDC test to reduce stocks ahead of the Sept. 1 deadline.

This led to 1 billion euros in costs through lost sales and higher incentives, VW said.

“We believe we are considerably better prepared. It won’t be a walk in the park, but we do not expect any significant extraordinary financial effect in that magnitude,” Dahlheim said.

VW Group’s Audi brand is still expected to suffer effects from the first stage lasting through the end of the first quarter, he said. This is in part due to a complex number of engine-transmission variations and a recent renewal of its product portfolio.

In an internal video communication to employees in late 2018, VW CEO Herbert Diess warned: “The second phase of WLTP is coming. It will be the same drill as this year all over again, especially for Audi and VW.”

Sales disruption

WLTP’s introduction sent European new-car sales on a rollercoaster ride in the latter half of 2018.

Sales surged 31 percent in August as buyers rushed into dealerships to take advantage of heavy discounts, data from industry association ACEA showed, but declined though the rest of the year, falling 24 percent in September, 7 percent in October, 8 percent in November and 8 percent in December.


A core feature is a measurement of evaporation emissions from standing vehicles with switched-off engines in climate chambers. The test designed to limit the number of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the form of gasoline fumes can escape from the vehicle over a 48-hour period.

When a vehicle is parked, rising ambient temperature and even solar radiation may lead the lightest fractions of gasoline fuel to seep out.

Vehicles have a carbon canister system designed to trap the vapors, but they have a limited absorbing capacity. This however is not really an issue for cars with compression ignition engines due to the very low vapor pressure of diesel fuel.

Separately, all new vehicles will also be subject to measurements of nitrous oxide exhaust during real-life, on-road operation (RDE-NOx). Diesels will not be allowed to emit more than 2.1 times the laboratory limit, or 168 milligrams per kilometer.

The test goes into force Sept. 1.


Henning Krogh and Burkhard Riering of Automobilwoche contributed to this report

CLEPA Innovation Awards 2019: Call for applications now open

CLEPA Innovation Awards recognises the excellence of the automotive supplier’s industry in the fields of Environment, Safety, Cooperation and Connectivity & Automation
Innovative applications can enter the contest until 29th March 2019

in CLEPA, 30-01-2019


The 4th edition of the “Innovation Awards” will be an important milestone in the 60th anniversary of CLEPA, acknowledging the important contributions from the automotive supplier´s sector in making mobility sustainable, safe and smart.

Automotive suppliers play a key role in innovating and adapting the automotive industry to meet new global societal challenges and regulatory requirements. Only in 2018, European automotive suppliers have invested more than 22€ billion in R&D, contributing to new technologies and systems for an ever-higher performance in terms of safety, sustainability, connectivity and seamless mobility.
Innovation is key to support the competitiveness of the European industry, and automotive suppliers are committed to remain the global leader in the development of emerging technologies, services and mobility solutions.

CLEPA would like to recognise the excellence of the industry, awarding the innovative achievements on the fields of Environment, Safety, Cooperation and Connectivity & Automation. Deloitte, the management consultancy partners up with CLEPA again to stress the achievements of the sector.
CLEPA now invites automotive suppliers from the whole value chain, from large corporations, SMEs and also start-ups to submit their contributions to the 4 different categories.

The call for applications will be open until the end of March, and the applications received will be assessed, by an excellent jury of international experts on the different fields, that will evaluate the ambition, market relevance, impact and quality of the applications. The selected candidates will be exemplary for the solutions provided today by automotive suppliers for tomorrow’s mobility challenges.
The awarded innovations and companies will be revealed during the CLEPA Innovation Awards 2019 ceremony, that will take place in Brussels, on the evening of 13th June.

The deadline for applications is the 29th of March 2019.


Supported by:


Automotive world about to change faster than ever before

VDA’s New Year Reception with over 650 guests – German automotive industry has convincing strategy for digitization, connectivity, emission reductions, electric mobility and alternative powertrains

in VDA, 30-01-2019


More than 650 high-ranking guests from politics, business, academia and the media attended the New Year Reception of the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) in Berlin. They were welcomed by VDA President Bernhard Mattes. This was followed by a welcome address from Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer. The guests included numerous state secretaries and members of the German Bundestag, along with ambassadors and envoys from Argentina, Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain and Ukraine.

The VDA’s Managing Board was represented by Dr. Oliver Blume (Porsche), Dr. Daniel Böhmer (VDA Vice-president, Meiller), Arndt G. Kirchhoff (VDA Vice-president, Kirchhoff), Harald Krüger (BMW), Michael Lohscheller (Opel), Gertrud Moll-Möhrstedt (Akkumulatorenfabrik Moll), Wolf-Henning Scheider (ZF Friedrichshafen), Gero Schulze Isfort (Krone) and Dr. Stefan Wolf (ElringKlinger).

At the event the VDA said farewell to its Managing Director Klaus Bräunig, who is retiring after eleven years in the post. His successor will be Dr. Martin Koers, with effect from February 1, 2019.

Below we reproduce the statement delivered by VDA President Bernhard Mattes at the VDA’s New Year reception in Berlin:

“We are delighted to welcome the Federal Transport Minister here today. Minister Scheuer, last year was a stormy one for all of us. The low pressure zone has not yet passed by altogether, but there is more light showing on the horizon. However, it is not always clear whether it is lightning or the first sign of brighter weather. Keep a firm eye on your inner compass when the debate becomes heated. The needle must point to people’s needs, even in turbulent times, and that includes affordable individual mobility. We bear a common responsibility for the many employees in Germany who work in this key industry, at the manufacturers and at our many suppliers. For this reason, together with you we will continue struggling to find the best way forward for the future of mobility, for example in the field of digitization and connectivity.

“The world and the economy have to deal with huge uncertainties: the US under President Trump represents a challenge in many respects. Mexico has a new president who brings new uncertainties and new questions for the commitments in the country that is valued for its free trade. Europe’s reforms are not moving forward, and not only because the outcome of Brexit is still unknown. Economic growth – including that in Germany – is slowing down. Imports in China slumped by 7.6 percent in December, and in 2018 passenger car sales there fell significantly – for the first time in decades.

“Of course we don’t want to get into a situation where Ludwig Erhard would have said that it is better ‘to pray the economy back to health than to talk it into the ground.’ The fact that the German national economy shrank by 0.2 percent in the third quarter of 2018 is not great, but neither is it a disaster. Overall, the German economy is still growing. The German Government’s forecast for 2019 is very cautious.

“The German automotive industry is doing well. Around the world, the German OEMs produced 16.5 million passenger cars last year, 5.1 million of them in Germany. Our share of the global passenger car market is about 20 percent. In China we have actually pushed up our market share to 22 percent. In Germany our automotive industry has a turnover of 423 billion euros and employs a workforce of 834,500 – which is more than ever before. And over one million more people are employed at our international plants. The outlook for 2019 is characterized by many uncertainties in the overall political conditions and in the development of the global economy. We are tackling them fully aware of our strengths such as innovations, quality and global presence. In 2019 our worldwide passenger car production could even break through the 17 million mark. But to do that, we will need solutions this year for the most important trade topics. We continue to support free world trade. We therefore have major questions concerning Brexit. The EU and the UK still have to find a way of avoiding the worst case. Today it looks like history took an ironic turn when the Brexiteers won their slender majority by arguing that there was a lack of freedom inside the EU. And it is bitter that we apparently only recognize the value of freedom when we lose it.

“Our desiderata for 2019 also include regaining lost trust. We will do this with a convincing strategy for digitization, connectivity and emission reductions, for electric mobility and alternative powertrains. And with perfectly managed implementation. In the coming years the automotive world will change faster than ever before. In 2030 the automotive world will be different than it is today. We see this as a challenge, but above all we see it as an opportunity! Manufacturers and suppliers, large, medium-sized and small companies, will prove together that they are shaping this future themselves.

“Two years ago in the Bundestag election the slogan of the Greens was, ‘The future is made from courage.’ In this case I have to admit they were right. There is no doubt that our members are courageous. And they are full of confidence. They believe in the future. Why else would they invest many billions of euros in technologies, although nobody can say for sure how quickly they will pay off?

“The policymakers are also working on the future. When I look to Brussels, this is primarily in the form of regulations. And there’s nothing wrong with that, if we can expect practicable and reliable regulatory conditions. They must be transparent and comprehensible, and demonstrate a good balance between what is ecologically feasible and what is economically expedient. Just to avoid any misunderstanding – we all want further improvements in the air quality in towns and cities. And we are making a great effort to this end. But if we see that some people are less interested in clean air and more interested in attacks on individual mobility as a whole, the VDA will continue to raise its voice in 2019. And it will probably be louder than it was last year!

“Mobility must remain affordable. People need their cars and the railways, they need bicycles and car-sharing and many new forms of future mobility – not only to get to work, but also for an active social life. Therefore, we do not need any ‘crusades against cars,’ or populism or hysteria, but sensible approaches for forward-looking mobility both in urban and rural areas. The current discussion of the speed limit is part of this bigger picture. From our point of view, there aren’t any good arguments for a general speed limit.

“The CO2 regulation in Europe is also of key relevance. At this time, nobody knows how the CO2reduction targets for passenger cars are to be achieved by 2030 – without massive impacts on Germany’s industry and employment levels. Here ecology and economy are not in balance. We take an even more critical view of the European CO2 reduction requirements being discussed for heavy-duty commercial vehicles. I hope and expect that the European Commission and the European Parliament will become more open again to objective arguments and comprehensible facts from the automotive industry. We hope that the German Government will help avert future damage. And other political developments, like Brexit, are actually exacerbating this topic. If a queue of only 30 kilometers forms at the customs point in Calais or Dover, that will mean additional CO2 consumption of over 4,000 tonnes per year! And there will not just be this one queue.

“The German automotive industry has been working intensively for many years on decarbonizing road traffic. In the next three years it will double its range of e-models to 100. Over the same period it will invest 40 billion euros in alternative powertrains. It is the leader in patents on alternative propulsion. One third of the world’s patents in the field of electric mobility and hybrid drive come from Germany. We are convinced that the future of the car is largely electric – and it is digital. And we need the internal combustion engine – also for alternative fuels.

“Artificial intelligence (AI) is playing a decisive role on the path to automated and driverless driving. It offers the automotive industry enormous potentials: fewer accidents, smoother traffic flow, traffic management that learns, and connectivity with all modes of transport. Around half of the world’s patents for connected and automated driving come from German businesses, putting them at the top of the international ranking. Digitization also means that OEMs and suppliers are becoming mobility service providers, they are developing new mobility solutions. Car-sharing, ride-pooling, mobility platforms and mobility apps are just the beginning. We know that we can carry out this transformation successfully only if we take a multi-sector approach, if we cooperate with new partners. That is why we hear almost daily reports of new cooperative projects by German manufacturers or suppliers with hi-tech firms and IT companies.

“The mobility of the future can only pick up speed if appropriate general conditions are in place. In the case of electric mobility this means establishing and expanding a high-capacity charging infrastructure. For connected, automated and autonomous driving we need the relevant digital infrastructure. So there is still a lot to do – for the industry and for the policymakers!”



Renault-Nissan alliance keeps No. 1 spot for global light vehicle sales, outpacing VW, Toyota

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance sold 10.76 million light vehicles globally last year, outpacing rivals Volkswagen Group and Toyota if heavy truck sales are excluded from their sales results.

in Automotive News Europe, by Naomi Tajitsu | Reuters, 30-01-2019

Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi Motors together sold 10.76 million passenger cars and light commercial vehicles in 2018, according to Reuters’ calculations after new data was released on Wednesday.

VW Group registrations rose 0.9 percent to 10.83 million , including its MAN and Scania heavy trucks, the company said earlier this month. Excluding heavy trucks, it sold 10.6 million units.

Toyota said on Wednesday that it had sold 10.59 million vehicles last year including its Toyota and Lexus brands, along with minicars made by subsidiary Daihatsu, and light and heavy trucks produced by its truck division Hino Motors. Excluding Hino trucks, Toyota sold 10.39 million units. The automaker has said it expects to sell 10.76 million vehicles in 2019.

Nissan said on Wednesday it sold 5.65 million vehicles last year, down 2.8 percent on the year. Mitsubishi reported an 18 percent rise in sales to 1.22 million units while Renault sold 3.88 million units, up 3.2 percent. The three-way alliance does not sell heavy trucks.

Many automakers are trying to boost sales volumes to achieve economies of scale and reduce costs amid soaring investments needed to develop next-generation technologies, including self-driving cars and electric vehicles.

This has been a focus of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors alliance, which is looking to share more vehicle parts and consolidate production platforms to trim r&d and manufacturing costs, while raising profitability.

The alliance, which brought Mitsubishi Motors into its fold in 2016, is currently in crisis with its former Chairman Carlos Ghosn arrested and indicted on charges of misconduct. Nissan has also been indicted, and Renault appointed new top management last week.

Growing headwinds

VW is betting on fresh models such as the small T-Cross crossover, the Seat Tarraco and the updated Audi Q3 to help sustain demand despite growing headwinds. The Audi premium-car brand, its largest profit contributor, will start rolling out its first all-electric model E-tron later this year.

Toyota is rolling out an all-new version of the world’s top-selling vehicle, the Corolla, to accelerate its push in China and keep up the pressure on Volkswagen in other markets. The company has also refreshed its Prius hybrid car as it continues its pursuit of electrified vehicles.

Automakers have warned of challenges this year, including trade spats that threaten to exacerbate an already cooling global economy. Stricter emission rules worldwide are set to force manufacturers to sell more battery-powered cars that are less profitable than combustion vehicles. The squeeze is already becoming evident. Ford and Jaguar Land Rover this month announced thousands of job cuts in Europe.

“Global car manufacturers are taking measures to limit the impact of a deteriorating environment in several markets, and potential pressure on earnings and cash generation coming from declining new vehicle sales,” Fitch Ratings said in a report. That said, many companies entering this phase of the cycle are “better positioned than the last downturn,” according to the ratings agency.

Bloomberg contributed to this report