MÉXICO E CHINA ESTÃO NA ROTA DOS INVESTIMENTOS DA ERT

México e China são os destinos que o grupo ERT tem em cima da mesa, sendo que a decisão final sobre estes investimentos está pendente do fecho de negociações para o estabelecimento de parcerias estratégicas com empresas locais, mas não só.

in Jornal T, 05-06-2019


Liderado por  João Brandão (foto), o grupo ERT tem fábricas que fornecem a indústria automóvel na República Checa, Roménia, Portugal e Marrocos – o mais recente destino, pois foi em setembro que foi inaugurada a unidade de Tânger, que tem como clientes diretos a Lear, Faurecia e Antolin e os franceses da PSA e Renault como clientes finais.

“No México as negociações estão mais avançadas do que na China”, confidencia Fernando Merino, diretor da inovação do grupo ERT, que emprega 1 100 pessoas e fechou 2018 com um volume de negócios de cerca de 120 milhões de euros.

Com base industrial apenas europeia (Marrocos é encarado como Europa para o efeito), o investimento em fábricas no México e China seria um grande salto em frente para o grupo de S.João da Madeira, que assim se tornaria num player global, presente nos três grandes continentes – Europa, América e Ásia – onde estão os maiores construtores automóveis.    

 

 

José Couto – MOBINOV «Carro do futuro será conectado, partilhado, “verde” e personalizado»

José Couto, membro do conselho de Administração da MOBINOV Associação do Cluster Automóvel, foi o convidado da terceira sessão do MOBItalks, uma parceria entre a Transportes em Revista e a JPAB – José Pedro Aguiar-Branco Advogados, com o apoio da AEP – Associação Empresarial de Portugal.

in Transportes em Revista, 05-06-2019


Enquanto plataforma agregadora de conhecimento e competência no âmbito da indústria do setor automóvel, a MOBINOV tem como principal objetivo transformar Portugal numa referência na investigação, inovação, conceção, desenvolvimento, fabrico e teste de produtos e serviços da indústria do setor automóvel. Segundo José Couto, o cluster automóvel em Portugal representa cerca de «7% do PIB nacional», sendo por isso um dos principais setores do país.

Um dos maiores desafios que se impõe à indústria automóvel advém da «mobilidade», conceito que José Couto caracteriza de «inevitável e incontornável». Para o responsável, «as cidades têm-se reinventado» e, consequentemente, têm surgido novos modelos de negócio associados diretamente ou indiretamente com a mobilidade. «As soluções crescem a um ritmo vertiginoso», acrescentou.

A par de novas soluções de mobilidade, são igualmente necessários «investimentos em infraestruturas», de forma a que as cidades «reforcem externalidades e se interliguem em rede».

Segundo José Couto, o cluster automóvel nacional gera receitas anuais superiores a 13,5 mil milhões de euros. Apesar disso, as novas gerações não veem neste modo de transporte a solução ideal para as necessidades do seu dia a dia. «Hoje em dia as pessoas querem ter acesso a um automóvel, mas não ter a propriedade do mesmo», esclarece o membro da administração da MOBINOV.

Apesar das novas tendências de mobilidade, «o setor automóvel continua valioso», prova disso, são os inúmeros serviços e produtos em torno do setor. O produto em si, diga-se, o automóvel, será no futuro «totalmente diferente». José Couto adivinha o automóvel «conectado, partilhado, verde e personalizado». Na sua opinião, as viaturas vão «falar» com as cidades, constituindo uma «cadeia de valor» sem precedentes.

A quarta sessão do ciclo de palestras MOBItalks está marcada para o próximo dia 18 de junho, e terá como convidado Mário Ferreira, presidente da Mystic Invest. A “Navegabilidade do Douro” será a temática em discussão.

Para se inscrever e saber mais informações consulte o site do MOBItalks, AQUI.

por: Pedro Venâncio

Subdued sales thwart sellers’ price hike plans

In May, European standard thermoplastic prices continued on a rising trend as higher crude oil and naphtha prices fed through into petrochemical feedstock costs.

in Plastics News Europe, in David Platt, 05-06-2019


Polymer producers initially called for price hikes exceeding the rise in their cost base to extend profit margins. However, polymer demand was relatively subdued for most of the month and sellers found it difficult to meet their pricing goals.

L/LDPE prices increased by slightly more than the €30/tonne rise in ethylene costs as a result of material tightness, but by much less than producers initially wanted. HDPE prices, on the other hand, increased by less than L/LDPE as HDPE availability is considered more comfortable.

Polypropylene prices increased by more than the monomer cost rise due to supply tightened later in the month, but here again price increases were less than producers wanted.

The European PS market registered its fourth consecutive month of hikes, prompted upward by feedstock costs. General-purpose polystyrene contract price settlements were being concluded at €20-25/tonne compared with the €40-50/tonne sellers had initially targeted.

Last month, PVC producers took a tougher line on price increases aimed at improving margins. While producers did not gain quite as much margin improvement as hoped for, they managed to increase prices above the proportionate €15/tonne impact on their production costs of higher ethylene prices.

The PET market saw weak demand and lower prices in May with prices declining by €50/tonne due to a reduction of €70/tonne in paraxylene costs and lower MEG costs.

Demand disappoints

In May, polymer demand was more subdued than would normally be expected across most classes due mainly to weakness in the European economy. However, there were signs of a modest pick-up in sales towards the end of the month. Building sector activity was more in line with seasonal expectations but the automotive sector continued to underperform. In addition, many converters were holding back from placing additional orders in anticipation of lower prices in June and beyond.

Supply variable

Material availability varied widely between product sectors. PS supply is plentiful, LDPE, HDPE and PET supply was better balanced, while LLDPE and PVC tended shorter. PP availability shortened during the month due to several force majeures being called.

• Sabic Europe declared force majeure on ethylene and propylene production on 14th May from one of its two crackers in Geleen, The Netherlands due to a technical malfunction following an accident.

• Braskem declared force majeure on PP production at its site in Schkopau, Germany due to “unforeseen circumstances” at a supplier.

• LyondellBasell declared force majeure on “Clyrell” polypropylene copolymer materials from its production in Ferrara, Italy on 3rd May due to the substantial shortage of ethylene deliveries from its supplier’s cracker.

• As a result of a strike in Moerdijk, The Netherlands since the beginning of April, Shell Nederland declared force majeure on the production of ethylene, propylene and butadiene on 26th April.

The PVC sector also saw a number of disruptions to production:

• KemOne put its PVC customers on allocation for April due to a feedstock shortage stemming from a shutdown at Ineos’ Naphtachimie cracker in Lavera, France.

• Poland’s Anwil was reportedly running their plant at reduced rates after resuming operations in Wloclawek.

• Japan’s Shin Etsu started a four-week planned maintenance programme at its PVC plant in Pernis, the Netherlands mid-April.

June outlook

With crude oil and naphtha prices falling during May, petrochemical feedstock contract prices could potentially settle lower for June.

 

Click here to read more.

 

 

 

 

PLASTICS | May sees mixed developments in prices

in Plastics News Europe, be David Platt, 05-06-2019


L/HDPE

In May, L/LDPE suppliers called for price hikes of €50-70/tonne in an attempt to improve margins following a €30/tonne increase in the monthly ethylene contract price. Sellers managed to obtain price increases just above the rise in feedstock costs as a result of relative tightness for these two products. LDPE prices gained around €40/tonne during May with LLDPE film grades rising €45/tonne over the previous month.

As LLDPE is largely dependent on imports, the sharper rise for LLDPE is explained by a reduction of imported material to Europe, which resulted in lower supply. Production outages at several regional crackers also led to a disruption for LDPE production, although material availability was sufficient to meet demand.

Demand was fairly subdued at the beginning of May but started to recover during final two weeks of the month.

HDPE

Within the PE category, HDPE prices increased by less than L/LDPE as HDPE availability is considered more comfortable. As a result, HDPE suppliers were unable to gain margin improvement across the board. Only blow moulding product achieved a price gain above the €30/tonne rise in feedstock costs. Injection moulding grades tended to settle at less than the rise in ethylene costs while blown film prices settled up by €30/tonne.

In May, HDPE material availability was more than sufficient to meet demand. Injection moulding product was particularly well supplied by imports. It appears that some low-pressure grade producers in supplier countries switched their swing plants from LLD (C4) to HD injection moulding because of more attractive prices.

Demand was fairly subdued at the beginning of May but started to recover during the final two weeks of the month.

PP

In May, the propylene reference price was raised by €20/tonne following the increase in naphtha costs. Polypropylene suppliers responded by calling for price hikes in excess of monomer cost rise to improve the margins.

However, given that supply was adequate and demand rather slow to take off, producers had to rein back on their initial asking prices. Nevertheless, PP prices still managed to increase beyond the monomer cost rise as supply tightened later in the month.

Supply was normal during the first half of the month but shortened as a result of several force majeures being called for propylene and ethylene at major cracker plants towards the end of the month.

Demand was subdued during May. Polypropylene demand continued to be hard hit by the downturn in the automotive sector and the sluggish European economy.

PS

The European PS market registered its fourth consecutive month of hikes, mainly prompted upward by feedstock costs. Major PS players announced planned price hikes of €40-50/tonne after the monthly styrene reference cost settled €32.5/tonne higher. However, contract settlements were being concluded at much smaller levels within the range €20-25/tonne. The surcharge for high-impact material (HIPS) was, as usual, between €115-125/tonne following a rollover for the butadiene contract.

There were no supply restraints; availability has improved significantly and sellers became under pressure to offload surplus stock. It was also reported that imports from the US were arriving in Europe, causing an oversupply.

The weakness of the economy is impacting PS demand. In addition, buyers are holding back from stock building due to an expectation of lower prices in June and beyond as feedstock costs have been falling.

PVC

PVC producers are taking a tougher line on price increases aimed at improving profit margins. In May, major PVC producers announced planned price hikes of €40/tonne. There is increasing margin pressure due to a renewed degradation of the profitability of the European chlorovinyls value chain. As a result, caustic soda prices are declining.

In May, PVC producers did not gain quite as much margin improvement as hoped for. Nevertheless, they managed to increase prices above the proportionate €15/tonne impact on their production costs of higher ethylene.

PVC producers have maintained strict supply controls in recent months and material availability has reduced. Meanwhile, several PVC producers faced production restrictions due to feedstock supply disruption.

PVC demand was at normal seasonal levels although some buyers were holding off purchasing additional volumes due to the higher prices.

PET

The PET market saw weak demand and lower prices in May. PET prices declined by €50/tonne reflecting lower feedstock costs. An initial paraxylene contract price settled down by €70/tonne while monoethylene glycol was also expected to decline by at least €20/tonne.

PET demand was at normal levels in the second half of April as the weather was unusually hot in North-western Europe. However, the expected seasonal pick-up in beverage sector activity in May was delayed due to bad weather in the region. In addition to the cold weather conditions and frequent rains, high inventories also led to weaker pricing.

On the supply side, European plants ran without major interruptions in May with production being ramped up in anticipation of a demand upturn in spring. There was also a good supply of competitively-price import offers from Asia.

 

 

Hypermetal launches metal Additive Manufacturing services in Portugal

Hypermetal, Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal, has launched its metal Additive Manufacturing service offering, becoming what is believed to be the first company to provide metal AM services in the north of the country. The company has been in full production since the beginning of the year, and serves clients from the aeronautic, aerospace, automotive and moulds sectors.

in Metal AM, 04-06-2019


With a strong focus on quality and flexibility, Hypermetal stated that its goal is to become a reference partner for innovative companies in the European market, offering metal AM design and manufacturing services using Laser Powder Bed Fusion (L-PBF).

Afonso Nogueira, Managing Partner at Hypermetal, stated, “Metal Additive Manufacturing is fast, flexible, without waste and allows the production of parts that are impossible to obtain by other technologies. There is increasing knowledge and interest by the industry in the potential of 3D printing in general and metal AM in specific, so we believe that it was the right time to enter the market.”

“We are currently implementing quality procedures for certification and anticipate rapid growth over the next three years, aiming to strengthen the team with seven more elements until the end of 2021,” he added. To date, Hypermetal has produced primarily prototypes, jigs, templates and inserts with conformal cooling channels for plastic injection moulds.

www.hypermetal.eu

 

 

Mercado IAM de escapes em Portugal liderado pela Veneporte

Foi realizado recentemente um estudo sobre a notoriedade das marcas IAM em Portugal para componentes automóveis, onde a Veneporte se destaca na categoria de escapes, catalisadores e filtros de Partículas Diesel.

in Jornal das Oficinas, 04-06-2019


Fizeram parte deste estudo cerca de 150 oficinas que responderam às questões relacionadas com notoriedade da marca (presença da marca na mente do cliente), taxa de penetração (percentagem de clientes que comprou o produto pelo menos uma vez) e quota de mercado (percentagem de mercado detida pela marca no setor).

No que diz respeito à notoriedade, a Veneporte é a primeira escolha dos inquiridos, ultrapassando a Fonos, a marca com maior notoriedade em Espanha.

Em relação à taxa de penetração, a avaliação é feita através da identificação do principal fornecedor de cada inquirido. A Veneporte foi identificada como o principal fornecedor da maioria das oficinas e assume-se assim, como a marca com a maior taxa de penetração, à frente da Fonos e da Walker

No que concerne à quota de mercado, é levada em conta a taxa de penetração e a dimensão das oficinas inquiridas. Dos objetos de estudo, este é o mais importante, uma vez que traduz o impacto e a dimensão que cada marca tem no mercado. Os resultados deste inquérito demonstram que a Veneporte é a marca líder, com a maior quota de mercado, ficando à frente da Walker e da Fonos.

A análise dos dados estatísticos indica que a Veneporte é a marca IAM com maior impacto e melhor desempenho no mercado nacional de escapes, catalisadores e filtros de partículas diesel, fruto das estratégias comerciais adotadas com base em medidas sustentáveis que lhe permitem ser cada vez mais a marca de referência do setor.

 

 

A MCG no evento Academia Meets Auto-Industry: a reação proativa da empresa aos desafios crescentes na indústria automóvel

A MCG marcou presença no Academia Meets Auto-Industry, um evento que teve lugar recentemente no Instituto Superior Técnico, em Lisboa, e reuniu vários construtores de automóveis, fabricantes de componentes e outras entidades ligadas ao sector.

in MCG mind for metal, 29-05-2019


O objetivo principal do encontro passa pela partilha de conhecimento e apresentação de soluções no âmbito dos mais recentes desafios com que o cluster automóvel se depara, entre eles a eletrificação dos sistemas de propulsão, a robotização e a digitalização dos processos. Tudo o que envolve a Indústria 4.0, assim como as tendências de futuro no que concerne a materiais e processos relacionados.

 

Pela voz de Carlos Saraiva, Diretor de New Business Development, a MCG participou de forma ativa no segmento “Materials and Processes: Industry Drivers and R&D Needs”. A intervenção centrou-se no tema “New Materials are Shaping the Future of the Auto-Industry”, com destaque para as evoluções que existem hoje ao nível dos materiais e das tecnologias de processamento, assim como para a forma como as empresas se devem ajustar a este desenvolvimento.

 

“Estes eventos são mecanismos importantes para o networking com outras empresas relevantes e para fazer benchmarking das melhores práticas das entidades inseridas neste contexto industrial em mutação”, refere Carlos Saraiva, explicando ainda que “a MCG está a reagir de forma proativa em várias das vertentes abordadas, dando atenção e implementando ações no âmbito da Indústria 4.0, estratégias de digitalização e robotização”.

 

Tal como foi mostrado no evento, a MCG está igualmente a par dos mais recentes materiais envolvidos na construção automóvel e das respetivas tecnologias de transformação. Ao mesmo tempo, mantém proximidade com equipas de desenvolvimento dos clientes para participar no codesenvolvimento de produtos, criando parcerias efetivas que podem dar origem a novas soluções, nomeadamente materiais a usar no futuro e respetivas tecnologias de transformação, joining e tratamentos superficiais. Bons exemplos disso são os vários projetos desenvolvidos no departamento de I&D da empresa, nomeadamente os projetos Latch 1, Latch 2, Ultraforming, SLM-XL e Maestri, por exemplo.

 

Resumidamente, a MCG apresentou as razões que justificam a procura de novos materiais para esta indústria (que englobam questões ambientais, de segurança, de conforto e outras relacionadas com custos), mostrou quais os materiais usados atualmente e explicou ainda de que forma podem as empresas do sector adaptarem-se a este futuro em mudança constante.

 

Entre outras conclusões, há ideias fundamentais a reter face ao futuro da indústria automóvel, nas quais as empresas devem refletir:

 

  • Todas as empresas que consistem o Supply Chain, assim como os construtores do sector automóvel, devem trabalhar em conjunto para darem resposta a este desafio e para acompanharem a referida evolução.
  • A qualificação e conhecimentos específicos dos Quadros Técnicos, Engenheiros e Business Developers será mais do que nunca um ponto fundamental na estratégia das empresas.
  • A ligação aos Departamentos de Engenharia dos Clientes, na fase do processo de venda, é fundamental para que exista uma participação no desenvolvimento dos produtos, a fim de influenciar de acordo com os objetivos comuns.
  • Os Departamentos de Compras e/ou Procurement terão papel fundamental no posicionamento estratégico das empresas no sentido de potenciar fontes de fornecimento e/ou parcerias aplicáveis à concretização estratégica.
  • As empresas têm de estar em constante avaliação no que toca a processos e tecnologias de produção, para poderem investir corretamente.
  • Os processos de produção terão de se adaptar a um largo número de materiais diferentes.

 

Acompanhe a atividade da MCG no LinkedIn ou siga esta secção de notícias MCG para ficar a saber mais sobre todos os projetos desenvolvidos pela empresa.

 

MCG automotive

MCG mantém Certificação Ambiental ISO 14001:2015

Está confirmada a manutenção da Certificação Ambiental ISO 14001:2015 da MCG, na sequência da primeira auditoria de acompanhamento realizada recentemente ao Sistema de Gestão Ambiental da empresa.

in MCG mind for metal, 23-05-2019


Este resultado vem consolidar o investimento realizado pela empresa neste sentido, bem como todo o trabalho que tem sido desenvolvido pelas equipas da MCG nesta área. Este trabalho baseia-se fortemente na adoção constante de boas práticas que garantem a melhoria contínua do desempenho ambiental da empresa e ajudam a reduzir o impacte da sua atividade, dando resposta não só à legislação ambiental em vigor como também às exigências de vários clientes e da comunidade local.

 

A conformidade com a norma ISO 14001:2015 por parte da unidade de negócio MCG automotive comprova o uso racional de energia e recursos, prevendo ainda o alcançar de objetivos estratégicos através da incorporação de questões ambientais na gestão da empresa e do envolvimento transversal de toda a estrutura em torno da gestão ambiental.

 

A MCG mantém assim reforçado o compromisso na redução da probabilidade de riscos ambientais, tais como emissões, derrames e outros acidentes do género. Em simultâneo, reduz custos ao longo do tempo através da melhoria da eficiência de todos os processos inerentes à sua atividade.

 

Acompanhe a atividade da MCG no LinkedIn ou siga esta secção de notícias MCG para ficar a saber mais sobre todos os projetos desenvolvidos pela empresa.

 

MCG automotive

 

 

 

Automakers fight to rescue small cars from extinction as EU rules bite

New EU regulations could force models such as the VW Polo (shown), one of Europe’s best-sellers, out of the market, experts say.

in Automotive News Europe, by Nick Gibbs, 02-06-2019 


The U.S. buys big but relatively unsophisticated cars, while Europe prefers sophisticated small cars. That truism is about to be rewritten in Europe, however, as automakers start to question their small-car strategy in response to costly new European Union legislation covering safety and tailpipe emissions, in particular the output of CO2.

“New CO2 rules will require automakers to fit thousands of euros of tech to each car,” Max Warburton, an analyst at research and brokerage firm Sanford C. Bernstein wrote in an April report. “Big cars have the price points and margins to cover these costs. Small cars simply do not. These segments may soon be abandoned by many manufacturers.”

Automakers across Europe are axing their smallest cars or preparing to do so.

  • Opel will drop its Karl and Adam minicars, while fellow PSA Group brands Peugeot and Citroen said their 108 and C1 minicars are unlikely to survive. A source at Ford confirmed that it will stop exporting the Indian-built Ka+ small car to Europe.
  • Volkswagen executives have said privately that the automaker is preparing to drop combustion-engine versions of the Up minicar, which would almost certainly mean the fuel-powered Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo would also disappear.
  • Daimler, meanwhile, has begun the process of shifting production and development of its Smart brand to China, where the small cars will be built exclusively starting in 2022 as part of a joint venture with Zhejiang Geely Holding. That decision raises a question mark over Renault’s Twingo minicar, which was developed alongside the current Smart model range.

It won’t just be minicars affected, Warburton said. VW Group could be forced to axe the Polo small car as well as the related Audi A1, Skoda Fabia and Seat Ibiza, he said. ”

This is a very big volume platform, but it will face an increasingly tough economic challenge,” Warburton said. He also flagged up the size of BMW’s task with Mini. “BMW will need to rethink or reduce the size of the Mini business. We are not convinced it’s ever made proper money,” he said.

These cars are at risk because tougher EU rules for CO2 start to take effect next year. The industry has to reduce its fleet average to 95 grams per kilometer, down from an average of 120.5g/km last year, according to JATO Dynamics. The problem is that most current minicars cannot get to below the 95g/km average without including some form of electrification (for example, the Citroen C1 achieves 95g/km).

Beyond 2021, the EU is finalizing plans that, once agreed later this year, would cut automaker CO2 targets by 15 percent from the 2021 averages by 2025 onwards and to 37.5 percent after 2030, meaning average CO2 emissions of less than 60g/km on an NEDC basis (almost 110 miles per gallon), or 66g/km under WLTP. Automakers would need popular EVs in cheaper, more accessible categories to be able to carry on selling conventional SUVs or face fines.

That means an automaker’s smallest, lightest car — the car that traditionally helped lower the company’s average CO2 — no longer offsets the higher emissions of bigger cars. This car exists purely as a business case in its own right, and the business case for minicars is poor.

‘Under pressure’

“Ironically the smaller vehicles are toughest to reduce CO2 in,” Ford of Europe Chairman Steve Armstrong told Automotive News Europe at the recent unveiling of the Kuga SUV. “The smaller the vehicle, the tighter the margin, the harder it is to meet emissions targets.”PSA’s head of Europe, Maxime Picat, agreed. “The ability of any carmaker to make a profit [from minicars] is under pressure because of all of the technology we have to add in our vehicles for safety and for emissions.”

Another reason why small cars are going to get more expensive to produce — even if they keep their combustion engines — is because of tougher standards for oxides of nitrogen (NOx) that take effect in September 2020. Ford’s Armstrong estimated that bringing tailpipe emissions to the Euro6d Temp standard will cost about 2,000 euros whether the car has a diesel or gasoline engine. Also affecting all cars, small to large, are EU requirements to add a raft of mainly camera-based safety equipment starting in 2021.

Cutting CO2 emissions by means of partial electrification such as adding mild-hybrid, full-hybrid or plug-in hybrid technology is one option, but this solution won’t be economically viable for many brands. A 48-volt mild-hybrid option adds 600 euros to 1,000 euros per car, according to Bernstein analysis, a full hybrid costs almost 2,000 euros while a plug-in hybrid adds up to 5,000 euros.

Looking at the average cost of minicars and small cars, it’s clear they are not well placed to absorb the extra cost. Statistics from JATO show that the average retail price of cars registered in Germany, Spain, France and Italy in the first quarter of 2018 was 14,152 euros for minicars and 17,459 euros for small cars. Bernstein estimates that automakers make “only a few hundred euros” gross profit per car on small cars.

‘Not ready to pay’

Any cost increase, however, will not be tolerated by the customer. “The smaller the car the harder it is to justify this price increase because the tech costs more or less the same for a small car as a big car,” Alain Favey, head of global sales and marketing for Skoda, told ANE. “People are not ready to pay it.”

Automakers will only be able to pass on 25 percent of the total cost of CO2 compliance technology, leaving automakers to shoulder the remaining 75 percent, according to a recent report by UBS that examined the earnings impact.

Right now electrification in small cars and minicars accounts for a tiny portion of the market. Toyota alone has shown that car companies can make a full-hybrid system work in a small car with the successful Yaris hybrid, which emits 84g/km of CO2.

Toyota, however, is unique in achieving economies of scale for its hybrid powertrain partly because of strong demand for the system in Japan. That popularity should also help Honda when it adds a hybrid version of its new Jazz small car next year, while Nissan has said it will add its E-power system, which is currently only offered in Asia, in Europe.

Small-car dependent

The two brands most reliant on small cars in Europe are Fiat and Renault, with each brand counting on the models for more than 60 percent of their total 2018 European sales. Nearly all of Fiat’s share was in minicars due to the popularity of the 500 and Panda, which are the two best-selling cars in the segment, leaving parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles particularly vulnerable to fines once the new emissions regulations start to take effect next year.

FCA plans to spend 1.8 billion euros in the next three years to buy regulatory credits to minimize the number of emissions-related fines it will pay in Europe and the U.S. This plan includes paying Tesla to join it in a pool to offset FCA’s high emissions in Europe and also benefit from the so-called “supercredits” that ultra-low emissions vehicles bring until 2022. Fiat has already killed the two-cylinder engine that performed poorly in its Panda and 500 in real-world CO2 tests, but the automaker said it remained committed to the sector.

“FCA is constantly working on making cars less polluting and safer, but that does not mean having to renounce market segments that, by their nature, meet specific customer needs,” a spokesman told ANE.

Electric future?

Fiat next year will launch a full-electric version of the 500, on a new platform, to prepare itself for what some automakers believe is the only viable propulsion for the smaller car sectors. Citroen brand CEO Linda Jackson told ANE that the C1’s future was likely to be electric. Meanwhile, Skoda recently unveiled an electric version of the Citigo, which will be sold under the automaker’s new e-mobility subbrand called iV. Full-electric variants look to be the best option for the entry segment when the VW Group replaces its current trio of minicars, Skoda’s Favey said: “Everything else will be tricky to justify.”

The continued popularity of the Renault Zoe, which last year was Europe’s No. 2-selling full-electric car after the Nissan Leaf, gives automakers hope that an electric future is viable for small cars. In Geneva, Peugeot unveiled a rival to the Zoe in the form of the e208, while Opel and Citroen are also gearing up to launch related full-electric small cars. PSA’s electrification strategy is to restrict full-electric to smaller cars, where range is less important, and add plug-in hybrid technology to larger cars that traditionally cover more ground.

Honda will launch a small electric car, the Honda E, next year following an introduction at the Frankfurt auto show this year. Meanwhile Dacia, Nissan and Mazda are also expected to debut small EVs in the midterm.

The VW Group is so far concentrating on compact cars for its first large-scale push into EVs via its MEB platform, but more recently the automaker announced the development of a family of smaller, urban-focused EVs starting at less than 20,000 euros. These cars are due around 2023 and will be led by its Seat brand in Spain.

Expensive solution

The problem is still one of cost. “The 10,000 euro car is going to be very difficult,” Ford of Europe sales boss Roelant de Waard said. “Even if you reach $100 per kilowatt hour you still need 40kWh as a minimum so that’s still $4,000,” he said.

Said Thomas Ulbrich, VW brand’s board member for e-mobility: “Minicar customers are paying 12,000 to 14,000 euros but in the future, when they are electrified, it will be 18,000 to 20,000 euros. This will be a problem.” He added that VW and the German government were discussing how to provide extra subsidies to this sector. These customers also “have the right” to have access to electrified models, he said.

Analysts at ING bank predict price parity between conventional and electric drivetrains won’t arrive until 2025.

Fiat’s proposal for keeping the cost of small electric cars down was unveiled at the Geneva auto show in March in the form of the Centoventi concept, a look at what might replace the aging Panda. The price would be kept low on the base car by offering a small battery with a 100-km (62-mile) range, but that battery would be expandable to 500km after purchase via upgrades.

“It is driven by a desire to capture the essence of one end of the Fiat spectrum, while at the same time — if we are being honest — to build our electrified portfolio and avoid any [CO2-compliance] fines,” Fiat brand head Olivier Francois told Autocar magazine at Geneva.

Automakers only have themselves to blame for the high cost of electric cars, believes European environment pressure group Transport & Environment.
“BEVs [battery-electric vehicles] are still more expensive than small gasoline cars due to lack of early investment in supply chains and betting on diesel instead. But their price will drop fast,” said Julia Poliscanova, T&E’s manager for clean vehicles and e-mobility. She pointed out that all technology, batteries included, trickles down from more expensive categories.

Despite the fears, smalls car will remain a staple of European motoring into the midterm, analyst firm LMC Automotive believes. Sales of small cars will sink from 3.16 million last year to less than 3 million next year and 2020, but stabilize at about 3 million until 2023, LMC predicts. Similarly, minicars are forecast to drop from 1.1 million last year to a little less than a million this year and to 900,000 in 2021, before returning to more than 1 million in 2023 (when the new generation Fiat 500 arrives).

“There will always be a demand in the market for a cheap form of mobility,” LMC analyst Sammy Chan said.

De Waard at Ford believes small cars will keep their place in Europe. “I think you will still get the same segmentation, but the vehicles will be 1,000, 2,000 or 3,000 euros more expensive.”

 

Seat invierte 57 millones de euros en su fábrica de la Zona Franca de Barcelona

La compañía automovilística Seat ha invertido 57 millones de euros en una prensa y dos nuevas líneas de estampación en caliente para su fábrica de la Zona Franca de Barcelona.

in Expansión / EFE, 02-06-2019


La nueva prensa ha supuesto una inversión de 31,5 millones de euros y permitirá aumentar la productividad gracias a una mayor automatización y velocidad de fabricación, así como a un avanzado sistema robotizado.

Por otra parte, se han destinado 25,4 millones a dos nuevas líneas de estampación en caliente que también permitirán ganar eficiencia, rapidez y precisión en el proceso productivo, según ha informado Seat, que en los últimos cinco años ha invertido otros 6,5 millones a la mejora, renovación y modernización de esta planta.

La inauguración de estas instalaciones se ha llevado a cabo coincidiendo con el “BCN Day”, una jornada en la que han participado más de 3.500 personas entre empleados, familiares y amigos.

El vicepresidente de Producción y Logística de Seat, Christian Vollmer, ha destacado que la de Barcelona “es una fábrica clave” para la compañía y que las nuevas instalaciones “van a permitir seguir posicionándola como una planta estratégica a nivel tecnológico para Seat y el Grupo Volkswagen”.

“La nueva prensa y las nuevas líneas nos ayudarán a incrementar nuestro nivel de producción un 15 %, hasta casi 60 millones de piezas”, ha subrayado Vollmer.

La fábrica de la Zona Franca inició su actividad en 1953 con la producción de los primeros modelos de la marca, como el Seat 1400 o el mítico 600.

En 1993, la fabricación de coches se trasladó a la planta de Martorell (Barcelona) y, desde entonces, la fábrica de Barcelona produce piezas de estampación como puertas, techos, guardabarros y largueros.

En estas instalaciones se fabricaron el año pasado más de 52 millones piezas de estampación, tanto para Seat como para otras marcas del Grupo Volkswagen, que se exportaron a 22 fábricas de seis países.

Seat es la única compañía que diseña, desarrolla, fabrica y comercializa automóviles en España.

En 2018, Seat vendió 517.600 coches, la mayor cifra en los 68 años de historia de la marca, logró un beneficio después de impuestos de 294 millones de euros y un volumen de negocio récord de casi 10.000 millones.

El grupo cuenta con más de 15.000 profesionales y tiene tres centros de producción en Barcelona, El Prat de Llobregat y Martorell, donde fabrica el Ibiza, el Arona y el León.

Además, la compañía produce el Ateca en la República Checa, el Tarraco en Alemania, el Alhambra en Portugal y el Mii en Eslovaquia.