CLEPA | Circular economy and sustainability are reshaping the automotive aftermarket

  • Remanufactured automotive spare parts contribute substantially to the EU’s circular economy targets and in 2020 have saved annual emissions equal to those emitted by 120,000 EU citizens.
  • Europe is the second largest market for remanufactured spare parts after the US.
  • A comprehensive regulatory framework is needed to ensure free choice for consumers on vehicle maintenance.

in CLEPA, 25-11-2021

The 12th edition of the CLEPA Aftermarket Conference, which is the second of 2021 held virtually, was dedicated to sustainability aspects in the aftermarket value chain. The audience, which included representatives from automotive suppliers, wholesale distributors and associations, received from the EU Commission the latest status on aftermarket relevant legislation related to Repair and Maintenance Information (RMI) and to the Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation (MVBER) which is currently under review. CLEPA supports a robust legislative framework which ensures that suppliers are neither technically nor contractually limited in selling spare parts to the independent aftermarket and guarantees a free choice for consumers on where to get vehicles repaired and maintained.

With a total value of €4.7 bn of sold remanufactured spare parts by suppliers in 2020, the automotive aftermarket is already substantially contributing to the circular economy targets proposed by the European Commission in their Green Deal. CLEPA, together with the consultancy Oakdene Hollins, have recently published a study on the contribution of automotive to the circular economy targets, where results estimate that more than 800 kt CO2 were avoided in 2020, an amount equal to the annual carbon emissions of 120,000 EU citizens. The study included a sector-wide approach for qualifying the CO2 impact. It calculated the emissions avoided by considering the material retained during the remanufacturing process.

Other topics discussed included new electrified powertrains, the current shortage of raw materials and semiconductors as well as rising material costs. In this regard, industrial remanufacturing and repair of electronic components will gain further relevance for the repair and maintenance of vehicles. Industry representatives presented their vision on a circular economy approach by showcasing best practice examples.

Automotive suppliers and distributors are jointly working on the transformation of the aftermarket into a sustainable repair and maintenance business. Following the vision of a decarbonised automotive industry by 2050, as laid out by the World Business Council of Sustainable Development (WBCSD), suppliers and parts distributors are committed to defining a criteria for sustainability in the aftermarket, with proposals on a rating scheme and annual performance reviews. Suppliers and distributors are convinced that a sustainable aftermarket is a prerequisite, but much more will be needed to attract the future talents for the sector, as presented through the example of the Talents4IAM programme, which is dedicated to supporting the availability of a skilled workforce in the sector.

The aftermarket is an essential part of the automotive industry and an important contributor to the sustainability goals, but these need to be complemented with a fair and stable regulatory framework that supports open choice for consumers when it comes to their vehicle use and maintenance.


CLEPA | COP26 has given important guidance in both substance and tone

This year’s COP26 has just ended, and on a fairly upbeat note. The conference concluded with an agreement between 197 countries to limit GHG emissions even further, validating the objectives already expressed in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Three days before the end of the summit, China and the United States issued a joint declaration, pledging to work actively against climate change with a commitment to decarbonise and electrify. And there was no heavy outcry on either of the extreme ends of opinion, illustrating that consensus prevailed: there is a broad agreement on the need for action, shared by a large and diverse set of actors who, together, build critical mass towards meaningful change.

in CLEPA, by Sigrid de Vries, 18-11-2021

Striking too, was the increased space for shades of grey when identifying what meaningful action looks like. During COP26, an agreement was signed between over 30 governments and a number of large vehicle manufacturers to ban the internal combustion engine by 2040. However, the agreement was not signed by the world’s largest car manufacturing countries, China, Germany and the USA, nor by top vehicle producers, Volkswagen and Toyota.


There is no silver bullet to decarbonise transport; multiple solutions must be applied

Most notably, there was room for their arguments to be heard: there is no silver bullet to decarbonise transport; multiple solutions must be applied. Mobility and transport, people and countries, levels of development and investment capacity are all too diverse to apply a one-size-fits-all approach. Banning a technology is not the solution, the focus should be on defossilising energy and fuels.

Europe’s ‘Fit-for-55’ package can and should be strengthened in this respect. The proposed car CO2 targets for 2030 and 2035, measured at the tailpipe, leave electrification as the only option for compliance. The EU targets should be adapted to acknowledge well-to-wheel emissions, providing a more accurate carbon footprint, and allowing emission reductions through the use of sustainable renewable fuels in combination with efficient technologies like plug-in hybrids, range extenders and hydrogen combustion.


Scaling up the use of sustainable fuels in road transport, will help pave the way for maritime and aviation too

Where electric mobility is the best and most economical solution, it will succeed. But where affordability and charging infrastructure are not a given, there should be room for alternatives to leave no one behind. Complementing ambitious CO2 targets, quota for renewable energy, and price signals both in the ETS and energy taxation, fuel producers should get the market signal to increase production and de-risk investments in sustainable fuels. Scaling up their use in road transport, will actually help pave the way for maritime and aviation too.

Innovation is in full swing to bring these multiple solutions to the fore. The crucial potential of hydrogen is increasingly recognised, too, and investment appetite is building. At CLEPA, we held our first ever hydrogen in mobility think-tank this week with member companies, OEMs, academia, players in the energy sector and other stakeholders, in order to provide a forum for strategic technical discussion and to add value through thought-leadership. Many pioneering regions and industry players around the world are positioning themselves along the H2 value chain. Europe must avoid fragmentation in this field to remain competitive also on a global level.


We must keep in mind the large impact the transition will have on the manufacturing footprint and jobs

Beyond COP26, the search for solutions to climate change collides with two other major challenges: the fall-out of the COVID-19 pandemic and a transition that is not only green but also digital. These challenges have caused bottlenecks in the supply of essential materials and components, such as semiconductors, and have led to price increases, such as for magnesium. In addition, rising energy prices are causing inflation to rise. This has also been recognised by the European Union. All this is happening while the economy seems to be recovering.

As CLEPA President Thorsten Muschal, member of the management of Faurecia, put it this week while speaking to suppliers and policymakers in Portugal: “The EU auto suppliers’ industry is facing tremendous challenges: chip shortages, raw materials inflation and reduced production volumes due to the pandemic. This poses great uncertainty and occurs while the industry is in the middle of a green and digital transformation.”

Muschal also highlighted that “millions of jobs in mechanics will need to shift”, which is why “we need a manageable transition, keeping mobility accessible and affordable, giving industry the possibility to go through this needed change”. CLEPA indeed advocates for a managed transition, without compromising on climate targets, however, we must keep in mind the large impact the transition will have on the manufacturing footprint and jobs. Leaving no one behind means supporting a competitive automotive industry in Europe. Technology openness will be key in this respect.

We are living in a delicate moment, during which the right decisions will have to be taken, balancing social, economic and environmental needs. COP26 has given important guidance, both in substance and in tone. Automotive suppliers stand ready to help shape the future of mobility and industry every step of the way.


Sigrid de Vries,

Secretary General of CLEPA


CLEPA | Automotive Employment Footprint Portal provides key view on impact of green mobility transition

  • CLEPA launches the Automotive Employment Footprint Portal, revealing key data on risks and opportunities for automotive employment
  • Findings of more than 15 recent studies show the magnitude of social dimension and high level of uncertainty

in CLEPA, 30-06-2021

CLEPA, the European Association of Automotive Suppliers, today launches the Automotive Employment Footprint Portal to provide insight into the impact of the green transformation on employment and manufacturing along the automotive value chain, to offer viewers a journey into the challenges and opportunities presented by the shift, illustrating reality behind the numbers. The Portal provides access to the findings of more than 15 recent studies performed by independent research bodies, each examining diverse scenarios in the accelerating green technology uptake, the direct correlation with employment needs, and the outlook across Europe.

“A successful transformation starts with knowing the stakes”, says CLEPA Secretary General Sigrid de Vries. “A close look at the available data shows two things: the green transition will affect millions of livelihoods in a very uneven way. There will be major job opportunities, but often for different people, in different places and at a different time. Second, the data confirms that policy choices hold the key to avoiding a breakneck scenario. An ambitious, efficient and inclusive green transition requires technology openness, providing room for hybrid solutions and renewable sustainable fuels. This is the approach that automotive suppliers urge policy makers to take.”

The Portal offers a visual and interactive journey along the entire mobility value chain, including the more temporary opportunities provided by the need for new digital and physical infrastructure, the upgrading of the energy grid and installation of charging and refuelling points, as well as the opening of new battery plants. A spotlight on key regions showcases how the automotive industry is contributing to local economies, as vehicle manufacturers and suppliers typically form strong regional clusters in the production of vehicles and key components.

“The automotive industry is fully engaged in the transformation and, together with regional parties, trade unions and academia, is bringing a massive re- and upskilling effort on the way to keep people on board and deliver the competencies required for the new age”, adds De Vries. “The existing data shows the magnitude of the social dimension of the transformation and the high range of uncertainty. To manage the transition, we will need more knowledge than can be provided by a macro-economic modelled impact assessment. An even closer look underneath the surface will be crucial to support the sector’s ability to maintain employment and invest in reskilling and innovation.” The CLEPA Portal will be extended with further information after the summer.


A wide range of studies have looked at the impact of electrification on employment, often with highly contrasting outcomes. Differences in the assumed pace of electrification and considered production activities explain most of these contrasting findings.? The overview in the Portal illustrates that the pace at which battery electric vehicles will win market share is likely to determine the number of jobs at risk, while plug-in hybrids fulfil both a technological and social bridge function.

The automotive sector presently supports 6% of the total active population in the EU. For comparison: the coal transition, generally recognised as dramatic, affects 0.015% of European jobs.

Automotive suppliers directly employ 1.7 million people, on top of the 1.2 million in vehicle manufacturing. Another 370 thousand work in manufacturing sectors deeper down the value chain, including steel and other materials, and another 3.2 million are employed in services related to vehicle use.

Direct automotive job creation in the battery, software and electronics supply chain is on the rise, but will not be able to compensate for the jobs disappearing in powertrain related areas in neither numbers or the type of work nor in terms of timing. Close to 1 million people have a job directly linked to the production of vehicle powertrain technology. An estimated 50,000 jobs will be created in battery cell manufacturing and integration, where research suggests that up to three times that number could be created in the production of the chemical components of batteries and the critical areas of thermal and system management of the battery.


The electrification of cars will have a significant impact on?the need for labour in the production?of parts, systems and the assembly of engines and vehicles. The powertrain is the most labour intensive part of automotive manufacturing, representing 30% of the value creation. A battery-electric powertrain contains 60% fewer components than needed for an internal combustion engine vehicle. At the same time, up to 70% of the value of a battery cell produced in Europe is imported and this will not improve dramatically towards 2030.

Understanding the battery supply chain and the significant value creation in the material input of batteries is critical to understand employment opportunities related to the transition. The?battery represents between 30 and 50% of the value of a battery electric vehicle; 70% of the value added is generated in the production of the cells and only 30% is generated through the integrating of cells, thermal management, the battery management system, and battery box. The European employment opportunities in the battery sector lie deeper in the battery supply chain, as battery cell plants are highly automated. Maintaining the competitiveness and investment capabilities of European industry and the availability of highly skilled workers will be critical to ensure that these opportunities are captured.


Most job losses in the run-up to 2030 will be among skilled workers, whereas new jobs in, for instance, battery manufacturing, will on average require a higher education profile. People will be needed in different business areas of vehicle manufacturing and supply and will require different levels of training. This transition is already well underway. In Germany, employment increased by 10% (15% for suppliers) in R&D and 34% in IT and remained stable at +2% in manufacturing activities between 2015 and 2019. Employment in the latter category is likely to fall in the coming years.


Road traffic indirectly creates work for around 700 million construction workers that build and maintain highways, roads, bridges and tunnels. Electrification will create jobs in the next ten years related to the installation of charging infrastructure, expansion of grid and renewable energy production and the construction of new battery plants.



CLEPA 2021 General Assembly re-elects President and confirms the association’s priorities

Thorsten Muschal (Faurecia), incumbent CLEPA President, was unanimously re-elected for a second term
CLEPA addresses members after a turbulent year for industry, highlighting the trajectory going forward and stressing membership value

in CLEPA, 11-06-2021

CLEPA, the European Association of Automotive Suppliers, confirmed several leadership mandates and new association membership applications during the annual General Assembly held on 9 June via video conference.

CLEPA President Thorsten Muschal was collectively elected for another 2-year term starting 2022 until 2023 included. CLEPA Vice-Presidents Pierre Barthelet (Garrett) and Matthias Zink (Schaeffler) were also re-elected for a further term. A full overview of CLEPA leadership roles can be found here.

Muschal said: “I’m honoured to serve another term. Coming out of a turbulent year for society and industry, we are still facing massive headwinds on our path. The semiconductor crisis, in particular, impacts our industry significantly and is not yet over. We are nevertheless continuing to rapidly adapt to the largest transformation within the industry in perhaps the past 40-50 years, driving the change towards sustainable and smart mobility. CLEPA has maintained steady support for members in raising the voice of suppliers and through being an active partner on EU political discussions.”

CLEPA has been consistent in the values that it has held in recent years and reaffirmed the priorities going forward to include ambitious climate and societal goals through a technology open and pragmatic approach, while also defending a competitive position with great innovation capabilities. In this spirit, topics supporting the green and digital transition, such as access to data, emission legislation, circular economy, international trade and industrial policy, are of key focus for CLEPA.

CLEPA’s Secretary General Sigrid de Vries highlighted the essential role that suppliers are playing within the mobility ecosystem, and underlined they will continue to be instrumental in delivering innovation to society. De Vries added: “A just and manageable transition to climate-neutrality is a top priority. CLEPA is working to secure the essential framework conditions, stretching from targeted support to strategic research & innovation, to the availability of recharging and alternative fuel infrastructure, to funds for and coordination of the massive re- and upskilling efforts that the sector is forcing on its way.”

Muschal closed with optimism, “In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic we supported employees across Europe and made strides to support each other as an industry. Our sector has always showed a great resilience, it is our strength that enables us to overcome difficulties associated with crisis.”

The next CLEPA General Assembly will be held in Warsaw, Poland, on 9 & 10 June 2022.

Also, during the General Assembly, members confirmed the new organisations that have joined CLEPA since June 2020:

Corporate members:

  • Autofren-Seinsa (Spain) – Manufacturing of technical rubber elements for brake parts, transmission, steering, suspension, and brake systems.
  • Alfdex (Sweden) – Supplier of highly efficient solutions for cleaning diesel engines from crankcase gases
  • Brugola OEB (Italy/USA) – Producer of critical bolts.
  • Hyundai Mobis (Korea) – Automotive parts manufacturer focused on outfit/chassis products and autonomous driving, electrification and In-Vehicle Infotainment
  • Waymo (USA) – American autonomous driving technology development company
  • Zenuity (Sweden) – Development and commercialization of a software platform for unsupervised autonomous driving and advanced driver assistance
  • Smartmicro (Germany) – Design, development, and manufacturing of radar solutions for traffic management as well as automotive and airborne applications

Associate members:

  • I-Via (the Israeli Association of vehicle importers and automotive start-ups ).


CLEPA Secretary General Sigrid de Vries and President Thorsten Muschal taking part in the panel debate organised in the occasion of the General Assembly

CLEPA | Innovating, cooperating, and achieving a future with safer roads

This week marks the 6th annual Global Road Safety Week, a time for society to reflect and be educated on an often undervalued concept of daily life. Under the patronage of the UN World Health Organisation, many stakeholders will take a concentrated stance this week to inform people and policymakers of new developments in road safety requirements, to prevent loss of life and the bereavement that devastates friends and families of people involved in fatal collisions.

in CLEPA, by Sigrid De Vries, 20-05-2021

This year’s road safety week coincides with the UN Road Safety Collaboration (UNRSC) issuing its draft of the new Decade of Action (DOA), which, once finalised, will serve as the foundation for new policy guidance on road safety from 2021-2030. Great strides have been made in safety during the last decade, but more needs to be done to prevent unnecessary injury and loss of life on roads.

The UN will enter the new Road Safety Decade with expert allies to achieve its plan of action

CLEPA has recently joined the UNSRC, the consultative global mechanism whose goal is to facilitate international cooperation and strengthen global and regional coordination among UN agencies, governments, civil society and other international partners to implement UN General Assembly Resolutions on road safety. A draft plan of intended actions has been released for public viewing and interaction by the World Health Organisation and includes a list of resolutions under the Stockholm Declaration declaring the official goals of the DOA, intended approaches to encourage state and private entities to cooperate to achieve these goals, and state engagement to encourage standardising UN safety standards across the world.

Road safety is an aspect within national policies that rightly claims high priority, with figures to date showing over 3700 daily, or 1.35 million annual fatalities occurring globally. These incidents result in injury, emotional devastation, loss of life, and from an economic perspective, a 2010 study funded by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention placed an estimated global cost of road collisions at $1.8 trillion from 2015-2030.

The UN Road Safety Week hosts a range of online activities this year that are accessible to all, with educational webinars delivered by international entities such as the World Bank’s “Saving lives on the road through streets”, and “Road safety and security in the age of new mobility” brought by the International Transport Forum. In the spotlight, at this year’s Road Safety Week is the Streets For Life Campaign, which is calling for 30 km/h streets where people and traffic mix help prevent road traffic deaths and promote physical activity. The policy associated with the campaign has been derived from standard UN Safety Policy values and the Stockholm Declaration, with an open letter appealing to the public and policymakers to support it.

CLEPA and the UNRSC will strive for road safety in the next decade in cooperation with a diverse range of state representatives on an international scale, UN agencies such as UNECE, Development Banks including the World Bank, NGOs, academia, philanthropic foundations, and private sector to deliver the next DOA which aims to reduce global road deaths and injuries by 50% before 2030.

Technology and innovation are what bring these safety advancements to reality

The automotive supplier industry in Europe has been at the core of the technology innovations that have helped in making safety milestones to date a reality. Suppliers pursue a future of zero mobility-related road deaths through a roadmap encompassing a combination of technology, infrastructure improvements, regulatory initiatives, safety education, and cooperation between stakeholders and policymakers.

Early traditional approaches to road safety were focused primarily on vehicle technology and driver protection, rather than acknowledging that existing road infrastructure and other factors were also key contributors.

The “Safe System” perspective, rather, is used in modern strategies such as “Vision Zero” and holds every part of the road safety system accountable for collisions, while advocating for “forgiving infrastructure”, so that if one part of the system such as the driver, vehicle design, or road infrastructure is compromised in a potential incident, the other parts of the system can compensate and prevent an incident or minimalise impact. The adoption of this system and its universally recognised value both on the innovators and policymakers side of the fence has been instrumental in the success of global safety campaigns and must be employed to an even greater level of cohesion to keep the next DOA on track towards its goals.

Automotive suppliers hold road safety as a devoted priority and have delivered life-saving innovations in passive safety systems like seatbelts, and airbags, which suppliers are currently in the process of reinventing through more diverse testing procedures and crash impact simulations. Automotive innovators continue to astound through active safety system developments in areas like anti-lock braking, electronic stability control, blind-spot detection, lane-keeping assist, emergency braking and a range of other advanced driver-assistance systems.

As technology is developed and improved, society will see increased levels of automation and the active safety benefits associated with it. The mechanism of new car seating positions and new seatbelt requirements following the dawn of autonomous driving is something suppliers have anticipated and prepared for, where in recent years testing procedures for force application have become increasingly more diverse and scientific, to encompass humans from any gender, age, or physical build.

Many of the technologies underpinning this goal are already in production with increasingly more sophisticated and effective safety systems being developed. More advanced virtual testing software and tools, as well as completely new protective technologies for driverless vehicles, are on the way.

The ambition to reduce a further 50% in road casualties by 2030 is something the automotive industry is committed to making a reality. Such is evident in the pledge between automotive suppliers through CLEPA, vehicle manufacturers through ACEA, and the road and vehicle users through the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) in 2019 which states the intention to work towards these goals, where cooperation between industry and policymakers will be of paramount importance when formulating standards and implementing safety applications and systems in vehicles.

Optimism in cooperation, entering the new decade

The previous DOA has laid the foundation for the next, and we will enter the new era of road safety with a wealth of testing evidence, global safety bodies, and partnerships. Perhaps the most significant development in the approach to road safety is in the fact that the new DOA encompasses road safety as a key pillar of governance alongside healthcare, education, and employment, and declares that road safety cannot be traded off or compromised for other social benefits.

The EU Commission has proven itself as a strong ally for automotive suppliers in its valuation of safety standards, such being evident in the recently approved General Safety Regulation and Smart and Sustainable Mobility Strategy, which seeks to assert the EU mobility safety standards on a global stage to further solidify cross-continental cooperation and make mobility safer for all road users, wherever they may be.

From industry expertise to the frameworks of partnerships and collaboration, CLEPA is confident that the next decade’s goals to minimise road tragedies can be achieved through the cooperation of stakeholders, innovators, and policymakers. Automotive suppliers will stand ready and eager to work in conjunction with new safety policy alongside the UNRSC membership to deliver a societal framework of mobility where road tragedies are a thing of the past.

Sigrid de Vries

CLEPA  Secretary General



Automotive suppliers work towards carbon-neutral mobility, prioritising both human health and the environment

  • Safe manufacturing, use and proper disposal of vehicle parts are a high priority for automotive suppliers.
  • The sustainability criteria are followed both for materials sourcing, and during the design and production of vehicle parts, components, and systems.

in CLEPA, 06-05-2021

The 13th edition of the CLEPA Materials Regulations event confirms that sustainability ranks high on the list of priorities for the automotive supply chain. New developments such as new powertrain technologies, lightweighting, and the use of recycled and bio-based materials are a few of many that are contributing to the long-term success in reducing emissions of the sector, building on consistent innovation strategies and global efficiency in the value chain. The annual edition of the CLEPA Materials Regulations event gathers experts in the field, discussing the impact of regulation on materials & substances and presenting the efforts that are delivering towards the sector sustainability.

The Green Deal objectives include the implementation of the EU’s Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, setting new requirements for materials compliance that bring considerable challenges for the automotive industry. This strategy includes no less than 56 legislative and regulatory actions, such as the revision of REACH and meets circularity objectives as will be transposed in the End-of-Life Vehicle (ELV) Directive, and reporting duties in the SCIP database.

In her keynote speech, CLEPA Secretary General Sigrid de Vries remarked the importance of the EU chemicals regulation “Since REACH came into force, the automotive industry has put considerable effort into implementing the complex requirements of EU chemicals regulation throughout its complex and global supply chain, to follow the sector-specific guidelines. Any new regulatory measure needs to take into account the actual exposure to chemicals, the wider benefit for society and the need for a level-playing field that does not undermine the competitiveness of the EU automotive industry. This can only be achieved by an effective dialogue between policy-makers and industry, as well as the involvement of stakeholders at each stage of the process.”

The opportunities that come with the European Commission’s Circular Economy Action Plan were also part of the discussion. Suppliers are at the forefront of these initiatives, which includes optimisation in the use of materials and minimisation of waste through advanced design and zero-defect manufacturing, providing high-quality products with long lifetimes and promoting repair, remanufacturing and recycling to allow for re-circulation of a larger share of materials. “Making our value chains more circular brings about new business opportunities and helps reinforce the security of supplies. CLEPA is committed to a high-level dialogue to co-create an adequate path to circularity, combining the objectives of the Green Deal and smooth implementation” added de Vries.

The event counted with experts from the European Commission, who presented the possible outcome of the revision of the End-of-Life Vehicle (ELV) regulation, and is currently consulting with stakeholders with the intend to present the first results of the exchange in a workshop planned in Q4 2021. The legislative proposal is planned to be presented in Q4 2022.

The several activities carried out by suppliers in the different regions of the world were also presented, such as the developments and implementation of the SCIP database, provisions for ELV and chemicals in Asia and the US. Global management via GADSL and the International Material Data System (IMDS) were also discussed.

On the second day, the focus was on Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility, including some key initiatives from the industry.

In his closing remarks, Mathieu Schwander, CLEPA Technical Regulations Manager highlighted that “Sustainability is a key priority for automotive suppliers. CLEPA, through its different specialised groups, is driving sustainable growth in the industry both in the technical implementation and the societal dimension.”

The 14th edition of the Materials Regulations Event is scheduled for Spring 2022 and it may take place in the Stuttgart area (Germany).


EU Industrial Strategy: In-depth review comes at the right time; building on existing technology strengths is essential

  • Commission sees automotive as one of the 14 critical ecosystems in the EU.
  • Industrial policy should provide the right conditions to boost high-quality jobs and sustainable and safe mobility globally.
  • It is crucial to strengthen critical supply chains, but to keep a strong industrial base the EU should also build on existing strengths in areas such as connected and autonomous driving technologies.
  • Even if public investment has a strong role to play towards accelerating innovation to deliver the green and digital objectives, the industrial strategy should not overlook the importance of providing the right conditions for private investment and access to scalable markets.

in CLEPA, 05-05-2021

CLEPA welcomes today’s publication of the European Commission’s updated industrial strategy and the announced in-depth review to strengthen the resilience of supply chains in critical areas including raw materials and semiconductor technologies. Europe’s automotive suppliers will be a crucial partner to deliver climate neutrality by 2050 while safeguarding jobs and capitalising on the opportunities of the digital transition. The EU’s new industrial strategy has the potential to provide favourable framework conditions for private investments, enable businesses to diversify sourcing where appropriate, and address undesirable independencies while maintaining the advantages of a global supply chain and access to markets.

Public investment in infrastructure and a framework of Important Projects of Common Interests can co-finance and accelerate private investment in critical technologies that are not yet commercially viable but are necessary to enable the green and digital transition. Nevertheless, private investment will play a leading role and an excessively restrictive definition of green taxonomy and regulatory standards with limited technology openness could make it harder for automotive suppliers to deliver the green transition.

CLEPA Secretary General Sigrid de Vries says: “The Commission identified automotive as one of the 14 critical ecosystems for Europe’s economic and industrial fabric. The relevance of automotive for other industries in Europe is particularly strong. Automotive suppliers directly employ 1.7 million people, on top of the 1.2 million people employed by vehicle manufacturers and create significant employment further down on the supply chain in sectors such as steel, chemicals, and capital goods. The automotive sector can play a crucial role in the continued development of the adjacent European electronics ecosystem. Analysts estimate that under the right conditions, the automotive industry alone could create 400,000 European jobs related to electronic and software components for vehicles.

Advanced driver-assistance systems and innovations to optimise powertrains have increased the value share of electronic and semiconductor systems to 35% of a car’s cost, and are likely to rise to 50% with the continued development of autonomous driving technologies and electrification. The current shortage of semiconductor chips unveils supply chain vulnerabilities, but also brings forward new opportunities for a policy that builds on the global leadership of the EU’s automotive sector to stimulate growth in adjacent sectors—like the semiconductor industry. The automotive industry is accountable for 37% of the demand for European semiconductors, highlighting the importance of our sector to meet the EU’s objective to manufacture up to 20% of all leading-edge semiconductors by 2030.”

In this context, the European Commission identified earlier this year connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) as a strategic cluster that offers the EU economy significant potential. The European supply industry holds roughly 60% of all global patents in autonomous driving and an estimated 70% of CAV innovations come from European suppliers. An accommodative policy framework that allows industry to expand its leadership on CAV technologies will result in higher demand for more advanced semiconductor chips and increase the EU’s attractiveness as a location for investment in semiconductor production capacity. Research and Innovation funding along with other forms of public investment could help CAV technologies to make the jump from research labs to the market. Where possible, the European Commission should therefore reassess whether committed budgets to projects such as the Cooperative, connected and automated mobility (CCAM) partnership are sufficiently ambitious.

A successful industrial strategy will be reliant on the long game of supporting R&I investment, standard-setting and improving Europe’s role in artificial intelligence research, skills and a strong research and education ecosystem to develop talent. It is furthermore of critical importance that suppliers keep access to markets to allow the production of fledgling innovative technologies at a global scale and remain open for foreign direct investment. If the right conditions are provided, the automotive sector has the potential to be a global leader of sustainable and safe mobility solutions while serving as an essential bridgehead for the wider European industrial base, and an example of a more sustainable, digital, resilient, and globally competitive economy.


CLEPA | Smart and safe mobility: The time to come together and advance innovative data-based technologies is now

The spotlight in Brussels is on digital topics this week, with a proposal for regulating the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the EU and a three-day conference on connected and automated driving, highlighting the contribution of data-based technology solutions to making mobility smart, safe and sustainable.

in CLEPA, by Sigrid de Vries, 22-04-2021

CLEPA welcomes the Commission’s initiative on AI regulation as an important step towards legal certainty for market participants and bolstering consumer confidence in artificial intelligence. AI will be a game-changer in reducing accidents on the road, and automotive suppliers are key players in making the ‘Vision Zero‘ a reality, one of the objectives of the Commission’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy as well as the United Nation’s sustainable development goals.

The use of AI is becoming more prevalent every day in automotive, particularly in applications providing safety solutions. Features such as emergency braking or lane-keeping systems frequently rely on machine learning AI to recognise lane markings, obstacles, pedestrians, or other vehicles. The amount of software lines in a car far exceeds those in aeroplanes. And with a 30% share today, the value of electronic components in a vehicle is rapidly on the rise.

Within 5 years, most active safety systems in new cars will be—at least partially—AI-based and by 2030 all new vehicles will have AI technology. Further in the future, fully autonomous vehicles will make extensive use of AI. An appropriate legislative framework can boost the development and uptake of AI, provided that requirements remain proportionate to the possible risks. The importance of not hindering innovation unnecessarily cannot be stressed enough.

AI and other data-driven mobility and transport solutions were at the heart of the discussions held this week during the EUCAD2021 conference, the third of its kind since 2018, which focused entirely on how to accelerate Cooperative Connected Automated Mobility (CCAM) in Europe.

Efforts to boost innovation are at the centre of industrial and policy developments. The conference’s marked the birth of the new EU CCAM Partnership, bringing together over 140 private and public partners, including CLEPA and several of its member companies. Over the next few years, EU CCAM will direct €500 million of funding from the Horizon Europe R&I framework programme into pre-competitive research and innovation projects as well as pilot and testing projects.

The CCAM Partnership is an important milestone on the road to safe, sustainable, smart and inclusive mobility. Society needs to advance rapidly towards a new horizon, where vehicles are equipped with advanced technologies communicating with each other while perceiving their environment, road infrastructure, and other road users. The transfer of information and the access to data will be key for vehicle automation in cooperation with other road users, taking the management of traffic and mobility to the ultimate level. Taking an integrated, systemic approach is the only way to dramatically improve road safety and inclusiveness of road transportation.

Is society ready for the automation of transport?

A further key hurdle that needs to be navigated is to do with mindsets. Public and private partners must work to enable confidence in technology. The understanding and acceptance of future driverless cars and trucks needs to be fostered. Is society truly ready for automation? This is a question that the CCAM Partnership must face head-on.

From the perspective of automotive suppliers, important strides have already been made in developing key vehicle technologies.  Further progress is still required to improve precision and robustness, focusing particularly on real-time driving decision-making which must be performed in an entirely safe and unambiguous way.

With the CCAM Partnership, the target is to achieve ‘level 4’ automation: a situation wherein a vehicle can drive itself without human intervention in a wide range of pre-defined, set situations, referred to as the ‘operational design domain’. Examples include highly automated highway-driving applications, where the driver would be free to do other things during the journey as the vehicle controls itself, and automated parking or ‘valet parking’ including to and from a parking space.

‘Sense, think, act’ – the focus of the automotive supply community

The focus of the automotive supply community is on so-called ‘sense, think, act’ technologies and solutions. ‘Sense’ refers to the scanning of the driving environment, ‘think’ regards interpreting the data and making decisions, and ‘act’ is about manoeuvring the vehicle on those basis’. Important targets for innovation include guaranteeing safety and reliability, and further improvement of the human-machine interface.

The CCAM Partnership has been conceived to align R&I efforts between all involved stakeholders. Fragmentation is a real risk since so many different actors must work together: member state governments, member state road authorities and operators, providers of digital and physical infrastructure, cities, and of course also industry, research institutes, and service providers.

CLEPA sees alignment as crucial to avoid fragmentation and, hence, accelerate the implementation of innovative CCAM technologies and services across Europe. Now is the time that we must come together: we all have common issues to solve, and we are still in the pre-competitive phase.

This leads to another important dimension of the CCAM Partnership: European leadership. By working together, we need to ensure the future within an increasingly competitive global market.  Other regions around the world are certainly not standing still. Particularly in Asia and North America, where huge strides are being taken.

Europe needs to move rapidly to remain at the forefront

Europe needs to move rapidly to utilise our strengths in innovation at all levels and in all sectors of the future mobility and transport systems to remain at the forefront.  At the same time, we need to be open to international cooperation. We need to be well-aligned, globally on the framework conditions, defining technical regulations and setting standards.

The target, as highlighted in the CCAM’s Strategic R&I Agenda, is “European leadership in safe and sustainable road transport through automation”. The €500 million of European funding should provide the catalyst to accelerate the innovation ‘reaction’. At the same time, significant additional public and private investment will still be necessary to make connected and automated mobility a reality in Europe and around the world in the coming decade.

Europe can indeed assume a leading role and it is an opportunity we should not miss. CLEPA is convinced that the CCAM Partnership will help move Europe in the right direction, and the automotive suppliers in Europe are supporting every step of the way.

Sigrid de Vries

CLEPA Secretary General


CLEPA | Artificial Intelligence Regulation: A coherent regulatory framework for automotive products is essential

The Commission put forward a legislative proposal today aimed at regulating artificial intelligence (AI) in the EU and fostering innovation in this fast-paced area. The proposal focuses on “high-risk” AI applications and sets mandatory requirements that AI system providers must fulfil before placing them on the market.

in CLEPA, 21-04-2021

CLEPA welcomes the Commission’s initiative and its work providing legal certainty to market participants and bolstering consumer confidence in artificial intelligence

A balanced AI legislation can accelerate the development of safer vehicles and the EU’s own objective to eliminate road casualties by 2050

Artificial intelligence is becoming more prevalent every day in automotive solutions, particularly in those providing safety benefits. Applications such as emergency braking or lane-keeping systems frequently rely on machine learning AI, which trains them to recognise lane markings, obstacles, pedestrians, or other vehicles. Within 5 years, most active safety systems in new cars will be—at least partially—AI-based and by 2030 all new vehicles will have AI technology. Further in the future, fully autonomous vehicles will make extensive use of AI.

Sigrid de Vries, Secretary General of the European Association of Automotive Suppliers, highlights: “An appropriate legislative framework can boost the development and uptake of AI by providing market participants more legal certainty and bolstering consumer trust. However, the importance of not hindering innovation unnecessarily cannot be stressed enough. Burdensome requirements would jeopardise the development of safer vehicles and the EU’s own objective to eliminate road casualties by 2050. Regulatory requirements should always remain proportionate to the possible risks.” CLEPA considers that the proposal published today goes in the right direction by ensuring that automotive products remain primarily regulated through their sector-specific framework.

The legislative proposal is now in the hands of the EU’s co-legislators, the Parliament and the Council. In this context, automotive suppliers wish to reiterate the need for a coherent regulatory framework on AI. The automotive sector is already subject to strict ex-ante conformity controls designed to ensure the safety of vehicles. CLEPA believes that AI-related technical requirements for automotive products must be implemented into the existing vehicle type-approval framework, rather than duplicating certification, testing, and market surveillance. Automotive suppliers trust that the co-legislators will support the Commission’s approach in this regard.

CLEPA’s views on artificial intelligence are further outlined in a position paper adopted in December 2020. The automotive supplier industry stands ready to support EU policymakers throughout the adoption process of this new regulatory framework for AI.


Read the position paper



EU Green Deal too important to fail environment and industry

The envisaged early review of the CO2-emission targets for cars and trucks for 2030 confronts the European Commission with an uncomfortable dilemma. The review offers a compelling opportunity to increase the efficiency of the available regulatory levers, allowing manufacturing competitiveness and employment to be preserved while delivering on ambition.

in CLEPA, by Sigrid de Vries, 17-03-2021

However, the timeframe of the forward-hauled review is so tight—it is set to be accomplished by June this year—that any serious rethinking of the available instruments is deemed ‘too cumbersome and too complex, while inviting the risk of unwelcome delays.’ Or so it echoes in Commission corners.

Are these concerns credible?

The EU Green Deal, coined as a green growth strategy, is too important to fail. There is too much at stake for the environment, workers, citizens and industry alike. It would be equally ‘unwelcome’ to risk massive collateral damage as a result of EU policy that is rightly aiming for bold and ambitious reforms.

As laid out in detail in the new CLEPA position paper on climate neutral transport, the Commission should seriously consider solutions that can make a difference and that actually already exist, within the current framework of policies and legislations. This is neither complex nor cumbersome, and it does not need to cause delay.

Simply upping the target levels without accompanying measures to making them viably implementable will not do the trick for the environment and cannot be considered as responsible policy making either. Such an approach risks doing an irreparable damage to the economic fabric that is fundamental for Europe’s capability to innovate and meet its goals.

What do the available policy levers consist of?

First, there is a need for the large-scale delivery of electric charging infrastructure to enable the current plans for vehicle technology targets to be achievable. At present, the number of public charging stations stand at 220 thousand, disproportionately spread across the EU. Significantly more stations will be needed to achieve the existing 37.5% reduction target for cars, and every additional percentage point will require correspondingly more charging stations and power infrastructure to serve them. The pending revision of the alternative fuels infrastructure directive should be used to mandate member states to make the necessary investments.

Second, technology should be allowed to deliver on climate neutrality, rather than regulation prescribing or banning technology. The full range of efficient technologies, renewable energy and climate-neutral fuels will be needed, so that the right technology can be chosen depending on the use case: highly-efficient piston engines powered by hydrogen or sustainable renewable fuel, electric vehicles (battery electric and fuel cell electric), hybrids and plug-in hybrids.

Importantly, technology openness will offer a choice to those consumers and businesses for which electrification is not a practical or cost-effective option, enabling them to take older, higher-emitting vehicles off the road. The definition in green procurement standards of zero and low emission vehicles should therefore include all technologies enabling zero and low emission driving. Plug-in hybrids with an electric range of 80 km should be treated the same as battery and fuel cell electric vehicles. Suppliers support the implementation of on-board fuel consumption meters to reflect as much as possible real driving emissions. Technology can also help secure electric-mode driving.

Policy should activate a link between CO2-targets for vehicles and incentives to invest in defossilised fuels

Third, policy should activate a link between CO2-targets for vehicles and incentives to invest in defossilised fuels to deliver on the objective of climate-neutral transport and mobility. Complementing electromobility, it is realistic to expect vehicles with an internal combustion engine on the roads up to 2050 and beyond.

With the use of renewable and low carbon fuels, CO2 emissions would decline from the get-go. Defossilising fuels has an immediate effect on emissions from all cars and trucks on the roads, not only new vehicles. Renewable fuels can be deployed in the existing fuel infrastructure, and can be produced efficiently.

Clean combustion is a viable option, also regarding air quality, as recent data from the UBA, the German Energy Agency, has demonstrated. The regulatory framework should recognise and foster the reduction potential of renewable fuels in transport. This doesn’t need a major overhaul; the instruments are there, such as the existing sustainability certification scheme for transport fuels in the Renewable Energy Directive.

A system, for example, of providing CO2 credits in exchange for the use of renewable fuels can deliver substantial CO2 savings cumulatively by 2030, as calculated by Frontier Economics, 2020 for the German ministry of economy. Such crediting scheme can provide a pull to market-driven carbon-neutrality, facilitating the efficient use of different technologies. The scale in road transport would also help to pave the way for the use of renewable fuels in hard-to-electrify sectors such as shipping and aviation.

The direction of travel and the speed of the journey are crystal clear and automotive suppliers are heavily invested in the change

To be clear, this is not an argument against electrification of the drivetrain, nor do automotive suppliers argue to slow anything down. The direction of travel and the speed of the journey are crystal clear and fully supported. The industry is heavily invested in the change, as illustrated this week once more by the CLEPA Pulse Check survey of its members.

Ours is an argument in favour of a pragmatic approach, a ‘win-win’ for climate and jobs, one that harnesses EU industrial capacity and creates a level playing field for technology options to compete in the marketplace in the EU, but also globally.

There are significant opportunities for the mobility industry to remain a key contributor to well-paid employment, and to help secure the EU’s role in a global green and digitalised economy. But there are also significant risks involved. Especially when forced disruption takes precedence over rapid yet efficient transformation. The jobs at risk are, in many cases, not easily interchangeable with newly created jobs elsewhere in the mobility value chain. Many livelihoods will be impacted dramatically.

Industry and society need to be given the chance to manage an ambitious transition. The current regulatory framework has the instruments in place to help deliver short-term. They need to be seriously considered and mobilised.

Sigrid de Vries

CLEPA Secretary General