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Ecomotive

14/05/2019
The automotive industry and the challenges of the hi-tech revolution

 Automotive economy

 

A profoundly different International scenario with a growing perception of an impending crisis

Paolo Castiglia

The automotive industry is undergoing a complete hi-tech transformation which is expected to affect not just large car manufacturers, but also suppliers as well as the entire supply chain, already struggling with challenging investment plans, aggregation processes, mergers and acquisitions that are changing the face of the entire industry.

This is the scenario depicted by "Bilancio a 4Ruote", the first study on the automotive sector and its Italian supply chain – which represents a “galaxy” of about 5,700 companies, many of which are SMEs, which accounts for 5.6% of the national GDP, and employs about 7% of all the workers in the entire manufacturing industry - carried out by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, Sace Simest and Anfia, in collaboration with AlixPartners, and recently presented at the Italian Stock Exchange.

According to this survey, we are facing a profoundly changing scenario at a global level, with the main production hubs and consumption moving increasingly eastwards and threats of US tariffs weighing on the short-term scenarios. "The automotive sector represents a significant part of the country's industrial heritage, with important repercussions on the national economy and satellite industries – says Fabrizio Palermo, Ceo of Cassa Depositi a Prestiti -. With the new Industrial Plan the CDP is addressing for the first time all companies, large and small alike, and thanks to an integrated and comprehensive range of products will be able to offer concrete support also to the many SMEs active, both directly and indirectly, in the automotive supply chain.

"As a sector, the National automotive supply chain has always been characterized by a high propensity for innovation and a keen interest towards foreign markets - said the CEO of Sace, Alessandro Decio – precisely the reason why we have promoted this study and we intend working side by side with all the Italian players in a sector that is facing a epoch-making transformation driven by a few geographical areas”.

We must “strengthen the bond between the entrepreneurial and financial systems – stated Anfia’s president, Paolo Scudieri -. At such a crucial time for the future of the industry, as Anfia we are working, with the industry as a whole, on a strategic plan for the sector and the definition of a roadmap of appropriate industrial policies, agreed with the Government, to keep up with what has already been implemented by other European countries and our competitors".

However, another study on the sector highlights the difficulties: Confetra’s traditional economic note, relating to the second half of 2018, confirms the general slowdown recorded in the first six months, which involves all modes of transport. The survey still shows slight signs of recovery as far as Italian freight transport is concerned, but with lower percentage values compared to the previous semester, which was already showing signs of slowing down, following the trend of Istat’s industrial production index: the first six months recorded an average growth in trend rates of +2.7% which faded as the months passed and a second semester with an average of -1.3% that brings the average for the entire year to +0.7%.

Looking at the transport sector, long distance haulage and express couriers seem to be holding up: the first grew by 2.4% in consolidated cargo and by 2.5% in full international cargo (figures that in the second half of 2017 were 6.1% and 6.5% respectively). These figures are confirmed by the trend in freight traffic (+2.6%) and Alpine transit (+3.3%). Couriers increased their domestic deliveries by 2.5% and their international deliveries by 4%, thanks mainly to the expansion of e-commerce. Among the risk factors for this year, Confetra points its finger to the negative outcome of trade negotiations between the United States and China, growing financial tensions in emerging countries and Brexit. "I sincerely hope - explains the president of Confetra Nereo Marcucci - that the reduction in domestic demand and investments and, to a lesser extent, of household spending along with a lower industrial production will not be added together”.

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