The auto market is slowly recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 crisis, but vehicle manufacturers are still struggling with unregulated supply chains. The semiconductor shortage and sharp increases in fuel prices have led to high inflation, and it's not over yet. In the new year, the quickly evolving industry will face a wide range of challenges including the complete elimination of CO2 emissions targeted for 2035.
The state of the automotive industry in Europe
In 2021, the number of electric vehicles doubled to reach almost 10%. Establishing a dense network of charging infrastructure and ensuring access to the necessary raw materials are essential for the successful achievement of European climate goals. Over the past 15 years, CO2 emissions from car production have halved, while energy consumption has decreased by a quarter.
On the whole, automotive industry players are committed to delivering secure and intelligent transportation. The EU is strengthening its leading position in road safety, and the number of deaths has decreased by more than 17% per year. In addition, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (in French: Association des Constructeurs Européens d'Automobiles, or ACEA) is making every effort to realize Vision Zero – a goal to reduce the number of victims of road accidents to almost zero by 2050 – and accordingly calling for cars to be equipped with advanced driver assistance systems.
Unfortunately, the average age of passenger cars (12 years), trucks (14 years), minibuses (12 years) and buses (13 years) on European roads is growing. Therefore, the cost of new electric vehicles must be within reach of European citizens. Due to supply chain disruptions, automotive production declined by 8% in 2021, leading to a decrease in auto sales.
2020 data collected by ACEA shows that 27 EU countries (excluding the UK) registered 1.2% more vehicles than in 2019. At the end of 2020, the EU countries, the EFTA free trade zone countries, and some other regions recorded an increase in the number of passenger cars by 1.6%, vans by 2.9%, and trucks by 2.1%. Bus registrations, on the other hand, decreased by 1.3%. The total number of cars registered in the region is 405.3 million.
In 2019, the largest truck fleet was in the USA with 58.4 million. There were 39.3 million trucks registered in the EU, 25.7 million in China, 14.3 million in Japan, and 10.4 million in Mexico. Greece has the oldest fleet of trucks (average age 21.4 years), and Austria has the youngest (average age 7 years).
The foundation of Europe's economy
Despite the semiconductor crisis, access to spare parts, and high energy prices, EU GDP grew by 5.3% in 2021 and 3.6% in 2022. Despite the fact that the Russian invasion of Ukraine led to increased inflation, the European Commission predicts further growth of 2.8% in 2023.
The automotive industry is the foundation of the European economy. In 2021, 301 factories for the final assembly and production of engines were operating in Europe and Central Asia. As of 2017, in 17 EU countries there were 226 operational factories, 134 of which produced passenger cars.
In Europe, there are 41 factories for the production of passenger commercial vehicles, 52 factories for the production of trucks, and 66 factories for the production of buses. There are also 72 factories for the production of engines and 18 for batteries.
According to ACEA, trucks up to 3.5 tons come mainly from factories in Spain, France, and Germany. Germany is the leader in the production of trucks with a gross weight of over 16 tons, and the Netherlands and France close the top three.
No more cars with internal combustion engines from 2035
Electrical vehicles have been top-of-mind in the automotive sector over the past 30 years. EU environment ministers approved a ban on sales and registrations of cars with internal combustion engines coming into effect in 2035. This means that only battery-powered or hydrogen-powered cars will be able to be registered. Vehicles equipped with internal combustion engines and hybrid technology can be used until they reach the end of their usable life. EU politicians predict that the number of publicly available charging stations will increase by 15 times by 2030.
In 2022, the top 3 most popular intra-European routes include Czech Republic-Germany, Germany-France, and Germany-Poland, with spare parts and accessories for cars, vehicles for passenger transport., and tires accounting for most shipping volume..
"As for the transportation of various types of goods of the automotive industry within Europe, last year deliveries were most often carried out within Germany, from Romania to Bulgaria, and from Germany to the Czech Republic, on which route AsstrA's turnover increased by 135% compared vs 2021. The automotive industry is developing dynamically, especially in the context of electric mobility. Due to the gradual abandonment of cars with internal combustion engines, logistics providers will certainly be forced to ensure the safe transportation of batteries that are classified as dangerous goods," sums up Dorota Kaczorowska-Lada, Global Key Account Manager at AsstrA Automobile & Mobility Industry Logistics.
Author: Kamila Rynkiewicz.