News

Interview with Wayne Griffiths, Chairman of ANFAC

From ANFAC, representing the automotive sector, we demand individual freedom for citizens and companies in the world of mobility, and we work to make it accessible and affordable for everyone.

10 Jun 2022

  1. What changes are taking place in the automotive manufacturing sector to progress in the development of sustainable mobility?

The automotive sector faces the greatest transformation in its history. A transformation which means a revolution in our vehicles in both industrial and technological terms, with the goals of decarbonisation and digitalisation. Society is changing and so is the way people get around. The entry of new technologies is increasing the range of available mobility possibilities. In the automotive sector, we are aware of that transformation and we want to evolve from being solely car manufacturers to also being providers of mobility solutions.

Mobility is an undeniable right and we should all be able to choose how we want to exercise that right. ANFAC, in representation of the automotive sector, defends the individual freedoms of citizens and companies in the realm of mobility and we are working to make it accessible to everyone, and also to ensure that it provides sustainable, efficient solutions in line with emissions-reduction commitments.In the sector, there is a firm commitment to that transformation, and we believe that it represents a clear opportunity for Spain in the industrial, business and social spheres. As we set out in our 2020-40 Automotive Plan, this change could have a positive impact on our economy and employment, and also for future generations, thanks to the context which is being created with the entry of new companies which now form part of the mobility ecosystem.

The transition towards that new mobility requires, on the one hand, the necessary public-private collaboration, of both the public authorities and society, and, on the other hand, the establishment of a country project which demonstrates the commitment to this industry in order to thus be able to maintain our competitiveness and to continue to attract investment and models for our production centres.

There is a great deal at stake and we do not have a Plan B: the new mobility represents an opportunity to continue leading this industry in the transformation towards electric, autonomous, connected and shared vehicles.

  1. When we talk about the transition towards a decarbonised model, how should that be done in this sector, what are the main challenges?

The first and fundamental thing is to have a single model which both the sector, the public authorities and the government agree upon. It is essential to have a single vision of the decarbonised mobility model we want for our country. Only in that way will we be able to generate both certainty for citizens and stability in the necessary transformation of the sector.

Here, there is no magic or short cuts: great challenges - and this is indeed a great challenge - require a shared vision and team work. In addition, as we said, if we address the automotive sector we will also be addressing the future of Spain. That model contemplates mobility with vehicles which ensure the right to choose how we get around in an emission-free way, while at the same time maintaining the sector and its employment.

That vision involves not only placing electric vehicles on the market, a commitment which the sector is fulfilling, but also establishing a context which enables citizens to feel comfortable using those vehicles. Therefore, it is fundamental to establish a network of public-access recharging points with sufficient coverage to serve users at all times, facilitate the purchase of vehicles with more efficient assistance plans which are easier to access, and establish a tax framework which incentivises the purchase of those vehicles.

The transition towards that mobility is possible. But, in order to ensure that we can maintain the value which the automotive industry has always contributed to Spain, in terms of employment, industry and the economy, while at the same time establishing a universally-accessible mobility model, we must have tools which are as ambitious as the goals we have set ourselves.

  1. Is it possible to make projections of when it will be a more sustainable sector in Spain and in Europe?

The automotive industry is already a sustainable sector. The industry as a whole is committed to decarbonisation and, for over a decade, we have been working along those lines in order to achieve the goal of zero emissions by 2050. The sector is making great efforts, in terms of both economic investment and technological development. In Europe, we are the industry that invests most in R&D&I, over 62 billion euros. And here in Spain, almost 3 billion euros is invested annually in the development of new zero- and low-emissions technologies.

Electrification is already a reality in supply and production. In the last year, we have launched over 200 new pure electric and rechargeable hybrid models. And our factories now produce almost 200,000 units a year, up from just 17,000 electric vehicles three years ago. Now is the time for that reality to also reach users.

It is obvious that we are at the start of a transition which will stretch out across the next two decades. We must be aware of that reality and establish not only more stringent emissions-reduction targets but also, and at the same time, tools and measures at the same level, nationally and across Europe, to ensure that that industrial and modal revolution takes place in a fair, logical and orderly manner, thereby achieving the transformation while maintaining and even boosting the employment and industry which the automotive sector already generates.

  1. Global Mobility Call aspires to be a reference of the sustainable mobility ecosystem. How would that benefit ANFAC’s efforts to progress towards greater sustainability?

For us, it is of the greatest importance to  remain committed to initiatives like the Global Mobility Call, whose cornerstone is sustainable mobility, contributing to the positioning of our country as a reference in this sphere. Bringing together different national and international actors which are working to achieve the decarbonisation targets set by the European Union is, without a doubt, noteworthy, and for ANFAC it is important to be able to participate as the principal reference and mouthpiece of the automotive industry in our country.

  1. Specifically, what opportunities do you see for ANFAC to participate in the Global Mobility Call?

Participating in the Global Mobility Call enables us to continue to work on the main objectives of the industry in its transformation, decarbonisation and digitalisation. It also enables us - not just the automotive sector but the entire new mobility ecosystem - to get to know each other, to connect, to share visions and to inform society about the impact and opportunities which the transformation towards that new mobility represents for all citizens.

This forum, with its strong business and professional focus, is an occasion to demonstrate the union of the entire ecosystem, the firm commitment to mobility and the shared vision of a mobility model with efficient, sustainable cars, in which users, as the leading actors, have the freedom and the right to decide how they move around. We are faced with ambitious objectives and an unprecedented industrial revolution, evolving from the traditional value chain to an entire new ecosystem with new agents which include the energy sector, telecommunications and technology, among others, and it is a business and investment opportunity for all of them.

Therefore, this congress enables us to give a voice to this entire new mobility industry, in close collaboration with the administration, both national and European, and to demonstrate that advancing towards emission-free mobility could be a reality, and a much greater opportunity if we all move forward together.

  1. What opportunities do the Next Generation Funds and the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan offer to the automotive manufacturing sector, and what specific plans are there in the short term?

The Next Generation Funds channelled to the automotive industry in the PERTE VEC are a necessary tool to drive forward the transformation of the sector and to remain competitive in this new mobility industry. So, we hope that their deployment will be agile and simple, in order to ensure that the aids rapidly reach companies and projects, with the aim of mitigating the effects of the pandemic and to ensure we do not lag behind our European competitors.

Those funds are another stage in the transformation towards the new mobility, not the finish line. We must continue to establish additional measures which drive that transformation and make it possible to take advantage of the current resources. The same is true of the second phase of the European Funds, still pending allocation.

We have to boost the development of recharging infrastructure, be more efficient in the help-to-buy plans and create positive tax regulations for the electrification and renewal of our vehicle fleet. And we must also establish policies in the industrial sphere which facilitate and assure that transformation and which are an example of the commitment to the automotive industry as a countrywide project.

That process requires a short-, medium- and long-term plan, with development targets, monitoring tools and an efficiently-functioning governance body which enables us to manage, coordinate and ensure its establishment. There is a great deal at stake and we must take advantage of the opportunities to make mobility an industrial and social reality in our country.