“Our members are masters of technology" - CLEPA CEO Paul Schockmel

“Our members are masters of technology" - CLEPA CEO Paul Schockmel

European automotive supplier body, CLEPA, is cautiously welcoming a gradually improving economic landscape, but is mindful of strong challenges remaining as the old Continent emerges from its worst recession in a generation.

"The good news is the number of employed people has at least stabilised and strongly recovered," CLEPA CEO, Paul Schockmel, told just-auto in Brussels.

"It is an old image you need unskilled workers - that is not true. Europe has a very good skills system to prove this. The environment [however] is less certain. Not only in Europe, but we have still the risk of falling to [a] deflation scenario."

Schockmel also acknowledged the rise of non-mainstream parties in Europe, at a time when Brussels has come under sustained attack from many for being aloof and demanding ever-increasing budgetary contributions.

"The political environment is unstable, more than in the past," said Schockmel. "There are a lot of changes. New parties are coming up, that makes things more complex.

"Our disadvantage is we are a long-term business - we need ten to 20 years to develop a new technology.

"The European Commission understands industry has to go through a renaissance and the automotive industry is a key player. They decided to go for improved road safety and also of course greener cars, that is clear.

"We are very lucky we have these exciting times, but we see there are big challenges of course."

The CLEPA chief noted the work being undertaken with connectivity between cars, but also highlighted the future potential of such communication for infrastructure.

"Our members are masters of technology," said Schockmel, noting the high level of expertise currently squeezing every extra kilometre out of fuel per litre.

"We are still mainly in the scenario where we are focusing our efforts on improved internal combustion technology," he said.

"The next phase is changing this context. We are most probably not talking about improving the ICE only, but also on hybrids, electrification and fuel cells."