“Auto manufacturers are eager to move as fast as they can towards zero-emission vehicles” - ACEA secretary general Erik Jonnaert, commenting on an FTI study into EV manufacturing. “However, the entire European automotive supply chain will need to transform at a pace which is manageable, protecting employment and the long-term viability of the sector."

“Auto manufacturers are eager to move as fast as they can towards zero-emission vehicles” - ACEA secretary general Erik Jonnaert, commenting on an FTI study into EV manufacturing. “However, the entire European automotive supply chain will need to transform at a pace which is manageable, protecting employment and the long-term viability of the sector."

ACEA is citing a recent report by FTI Consulting, claiming the European Commission (EC) underestimates the impact of a forced push for electric cars on EU employment.

The report was launched today (4 September), a week ahead of a European Parliament vote on future CO2 targets for passenger cars and vans. 

As part of its proposal on these post-2020 CO2 targets, the EC published an impact assessment to identify potential implications of proposed reduction targets on the EU automotive industry.

While the Commission recognises full battery electric vehicles are less labour-intensive than vehicles with an internal combustion engine, ACEA insists the FTI report shows the Commission underestimates the negative impact of the proposed CO2 targets.

According to the report, which brought together the results of various recent studies, a rushed shift to full electric vehicles will have a profound impact on employment. This is because the production and maintenance of battery electric vehicles is less labour intensive than conventional ones, given their lower mechanical complexity and fewer parts.

There could be serious implications for the entire automotive supply chain, adds an ACEA statement, disproportionally affecting suppliers of parts and components, according to a UBS study cited in the FTI report.

Europe's automotive suppliers are expected to produce roughly 38% fewer parts and components for electric cars, compared to a loss of around 17% for automobile manufacturers" maintains ACEA.

The study points out many of these suppliers in the EU are SMEs, who are likely to struggle more with making the transition in a short time-frame than car manufacturers.

It is estimated batteries will make up 35-50% of the cost of an electric car in the future. However, studies point out it remains uncertain as to whether those batteries will be produced in the EU or imported instead. In case of the latter, the value added by EU companies (and the millions of Europeans they employ) to cars will be much lower, the report underlines.

"Policy makers must face the fact the EU will become extremely dependent on rare-earth materials and batteries produced outside Europe," said an ACEA statement.

"What is more, even if batteries were to be produced on a large scale in the EU, these findings show the positive employment impact would be small and would require skills which today's manufacturing employees are unlikely to have."

Today, the auto industry accounts for more than 11% of total EU manufacturing employment claims ACEA. In 14 regions across the EU, concentrated in the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Sweden and the UK, the automotive sector even accounts for more than 20% of total manufacturing employment.

A forced push to electric cars will disproportionately affect jobs in these regions, according to the FTI report.

"Auto manufacturers are eager to move as fast as they can towards zero-emission vehicles," said ACEA secretary general, Erik Jonnaert, commenting on the findings of the report. "However, the entire European automotive supply chain will need to transform at a pace which is manageable, protecting employment and the long-term viability of the sector.

"This report makes it clear overly stringent CO2 targets, as well as unrealistic sales quota for battery electric vehicles [the so-called 'benchmarks'] could lead to serious structural problems across the EU."

The Environment Committee of the European Parliament will be voting on post-2020 CO2 targets on 10 September, with the Parliament's plenary vote due in early October.