Supplier demand for a voice in Brussels is fuelling a boom in membership, says European automotive component producer association, CLEPA, which is predicting global sales levels of 122m by 2022.

Addressing the fifth CLEPA Aftermarket Conference in Brussels, the body's CEO, Jean-Marc Gales, outlined the success his organisation was having in attracting new members requiring representation at the highest echelons of power in the Belgian capital.

"A year ago, we were discussing about getting 100 members," he told delegates at the Brussels airport venue. "Currently we at 113 and it is still rising.

"We also have a pipeline of members who want to become members of CLEPA. Suppliers want a voice in Brussels, which is important.

"Times are tough [and] we are the representative of the automotive suppliers in Europe, but not only European suppliers. We have about 15 American and Japanese companies and we are working on getting maybe our first Chinese company."

Widening his address, Gales noted some challenges facing mature European markets, such as a population that is now averaging 41 and driving less as a consequence, while economic pressures were often keeping, higher quality, cars on the road for longer and access to communal mobility was also increasing.

"Public transport in the major European cities is just outstanding," he said. "You don't have that in the US and in other parts of the world as well.

"The market is shifting to Asia and the US. We know Europe is going to stagnate, but we have growth worldwide. We are going to sell 80m to 82m vehicles this year - in 2022 it is going to be 122m. We [therefore] need to globalise and innovate."

The CLEPA CEO also turned his attention to a possible delay by European Union countries of one year in implementing CO2 targets of 95g from 2020 to 2021, a move due to be debated today (29 November).

"I hope the [EU] countries will adopt the proposal and shift the target from 2020 to 2021," said Gales. "Everybody is working on emissions and if we become too lenient on this - let's be very clear - the US, Japan and China are not going to wait for Europe to get its act together.

"Emissions is a serious issue and we need to take it very seriously."

Gales also noted the need to globalise, but cautioned Free Trade Agreements (FTA) had to be carefully scrutinised.

"The difficulties we have to get into Korean platforms, this is not formulated in the right way," he said. "We are discussing the FTA with Japan and we need to talk about the evolution of non-tariff barriers.

"Airbags - you need to basically take a car apart again before getting it to a Japanese market. We need to make sure Europe stays a driving force worldwide.

"TTIP [Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership] would create the world's largest free trade zone - it would benefit automotive. Not only because we would equalise tariffs, but the real opportunity in the FTA between Europe and the US would be common standards.

"It will probably take ten years, but just imagine how many billions we could save every year."

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