Spain’s supplier association is underlining why the country is proving so attractive to overseas and domestic producers, who are now grappling with the new challenges of CASE technologies and Industry 4.0.

Speaking at the recent Automotive Manufacturing Meetings conference in Madrid where the mercury topped a stifling 41C, Sernauto president Marie Helene Antolin, outlined some of the key reasons why producers continue to beat a path to Spain’s door, despite economic headwinds.

Those difficulties have seen stagnant national vehicle production and international trade tensions, but sector turnover nonetheless rose 2.6% to EUR37.17bn (US$42bn) due in part to sustained export efforts.

“Spain is an automotive country,” said Antolin, whose other role is vice-chairwoman of the Spanish supplier which bears her name. “It is the largest producer of individual vehicles in Europe – [we have] 17 production plants and more than 1,000 component companies.

“Spanish suppliers are efficiency, quality, innovation, technical differentiation and global presence. [They are] highly consolidated in the Spanish industrial scene. Many Spanish component manufacturers are leaders in the products they manufacture.

“We represent 2% of the total active population and Spanish suppliers are present in more than 35 countries around the world, exporting production to more than 170 countries.”

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Despite that upbeat assessment, Sernauto’s board estimates 2019 will be a tougher year, with growth slowing as trade tensions filter through to the sector.

As a result of that uncertainty, Sernauto is calling for support from Spain’s government, which is still in an acting phase following recent elections, which are now seeing horse-trading to form an effective administration.

“Uncertainties and trade tensions made 2018 a tough year for the sector, in addition to technological disruption we are experiencing,” said Sernauto managing director, Jose Portilla. “With this in mind, the automotive supply industry needs the Administration’s support to maintain the levels it has reached through real and specific measures.

“These measures must promoted competitiveness and the ability to successfully carry out a technological and industrial transition, with the firm intention of continuing to generate wealth and quality employment in this country, just as is happening in other European countries.”

“We are constantly launching initiatives to support the international expansion of automotive suppliers. That is why we [chose] to bring the Automotive Meetings event to our country, thus making Spain the base in Europe for holding these B2B meetings.

Sernauto is due to outline further details of its policies for the sector to just-auto later this week.