A survey of the European automotive supply industry commissioned by CLEPA (the European automotive suppliers’ association) has found that suppliers are ‘confronted with volatility and uncertainty from both their customers and upstream suppliers’.

CLEPA said the survey results point to a prevailing sense of uncertainty and that 42% of suppliers expressed a negative outlook, signalling a decline in overall industry sentiment.

The survey also found that European suppliers are facing tough price negotiations from OEMs, with 74% citing insufficient OEM compensations as the most pressing operational challenge

The survey – conducted for CLEPA by McKinsey  – found that some 65% of suppliers surveyed expect profits to remain low, with around a quarter expecting to operate at break-even or facing losses.

On a positive note – and despite facing substantial headwinds – CLEPA also said industry players ‘maintain a cautious optimism, navigating through challenges and strategising for transformation’.

Industry sentiment and profitability projections

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData
Visit our Privacy Policy for more information about our services, how we may use, process and share your personal data, including information of your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications. Our services are intended for corporate subscribers and you warrant that the email address submitted is your corporate email address.

CLEPA said high levels of uncertainty surrounding new projects and EV demand in Europe, coupled with pressure from vehicle manufacturers (OEMs) to cut costs and concerns regarding EU competitiveness, are contributing to the deterioration of business sentiment in the sector. As a result of these challenges, 25% of suppliers anticipate operating at marginal or negative profitability levels, while only 37% expect profitability above 5%. While 47% of suppliers expect an increase in revenues for 2024, 31% expect a decline.

Lukas Michor, co-leader of McKinsey’s EMEA supplier practice said: “The outlook for the automotive supply industry has worsened over the past twelve months. While some suppliers managed to structurally improve their cost base during COVID-19 and are now able to reap the benefits from it, most continue to face significant challenges. The high uncertainty with regards to the future market development and the transition to electric vehicles are key concerns.”

The survey’s ‘Pulse Check’ reveals that suppliers are facing tough price negotiations from OEMs, with 74% citing insufficient OEM compensations as the most pressing operational challenge, followed by demand reduction (52%), disruptions in the supply chain (24%) and suppliers moving to other industries (20%). Correspondingly, 70% of respondents prioritise engaging in commercial re-negotiations with OEM customers to offset inflationary production costs.

Benjamin Krieger, CLEPA’s Secretary General, said: “More than half of European suppliers fear production costs are making the EU uncompetitive, and 65% of the sector is operating at profitability levels that are not sufficient to sustain investments. The deterioration in sentiment on both of these fronts compared to six months ago, highlights the need to enhance EU competitiveness.”

Outlook for business growth and resource allocation

The survey also highlights strategic challenges, including decreasing EU competitiveness due to high production costs (54%) and faster technology implementation in other regions (39%). Forecasts indicate a modest outlook for business growth from China, with only 31% of suppliers expecting a substantial share of future business from this market.

In response to mounting challenges, suppliers are intensifying resource allocation towards R&D and production while streamlining efficiency gains. Additionally, 58% of respondents identify material and component design optimisation as key for achieving an optimised cost structure, while 54% emphasise the importance of efficiency gains in manufacturing.

Moreover, European suppliers express decreasing EU competitiveness due to the high production cost structure (54%) and faster technology implementation in other regions (39%) as major strategic challenges. Cost competitiveness and product development cycles are also of specific concern for suppliers operating in China.

Difficulty implementing OEM requirements (24%) and compliance with emission targets (22%) are strategic concerns for a smaller part of the supply chain. However, CO2 reduction targets are a major challenge for the industry as a whole, with 52% considering required changes in the supply chain and production footprint as the most relevant challenge.

The survey also revealed the need for hiring and developing skilled talent, including software engineers, as a major challenge. Two-thirds of suppliers are currently re-skilling their workforce or are planning to do so, indicating a proactive response to the talent challenge.