Scandinavian supplier body, FKG, is asking the Swedish government to provide bridge financing and short-time working backing for component firms in anticipation of any future slowdown.
Anecdotal evidence suggests Sweden has been marginally less hit by the global economic crisis in mature markets, but the bankruptcy of Saab late last year with its trail of enormous debts to parts makers, as well as financial uncertainty, has driven the supplier organisation to suggest the moves to Stockholm.
“We are trying to convince our government to launch bridge financing to prepare for the next slowdown as you did in the UK, which was very successful,” FKG managing director, Fredrik Sidahl, told just-auto.
“We need to [have] some labour rules such as they have in Germany, such as short-time working. The Swedish government is prepared to take that decision – the unions are sticking behind it but someone has to to press the button.”
The FKG chief added there was a current slow-down in Sweden, maintaining the country where the supplier body is based was “not vaccinated” from the global economic situation.
Sidahl maintained any government-backed scheme whether through bridging loans or short-time working would be cheaper in the long term than having massed ranks of unemployed.
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A stark warning of that was posted only last week during the Paris motor show when the French government announced unemployment rates had soared past the three million mark.
France is undergoing a painful round of automotive restructuring in a bid to address chronic overcapacity with PSA Peugeot-Citroen’s decision to close its Aulnay plant and axe up to 8,000 jobs taking centre stage.
“It [loans or short-time] definitely costs less than having people unemployed,” said Sidahl, who revealed he had seen the UK approach to its auto landscape at first hand last week at the British Embassy in Paris.
“I met Michael Fallon, Minister for Business and Enterprise at the UK Embassy in Paris,” said Sidahl. “We will talk again. In the UK, you have an Automotive College, but we don’t have that in Sweden. Sweden needs to focus on base industries such as automotive, which is the technical leader.
“Bridge loans have not been done in Sweden before – they are a simple type of short-term loan for SMEs. Up to six months to bridge the time when the SME buys new machinery [for example] and if volume goes down.”
The FKG is due to meet the Swedish Minister of Internal Affairs this month to discuss its requests.