High voltage at Autoeuropa


The end of sales of vehicles with polluting emissions by 2035 puts Portuguese car manufacturers under pressure. One of the most publicized cases is that of Autoeuropa, given the weight of the Palmela plant in the Portuguese economy (see text above). For the moment, a company source points to the investment made at the end of last year of 500 million for the next five years and which aimed to adapt the production unit to the new generation of the T-Roc, which should already have a hybrid version. . connect.

Brussels’ idea of ​​setting a target of 100% elimination of emissions from passenger cars or light commercial vehicles with combustion engines has received a negative opinion from the Portuguese government. A position was applauded by the general secretary of the Associação Automóvel Portugal (ACAP): “The Portuguese government – ​​together with Italy, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia – even had a favorable position, because it tried with four other countries to have an extension by 2040 of legislation to give our industrialists time for this transition”, specifying that this scenario “would be the most positive”. However, the opposition of these four countries, including the Portugal, was insufficient, as the ban had the approval of all the other Member States.

And the European Commission’s proposal has already been approved by the European Parliament.

So, is Autoeuropa’s future at stake?

For now, in the opinion of former minister Mira Amaral – who brought the company to Portugal under the governments of Cavaco Silva – the group will have an interest in making the investment profitable and only then will it think about the coming.

“I believe that whether or not to switch from the platform to electric models has not yet arisen, until the amount now invested is recovered. But this is a question that will inevitably arise in four or five years.” In an opinion piece published by the economist in Sunrise, in 2021, Mira Amaral already left the future of Autoeuropa open. “Successive governments have concluded successful investment agreements with Autoeuropa. Will VW continue to bet on internal combustion vehicles (VCI) and after the T-Roc will there still be a future for another VCI in Palmela or will it have to gradually adapt its production to vehicles hybrid and electric (EV)? these questions will dictate the future of the Palmela plant”.

However, the economist regrets that Portugal continues not to talk about the subject, while Spain is already converting its industry to electric vehicles.

An opinion shared by Daniel Bernardino, coordinator of the Workers’ Commissions of the Industrial Park – satellite companies that supply Autoeuropa – assuring that both the manufacturers and the Portuguese government have fallen asleep for this change. “We saw this problem with concern, especially because we see the neighboring country with a strong investment for the electrification of cars, and Portugal, from our point of view, has been left behind in the face of competition with other countries,” he told the Sunrise. And that is why he has already requested meetings with the Minister of the Economy and the Minister of Labour, without yet having an answer. The trade unions are also called upon to intervene through this structure. “We want everyone to go in the same direction as us, despite this numbness”. The plus: optimistic is a source close to the sector, ensuring that Autoeuropa has its production plan for this model is sure until 2027, and from then on this will be the strategy that the manufacturers will define. But he leaves an alert: “The blockade only exists in Europe, brands continue to sell cars in South America, Africa and Asia. Only in Europe will we see this limitation in 2035”.

Daniel Bernardino also says that, for now, the information he has is that, until 2030, the Palmela plant will continue to produce combustion cars and even a hybrid, admitting however that the plant “obviously has to be prepared with investments and companies in the industrial park obviously have to invest in new electric models or hydrogen models”. And he adds that from the moment Autoeuropa started to be a mass production plant, in moving to a production of 300,000 cars per year, Portugal is already considered a country of car production, also recalling that PSA in Mangualde helped Portugal to have this status and which, last week, announced that it was going invest in an electric model, an announcement which, according to him, “is an encouragement for the sector”.

It is recalled that at the beginning of the month, the president of the Stellantis group, Carlos Tavares, guaranteed that the Mangualde plant will start producing vehicles with electric motors. A decision that could guarantee the future of this factory, which employs around 900 people, for decades to come. “The Mangualde teams are already preparing this transition so that, if necessary, the plant has the necessary agility to react,” said the manager, also ensuring that “the level of costs and the competitiveness of Mangualde” were factors. keys that justified this decision.

Spain wins the race

Daniel Bernardino, despite the information at his disposal, affirms that the German group is perhaps preparing for Portugal to also be part of the trams, so that it does not fall behind, and regrets that the country “does not investments like these that have already been made in Spain” – taking the Valencia battery factory as an example. “Unfortunately we don’t have this news, but we have already realized that there will be investment in a lithium plant in Setúbal and this is a good indicator”.

But the examples don’t stop there. The coordinator of the workers’ committees of the industrial park also announced the announcement made two weeks ago, according to which Ford announced two electric models for Valencia, guaranteeing 25,000 jobs for the next 10 years. we have no such news. Naturally, we cannot compare ourselves to Spain in terms of the car industry, but at the moment Germany itself is already worried about what Spain is doing,” he admits.

According to the official, the country lacks “lobby in the positive direction of the Portuguese government towards the European Union and car manufacturers so that we can be more attractive”. And he points out: “Obviously we lack the infrastructure to import and export, which makes us more conditioned, unlike what is happening with Spain”.


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