ACEA issues guidance for re-launching automotive industry

20 April 2020

20 April 2020

With some European countries beginning to emerge from coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has released guidance for re-launching the automotive industry.

The association stated that a rapid restart relies on a package of ′comprehensive market-stimulus programmes’ for all vehicle categories. They also outlined the need for ′some limited regulatory flexibility,’ which takes into account the industry-wide freeze in operations. 

′It is in Europe’s interest that this key strategic sector not only recovers but also is revitalised in order to make a strong contribution to the EU’s industrial strategy, the European Green Deal as well as the continent’s global innovation leadership,’ said Eric-Mark Huitema, director-general of ACEA.

Based on four key principles, the strategic guidance covers production, market demand, unblocking type approval alongside registrations and investment in recharging and re-fuelling infrastructure.

Relaunching production

The first principle describes a need for both manufacturers and suppliers to be able to rapidly and simultaneously get their plants up and running as soon as the immediate crisis ceases. If this cannot be achieved, ACEA predicts it will be impossible to return to full-scale production.

The association is calling for EU-wide support for a coordinated re-start of activities and investments throughout the supply chain. They say this requires a level-playing field as well as the flexibility to establish ′new business arrangements’.

Key to this will be ensuring the health of all those who work in the sector. ACEA is calling for clarity on the health and safety rules in each country for when production restarts. This will include social distancing, personal protective equipment, disinfection and health screening.

Market demand

As Europe’s economy reboots, the need for affordable clean road transport and mobility will be crucial. This means financial support will be needed through EU and national measures, to boost demand, with a strong focus on the uptake of new technology.

But many consumers may be unable to resume their investment plans and purchase new vehicles. Therefore, fleet renewal schemes will be needed to help re-launch demand for the latest vehicle technologies, which ACEA say were heading in the right direction prior to the COVID-19 crisis. There will be a need for these schemes to reflect the specificities for passenger cars, vans and commercial vehicles.

Unblocking new vehicles

With the automotive industry investing massively in low-emission vehicles, ACEA states that these new units need to be brought to the market. With industry, technical services and national type-approval authorities at a standstill, new models cannot be sold. The same is true for registration authorities, which is preventing businesses and customers from using their new vehicles.

ACEA is urging authorities in EU member states to accelerate the type approval and registration process to the ′maximum extent possible,’ given the current constraints.

Recharging and refuelling

An EU-wide network of charging and refuelling infrastructure will be key to making sure fleets can be renewed in an environmentally-friendly way. Consumers will also gain more confidence in alternatively powered vehicles. Accordingly, ACEA is supporting the pilot initiative of ′one million charging and re-fuelling points across the EU for all vehicle types.’

Code of conduct

The launching of this guidance follows ACEA’s release of a ‘code of business conduct‘, which was published last week. Produced alongside the European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA), the document sets out responsibilities for worker safety as well as a need to share best health and safety practices across the supply chain.

′We are committed to emerging from the crisis even stronger, and all partners in the value chain have a shared responsibility in sustainably managing the industry re-launch,’ said Huitema. ′The code of business conduct gives manufacturers and suppliers essential guidance on the approach needed to overcome the COVID-19 crisis.’