Investment in EU automotive research and development increased in 2017

13 June 2018

13 June 2018

Annual EU investment into research and development (R&D) by the vehicle and parts supply sector has risen, according to data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA).

Investment rose by 7.4% in 2017, reaching an all-time high of €53.8 billion, making the automobile and parts sector the EU’s number one investor in R&D, ahead of pharmaceuticals and technology. It is responsible for 27% of the region’s total R&D spending, according to the ACEA Automobile Industry Pocket Guide

Compared to other world regions, the EU auto sector by far leads the way in terms of R&D investment. Japan comes second in the global ranking with an investment of €29.8 billion per year, followed by the US with €18.5 billion. In fourth place comes China with €5.4 billion, or just one-tenth of the EU’s annual spending.

Also, over 8,700 automotive patents were granted by the European Patent Office last year.

ACEA Secretary General, Erik Jonnaert, writing in the guide, states: ′Today, the automotive sector provides direct and indirect jobs to 13.3 million Europeans, representing 6.1% of total EU employment. Car registrations grew by 3.4% in 2017, passing the symbolic mark of 15 million units for the first time since 2007.

′In parallel, more than 2.6 million trucks, buses, coaches and vans were built in the EU in 2017, an increase of 1.8%. But even as we are coming close to pre-crisis figures, the situation of the European auto industry remains fragile. It is crucial that we maintain this trajectory of recovery within Europe, as well as safeguarding our industry’s competitiveness on the global level. EU auto manufacturers exported 5.9 million motor vehicles in 2017, generating a trade surplus of €90.3 billion for the European Union. Compared with the EU’s total trade balance in manufactured goods, worth some €290 billion, automobile exports make a vital contribution to the overall trade position of the EU.’

Other key figures contained in the new Pocket Guide include:

  • 13.3 million people – or 6.1% of the EU employed population – work directly and indirectly in the sector.

  • The 3.4 million jobs in automotive manufacturing represent over 11% of total EU manufacturing employment.

  • Motor vehicles account for some €413 billion in tax contributions in the EU15 alone – almost three times the total EU budget.

  • The automobile industry exported 5.9 million motor vehicles in 2017, generating a trade surplus of €90.3 billion for the EU.

Jonnaert continues: ′ACEA’s members remain committed to addressing tomorrow’s challenges. Although car production has been on the rise again since 2013, manufacturers have been able to decouple their environmental footprint from production growth. For example, total CO2 emissions from car production fell by 23.7% over the past decade.’