Saturday, April 13

Volkswagen is going to invest 7,000 million euros in its Sagunto factory. I wouldn’t have done it without the PERTE

Although expected, the installation of a Volkswagen Group battery factory in Sagunto under the Seat seal is still good news for Spanish employees. The plant plans to give direct employment to 3,000 people and it may be key for the Ford factory in Almussafes, which is fighting for the assembly of future electric models.

But key to the realization of all these plans has been the publication of the PERTE (Strategic Projects for Economic Recovery and Transformation) for the development of the electric and connected vehicle, government aid of European origin that aims to turn Spain into a electric and connected car hub. But, what do these aids consist of and what requirements do they demand?

save the industry

A cloud flies over the heads of the workers in the Spanish automobile sector. The lack of components, accentuated by the war in Ukraine and the transporters’ strike in the last month, has led to multitude of ERTEs in the main Spanish plants.

But this is only the most superficial problem. The simplicity in the manufacture of new electric models points to shorter assembly times and the need for fewer workers. UGT estimated that 35,000 employees had been directly affected by the arrival of the electric car. It was 2019.

Three years later, the workers of Ford Almussafes have approved a four-year salary freeze, an increase in the working day and 18 working Saturdays a year in the same period. The Seat plant in El Prat, dedicated to the construction of gearboxes, observes how the electric vehicle can definitively expel them. Renault and Mercedes have similar conflicts in its plants and the Business Association for the Development and Promotion of Electric Mobility (AEDIVE) points out that in 2030 up to 29,000 workers will have lost their jobs.

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The future is not flattering for a sector that represents 11.4% of GVA (GDP minus indirect taxes net of subsidies) and 10.95% of total industrial turnover, the second most important sector in the country after of the food. In R&D it represents 10% of Spanish investments, it is the second most important manufacturing country in Europe and its exports represent 14.8% of the total. All this leads to an estimate of 300,000 direct jobs and two million jobs linked to the automobile industry.

What are the PERTE to the car

These data have served the Government to allocate a large part of the Next Generation EU European funds to the development of the electric and connected car. Specifically, the 19.9% ​​of the 70,000 million contributed are intended for sustainable mobility. A total of 13,203 million, of which 6,536 million will be dedicated to a “shock plan for safe and connected mobility in urban environments”, which also includes the improvement of the recharging network or investments to move forward low-income areas. emissions in cities with more than 50,000 inhabitants.

This ambitious project has the final objective of reinvigorating a strategic sector in the country and which, according to the Government itself, seeks to “improve the competitiveness of the automotive sector, through modifications of those regulatory frameworks in areas such as logistics, digitization or professional training, which have become obsolete and do not respond to the major strategic objectives set for the year 2050”.

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For all this, the PERTE to the electric car will divide their performances into promote the entire value chainincluding connectivity or artificial intelligence as key sectors to focus on, and in facilitating measures for the expansion of this type of vehicle, such as aid plans for the purchase of electric cars, legal coverage with the new Climate Change Law and Energy Transition or greater deployment of 5G coverage.

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How the PERTE to the electric car work

To carry out all these promises, it is necessary that companies that want to take advantage of national aid meet a series of requirements. Seat has been the first major brand to join these PERTE, after pressuring the Government on different occasions to speed up the procedures to enroll in them. In fact, it has not been until now that it has confirmed the creation of a new battery factory plant in Sagunto, always subject to final government approval of its project.

All the specific details are included in Royal Decree-Law 36/2020, which requires that interested parties present themselves as a group of at least five companies organized around the automotive sector, of which 40% must be SMEs and an entity that is a provider of knowledge and that as such has sufficient technical and organizational capacity to carry out the R&D&I activities that the tractor project incorporates.

Cupra Batteries

Another essential requirement is that the project involves two autonomous communities, with the aim of diversifying the industrial fabric. That is why Extremadura and Aragón were two candidates that were on the table to host the Seat battery factory. However, Sagunto, in the Valencia Community, has been the chosen place.

In addition to these technical obligations related to the groups that have to appear in the same project (Seat has not confirmed who will accompany it on this path), some essential environmental criteria and social cohesion. Thus, those who opt for aid have to demonstrate that their plans seek to “achieve an economy with low carbon emissions and other pollutants, resilience and adaptation to climate change, the promotion of the circular economy, the improvement of energy efficiency and digitization in the automotive sector”.

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This point is important because, during the question time of the presentation of Seat’s electrical strategy, Griffiths has not denied that the brand opts for vehicle reconditioning strategies in the future, as Renault or Toyota have already announced.

In their application, companies will also have to include sections that include actions to improve the digitization of the sector, contribute to gender equality (in 2019, 25.9% of the 219,100 employed persons were female) and not cause a significant impact on the environment, with water in the spotlight, one of the reasons that has stopped the opening of the battery Gigafactory that Tesla has already built in Germany.

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