Ljubljana, 12 May 2014 – »Slovenian automotive industry is facing important demands and challenges in the fields of ecology, safety, reliability and improvements in materials and technologies. The main challenge is how to create a car that is affordable, offers more comfort and it’s ecologically clean." These were opening words of managing director of ACS, Mr. Dušan Bušen, in his opening speech on 9th ACS Convention “Sustainable growth of avtomotive industry in central and SE Europe« which took place on Friday, 9th May 2014 in Ljubljana. The Convention was attended by nearly one hundred major representatives from the economy, ministries, a three-member delegation of representatives of the Japanese car manufacturer association JAMA and other domestic and foreign experts.
Slovenian automotive industry is with sophisticated production technology, high productivity, quality, cost- effectiveness, also with a close relationship with the public research sector and globality, equal partner of the most important suppliers in the commercial segment. At the moment the industry is located in a challenging economic requirements that sale of vehicles reflects in the decline of the component suppliers orders. The first quarter was successful as the average sales increased between 3 and 5 percent, estimated to members of the ACS. The predictions for the rest of the year are about the same. As pointed out in the introduction of ACS manager Mr. Dušan Bušen, sales of Slovenian automotive suppliers increased from 2.4 billion euros in 2009 to 3.5 billion euros last year.
For maintaining competitiveness and attracting new businesses, companies will have to further invest in research, development and innovation. In addition, in order to make the engineering profession to future students more interesting, they would have to invest in the training and education of staff and young people. Bušen highlighted cooperation with the Russian automotive industry and the growing presence of Slovenian suppliers in the Russian market as a perspective for the Slovenian automotive industry. Results of ACS in this market are very encouraging. In 2009 a trading exchange amounted to 24 million euros, then with the participation of 10 companies. In 2013, 24 companies generated more than 75 million in exports.
One of the advantages that Slovenia should exploit, is the development of charging infrastructure, which is becoming an important factor in the growing enforcement of electric vehicles, stated Bušen. "Companies of Slovenian Automotive Cluster are carriers for development and investment in export, but we want Slovenia, with the knowledge, development potential and vast experience in the automotive segment, to become one of the first in the field of e-mobility," concluded Dušan Bušen.
Aspects of the future development of the world economy and prospective of growth of the automotive industry was described by dr. Helmut Becker, director of the German Institute for Economic Analysis and communication, IWK. He noted, that 50 years ago economy was led by automotive industry, but today the role is just the opposite. Nevertheless, he announced continuing sales growth in the automotive industry, with a particularly highlighted Asian markets. For example: last year were 22 million newly registered passenger cars in China, which represents 13.9 percent increase over the year 2012. The largest share of cars sold still holds Toyota, followed by VW and GM, which in 2012 each sold more than 9.7 million cars. He also added that the share of electric cars on markets will importantly increase.
Participants also had the opportunity to hear a presentation of 450 million worth of investment in REVOZ Novo Mesto, which was opened a few days ago. Mr. Zvonko Anton Kink, purchasing manager at Revoz, presented the cooperation with suppliers, from which they expect in the first place quality and solutions for technological challenges. He added that the relevant factors are the location of the supplier and competitiveness. Revoz is directly involved with 84 Slovenian suppliers.
Thomas Putz, project manager in the field of Aerospace ACstyria, presented the implementation of the Austrian Aerospace Cluster ACstyria. Among the reasons why they have decided to include aviation field in their cluster, was indicated by the fact that we will within 20 years need almost 27,900 new passenger and freight aircrafts. As this way of travel is on the rise. In the next 15 years is expected for air traffic to double, and the opportunity for growth lies within Asia.
A vice president of Valeo Group, Jean-Luc di Paola-Galloni explained how cooperation within the framework of the ecosystem leads to strategic achievements, and Erik Vandervreken, director of business development and services in the European automotive supplier association CLEPA, presented the partnership of OEM suppliers for optimal growing global market.
In the second part of the conference followed a round table at which they discussed the possibilities and opportunities for Slovenian automotive industry in the new slovenian energy concept. Whether exact document and sustainable mobility is a real opportunity to Slovenian suppliers become global leaders. Minister for Infrastructure and Spatial Planning, Mr. Samo Omerzel presented the national strategy in the context of the energy concept. He stressed out that Slovenia with a population of two million is very suited for the introduction of the concept, that the second car in the house should be electrical. As he said, the main factor for that to happen is in price of fuel, that is already on the side electricity and the reduced price of an electric car, By his opinion it’s just the matter of time. before electric vehicles will reach critical mass of produced vehicles. This would, in his words happen within four years. He added that those who will be first in line to build fuel-filling infrastructure, have the best chance to increase domestic economic growth based on global trends.
Mr. Dušan Bušen added that the investment in charging infrastructure in Slovenia should be relatively small, due to its small size. In Slovenia’s favor it is a well-developed transport infrastructure and therefore Slovenia should be a kind of pilot project in this area. Mr. Helmut Becker also said that we need to remove ourselves from dependence on fossil fuels in the future and increase attention to renewable sources. As he add, electricity will play an important role, but increasing the share of electric vehicles does not depend not only on the price of the car, but also on the capacity of the batteries. In his opinion, for customers hybrids will be in an advantage over electric cars. The first step is to increase the number of registered electric vehicles and the establishment of a wider network of charging stations for electric vehicles. Jean-Luc di Paola-Galloni also said that Slovenia should take advantage of this opportunity because of the size, as it can be a significant advantage. He also stressed out the importance of installing appropriate infrastructure. Falling prices of such cars would be a consequence of the increasing interest of customers. More cautious in forecasts of the growth in the number of electric vehicles was Mr. Miloš Šturm, Vice president of Hidria. He said that the electrification is inevitable, however, domination of the internal combustion engine will last at least until 2050. Therefore, he pointed out that the suppliers must be development-oriented and already thinking about how vehicles, which will come on the market in 2020 will operate. Dr. Jernej Klemenc from the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering in Ljubljana a challenge for automotive suppliers sees mainly in how the batteries could store more energy and how to warm them in winter, that on this account does not diminish their reach, …
On this day we celebrated Europe Day, therefore the roundtable was concluded by saying that this old continent is in the right direction towards a sustainable future and thus the European automotive industry, which needs only maintain its position among the global competition.
All collected participants were also invited to an important business conference JAMA-CLEPA, which will bring together European producers of components and Japanese vehicle manufacturers. It will be held on 22 and 23 October 2014 in Ljubljana. The organizers of this event are the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association JAMA, European automotive industry suppliers CLEPA and this time also ACS.
The event was co-financed under the project INO 2013-2014 area "Support for innovation in all companies."
Slovenian Automotive Cluster (ACS), the Business Interest Association of Slovenian automotive supply industry, is strongly investing in the growth and development of its members for over ten years. In the previous period we, on the basis of our own knowledge and intensive investment in technology and development, grown from a small group of unrelated businesses and institutions closely linked network of development partners, to most major global automobile manufacturers. Today, ACS links 64 companies and knowledge institutions with more than 20 thousand employees. Companies generate more than 3.3 billion euros, of which over 80 percent is of exports. Together with the only OEM - REVOZ in Slovenia, this represents about 21 percent of the total Slovenian exports and 10 percent of the GDP.