The pandemic has created a complex and challenging manufacturing landscape across Europe, with some sectors fighting to keep pace with demand, while others are facing a contracted market and uncertain times ahead.
As an industrial services specialist with capabilities across Europe, AIS Eurelo has been on hand to help businesses with both upscaling and downsizing requirements, lifting and moving machinery, production lines and even entire factories to where they need to be. But, as we move out of the crisis response phase of COVID-19 and companies begin to consider their longer-term future, it’s clear that, for some sectors, the landscape has changed permanently and irrevocably. It’s equally evident that, in some industries, the pandemic has been a catalyst for accelerated change, rather than the cause of change. One of these is automotive; a sector where AIS Eurelo has considerable expertise.
Across Europe, the figures for the volume of cars sold in 2020 as compared to previous years makes arresting reading. Not too surprising considering how many people spent a large proportion of the year travelling very little at all. But the lockdown restrictions and continuing nervousness about infection risk are far from the only influences at play here. The economic impact on disposable incomes may have also have had a part to play, but European consumers haven’t stepped back from buying all vehicles; instead, they’ve become more likely to opt for an electric vehicle over petrol or diesel cars.
In the first nine months of 2020, sales of electric vehicles in Germany almost doubled as compared to the number sold across the whole year in 2019, and this upwards trend in electric vehicle sales is reflected across Europe. The pandemic may have had a hand in this, with consumers becoming more aware of the environmental impact of traffic during the quieter period of lockdown. Whatever their motivations for choosing electric this year, however, it seems likely that the trend will continue. Governments are targeting increased use of electric vehicles as part of low emissions strategies and much of the government support offered to the automotive industry during these difficult times is focused on the electric vehicle aspect of the sector.
Gearing Up for Transition
So, what does this mean for the automotive manufacturing sector? While product development and manufacturing capabilities for electric vehicles are already very much in evidence across car brands and automotive manufacturing locations, it’s clear that the current period of change is the precursor of a more prolonged era of transition for the industry. With new vehicle technologies, we can expect to see revised factory layouts and production lines, all of which will require decommissioning and removal of redundant assets, along with installation of new machinery, supported by expert planning, CDM management and project implementation.
At AIS Eurelo, we have the pan-European resources, automotive industry expertise and specialist lifting equipment to support the automotive sector as it continues to make the transition from conventional car technologies to electric vehicles. Our team understands both the commercial and operational factors that must be balanced to introduce new equipment and phase out older machinery without jeopardising business continuity or output forecasts. We have worked with many of the world’s leading automotive manufacturers and, while the pandemic has resulted in a more challenging market, it’s clear that there are opportunities ahead to leverage the appetite for eco-friendly electric vehicles from consumers, commercial fleet operators and governments.