Aluminium is a part of many large value chains and the largest of them being the automotive and transport sector. This sector alone represents 36% of the aluminium market. As the automotive industry is facing a severe slowdown or is even stopping production, the aluminium production in Europe (alumina, primary, recycling, semi-fabrication and some final products) is at risk.
Today, European produced cars contain on average 180 kg of aluminium (around 12% of the vehicle weight). Thanks to its light-weight properties, aluminium is the perfect material to make vehicles more efficient. As an essential supplier to the automotive industry, the European aluminium producers consequently rely on a rapid recovery of the entire automotive sector. Among the key measures1 supported by the EU automotive sector to support its re-start, European aluminium producers would put the focus on the following three measures:
1. Vehicle renewal programme
With the uncertainty surrounding the market, European Aluminium supports a vehicle renewal scheme focussed on incentivising the sales of the most environmentally friendly vehicles, both clean ICEs and electric-powered vehicles. We also recommend the introduction of a scrappage premium for old cars, given that these cars are entirely scrapped and recycled in Europe.
Renewal program should be implemented swiftly to restore consumer’s confidence. Uncertainties on the timing of such measures would only further delay the re-start of the economy.
2. Swift reopening of type approval authorities
Many type approval facilities in Europe are closed or operating at a reduced speed today. This makes it impossible for car manufacturers to type approve new vehicles that they want to launch on the market. We, therefore, ask that the EU Commission and the Member States work for a swift reopening or ramping up of these facilities, so no delays in checks for regulatory requirements of new vehicles will occur.
3. Kickstart the investments on charging and refuelling infrastructure
To support the demand for alternative powertrains, the pilot initiative on “1 million charging points and refuelling stations across the EU for all vehicle types”, including high-power charging and hydrogen refuelling stations for heavy-duty vehicles should start immediately. Rapid deployment of charging and refuelling infrastructure is considered an indispensable prerequisite to the market uptake of alternative powertrains to support the dual objectives of economic recovery and climate policy.
Kickstarting those investments will also help reducing risk for further reduction of aluminium smelting capacity in Europe as it happened on a permanent basis during the financial crisis.
These measures to support the recovery of the automotive industry are part of European Aluminium’s call for a sustainable industrial recovery plan, which provides a set of concrete measures that the EU Commission and the Member States could take to help the aluminium industry going through the crisis and mitigating the risks of a more severe impact on our value chain. The purpose of those measures should be to re-establish the confidence of European citizens and consumers in the overall economy, stimulate demand and make our value chain more resilient, competitive and less dependent on other regions.