2021 data. Spanish automotive suppliers’ turnover exceeds 32 billion euros

  • In 2021, the sector's turnover increased by 6.3% compared to 2020, but the recovery remains slow.
  • Exports grew by 10%, just short of 19.7 billion euros. There are more than 460 Spanish supplier plants worldwide.
  • The sector’s investment in R&D&I has increased by 8.5% to be in a position to further address the industrial and technological transformation with full guarantees.
  • According to forecasts, in 2022 turnover will increase by around 10% compared to 2021 and employment by 2%.

The Spanish Association of Automotive Suppliers (SERNAUTO) has presented the sector’s data for 2021, showing that the uncertainty and the complex situation in which the industry finds itself continue to have a strong impact on companies.

In 2021, the automotive suppliers sector had a turnover of 32.08 billion euros, which is 6.3% more than in 2020, although it has not yet managed to recover the pre-pandemic figures (37 billion euros).

In spite of the complicated situation that the sector is going through, suppliers increased investment in R&D&I by 8.5%, reaching a total of 1.16 billion euros, which represents 3.6% of the turnover for that year and three times the industrial average. The average investment of 4% over the last 5 years has been maintained.

In the same way, the sector invested 1.36 billion euros to increase and improve its productive capacities, in order to remain a competitive and innovative industry, adapted to the needs of its customers.

These figures clearly show the effort being made by suppliers, both large and SMEs, to face the industrial transformation with guarantees and to continue at the forefront of technology.

In 2021, the sector employed a total of 326,600 people (directly and indirectly). Direct employment generated by the sector reached 201,450 people, which is 5.2% less than in 2020. This job loss was largely due to the termination of ERTEs [staff temporary layoffs], the reduction of activity and the closure of some plants.

Direct employment is characterised by being stable, of high-quality and spread throughout the country. In fact, it represents more than 10% of the industrial employment in several regions.

In 2021, exports totalled 19.67 billion euros, which is 10% more than in 2020. Exports currently represent 61.3% of the sector's turnover. This strong export character is driving a better recovery of companies. There are more than 460 Spanish supplier plants around the world.

Out of the turnover in the domestic market (12.42 billion euros), 7.29 billion euros concern the supply of equipment and components to vehicle manufacturers (-5.8%) and 5.12 billion euros come from the aftermarket (+12.3%).

Automotive suppliers linked to the supply chain have been affected by the sharp drop in vehicle production (7.5%).

On the contrary, the turnover of spare parts manufacturers has increased due to the reactivation of mobility between the different waves of the pandemic.

To quote the President of SERNAUTO, Francisco Riberas, "the data we are presenting today show the enormous effort we are making, as suppliers, in order to face global problems and not be left behind in this worldwide race that is the automotive industry. Despite the semiconductor crisis, the rise in raw material prices or the exorbitant increase in energy and logistics costs, we have been able to maintain production and most of the jobs".

As he said, "these have been very complicated months, with multiple exogenous factors that are affecting us greatly, and yet our companies are still committed to R&D&I, talent and international expansion. We have no choice if we want our country to continue to be a reference worldwide".

Forecasts for 2022

According to initial estimates by SERNAUTO’s Board of Directors, in 2022 the turnover will increase by around 10% compared to 2021, but even so, it is not expected to recover pre-pandemic levels until 2023.

As regards employment, it is estimated that it could increase by 2%, thus recovering part of the employment lost in recent years.

In 2022 the progression of both variables, turnover and employment, will be highly subject to uncertainty and the evolution of exogenous factors - such as geopolitics, energy and raw material costs -, and the greater or lesser consistency of the markets, especially the domestic market.

José Portilla, CEO of SERNAUTO, underlines the importance of public-private collaboration to speed up the sector’s recovery: "Public Administration support for this strategic sector of the Spanish economy is essential. We must be able to ensure that European funds reach this sector’s companies quickly and efficiently so that they are not left behind by all the difficulties they are currently going through. As we highlight in our Strategic Agenda 2025, we need the Government to make a firm commitment to this industry, which is made up of many SMEs that contribute so much to the different regions where they are established and which at present are suffering the consequences of the pandemic and all the other circumstances that have arisen".


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