Two employees work on the assembly of a car at the Seat plant in Martorell (Barcelona).Europa Press
The Government approves this Monday its great project to reconvert the Spanish automotive sector and put it on the path of the electric and connected car with the help of European recovery funds. It is a plan in which it has been working with different companies for months and that will involve different regional governments, and whose most precious investment, which has opened a territorial dispute, is the construction of a battery cell factory in Spain for which a consortium with public participation will be created. The first Strategic Project for Economic Recovery and Transformation (PERTE) —a special formula created to be able to benefit from Next Generation funds with greater agility— approved in La Moncloa has one more incentive: it will set the foundations for the rest of PERTE that the Executive will put underway in the coming months to attract community resources.
Once the PERTE is published in the BOE, the different interested companies will be able to register the groups to participate in it and, already in September, start the process of the calls to demand resources from the European Union. The truth, however, is that the participation of some companies that will present their presence in PERTE is already taken for granted. One of them is Seat, which has worked hand in hand with Moncloa and the Ministry of Industry so that its factory in Martorell (Barcelona) can take advantage of the project to undertake a conversion that will allow it to manufacture electric cars as of 2025. The Volkswagen Group has commissioned its Spanish brand to design what will be its smallest battery-powered vehicle, a project in which the Volkswagen factory from Navarra will also be involved. In fact, the future of the battery factory depends on a prior contract between an industrial partner specialized in battery production and the German group.
In any case, the first major sector project to be presented to Brussels to channel aid goes beyond the scope of the automotive industries, since other partners have been sought. In addition to companies in the auxiliary automotive industry (Gestamp and Antolin), the field of electricity generation (Iberdrola), telecommunications (Telefónica) or mining specialists have been considered for the extraction of lithium in Extremadura. The Government has insisted in recent months that the project should affect the entire “value chain” of electric and connected mobility (from the manufacture of battery cells or the systems where these are connected to management information technology data or the reconversion of industries that will end up being obsolete), in addition to involving more than two autonomous communities.
One of the great doubts that the Government has kept secret is how much of the European resources reserved for industry will be reserved for this first PERTE, the most ambitious of all (the ministry works on a total of seven). According to the plan sent to Brussels, this sector will have 2,289 million euros, to which will be added a similar amount in soft loans. The maximum theoretical framework in which Industry operates is one euro of non-refundable aid for every four of investment.
The Government initially contemplated up to seven strategic projects for economic recovery and transformation: to the automotive sector, there will be added one for electronics, which revolves around the design of chips (at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center); another based on the circular economy and battery recycling; and others based on the renewable energy industry, agri-food, health and aeronautics.