Chapter 9: Motor vehicles
Garel Rhys INTRODUCTION Even though the accepted wisdom is that manufacturing industry will play a smaller part in the economic life of a mature industrial country, the fact remains that the automotive sector continues to maintain a central role in the economy of the EU in particular and West and Central Europe in general. Between 1993, when the Single European Act came into operation, and 2000, car production in the EU rose from 11.4 million units to a record of 14.5 million units and commercial vehicle (CV) output grew from 1.7 million to 2.1 million units over the same period. The growth in the vehicle stock in the EU grew by over 21 million vehicles during this period. A consequence of this was that the automotive sector maintained its relative importance in the EU economy with employment increasing in the major vehicle making countries. So the position the industry held in the early 1990s was duplicated in 2000. In 2000 the motor industry represented just under 10 per cent of the EU’s manufacturing output. Directly and indirectly, it employed almost 9 million people, with 2.5 million in vehicle and component making. In dynamic terms, through its R&D expenditures of 20 billion ECUs, and investment in production and information systems, the industry is central to technological developments in the EU. It also contributes greatly to the Community’s trade, with a surplus of over 25 billion ECUs a year, in contrast to a total EU trade deﬁcit, covering all sectors,...
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