The Great Recession has greatly affected the geographical balance of the global automobile industry. In particular major markets of the supranational trade areas around the Triade (NAFTA, European Union and ASEAN) have experienced a relative stagnation of domestic demand, whereas the BRIC countries have, on the contrary, maintained an increasing demand as part of active industrialisation strategies directed by their home states to preserve a large part of their markets for the auto companies on their soil. Automotive policies have become more salient than ever, with new instruments dealing not just with taxation measures, competition policy or international trade agreements, but also with innovation policies as a logical extension of the research and development public policy tools. In the European Union, the debate about industrial policies has found a new momentum with the automobile sector singled out as a strategic industry. A central concern of these automotive policies is the possibility for the EU to create supranational markets through bilateral preferential agreements like the EU-Japan Free Trade Area or the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). At the same time Japan and the USA are involved in various attempts to integrate markets between both parts of the Pacific including Asian and Latin-American countries.
The industrial policies in the automotive sector appear then more supranational oriented and focused on innovation than ever. In that respect, we might expect that they have a greater influence on carmakers and suppliers product strategies, employment policies and productive organizations. In terms of impact on product strategies launched by firms, the question is whether and how national and regional innovation policies especially for new powertrain solutions, determine the technological orientations taken by carmakers, suppliers, and newcomers. In China for example, numerous measures were and are taken to tackle the problem of air pollution in cities, measures that do not just raise taxes, but also foster innovations. Yet, though there exist some voluntaristic industrial policies, China does still not appear to be the leading driver of change in the product policies of carmakers and suppliers. We might find numerous other examples like that in America, Europe and other Asian countries. This is the reason one aspect of industrial innovation policies that has to be examined, is their impact on firm strategies.
We welcome papers dealing with these various aspects of automotive policies in any country of the world and in particular with those which can include an historical perspective about how governments at various levels have developed automotive policies and the results of such policies for the structuring and restructuring of the industry at local, regional, national or supranational levels.
Concéption Tommaso Pardi
Administration Géry Deffontaines