A threat or a window of opportunity? Poland in the face of transition towards electromobiity

Type de publication:

Conference Paper

Source:

Gerpisa colloquium, Brussels (2023)

Résumé:

The accelerated transition towards electrification is a fundamental challenge for the European automotive industry and will have significant consequences beyond this sector as well. The impact of this transition on the Central European semi-periphery, which became important part of the European automotive supply chains in the previous decades, is undoubtedly interesting in this context. The authors address the question to what extent the transition towards electrification of the automotive industry is a threat and to what extent a window of opportunity for Poland. The contemporary trends and future scenarios of the restructuring of the sector, its regionally differentiated effects on labour, infrastructure development and transformation of energy production as well as public policies are discussed. The manufacturing of diesel and petrol engines and their mechanical components is currently an important part of the sector in Poland including about 120 suppliers employing more than 50,000 people. At the moment, we may observe restructuring towards low-emission engines on the one hand and a diversification towards other products, e.g. agricultural and construction machinery, ships, yachts and power generators. According to the PSPA-BCG study the decline of between 17,000 and 23,00 jobs by 2030 in relation to 2020 is projected in this segment of the industry. At the same time, there is large investment in the production of cells, lithium-ion batteries and battery components with already more than 70 companies involved. This made Poland their ninth largest exporter of these products in the world in 2021. In addition, the country belongs to the leading European manufacturers of high-power charging infrastructure. The net employment effect in the Polish economy is expected to be positive by both 2030 and 2050, however, unequal geographical distribution of these effects have to be taken into consideration. It is interesting, that 44% of surveyed automotive manufacturers in Poland in 2018 perceived electromobility mainly as a threat for their business, while only 19% identified it as an opportunity for faster growth, while a similar survey conducted in July 2022 showed half of the respondents (55%) perceiving the transformation towards electromobility as a development opportunity and only 30% of them saw it as a potential threat. The move towards electromobility requires the vast expansion of charging infrastructure, a major rebuilding of the electric power transmission network as well as the transformation of energy production in the country where its historically based on fossil fuels. The trends in these domains and (in)adequacy of public policies are discussed.

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