The impact of the electrification process upon labor in the Italian automotive ecosystem: an empirical analysis based on survey data

Type de publication:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Brussels (2024)


An upsurging number of studies investigates the impact of the ecological conversion of the automotive industry from the endothermic engine vehicles (ICEV) to the electric ones (BEV) on labor dynamics, driven by the rising concerns for its relevant socio-economic implications especially in Europe.

The European association of the automotive original equipment suppliers (OES), for example, forecasts potential significant job losses in EU automotive manufacturing by 2040 due to the electrification process, which however are expected to be partially offset by the increasing value added from electronics and autonomous drive systems within the industry and the labor demand involved with setting up and maintaining the charging infrastructure (CLEPA, 2021). Similarly, the European Commission identifies the producers of the electronic components embedded in the world production of cars as the main beneficiaries of the current technological turn, pinpointing Germany and Italy as the possible European leaders of the “BEV revolution” since their existing automotive ecosystems feature the largest contributors of the electronic components in the global automotive supply chains (EC, 2020).

Moreover, Novaresio (2024) highlights that, while the production of eco-innovations related to the electric engines can be associated to a substantial decrease of the employment in the European automotive industry in the last 20 years (even though the labor level actually steps up when controlling for its past values in a dynamic model), it has steered relevant job gains along the automotive supply chain; these results provide substantial empirical support to the hypothesis of Kupper et al. (2020), for which ICEVs and BEVs labor requirements are substantially comparable, since the value added in automotive manufacturing just shifts from OEMs to tier-one suppliers.
A recent study based on Italian data foresees that, while the ICE-related employees are expected to drop by 42% by 2030, the non-ICE ones are foreseen to increase by 10% along the traditional automotive supply chain and by 30% across the new industrial battery-based and energy infrastructure ecosystem (Naso & Artico, 2023).

However, despite the increasing research efforts to assess the impact of the “BEV revolution” on labor needs and perspectives in the automotive industry and along its value chains, most of these studies have explored the labor dynamics associated to the introduction of the BEVs in terms of literature-based forecasts or broad empirical estimations.
This study stands out as it uses a representative sample of data collected through a national survey among traditional and emergent Italian automotive suppliers to explore the impact of the electrification process on the recorded and expected employment levels in the extended Italian automotive ecosystem. The goal is to examine which firm’s features, including size, localization, type of governance, product portfolio, innovative dimension, labor structure and policy needs, affect the current and future labor demand and quality in response to the electrification process, by means of an appropriate econometric model.
The research intends to look for possible regional specificities and to provide useful policy suggestions appropriate to the emerging sectoral and local urges.

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