Unions hope for 'tough and long' meeting with Nissan bosses
Final meeting of official consultation period on closure and redundancies underway
Final meeting of official consultation period on closure and redundancies underway
Japanese media say factory will close with decision expected May 28
Barcelona’s car show, which has brought the main novelties of the automotive sector to the Catalan capital for nearly a century, has reinvented itself. The new ‘Automobile Barcelona’ fair opened its doors this Thursday focused on innovation, said the fair’s president, Enric Lacalle. During the next ten days, more than 90 companies, 30 car brands, and 108 speakers are expected at the Fira de Barcelona, including Tesla and other companies related to the new technologies such as Google or Facebook. Volkswagen is a notable exception. Catalan President, Carles Pugidemont, welcomed the “partnership” between connectivity and the car industry but insisted that the main challenge is that everyone be able to enjoy this combination and not just a select few.
Up to 1,750 students from all around the world worked throughout the year on the design and construction of single-seater racing cars that performed on the famous Circuit de Catalunya on Sunday. Formula Student Spain was held in Montmeló to allow students to practice all the knowledge they have acquired at university while simulating a real situation. Students had to work as if they were part of a real company, looking for suppliers and sponsors, planning costs as well as designing and constructing the cars. The Minister of Business and Knowledge of Catalonia, Jordi Baiget, described the event as a much-needed activity to enhance interaction between industry and university.
SEAT President, Jürgen Stackmann, has shown "great optimism" for the future competitiveness of the company's plant in Martorell (Greater Barcelona). In early May, the Volkswagen group, to which SEAT belongs, announced it will invest €4.2 billion in two of its factories, those in Catalonia and Navarra, over the next four years. The investment will be used to upgrade the existing facilities and increase competitiveness, in order to assemble a greater number of models. However, it was not disclosed how this billionaire investment will be split among the two factories. During a conference held on Wednesday in Barcelona, Stackmann did not say how much of this investment would go toward the Catalan plant. The SEAT president said the company is changing its focus toward a more mature, adult market across Europe in order to cement the future success of the carmaker.
Catalan exports totalled €15.66 billion for the period January-March 2015, a 6.6% growth on figures from the 1st quarter of 2014. This represents a new historic high, setting a new record for Catalonia’s export sector, which has been growing strongly over the last few years. As well as this, exports in March increased by 15.4%, reaching the highest amount ever recorded for a single month. Exports from Catalonia during the first quarter of 2015 represent 25.7% of Spain’s total exports. Regarding Catalonia’s imports, they totalled €18.48 billion, a 4.4% increase. Catalonia’s trade deficit reached €2.82 billion, representing a 6.3% drop on figures from the previous quarter.
The German car manufacturer has announced massive investment in two of its factories in Spain: its plant located in Martorell (Greater Barcelona) and its factory in Navarra. In particular, Volkswagen expressed its intention to invest €4.2 billion between 2015 and 2019 in what many newspapers have called "the largest industrial investment ever made in Spain". According to estimates made by the Catalan Business and Employment Minister Felip Puig, it is likely that more than half of the total investment will be concentrated on the plant in Martorell, which builds Seat cars as well as models from other brands of the Volkswagen group such as Audi. In a meeting with the Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, Volkswagen Global Sales Vice President, Javier García Sanz, stated that the two plants that will receive the multibillion investment are among "the best factories of the Group".
The 38th edition of the Barcelona International Motor Show kicked off on Thursday, with a session dedicated to journalists and industry professionals. On the first press day of the event, 11 carmakers unveiled some of their new products. In particular, SEAT – the Barcelona-based car manufacturer which forms part of the Volkswagen group – unveiled the new 2015 models of the Ibiza and Alhambra ranges, two world firsts. The Ibiza's new model retains the exterior design of its predecessor but incorporates state-of-the-art technology to allow smartphone use while driving. The International Motor Show will open its doors to the general public on Saturday 9 May, with 38 international brands – 17 more than two years ago, marking a turning point after the darkest moments of the economic crisis.
The 38th edition of the Barcelona International Motor Show (SIAB) will be held between 9 and 17 May at the Montjuïc venue of the Catalan capital's trade fair. This year, the event will host at least 38 brands and others could be added in the following weeks. This is the biggest number since the economic crisis started. According to Mario Armero, ANFAC Executive Vice President, "the show coincides with a clear recovery of the sector, where 2-digit growth rates have been registered in sales, production and exports volumes". Organised by Fira de Barcelona, SIAB is the only motor show in Spain recognised by the International Organisation of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers. The coming edition will also coincide with the Spanish Formula 1 Grand Prix, transforming the Catalan city into the world's motor capital for a few days.
The first lab in Europe for certifying car industry products to be sold in China has been unveiled in L'Hospitalet del Llobregat, near Barcelona's seaport and El Prat Airport. The Chinese publicly-owned company CCIC Holding Group opened on Monday a lab in Greater Barcelona, which will also certify products from other industries, such as the textile industry, and the construction and chemical industries. As well as products from Europe, it will also certify products from Northern Africa and the Americas. The new plant will also facilitate companies from the Asian giant that wish to contact Western suppliers, becoming a bridge for fostering foreign investment. Therefore, it will turn Barcelona into one of the main gateways for exporting Western products to China. The project has been attracted by the Catalan Government's programme 'Invest in Catalonia', as well as by a trip to China made by the Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias.
The 2015 Formula 1 World Championship is about to begin and the teams finalised their preparations at the Circuit de Catalunya. 20 racers will be in the spotlight in two weeks’ time for the start of the season, but Formula 1 is not just about the drivers themselves. Apart from the household names of Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, there is a little known world that every two weeks travels from one side of the world to the other. On the one hand, there are the people who work around the F1 team itself such as the press officers, who manage communication between the different parts of the team and also with the media. On the other, all the circuits mobilise an army of volunteers who sacrifice their day job to be "marshals" at the circuit to take care of the drivers’ safety.
This year at the Mobile World Congress one of the most discussed trends is the Internet of Things (IoT): everyday objects that are connected to the internet and which are able to control other machines. Although some of these implements do not yet have a direct application on the consumer market, the automobile sector is already selling vehicles with these functionalities. Smart cars can be controlled with a smartphone, for example, by creating a temporary digital key to access the car, and can also enable other devices in the home.
The new flagship phone from Samsung will come in two models, the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge, according to the announcement that the South Korean company made in Barcelona at the beginning of the Mobile World Congress, the largest annual event of the cell-phone-related industries. Microsoft debuted two new mid-range Lumia phones, the 640 and the 640 XL models, which include the new Windows 10. Google announced its intention to enter the carrier market, with a new approach that uses the existent carrier networks and innovative Wi-Fi projects. In addition, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg explained his project to bring the internet to developing countries and connect them through his social network.