Geopolitical and technological challenges for the automotive global value chains

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Paris (2020)


The process of digital transformations has been shaken by the uncertainties due to Covid-19 pandemic, which has induced interruptions and potential disruption in the automotive global value chains. A demand for huge changes in the organization and geographical distribution of production is expected to occur.
In such a context, which role can policies play so as to avoid the creation of economic and social catastrophic situations? Policies at national levels and trade policies could incentivize new aggregations of the various parts of the productive system around an alternative mobility project (thus orienting firms’ investment policies), support the research in the new technological breakthrough (electric batteries, digital know-how for autonomous driving), assist SMEs in the knowledge and technology transfer and help them to adjust or move to new promising specialisations.
The paper aims to provide theoretical and empirical support to the policy efforts, with a focus on the North American and EU automotive industries. A macro analysis takes account of the potential challenges deriving from new key competitors in Asia and Eastern Europe and the development in trade policies. Such an analysis builds on an analysis of trade flows to highlight the dynamics of countries and components over time and to single out the relative position of the main countries in the changing networks of trade relations. The macro analysis will bring new insights on the implications for the firms belonging to the value chains, and for the countries in which they are located, with some hints on implications of interruptions and potential disruption due to covid-19 pandemic. The macro analysis will be complemented by the preliminary results of interviews aimed at investigating Mexican and European firms’ perceptions and responses to the twin challenges represented by technological and geo-political changes. The micro analysis addresses the question of how the firms in the GVCs face the challenges of digitalisation. The preliminary results shed light on the opportunities as well as the conditions to be fulfilled for the car makers to keep important segments of their value chains in Mexico as well as in Europe.


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