Is there a CASE paradigm in the Portuguese regulatory context? What can challenge the automotive industry?

Publication Type:

Conference Paper


Gerpisa colloquium, Bordeaux (2024)


This paper analyzes if there is a CASE (connected, autonomous, shared, electric) paradigm in the Portuguese regulatory context. There are several open questions. For example, what can challenge the automotive industry in a country with relevance for vehicle production in Europe, but without the capacity to intervene in the design of the automotive systems? This would not be only an issue of placement in the value chain, or just an issue related with the national innovation system. Are just the larger automotive players (Germany, France, Italy, Spain) able to define the driven elements of the CASE paradigm? The answer to it might have significance because it can show how smaller players have space to maneuver, as well for other economies that intervene similarly in this market.
These type of paradigm transformations are driven and framed by regulations and state policies, and these are designed amongst the relation of different (sometimes, contradictory) ‘dances’ between innovation agents and stakeholders (Kuhlmann et al. 2010). However, it is possible to accept some conditions as the ones proposed for this conference. We intend to analyze the paradigm considering the point of view of OEMs and prime suppliers that could be interested to shift their products and, eventually, have a different place in the value chain. For that we have collected information from management structures of those companies, as well as from workers representatives.
Without CO2 regulations OEMs do not increase the sales of electric vehicles (EVs). However, as Germany is not the strongest global competitor in this technological field, stakeholders have framed (with the government support) and even boycotted the EU legislation on CO2. Having this as a reference, what was the position of the Portuguese government in Brussels on this issue? Was there a different position at the ECOFIN meeting or at the minister’s council of Environment? Which countries were in favor or against?
On such CO2 regulations, governments of urban municipalities can also have a role. Lisbon introduced some limitations for traffic in the city center based on CO2 emissions. How far has this measure been efficient? Are there numbers or statistics assessing these measures? And which other municipalities also adopted similar measures?
There is also a presumption that without subsidies for consumers there is no market for EVs. This was also the case for Portugal and the sales of EVs rose substantially in the last years, even though it is not easy to know if they were bought, leased, or rented by individuals or by companies.
The Portuguese government narratives indicate the will to follow the ambitious industrial policies towards CASE paradigm. And one fact is related to negotiations to establish in the territory a battery industry for EVs. A Chinese battery company is involved in the project for Sines, but the production has not started yet. What does this mean in terms of a design of an EU strategy? Does it exist, or is it only allowing a “free market” condition with limited regulations?
The EV market expansion cannot become a reality without specific legislations and authorizations for testing or implementation of autonomous vehicles. Testing autonomous vehicles is mostly a need for OEMs and technology suppliers, but the implementation can be subject to national, regional, and local policy makers. Portugal did create regulatory sandboxes to test innovative solutions of carbon-neutral mobility within the cities (ZLT Matosinhos). But what has happened so far?
For example, the interest in the technology of autonomous vehicles will not only be just for private owners, but also because it will become an important market for public transport systems. Recently, the Portuguese company CaetanoBus established a joint venture with Toyota for the manufacturing of a small autonomous bus to be used during the Paris Olympic Games. A previous experience of Toyota for such a vehicle was applied during the Tokyo Olympic Games. Those minibuses were used to transport athletes and staff to the Olympic campuses. These experiences can be transferred into larger environments of public transport. The lessons learned can, in fact, motivate municipalities to support the development of autonomous driving of public transport with minibuses in busy city centers and in historical neighborhoods to drastically decrease the private traffic in those areas.
Besides this type of technology (autonomous systems), the EV market can become larger if a government engages in policy measures to shift the public administration vehicle park towards EVs. One can widen the scope of policy intervention in public EVs into sport events, large exhibitions, environment management, policing fleets, etc. Basically, central, or local governments can have a major role in the adoption of a CASE paradigm. However, the Portuguese government gave no directive on that. Thus, public transport systems and local administration vehicles are still conventional, and this does not contribute to a shift towards the adoption of a different paradigm that can greatly benefit a company in Portugal.
This new paradigm can bring the production, collection and use of data that connect vehicles as a by-product. Some new business models can be viable for data management, but others can also be just focused on mobility as a service (MaaS). In Portugal, digital platforms for passenger transport and food delivery are very popular, but carsharing has less success although some businesses are in place. We can also say that without “dedicated transport policies and regulations that promote shared mobility it is also difficult to imagine any significant change in country/city mobility patterns” (introduction to the GERPISA Colloquium). And with such policies and regulations, it would be possible to create new patterns that could promote a new paradigm with implications for a decarbonized smart mobility and a transformation of the automotive industry.
This new paradigm will also bring a change in the labor market. It’s not clear if electrification will bring less jobs in the automotive sector, but will bring, for sure, deep changes in the qualification needs. A “just transition” should include the dimensions of new qualifications (mechatronics, electricity) and new occupations (automotive electrician).
We can conclude that the CASE paradigm should imply a just transition and a transformation of urban development and the concept of a sustainable mobility system, considering primarily social needs. But the implications of such change cannot be just decided by a few main and established stakeholders and not involve the capacity for decision making by other social actors, as for example, the automotive industry workers representatives or neighborhood associations.

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