Featured Image

International News From the Field: Europe

Numerous investments and initiatives in Europe’s railway industry will sustain production for years to come. Spain’s automotive industry and the U.K.’s nuclear power sector see significant developments. For more industry intel and other tidbits, read on.
May 24, 2024

New data from Eurostat shows that the eurozone economy did better than expected in early 2024. It grew by 0.3% compared to the previous quarter, thanks to Germany's recovery and Spain's strong performance. This growth, along with a 0.5% yearly increase in GDP, beats what experts predicted.

Industrial production for January 2024 varied across sectors and countries. Poland saw a notable increase of 13.3%; Slovenia experienced a significant rise of 10.6%; and Lithuania recorded a substantial growth of 7.2%. These increases were mainly observed in intermediate goods production and energy sectors. However, decreases were observed in capital goods production, durable and non-durable consumer goods, and in countries like Ireland, Malta, and Estonia.

One of the most active sectors is the railway industry, aligned with the EU's commitment to sustainable mobility through initiatives like the Trans-European Network for Transport (TEN-T). This regulation, endorsed by the Community of European Railway & Infrastructure Companies (CER), marks a significant step toward creating a unified European railway area. This is a big initiative and important for the rail industry, but substantial funding – around $543 billion by 2030 and $1.63 trillion by 2050 – is needed to achieve this goal.

Other sectors had mixed results. The German machine tool industry saw notable export growth in 2023, maintaining its position as a global leader. Exports to the Americas, particularly the United States and Mexico, experienced significant increases, driven by factors like lower costs and investments in heavy-duty engines. However, the Swiss technology industry faced challenges in 2023, with declines in new orders, exports, and sales, despite some positive signs of improvement.

A few recently announced projects and investment news items are listed below for your reference.

  • The TEN-T mentioned above is set to allocate $6.3 billion toward the Rail Baltica Project, marking it as the largest infrastructure endeavor in the region over the past century. This ambitious initiative aims to link Tallin, Estonia, to Warsaw, Poland, with stops in the Baltic capitals of Latvia and Lithuania, spanning a total of 870 km of rail infrastructure. The project addresses the pressing need to update the Baltic states' outdated rail network, a relic of their Soviet past, to meet modern European standards. Furthermore, it will establish vital connections between the Baltic states and the wider European network via high-speed trains, particularly crucial given the strategic significance of the Suwałki line in guarding against potential future Russian aggression. Embracing sustainability, all trains will operate on renewable energy sources.

  • EuroMaint, a railway repair and maintenance service provider under the CAF Group, recently opened a 35,000-square-meter modern maintenance center in Nassjo, Sweden, to maintain the new trains that CAF is delivering to Transitio AB in Krosatag. The contract, initially for 20 EMUs (electric units) and 8 BMUs, could expand to 39 EMUs and 15 BMUs (biodiesel-electric bimodal units), nearly doubling its value to over $271 million. The depot is equipped with five tracks in the workshop, including a combi hall with automatic wash and de-icing systems for winter seasons. The workshop is also built to facilitate a smooth spare parts supply flow thanks to an automatic paternoster storage system and 130 square meters of storage. The project features a sustainability program, with a focus on renewable electricity, eco-friendly materials, sustainable surface water management, and the minimization of transport journeys.

  • Serbia is embarking on a major railway modernization initiative, covering over 100 km of lines between Sicevo and Dimitrovgrad, alongside a northern rail bypass around Nis. The goal is to electrify the current diesel-dependent system with sustainable energy sources and upgrade signaling infrastructure, promising regional connectivity, safety, and reduce travel times. Train speeds are expected to increase from 50 kph to 120 kph, with passenger capacity rising to 550,000 annually and freight transport to 6.2 million tonnes per year. Funding, totaling $262.56 million, comes from various sources, including grants from the Western Balkans Investment Framework and loans from the European Investment Bank, due to the project's inclusion in the Pan-European Railway Corridor X.

  • Chery Auto, a Chinese automaker, is set to establish a massive manufacturing facility in Barcelona, Spain, covering 500,000 square meters. Negotiations with EV Motors representatives and the Spanish government are nearing completion for this significant venture, marking Chery's entry into the European market. With plans for 80 dealerships nationwide, Chery aims to source over half of its production materials from Spanish suppliers. The facility, located in the shuttered Nissan plant, will undergo renovations to accommodate production, initially focusing on the Omoda 5 SUV and electric vans under the Ebro brand. Annual production capacity is projected at 300,000 cars, creating 1,000 direct jobs, many filled by former Nissan employees, and signaling Chery's commitment to innovation and sustainable growth in Spain's automotive sector.

  • Augsburg-based automation expert KUKA has secured a major order from Volkswagen in Spain, with a framework agreement signed for the delivery of over 700 robots this year and in the following two years. The agreement solidifies KUKA's partnership with the Wolfsburg-based automotive group and underscores its position as a leading provider of robotics solutions in the automotive industry. The robots will likely be deployed across Volkswagen's manufacturing facilities in Spain, contributing to increased efficiency and productivity in the production process.

  • Holtec International, a U.S. nuclear firm, is actively seeking a suitable location in Britain to establish a new manufacturing facility focused on producing small modular reactors (SMRs), with a committed investment of $650.99 million. This aligns with the U.K.'s ambitious goals to utilize nuclear power for climate objectives. Britain aims to generate 24 gigawatts of electricity by 2050, emphasizing sustainability and energy security. Local authorities are identifying potential sites for this facility, reflecting their collaborative efforts. The establishment of this new factory is expected to create around 400 highly skilled jobs within three to five years and have a positive impact on the local workforce and economy.

For more information, please contact Conchi Aranguren at caranguren@AMTonline.org.

Conchi Aranguren
AMT's Representative for Europe
Recent international News
Well known for small city cars, sports, and supercars, the Italian automotive industry shows strong innovation as it consolidates its position as a key driver of economic recovery in Europe. For more industry intel and other tidbits, read on.
European defense initiatives and industrial expansion are booming and are now driving the economy of the old continent, especially in Poland. Spain sees big investments in automotive and aerospace. For more industry intel and other tidbits, read on.
Europe's manufacturing sector faces declining domestic orders, geopolitical tensions, increased exports, and opportunities in the battery market. A very dynamic scenario is ahead for the old continent. For more industry intel and other tidbits, read on.
European industrial manufacturing grows despite energy costs and material shortages. ContiTech chases carbon neutrality. The first major generative AI factory is coming. BMW's headquarters goes full EV. For more industry intel and other tidbits, read on.
Economic instability, uncertainties, and a new crisis surround European markets. While some shy away from risks, others navigate the storm and take advantage of opportunities. For more industry intel and other tidbits, read on.
Similar News
By Bonnie Gurney | Feb 08, 2024

At IMTS 2024, discover unexpected solutions, including haptic feedback to improve remote robot operation and digital training, quality control software, additive manufacturing powders and gases, services to address labor issues via an app, and more.

5 min
By Catherine “Cat” Ross | Jul 15, 2024

The manufacturing technology community’s source for updates on major promotions, new appointments, facility inaugurations, and other noteworthy developments among AMT members. Stay informed and join us in recognizing the achievements of your colleagues.

3 min
By Christopher Chidzik | Jul 10, 2024

Shipments of cutting tools, measured by the Cutting Tool Market Report compiled in a collaboration between AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology and the U.S. Cutting Tool Institute (USCTI), were $214.4 million in May 2024.

4 min