4 February, 2023
Interview with ACAROM’s Secretary General who takes an x-ray of the Romanian car industry programmes to encourage fleet renewal as well as the challenges of rising costs, the war in Ukraine, the need for technological leapfrogging and new types of mobility. He also talks about relations between the automotive and IT sectors in Romania, openness to collaboration with similar organisations in the EU, including Bulgaria, and working conditions in the Romanian automotive sector
Автомобилната индустрия в Румъния започва да се развива бързо след придобиването на Dacia от Renault през 1999 г. (източник: Pixabay, CC0)

Interview with ACAROM’s Secretary General who takes an x-ray of the Romanian car industry programmes to encourage fleet renewal as well as the challenges of rising costs, the war in Ukraine, the need for technological leapfrogging and new types of mobility. He also talks about relations between the automotive and IT sectors in Romania, openness to collaboration with similar organisations in the EU, including Bulgaria, and working conditions in the Romanian automotive sector

Vladimir Mitev

Adrian Sandu is Secretary General of ACAROM. He has 20 years of experience in the automotive industry and for 14 of them he has worked at ACAROM.

The interview with him was realised on 30 September 2022.

Mr. Sandu, can you give an overview of the automotive industry in Romania today? Maybe a summary of the last year – number of employees, percentage of GDP, etc.?

2019 was a peak year for the automotive industry in Romania, both in terms of vehicle production and turnover in automotive components. 2020 was the year when the pandemic started to spread. We believed that by 2021 it will be over. The funny thing is that the fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic was actually spreading in January of 2021 and after that we hit the semiconductor crisis. The Suez Canal got blocked, problems with logistics emerged and energy prices started to rise by the end of 2021. Since then we have had a drop in turnover. There was about a 4 billion euro decrease compared to 2019. In this case 2019 is the reference year as it was an average year meaning no crisis and no pandemic. About two months into production, 4 billion euro had evaporated. 

The total production in 2020 came to somewhere around 421,000 units which was a decrease from 2019’s 490,000 units. That decline continued in 2021. During 2020, the first couple of months were very strong which was followed up by more pandemic restrictions during the spring. 

Romania is not a special case. We are experiencing the same challenges that other member countries of the European Union are facing.On an EU level,  production reached somewhere around 10 million units in one year, compared to 15.8 million in 2019 which is a 50% decrease. You can imagine how significant that drop is.

There is also a drop in registrations. Fewer vehicles have been produced and fewer have been sold.

The negative impact affects the whole supply chain. It’s easy to understand how if the car manufacturer is not working and no longer producing vehicles,the supplier will also not be working to supply components and automatically the chain stops. We can take pride in the fact that last year we came in somewhere around 6th place for car production in the European Union. We have risen from 8th or 9th place. The negative impact on other countries was more significant than on Romania.

Coming back to the car industry in Romania, we have more than 630 companies with more than 230,000 direct employees. Why do we say 630? A car manufacturer has tier one suppliers, the ones who directly supply components, and tier two suppliers who supply the tier one. Traceability can be done up to rank 5 or 6, however tracing that far is pointless given that rank 3 downwards doesn’t include the majority production per automotive sector. Instead it is made up of several sectors which means that we would not consider them suppliers for the automotive industry. That’s why I said only 630 companies. The 230,000 employees directly work for these companies. We must make it clear that  the multiplication factor in the automotive industry in some sectors is 1 to 5 and in others  – 1 to 7.

What does this multiplication factor mean? It means that a job at a company in the car industry, for example at Dacia, is linked to 5 other jobs at other companies. An example could be metallurgy with an aluminium foundry or automotive aluminium manufacture. That manufacturer produces components for a vehicle supplier with materials in rubber, in plastic and so on. All these jobs are closely related, including on the commercial side   the one that deals with the marketing of vehicles. Those jobs are not quantified in the car industry, even if they are in the car sector. 

Plus, if you take into account the fact that an economic sector produces and brings taxes and duties, it brings funds to the state, automatically the state can also pay more employees to manage that sector of the economy itself. And this is where the 12% share of total GDP of the automotive sector comes in. If we were to remove that share from the budget, it means that at least 12% of employees will have to be let go.So if you take out the auto industry, the multiplier impact is 1 to 5 and you might end up with somewhere around 40% total turnover in the economy. 30% of Romania’s national exports are generated by the automobile industry. We have to make it very clear that we have the highest export share of all industrial sectors. The number has increased. We don’t have 14% of GDP anymore. Instead we have 12 % of Romania’s GDP which has increased a lot because of the pandemic due to purchases of medicines and other materials.

What is the structure of the automotive companies in Romania?

The top 3 export companies, not only from the automotive sector, but from all sectors of the economy are automotive companies and all of them are ACAROM members – Dacia, Ford and Daimler. As for the figures for the first months:

In the first eight months of 2022 we manufactured 330 000 units. This could mean that at the end of this year we can break the record set in 2019. Why? On one hand, Dacia maintained constant production volume. It has outreached its full potential and is producing at full capacity. On the other hand, the Ford manufacturer in Craiova increased its production volume compared to last year with around 40,000 units more. This year they would reach 180,000-200,000 units. Combining the production volume from both Dacia and Ford manufacturers we could easily pass 500,000 units. However, there is a condition for this to happen and i will explain this condition later on. 

There is a positive trend on the car market as well. We cannot reach the 2019 level, but with around 160,000 units more we can get to the level reached in 2020. There is also a problem with the high quantity of imported second-hand vehicles sold on the domestic market. The two main brands are, of course, Dacia and Ford. Dacia has three plants, as the so-called “third plant” is a big logistics hub which delivers parts to other Renault plants around the world. Ford has two factories, one for engines and one for assembling vehicles. The factory assembles at a volume of about 250,000 and that’s its annual capacity. However, the estimated goal for this year is somewhere around 200,000 units, because the industry has been impacted by lack of electronic components. There are a lot of suppliers in Romania and, as I showed earlier, there are a lot of international suppliers as well. 12 of the top 15 tier 1 suppliers worldwide are present in Romania with one, two or even three facilities.

For example, Continental is currently the largest one, with the most employees in Romania. It has surpassed Dacia and reaches somewhere around 21,000 employees. They have 10 facilities, seven production ones, and three focused on research. Suppliers have big significance in Romania, adding a great value to the industry. About 70 percent of the total turnover comes from suppliers, not from car manufacturers. So 30 percent, 28-30 percent comes from car manufacturers, the rest from component suppliers.

I have said it and I will say it again.

There is no car in Europe that does not have at least one component made in Romania. We produce for all brands.

We also export car components to Japan and the United States. The automotive industry is not just about production. As I said earlier, Continental has research hubs. There are many companies which have done research in Romania, starting from Renault, with its technical center in Titu, Continental, Zima, Delphi, Porsche, Bosch, Hella, Schaeffler. There are many companies with research centers based in Romania. Recently they have started to set up research centers on software and new autonomous vehicles. Doing testing and deep level research.

We are not testing Teslas, because there is legislation that needs to be adapted to test such vehicles and you need a proper infrastructure. We don’t have that in Romania yet. As I said earlier, the “main players” in Romania are Dacia and Ford.

Dacia and Ford are the biggest companies in terms of size, but the most important “player” overall in the Romanian automotive industry is the total range of suppliers or the so-called supplier network. They altogether produce 72% of the turnover and here I’m just thinking of the most important companies. We cannot put 600 company names through the grid on one slide even if we listed them at the entrance. 

What was this condition you were referring to earlier?

On a national, European and even global level, we are facing a storm. A perfect storm. Actually, It’s not just one. It has five arms like an octopus! The first is the lack of electronic components which is a problem worldwide. If you want, we can go into details and I can give you 30 minutes just to talk about the components. Everything about them! Where, why and how!

The second problem has to do with the prices of raw material, which are continuously increasing. The third problem concerns the price of utilities electricity, natural gas, even water. All of them have become more expensive and we see that it is still a problem at an European level. The fourth aspect is the change in mobility. We see that in Europe there is already a trend towards other types of mobility, electric and semi-electric vehicles. We are not only talking about the mode of propulsion of vehicles. More electric scooters and other ways of traveling have appeared. Other ways of travel are likely to emerge and have an impact on the sector. Lastly, we must take into account the impact of European regulations. The “Fit for Fifty-Five” package and its pollution rules say that by 2035 all vehicles must reach a level of near-zero emissions. This is where only vehicles that are full electric or use zero-carbon fuels can fit in. We are using synthetic fuels that exist today, but they are very expensive and cannot be adapted. Last but not least, the sixth aspect, which has had an impact and still has an impact on all the other conditions. There are international political conflicts, such as the war between Russia and Ukraine, which has increased the price of materials, energy and utilities. The impact is less on the lack of electronic components, because since they are no longer delivered to Russia, the electronic components find other niche markets, including us, the automotive industry in general. So, If there is a positive side of this crisis it is this. 

What is the role of ACAROM for supporting the automotive industry in Romania?

Every year we have a General Assembly where we set the priorities. Number one priority at the moment is to react and support the automotive companies on the energy aspect, the rising energy and raw material prices. There is legislation in Romania. We want it to be adapted so that all companies are supported on the same level energy wise. Yes, this is our number one priority at the moment. In the long term is the local integration of components and suppliers in Romania. The closer you have a supplier to you, the less risk you have of them disrupting your business by not delivering components and so on.

Having a supplier in China, for example, for aluminum wheels, is a big risk. You would waste time just for the delivery ship to come from China. If it went through the Suez Canal, you would have to go throughout the entire continent of Africa and this will cost 30 days extra just to transport. In 30 days you would have no solution whatsoever. Even if you had some stock, you can’t start producing immediately. It’s the same with other types of components, electronic components etc. Otherwise we are working together with Dacia and Ford, we are trying to find as many component suppliers as possible for the parts needed and import from other parts of Europe, so that eventually they can reach some sort of benefit. Benefit for the manufacturing companies means also a benefit for the Romanian state. Because, by bringing the turnover here, we automatically increase the turnover of the entire Romanian industry.

As for education and universities: we want to re-establish the trade schools, the former trade schools that were abolished for a while, under a joint management system between the Ministry of Education and companies, so that they train technicians for the future. 

Addressing transport and communication infrastructure is necessary for any state in the European Union. Any state that wants to be competitive – we need motorways, we need railways at an acceptable speed, through which to export and to import goods when needed. We want regulation of the automobile market. The problem with importing second-hand cars and the transition to new modes of transport. We need to see how we can make this transition at both national and European level, starting from European to national level, so there are no discrepancies. The transition to electric vehicles means that certain suppliers who currently manufacture catalytic converters, exhaust systems, fuel systems, will not have much work left on those networks. Their production niche will shrink a lot. Instead, there will be different suppliers, for example battery suppliers, suppliers of electronic battery management systems and others that are related to this electric vehicle system which will increase their turnover and will have to increase their capacities as well. This transition has to be done carefully and step by step, so that there are neither social problems nor financial problems. I would say, with support from the European Union.

We have ACAROM, as an association, it is a public utility association. It is recognised by the Romanian Government through a Government decision. What does public utility association mean? We are a recognised partner of the national authorities in the dialogue concerning the automotive sector and its representativeness in Romania. Although we are the only industrial association of public utility in Romania in terms of membership and representativeness, we currently have 170 companies in the association. 170 companies from the whole spectrum of production, so starting from vehicle design, testing, production, research and marketing. We even have 4 technical universities. We call them associate members and they are not companies. We have given you such a big map of what is happening in the automotive sector and what we are facing today.

Since you are doing a very broad analysis, I want to keep it at that level somehow and ask you a little bit more. You said it was a perfect storm. There are big challenges related to electronic components and maybe exporting or importing from countries that are at war and so on. There are technological challenges. I assume you influence state policy or are in dialogue with the state regarding some policies. I know that there has always been this practice of state aid for the modernisation of some production units. Maybe now the x-ray should be in this direction. How does the state support or respond to these challenges in dialogue or cooperation with ACAROM and the business?

In Romania we must say very clearly that there is a department that deals with state aid in general and it is granted to companies, not only in the automotive sector. All companies that invest in our country will benefit. A general European Union policy is followed as a framework. Therefore, the same state aid policy of the whole European Union. At this level you cannot give more money than a certain threshold. Depending on the importance of the investment projects that come to Romania that can be included in this state aid threshold, it is discussed at Government level, at Prime Minister level, at Finance Minister level and so on. They discuss a package that can be offered to that company depending on the needs, on what the company wants to do, yes or no, depending on the importance of the investment for Romania. This is negotiable in each country. However, we should be careful, the limits imposed by the European Commission must not be exceeded and the same notification is made to the European Commission. The European Commission will then give its consent for the investment package. We have supported many companies to come to Romania and have these investments. We cannot be directly involved in the negotiation process, because this state aid negotiation process is a tripartite one. The company and the Government decide on a certain margin, a certain package, and then the package is discussed between the European Commission and the Government. So that’s pretty much the procedure.

We support investors to come to Romania, we show them the possible locations where they can build their businesses, we show them all the data we have presented to you. We give them other opportunities such as contacting them with the purchasing departments of Dacia, Ford, the big assembly production companies, so that they can find certain possible contractual links that will bring them turnover or show them why it is worth investing here.

There is also this Rabla programme through which, from what I understand, Romania is trying to renew the car fleet. And if you can describe a little bit about the current programme, because I think some dates are changing, some elements of this cultural programme.

It is a program that has been discussed and approved by the Romanian Government since 2007-2008. It is the longest program to support the environment in Romania, the quality of the environment. What has been done with this program and what it is trying to do is to take old, polluting, often unsafe vehicles off the roads of the country and replace them with new vehicles. It also supports the purchase of new vehicles by individuals and companies. By returning an old vehicle, you automatically get a bonus for buying a new one. You get an amount as low as €1,500, and if you buy an EU electric vehicle, the bonus can be as much as €11,200, but no more than 50% of the value of the new vehicle. In other words, if the vehicle costs €18,000 you won’t pay €7,000, you’ll pay €9,000 half the value of the loan.

This scheme works. Now it has become a three-year multiannual programme, with small changes every year, adaptable to the market and to the conditions. For example, in one year, the maximum emissions threshold from which you get the bonus can be 120 grams of CO2 per km. The following year it changes, drops a little to 115 and so on, so that the sale of new vehicles is promoted. Even though it promotes and helps the market for new vehicles, it is not enough in a normal market system. I will give you an example. 

The import of second-hand vehicles into Romania from abroad is almost totally untaxed, untaxed meaning that no taxes and duties are paid for the import of these vehicles, which is a disadvantage for those who sell new vehicles, as they are officially sold with an invoice with a receipt, with a bank transfer that is visible and everything you could think about. Totally taxed! So VAT is paid, corporation tax is paid, all those taxes are paid. When importing second-hand vehicles, there is no traceability on the invoice, there is no traceability of the value of the car in question, there is no indication of where the payer’s money comes from and where the payer’s money goes. A lower value can be declared on the payment than the actual value that is paid per vehicle. We call it unfair competition. That is why we are militating and want to militate and not because we are fighting with guns. No, we are militating in the sense of making, talking to its authorities, explaining this to them, so that they understand that a single measure is only sufficient in the face of a package of measures. So, on the one hand, this import of second-hand vehicles must be taxed and regulated. 

In the last five years, around two million used vehicles have been imported into Romania. 77% of them were more than 15 years old, we literally import pollution. The Rabla programme provides for the scrapping of vehicles which are more than eight years old. We can say that the vast majority of the euro is spent when we import the wrecks. That’s what we call the Rabla. We have imported scrap. The effect of the Rabla programme, although it was beneficial, was not, let’s say, quantifiable in terms of environmental impact, because by importing pollution, we disable all the impact the programme can have on the environment. The effect is definitely not significant, with those old polluting vehicles coming from the West which are sometimes even older than the scrapped ones. They are still coming, so we want to discuss this with the authorities, to regulate this import of used vehicles, because it will automatically lead to balancing of the market and automatically the customer will be able to consider buying a new vehicle more quickly. Taking advantage of the bonuses in the Rabla and Rabla Plus programmes compared to buying a second-hand vehicle.

You told me there are a number of challenges, including the war in Ukraine. I know that Renault used to have production in Russia and on the other hand there are probably some suppliers from Romania delivering there or beyond here. What does this war in Ukraine change for the car industry in Romania?

Not only for the car industry in Romania, but for the whole European industry. The factories of the big European manufacturers in Russia have closed one by one. The export of components to Russia has come under an EU embargo imposed by the European Commission, as the export of technology to Russia is no longer possible due to this embargo. On the other hand, as I was saying earlier, materials and raw materials were being imported into Europe from Russia and Ukraine. We’re talking about steel, we’re talking about plastic, we’re talking about rubber, which were somewhat cheaper. 

Manufacturers had to find other sources of supply. They brought in materials from Brazil, from South Africa, other such materials or steel from India to compensate for this lack of materials and raw materials. At the same time, the components that were manufactured in Ukraine because of the war stopped coming to Europe and so suppliers transferred some of their production to Europe. Countries in Europe such as Romania, Poland and Hungary, where they already had factories, have only increased their production capacities or, in turn, have looked for other sources elsewhere, such as Turkey. Or some North African countries such as Morocco, Tunisia, where to source the necessary components. So Russia has been kind of isolated, let’s say, in terms of exporting technology to Russia and importing materials from Russia to Europe and they have been looking for alternative solutions. Of course, it had an impact and still has an impact on costs, because you automatically find it, but you find it more expensive. Yes, the supply is much smaller and automatically the price increases and the logistics costs have increased enormously.

There is also the energy challenge. The price of energy has increased across the European Union. If you can explain more about the response on the Romanian side of this problem?

We are trying not to say that we are copying, but that we are taking measures to support all companies and, in the first instance, all companies to somehow calm the increase in the price of electricity. A government ordinance was issued sometime in March, which provided for a cap on energy prices for both domestic and industrial consumers. This was amended in September with another ordinance. In fact, earlier this month (September 2022 – note of the editor) a new emergency ordinance capped the price for one category only to increase it in the other category. At the moment there is a pressure on the market because of the increase in the price of energy and the fact that some consumers, such as companies in industry, are considered large consumers, have to pay somehow the full price of energy delivered to the market and energy traded on the free market. We say that there is no market with a regulated price in Romania, but there is a free market with supply and demand. This, at certain times, can bring disadvantages. In this period of crisis, let us say, energy crisis, both at national and European level, automatically leads to an increase in prices, often artificial, because the energy produced exists, but there are certain actors who take advantage of this price increase and they raise and raise, so that we end up with incredible prices on the energy market.

You mentioned that several companies have development or science centres in Romania. What kind of technology transfer or indigenous technologies are emerging in recent years in this development process?

First of all in terms of vehicles, Renault, through its technical centre in Titu, has transferred certain skills and has made it so that some cars that have been launched in Romania, such as the Duster or the new ones in the range, have been partially or even to a large extent, to a large extent tested, designed and tested in Romania, so automatically some skills have been transferred. I was telling you earlier about other companies, such as world-class suppliers that have testing and research capabilities in Romania – Bosch or Continental. They are already testing the new technologies of the future autonomous vehicles, connected vehicles, incorporating a lot of electronic systems. They have a lot of sensors that, once installed on the vehicle, have to be tested in real road conditions. They are a road on a road with a pedestrian or on a special test track, so such tests exist in Romania. They are also done in Romania at the moment, by these companies and others. Vehicles are tested in Romania. We can say that vehicles are tested for several makes, we cannot say for which makes, but certainly vehicles are tested for several makes of car. There are specialised vehicle testing suppliers established in Romania who do these vehicle tests in our country.

How much do the IT sector and the automotive sector cooperate, given that both have strong foreign capital?

Does it depend a lot on the parent countries, on the decisions of the group to which these companies belong? Yes. A 100% Romanian company can choose an IT service provider from those available on the market. But, for example, an automotive group works not only in Romania with the same supplier, but also globally with the same atomiser. If it decides, I’ll give an example, if Renault decides to work with a certain supplier in France, it will automatically work with that supplier in Romania, in Morocco and in other areas, because the platform for the vehicles will be a common one, the software platform. But this platform will also be a common one and it is much easier from a cost point of view to reduce costs. Why have 10 antivirus programs installed on a computer? For example, I have a computer in France at a price per computer in France. Why should I have a different antivirus than the one I have in Romania? Or why use another office than the one I have in Romania? That’s why common platforms also bring cost savings. So in an alliance like Chrysler, Stellantis, as it’s called now, it’s much easier to have one supplier for the same services than to have ten suppliers for the same service.

So I understand that this collaboration is not very developed.

It is highly developed, so that, as I said earlier, Porsche has a dedicated software engineering centre in Romania. So does Volkswagen. There are companies in Romania working on vehicle software. Yes, but we have to say there is no direct link between Dacia as a brand and a factory in Romania and a software company. Everything is done at group level.

And to what extent is this car industry in Romania foreign-owned and to what extent is it domestic-owned? What is the balance between both types of capital?

There are 100% Romanian companies. There are Romanian and foreign joint venture or participation companies. There are companies with 100% foreign capital. We consider all companies Romanian because they have a subsidiary in Romania. From this point of view, according to the law, they are all the same. They are all on the same line. OK, if we are talking about capital, there is automatically a much higher proportion of foreign capital, because we do not have any groups in the automotive sector in Romania to date that are at the level of a global supplier that I mentioned earlier. Yes, we don’t. We do have companies with a turnover of 50-100 million euros in Romania, with 100% Romanian capital, but they are not the size of a global supplier. So at the moment in Romania there are many suppliers with Romanian capital, but the majority of the capital is foreign.

It is an equivalent of ACAROM in Bulgaria, an automotive cluster. How much opportunity or potential for collaboration between both automotive industries in both countries is there?

On our side there is total openness. We have had some contacts with the Bulgarian automotive cluster since 7-8 years ago. We have mainly had joint participation in events, so we met at some events and exchanged impressions and so on. We are looking forward to further developing this cooperation. From our side there is total openness. We have cooperated with all the associations in the eurozone, through the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA).

There is also an association in Bulgaria which is an associate member of ACEA, where there is an automotive industry, through suppliers or automotive companies. We have direct collaboration with those associations, where there are no car manufacturers, not that it is a bit more difficult, but they have not developed to the extent of other collaborations.

Given the challenge of technological evolution, what plans or ambitions does ACAROM have for the future in this regard? What kind of work is needed to make this technological leap to new kinds of transport?

We support companies in the automotive industry. Our main goal as an association is to support the development of the automotive sector in Romania. The development of the automotive sector means suppliers, it means vehicle manufacturers, it means the automotive market. All this beach, we as an association, this is our main purpose, to support it. Obviously, the trends that are present and that will be started in Western Europe will automatically move to Eastern Europe and will be implemented here. The directions decided in Brussels will automatically be implemented in Romania and other European countries. All we can do is to offer our full support as an association, to support them in the projects they have, both projects on autonomous vehicles and projects on the transition to hybrid vehicles or electric vehicles, so as to ensure that this transfer, the transition to a new mobility, will not have negative effects on the automotive sector in Romania, but we still want to develop. We want to attract battery suppliers, manufacturers of electric batteries for electric vehicles in Romania, suppliers of electric vehicle motor assemblies and so on, so that the automotive sector retains the importance that it has and, why not possibly grow.

How dangerous would a downturn in the Eurozone be, especially in the automotive sector, which uses Romanian suppliers? How dangerous would it be for Romanian industries?

The vast majority of turnover in the automotive sector is generated by suppliers. Manufacturers have 30%, suppliers – 70%. These suppliers adapt. As long as the change is not overnight. I mean it’s not immediate. If it’s planned for 10 to 15 years. It’s 2022. Until 2035 is a pretty long time. That’s 12 years. If in those twelve years there are no other changes and so on, each company will have the time to adapt. At the same time, we must make it very clear that we do not believe that thermal vehicles will disappear one hundred percent. Yes, their margin will probably decrease. But in other parts of the world, outside Europe, it will still be possible to sell and market these vehicles. So automatically someone will have to produce these vehicles as well. Somebody will have to produce components and spare parts for these vehicles, so all these suppliers will still have a large part of their production or turnover going to these vehicles.

So do you expect a redirection of some exports to the Middle East, for example, or Asia?

Not necessarily. At the moment, Romanian products are exported to more than 40 countries. So there will not necessarily be a reorientation. Volumes will probably pick up strongly or fluctuate depending on certain conditions, If we were presented with the change in mobility earlier. If we make the mobility shift and move to electric transition, we have to ask the question: will the end consumer, the vehicle user accept that mobility transition or not accept it? Will they want to buy an electric vehicle over a gasoline or hybrid or diesel vehicle? I at least feel very comfortable with the vehicle I drive now, which is a gasoline vehicle. Why switch to a hybrid or electric? That vehicle might be more expensive, and I might not have access to an outlet where the electric vehicle charges and so on. There are several considerations.

Let’s conclude with employees in the sector, because I understand that 230,000 Romanian workers are employed. What are the working conditions, their benefits or how satisfied are they with the working conditions in this sector?

If they weren’t satisfied, we wouldn’t have 230,000. We would probably have somewhere between 170,000 and 180,000. There is still demand for workers in the car industry. Companies still have places available to employ people in this sector. It’s a bit more difficult to find people at the moment because 4 million people have emigrated from Romania. A lot of them were educated in technical skills. This is why we are investing and looking to support the development of dual education and the adaptation of university education to the requirements of the automotive sector, and not only the automotive and railways sector. We are also looking for people in construction. We have to say one thing very clearly: incomes in the automotive sector are currently above the average for other sectors of the economy, and working conditions have improved enormously compared to those before Renault took over Dacia, so working conditions and bonuses, training programmes and promotion programmes, everything has taken on a different dimension since the advent of Renault, the advent of Ford, of investments, of many foreign investments.

Photo: The secretary general of the Romanian Association of Automotive Producers (ACAROM) Adrian Sandu (source: Vladimir Mitev)

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