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International News From the Field: Europe

Despite a pinch of political and economic uncertainty, the Old World maintains its positive outlook. A moderate-to-strong backlog, improved machine tool recovery, and new projects are on Europe's radar. For more industry intel and other tidbits, read on.
May 24, 2023

The CECIMO spring meeting in April 2023 projected a positive economic picture for European machine tool producers despite challenges, geopolitical tensions, and rising interest rates. Strong order backlogs and further recovery in machine tool consumption indicate production growth of about 8% this year.

Moderate optimism is observed in Spain. The turnover is set to grow by 5% in 2023, with positive order backlogs and a strong start to the year.

Italy saw a slowdown in order intake during the first quarter of 2023 after its order portfolio achieved the unprecedented level of 8.6 months of guaranteed production.

But it hasn’t all been good, as the European economies must continue to show resilience against global challenges. Lower energy prices, abating supply constraints, and a strong labor market supported moderate growth in the first quarter of 2023, dispelling fears of a recession. This better-than-expected start to the year lifted the growth outlook for the EU economy to 1% in 2023 (0.8% in the EU’s Winter Interim Forecast) and 1.7% in 2024 (1.6% in the same report). Upward revisions for the EU are of a similar magnitude, with GDP growth now expected at 1.1% and 1.6% in 2023 and 2024 respectively. On the back of persisting core price pressures, inflation has also been revised upward compared to the winter, to 5.8% in 2023 and 2.8% in 2024 in the EU.

The manufacturing PMI was revised slightly higher to 45.8 in April 2023 from an initial 45.5 but continued to point to the worst performance for the manufacturing sector since May 2020. It also marks the 10th consecutive month of contraction, as production volumes fell for the first time since the beginning of the year amid deteriorating demand, consumer hesitancy, and high client inventory levels.

A few recently announced projects and investment news items are listed below for your reference. Please reach out to learn more about any of these listed projects.

  • Infineon Germany announced a $5 billion investment in a new smart power fab to manufacture power semiconductors as well as analog/mixed-signal components, the largest single investment in the company's history. Start of production is planned for 2026.

  • DTU is expanding its cleanroom facilities in Denmark to meet the high demand for microchips from companies and researchers. The expansion will also strengthen the development of quantum computers, which are based on research and development of new chips. The new cleanroom will be built at the DTU Lyngby campus and comprises an approximately 5,600-square-meter, two-floor building with a basement. The DTU-funded building is budgeted at $50 million and expected to be completed in 2026.

  • Renault Group and Verkor have entered into a long-term partnership for the supply of 12 GWh per year of batteries for electric vehicles in France. These high-performance, low-carbon batteries will be produced in the future Verkor gigafactory in Dunquerque, France. The gigafactory is a project of Taiwanese battery manufacturer ProLogium (implemented through Verkor), which plans to invest over $5.2 billion by 2030. Verkor batteries will equip vehicles in the higher segments of Renault Group's brands, including Alpine's upcoming all-electric crossover, GT X-Over, which will be manufactured in Dieppe, France.

  • Iveco Group inaugurated its new plant in Foggia and is returning to producing buses in Italy. According to the industrial plan, at full speed, the new facility will employ 100 highly specialized people working lines equipped with the most advanced Industry 4.0 technologies. The production volume of the plant will be 1,000 vehicles per year: high-tech buses with zero-emission propulsion (battery electric and hydrogen-electric) and low-emission propulsion (methane/biomethane, traditional fuels, and biofuels).

  • Gestamp expects to continue on the recovery path to reach pre-pandemic levels in 2024. The company is working to drive the transition toward EV. They recently announced an investment worth $200 million in strategic projects for EVs in Europe, North America, and Asia.

  • SNR Cevennes, a subsidiary of the Japanese bearing manufacturer NTN, is deploying a major investment plan of $25 million by 2025 to renew its production lines and adapt them to market expectations. The objective is to modernize and renew the equipment at its two factories in Ales (known as the Croupillac plant) and in Saint-Privat-des-Vieux (known as the Mazac plant).

  • Yaskawa Europe has moved into its new corporate headquarters in Hattersheim, near Frankfurt. This has involved an investment of $23 million. With the new building in Hattersheim, the company is continuing its ambitious expansion strategy in Europe, in line with the trend to build up technological know-how and production competence locally in Europe.

  • Yaskawa Iberica has invested $3 million in new facilities in Catalonia and plans to carry out a growth plan in Spain that will allow it to increase its production, create new jobs, and reinforce its training area. The company plans to double its production in the coming years, reaching $30 million in 2027.

  • Hisense inaugurated a new R&D center in Slovenia. The investment in the new R&D center is part of a larger project of investments in new generations of household appliances, which will last until November 2024. Hisense plans to invest around $39 million in the new venture.

  • Haier Europe is expanding its manufacturing footprint in Europe with a new dishwasher factory at the company’s industrial site in Eskisehir, Turkey. With an investment of more than $40 million, the new factory will have a full capacity of 1 million units per year. The plant features improved production capacity with high automation levels: operating robots and advanced production processes, thanks to 100% automatic measuring systems, leakage detection, and full traceability of critical components.

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

Conchi Aranguren
AMT's Representative for Europe
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