The Aragon Automotive and Mobility Cluster (CAAR) is celebrating its 15th anniversary, a period in which the number of members has increased sixfold, to more than 120, and has developed more than 500 projects in the areas of Innovation, Business and Training. A field in which, precisely, companies have been investing 350 million annually in R&D.
Was in 2008 when “12 brave men”in the midst of the Lehman Brothers crisis and the financial crisis around the world, when in Aragon they decided that “they had to come together to share best practices and better face the challenges of the future,” explains Benito Tesier, president of CAAR.
“And not only was it a success,” he says, but 15 years later it has managed to be the main representative organization of the automotive and mobility sector in Aragon, in addition to turning the community into the most important automotive hub in southern Europe.
The data reflects this: 26,000 peopleexports of a third of production, around 11 billion of euros of turnover and an annual investment of more than 350 million of euros in R&D&I.
Some figures achieved in these 15 years in which other crises, a pandemic and “a transition towards electric mobilitya transition to decarbonization and a digital transition in which, in less than three years, we have had to do what the automotive industry would do in a decade,” adds Tesier.
And the challenges of this sector, “so competitive, global and worldwide”, continue because “we have two vehicles already electrified in our Figueruelas plant and with a possible new model that we all hope will arrive shortly,” says the president of the cluster who He has expressed confidence that this is the beginning of the success of electrification and mobility and of an industry that achieves the quotas that we had in the combustion engine.
Added to this is the main challenge of convincing the user to help us with the energy and mobility transition that has begun. “We have a vehicle fleet that is 14 years old and the challenge is to renew it. We are making a significant public and private effort in infrastructure, the reality of infrastructure in cities and roads is already changing and little by little we will see how the “Hybrid vehicles are gaining ground over fossil combustion vehicles. The challenge is also in the global market to remain innovative.” Precisely, the innovation It is in the DNA of CAAR that, since 2009, has already submitted projects to the Competitiveness Plan of the Ministry of Industry, obtaining more than 50 million euros in the different public calls that have been promoted by the State and regional Administrations, a support which has resulted in collaborative innovation projects and investments that exceed 400 million euros.
The challenge in turn involves attracting companies that are not yet present in Aragon, for which Tesier considers that “we have virtues” such as the fact of being leaders in the sector, the spirit of dialogue and social peace, as well as the link with the university, the imaginative formulas to attract and retain talent and the ability to adapt to new market demands, such as the Stellantis plant, in record time. “There is no other way“.
Looking to the near future, CAAR has to launch the Strategic Plan 2024-2027, which is being finalized and which, foreseeably, will be focused on the analysis of the entire mobility value chain in the autonomous community to seek new collaboration and business generation projects. A plan that will be promoted after the end of the previous one, period 2020-2023, focused on the purpose of acting as a lighthouse for the automotive industry in Aragon to anticipate the global challenges that revolve around mobility.
CAAR’s achievements were also valued by the president of the Government of Aragon, Jorge Azcón, who highlighted the sector’s contribution to the GDP with 7%, in addition to concentrating more than 30% of industrial employment and 35% of exports.
Azcón showed his support for the automotive sector by alluding to the signing of Antonio Cobo, linked during his professional stage to Opel Spain, by the Government of Aragon because “we are aware of the weight that the automotive sector has, of the great challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. He comes together to help the automotive team in an altruistic way.”
The president of the Government of Aragon also assured that the Executive is working to attract more investments for which the Aragonese community has strengths such as the cluster. “I am convinced that, with the cluster and Antonio Cobo, we are now more competitive,” he concluded.
Tesier spoke these words at the V edition of the ‘Automotive and Mobility Night. Industria de Aragón’, which has had the participation of more than 400 guests including managers and companiesprofessionals from the automobile sector and representatives of public and private organizations linked to this activity.
A night in which CAAR stood out to also recognize the work that companies in the sector do on a daily basis. After evaluating 18 nominationsis the largest edition, the cluster awarded various awards and special mentions.
The CAAR Award for Product Innovation (electromobility) has gone to Converse for its range of products, under the 2Joint brand, specialized in adhesives for sustainable mobility that, among other advantages, allows lightening the weight of the vehicle by avoiding the use of thick and heavy metals in welding, in addition to joining different substrates, resulting in cost savings.
Subsequently, the CAAR Award for Industrial Process Innovation (industry 4.0) was presented to CEFA for its innovation around which the CEFA Chair was launched in 2019 with the University of Zaragoza. The company, with the digitalization of production processes, has managed to generate an advanced alert system and be more efficient in people’s activities, achieving more sustainable production with high cost and energy savings.
For your part Gestamp received the CAAR Award for Corporate Social Responsibility, large company category. The company has sustainability as one of its strategic axes and maintains an ESG strategy aligned with the business strategy and the SDGs.
In this same modality, but in the SME category, it was Mindful the winner, highlighting her commitment to the basic principles of transparency, sustainability and respect for employees and suppliers, to which is added customer orientation.
The awards ceremony continued with Elena Latorre, general director of Mann+Hummelwho received the CAAR Award for Leader of the Year for his more than 20 years in the automotive sector and 15 in the company he leads in Zaragoza in which ventilation systems for electric vehicle batteries are being exclusively produced.
In this edition special mentions have been awarded. One was the mayor of Zaragoza, Natalia Chueca, for its commitment to sustainable mobility to transform the Aragonese capital into a climate-neutral city in 2030. Chueca highlighted the efforts made by the Zaragoza City Council to be a reference in sustainable and connected mobility. “Zaragoza is at the forefront” of a city that has transformed mobility and a third of the fleet to be 100% electric and has the goal of achieving zero emissions, said the mayor, who also advocated working to attract European funds. that facilitate this transition and that companies in reference to the battery factory do not escape.
Another special mention went to the former Minister of Industry, Reyes Marotofor his support of the automotive sector, who thanked him for the award, while Francisco J. Riberasexecutive president of Gestamp and president of the Spanish Association of Automotive Suppliers (Sernauto), received the CAAR XV Anniversary Special Award for his career at the head of this company with a presence in 24 countries with 115 production plants and more than 43,000 workers.
Furthermore, the founding partners of the cluster They also received their recognition in gratitude for their leadership and collective work, in addition to being pioneers in the creation of a successful business organization.