In recent days, the public learned about the closure of two significant automotive plants on the map of Poland. MEP Beata Szydło suggests that this could mark the slow end of the automotive industry in Poland. However, 2023 so far brings record results for the Polish automotive sector.
Closure of Plants in Słupsk
On the last day of the previous year, Scania Production Słupsk announced the cessation of bus production, citing a “historic change in the company’s strategy.”
“In December, the last bus was assembled. In January, it should be ready to be delivered to the customer. It will be the 10,413th bus leaving the Słupsk factory,” the plant announced on social media, emphasizing that production and quality results in the past year were the “best in the company’s history.”
The reason behind this decision is reportedly the company’s strategy shift regarding bus production. According to media reports, over 800 people were employed in the company. Scania is said to provide them with adequate benefits and other forms of assistance.
Scania’s Słupsk plants have been operating since the early 90s, focusing on the production of city buses and bus chassis since 2002.
End of Automotive Production in Bielsko-Biała
On January 3, union members received information about FCA Powertrain in Bielsko-Biała being put in liquidation.
The “METALOWCY” (Metalworkers – ed.) Trade Union referred to the words of the director and current liquidator of FCA Powertrain, Andrzej Tokarz, who pointed out that “the reason for the decision to liquidate is the introduction of regulations by the European Commission regarding emissions from internal combustion engines, a decline in orders for internal combustion engines, leading to the resolution of the company by the Extraordinary General Meeting of Shareholders on January 2, 2024.”
The planned termination of employment contracts applies to all 468 employees and is scheduled to take place from February to December 2024.
“METALOWCY Trade Union emphasizes the need to determine an appropriate amount of severance pay, dependent on the length of service. This would help mitigate the negative socio-economic effects resulting from the closure of the plant,” reads the union’s statement.
The last engine is expected to be produced in the facilities in April 2024.
The management plans to offer its employees employment proposals at other Stellantis plants, voluntary departure plans, and the possibility of termination based on the special employment termination law.
FCA Poland plants (formerly Fiat Auto Poland) were established in Bielsko-Biała in 1992, based on the FSM (Small-Car Factory – ed.) operating since 1971, producing, among others, Polish Fiat 126p and Syrena cars.
Was 2023 a Record Year for the Industry?
Despite EU restrictions on phasing out the production of vehicles with internal combustion engines, causing significant concerns and challenges for the industry, the latest quarters show strong growth in the automotive sector in Poland.
According to the analysis by the Polish Automotive Industry Association and KPMG for the first three quarters of 2023, from January to September of the previous year, 34.6% more motor vehicles were produced in Poland than in the same period the previous year. Growth was observed in each category, with the largest in the case of delivery and heavy-duty vehicles (+48.5%), and the smallest in the bus segment (+4.4% YoY).
Positive data is also confirmed by the AutomotiveSuppliers.pl report for the first three quarters of 2023. Sold production in this period reached the level of PLN 174.5 billion, indicating a year-on-year increase of over 17%, higher than the entire year of 2021. The average employment in automotive industry companies is gradually increasing as well.
In the period from January to September 2023, the Polish automotive industry also achieved a new export record – reaching €37.5 billion. The most important customers for the Polish industry are Germany, followed by the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
As AutomotiveSuppliers.pl notes, the value of exports of lithium-ion batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles produced in Poland is also growing, accounting for nearly a quarter of the industry’s total exports. Here, too, the largest importers are Germany, followed by France, Mexico, and the Czech Republic.
However, the report adds a note of caution.
“Since the beginning of 2023, the automotive industry can boast sustained growth. In each quarter, both sold production and export value are increasing, resulting in new records after the first quarter, after the first half, and after three quarters of the year. However, a disturbing signal is the weakening growth dynamics of exports in subsequent months. While in January and February, export growth was above 44%, in August, it was just under 14%, and in September, “only” 4.55%,” reads the AutomotiveSuppliers.pl report.