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Spanish firm revved up on Chinese auto sector amid green revolution

Gestamp, a Spanish automotive component manufacturing and design company, will further expand its footprint in the Chinese market by better addressing the industry transition toward electrification and the demand for more cost-efficient vehicles, said the company's top management.

They made the comments during the ongoing 20th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition — better known as Auto Shanghai. The exhibition kicked off on Tuesday and will run until April 27.

As part of the company's efforts to meet changing market demand in China, Gestamp launched two technologies at Auto Shanghai for the Chinese market — a second-generation power door and an "active frunk" (frontal trunk) solution specially designed for electric vehicles.

The second-generation power door offers a comprehensive system including intelligent sensors and a specially designed control unit. Vehicles equipped with the technology can detect static and dynamic obstacles in the vicinity of the door. The door can thus be stopped in due time before bumping into objects.

The active frunk combines an actuator for fully automatic opening and closing of the front lid with a hinge for active pedestrian protection. The solution is specially designed for EVs and can also better use the front trunk area as space is freed up without an internal combustion engine present.

Antonio Lopez, CEO of Gestamp's Asia division, said part of the company's product and technology development is now addressing the increased weight of electric vehicles due to battery boxes and the successive changes in vehicle structure and dynamics.

Meanwhile, safety, lightweight construction and reduction in carbon dioxide emissions are also increasingly prioritized in the automotive industry.

"Gestamp has thus made more R&D efforts in the above areas. Some of the company's solutions can reduce up to 20 percent of the car's weight," he said.

This is the third time in a row for Gestamp to attend Auto Shanghai since 2019. The event was paused for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Founded in 1997, Gestamp first tapped the Chinese market in 2007. With the first production facility built in Kunshan, Jiangsu province, the company has now set up 11 production bases and two R&D centers in the country, employing more than 5,000 people.

Over time, Gestamp has witnessed China's traditional automakers shift their focus to electrification, leading to a rapid expansion of new energy vehicle makers, said Ervin Jahic, CEO of Gestamp's automotive hinge business unit Edscha in Asia.

But Jahic pointed out that there are more than 100 NEV brands in China, which is already quite unusual. In addition, the top 10 NEV makers take up more than 80 percent of the market share. Therefore, consolidation is expected in the Chinese NEV industry in the near future, he said.

Despite the impact of COVID-19, less convenient transportation and soaring inflation in some parts of the world, Gestamp still managed to post 1.3 billion euros ($1.4 billion) in sales revenue in China last year, up 44.8 percent year-on-year, the company said. China is the third largest income contributor for Gestamp, behind only the United States and Spain.

The fact that Gestamp's products help to advance electrification was one major reason for the company's robust growth in China last year despite the lower market demand, said Lopez.

The faster growth rate in China and the company's good positioning at present have laid the groundwork for more investment in the country, he added.

Gestamp's total revenue surged 32.5 percent year-on-year to reach a record 10.73 billion euros in 2022. Its net profit last year stood above the 2019 level to reach 260 million euros.

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