Francisco Javier García Sanz: “We must be committed to innovation, the digital culture and retaining talent”
- The member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Group with responsibility for Procurement and Chairman of the SEAT Board of Directors underscored the challenges of future mobility and Spanish industry in order to stay competitive
Francisco Javier García Sanz, member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Group with responsibility for Procurement and Chairman of the SEAT Board of Directors, this morning was the guest speaker at the Forum Europa information platform, organised by Nueva Economía Forum in Madrid. At an event presented by the Spanish Minister of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness Luis de Guindos and the President of New Economy Forum José Luis Rodríguez, García Sanz gave a detailed review of the automotive sector’s current situation and revealed which are the challenges that Spanish industry must overcome in order to remain a competitive market.
SEAT’s Chairman of the Board of Directors began his presentation by extending the Volkswagen Group’s hand to the Spanish Government “in order to improve our country’s industry” and underscored the important role the automotive sector has had in recent years for the global economy: “Without a doubt, what we have experienced is an unprecedented acceleration, more so when we consider that the economy has suffered one of the most severe crises in the past decades. And nonetheless, the automotive sector has not stopped growing”.
The majority of his talk focussed on how the sector has evolved. In this context, García Sanz indicated that “our cities are congested and we must find solutions. By 2050, more than 75% of the world’s population will live in big cities. This is not sustainable and makes it inevitable to change the way we understand the automotive business”.
The member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Group expressed his optimism at tackling “the promising future caused by the fourth industrial revolution we find ourselves in”, by being committed to refraining from just making and selling cars. “Customers are asking for mobility solutions that enable them to avoid traffic jams and not spend any unnecessary time looking for a place to park. These solutions must be sustainable, collaborative and connected. We have to democratise sustainable mobility”.
Likewise, he highlighted two technologies that will be essential for achieving this new mobility. On one hand, he underscored the role of the electric vehicle, which “is now here to stay”, and which could represent 40% of the market in 2050. “The transition towards the electric car must be profitable, appealing to customers and we must all be committed, both public institutions and enterprises. At the Volkswagen Group I can assure you that we are”, he emphasised. On the other hand, he pointed out that “we cannot lose sight of the fact that the road that leads us there has to be as sustainable and clean as possible. For this reason, today we are in a stage of energy transition, where other powertrain systems such as compressed natural gas play a key role”.
García Sanz addressed the second major key for change: Industry 4.0 and the digitisation of the sector. In this sense, he expressed his deep conviction of the “need to board the train of new technologies in order to be at the forefront”. “The public is increasingly more digital and our business models must adapt to customer requirements and evolve”, he noted. “This does not imply having fully automated factories, but that we must redirect resources and help retrain our workers”, the Spanish executive added.
The challenges of Spanish industry
In ending his speech, García Sanz listed the challenges that Spanish industry must face in order to maintain its competitiveness. In this sense, he highlighted that “in Spain we have cutting-edge factories at a European and worldwide level, strong unions and good infrastructure, but none of these strengths matter if we are not prepared for what is next to come”.
In order to remain at the forefront of the sector, SEAT’s Chairman of the Board of Directors considers it is essential to stay committed to R&D and fostering change in the education model at all levels: “if we are immersed in Industry 4.0, we must offer Training 4.0. Our young people must engage in continuous learning and we must adapt professional training to the needs of companies”, he emphasised.
Finally, and to conclude his participation in this forum, García Sanz expressed what he feels is the key to success for consolidating the economy and for Spain to stay competitive: “a firm commitment to innovation, the digital culture and retaining talent”.
Francisco Javier García Sanz (Madrid, 1957) is member of the Board of Management of the Volkswagen Group with responsibility for Procurement. This requires managing a budget that in 2016 amounted to 166.5 billion euros, elevating him to the Spanish national with the highest level position in the international automotive industry.
In addition, García Sanz is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of SEAT, Volkswagen Navarra and Volkswagen Group España Distribución. From 2008 to 2012 he was the Chairman of the Spanish Association of Automobile and Truck Manufacturers (ANFAC). In April of 2010 he received the Great Cross for Civil Merit, in November of 2013 he was declared Distinguished Personality of the Spanish Automotive Sector by the Spanish Association of Professionals of the Automotive Sector (ASEPA), in July of 2014 he was given the Eduardo Barreiros Foundation Award to the Person of Renowned Prestige within the Automotive Sector, and last October he received the Automotive Personality Award from El Mundo newspaper.