Automotive: Morocco facing new corners

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The Moroccan automotive industry is facing new challenges born of the digital and ecological revolutions, It must act to make the most of restructuring movements around the world and decide on its best strategic positioning.

This automobile industry continues to have success stories, particularly in terms of production and exports, despite a delicate economic situation marked by a shortage of certain inputs, particularly due to the disruption of global production chains. The latest figures from the Foreign Exchange Office show this well, as sales of the automotive sector exceeded 66.7 billion dirhams (MMDH) at the end of August this year, a significant increase of 29.3%. These exports reached their highest level over the same period in the last five years.

In the retail sector, this increase concerns sales in the construction segment (+47.3%) and those in the cabling segment (+16.7%). On the other hand, exports of the interior vehicle and seat segment fell by 2.5%. “The structuring of the national automotive industrial system into dense ecosystems, combined with the measures taken at the heart of the health crisis and the features of the 2021-2021 Industrial Recovery Plan2023 have enabled this resilience and allow Morocco to remain optimistic by maintaining the objectives of export growth and achieving an 80% sector integration rate», commented Hicham Sebti, Professor of Management Sciences and Director of Euromed Business School.

The question of scarcity is probably a cyclical problem which should be adjusted through the measures taken by the central banks to slow down economic machinery and the rise in charge of new production capacities of raw materials and products manufactured at the world level, Sebti pointed out, before clarifying that the real subject for the Moroccan automotive industry is that of strategic positioning choices in the new mobility industry.

Regarding the stakes for Morocco in these relocation operations operated by global automobile giants, the expert noted that a large number of multinationals established in the region have adopted a flight to safety behaviour. by moving their activities from the conflict zone to more politically stable spaces, such as Morocco. It is in this complex and changing context that Morocco must act to take advantage of the restructuring movements in value chains. In a regional relocation scenario in which companies re-align their production systems and those of their partner suppliers around value chains dedicated to regional geographic markets, Morocco will be able to position itself as a major player in a Euro-Mediterranean-Africa area on two conditions,” he said.

First, expectations of institutional attractiveness, human, material and energy resources, and second, building resilient ecosystems based on “redundancy”. (access to additional manufacturing capabilities at the risk of overcapacity), “diversity” (access to multiple sources of supply) and “modularity” (ability to reconfigure a system and recombine resources) of production systems. In its view, Morocco enjoys competitive advantages which entitle it to claim a strategic position, in particular within the framework of the new European Neighbourhood Policy, citing for this purpose a set of arguments on which Morocco could be presented Peace and Stability, efforts on the green transition, its actions to achieve inclusive growth and its various initiatives on digital transformation.

Focusing on these ecological or digital transitions that Morocco can benefit from, Sebti explained that the first evolution related to the expected growth of the electric vehicle market puts the subject of battery at the heart of the organization of the industrial automotive system.

On this point, he went back to the recent report published by the Middle East Institute’s Economics and Energy Program, according to which Morocco could position itself as a major player in green mobility, Listing for this purpose competitive advantages, namely the existence of an industrial ecosystem structured around major global manufacturers engaged in the ecological transition and the production of electric vehicles; and the reserves of minerals critical to battery production, such as cobalt, that Morocco has.

However, our interlocutor, considered that it would be inappropriate for Morocco to turn its back on the production of vehicles with thermal engines. According to him, while Europe has actually announced the end of the sale of thermal engines, this market retains a strong potential for equipment in emerging markets, especially in Africa. The challenge for Morocco is to have both ecosystems coexist,” he said.

And in order to meet the challenge of the digital transformation of mobility, Sebti called for a convergence of industry – research and development of support and financing mechanisms for innovative start-ups, which have become more essential than ever.

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