Matías Carnero: “From 2029 no more Seats will be manufactured in Martorell”

Matthias Carnero (Barcelona, ​​1968) has seen seven presidents go through the management of Seat during the more than three decades he has been in the company. Of which more than twenty years as president of the works council, a particularly relevant position in the German co-management scheme that prevails in the automobile firm. Concerned about the future role of Seat within the balance of the Volkswagen group, the union leader is facing the difficult transition to the electric car, which threatens a workforce surplus of almost 3,000 workers in Martorell.

Why will the Volkswagen group build its battery factory in Sagunt?

The choice of Sagunt responds to the fact that, of the 100 measures that the Volkswagen Group Supervisory Board had to specify and that the three most visible Communities were requested (Estremadura, Aragon and Valencia), the Valencia option was the one with the most advantages. Volkswagen and Ford have an agreement (renewed last year) to jointly manufacture commercial vehicles and vans. He was also in favor of the issue of education and university training and training in the area’s industrial environment. And finally the issue of the Mediterranean corridor and its proximity to Martorell and Landaben. If we talk about a country project, surely the community that should have been chosen was Extremadura. Because of the emptied Spain. He had a lot of points.

Catalonia why not?

The Generalitat It took a long time to wake up. Talking about the Tarragona and Lleida project when it was almost decided by the council to study the other three communities did not make much sense and meant entering without options. I think they did it more for the media issue of the photo and to say that you have proposed it.

If the factory goes to Sagunt, how will Perte benefit Catalonia?

The investment is national and will be of significant amounts. And the aid that is distributed in exchange cannot be used to pay compensation or for anything other than making churros. Manufacturing an electric car in Catalonia will benefit the entire fleet of suppliers. 80% have to be local.

Has the Government managed the automotive Perte well?

The perte It is a machine that was initially created to make churros, then with that same machine they tried to make cupcakes. And they have finished making sandwiches. The Perte has been distorted over time and at the earliest until summer it will not be possible to start bidding for land. You have to get your act together because the whole issue of licenses takes time and that worries the group [Volskwagen].

What kind of employment will the Perte bring?

It will be a different job, we will have to see what profiles are needed and under what conditions. And that’s where training is going to be very important. Engineers will be needed at the Sagunt battery plant. A colleague asked me if he could, for a family matter, request a transfer there and I replied that, from the outset, I doubt that he would charge the same as in Seat. They will have to negotiate their own agreements.

Wayne Griffiths said that in Martorell with the electric car there would be 2,800 jobs left over…

They can be more. First we have to solve the issue of El Prat. Looking for alternatives to the electric motor that we have not been awarded Lo del Prat has no name. It doesn’t make sense for you to make 800,000 electric cars from 2025 between Pamplona and us, and that the engines of those vehicles are not made here in El Prat and that you make them in Hungary. Although it is true that there is a geopolitical game here in the entire cast consortium. There are alternatives, what parts of the rest of the engines can be made here that are equivalent to what the electric motor would have meant. You have to invest in El Prat. Because when a center is closed it no longer reopens.

“It makes no sense that you make 800,000 electric cars from 2025 and that the engines are not made here”

The president of Anfac said that the labor reform has not improved anything in the automotive industry, do you agree?

Not at all. In Seat, colleagues from the supplier companies have come to us who from one day to the next have had to raise their salaries by 300 or 600 euros per month. Because they were in a multi-service and now they go to the sectoral agreement. Another improvement: In a month and a half, temporary employment in the sector has dropped by 20% and indefinite contracts have increased because temporary contracts have been limited and ETT. In factories like citroen they have noticed this much more, but because there the eventuality was 60%.

How is the war affecting them?

Right now we are stable. This time there is collateral damage that we are not going to suffer, the suppliers of proximity of materials such as wiring do not come from Ukrainebut of Tunisia. Where we can have problems is in the engines, which we do not make but come from the group, where some parts and components do come from there. It is trying to refer parties to Mexico or from other parts of the world.

Are you worried about the new outbreaks in China?

Although we are going to remove the masks here, since the semiconductor plants stop again there, we have it all tied up again. Volkswagen in Navarra has stopped for the headlights, we may also stop for the same reason for having incomplete cars, also for the headlights. Globalization brings these difficulties when there are problems and ‘just in time’ has its risks.

“If Volkswagen could steal Cupra from us, it would have already done so, this thing about it being the best-selling car in Germany is itchy”

Is the strategy of locating by platforms correct?

No. We have platform strategies and in that we are at a disadvantage. I do not deserve any trust in Mr. [Herbert] Diess. I do not trust, it is not the first time that he has transmitted issues to the Seat works council and has not complied. He even told us that Ibiza would have a substitute and it won’t. He neither wants Spain nor does he want Seat. If Volkswagen could rob us cupra I would have already done it. This that in Germany the best-selling car is Cupra itches them.

Is making the platform small the solution?

It is a group decision that gives us three small cars to Martorell and two slightly larger ones to Landaben. But they are two different realities. Pamplona is a car factory and we are a comprehensive brand (design, engineering, marketing, manufacturing and sales). The costs of one factory and another are obviously not the same. Beware of comparisons.

But is the electric car good news?

They say we’re going to do 500,000 cars. No. They bring a big problem because they are going to leave us little contribution margin, because it is a small model. We are at 2.5% profitability and they want 5% and with that car it will be impossible. Those 500,000 electric cars, if we calculate the production hours, we are talking as if we made 350,000 of a combustion car. There’s the surplus labor differential.

I no longer want them to bring me a new platform, but rather leave the one I have (which is easier). We have until the second generation of Lion and Formentor, year 2028. Until 2025 we have that surplus of almost 3,000 workers, but then another is generated until 2030 and we can end up being an assembly factory. If they keep us on that platform, it will give us stability for life. There will be a small electric car and another platform that would give us a value chain, things that are not guaranteed.

Is the goal to continue being a comprehensive factory?

The investment project of Seat de 1,000 million euros per year Makes you think we won’t end up as one nissan. I don’t want big early retirement agreements, I want to add value to the factory. Being a comprehensive factory, not only manufacturing cars, but carrying out the entire process, from design to sale.

Cupra is the future?

Seat gives you employment and volume, Cupra gives you employment, but not volume, but profitability. To have the margin that a Cupra gives you, you have to sell three Ibizas. The moment of sorpasso will come… in 2029. The brand cannot disappear, what remains on the sign at the entrance of the factory? Well, okay, but it will not disappear. We need Cupra volume… but in Martorell. Of the seven models that were announced, how many will go outside? the two of Chinathe Tavascan (we have already ordered the second generation to bring it here) and another model.

“Most likely, Martorell will end up becoming a multi-brand factory”

If electric Seats are not going to be made in Martorell, does the factory lose potential?Martorell it cannot survive with only three electric cars. I am an inveterate ‘seatico’, but the reality is that Seat cannot compete with the margins that Cupra has. I want to make cars, Seat or Skoda, I do not care. Most likely, Martorell will end up becoming a multi-brand factory, that gives you prestige. Seat DNA will always be there.

Related news

In 10 years will there be cars with the Seat de Martorell logo?

Until 2028 or 2029 yes, then no longer. I think the transition from Seat to Cupra is taking place too quickly. Even from the group there has been pressure to finish the productions of Seat before. We do not know how the electric market is going to work and we cannot afford to lose production and sales volumes.

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