Portugal’s automotive sector is a promising target for U.S. exporters.
There are about 5.8 million registered vehicles in Portugal. In 2019, 267,828 vehicles were sold in Portugal. Most of those vehicles are passenger vehicles with a growth of 20.5% compared to 2018. Portugal hosts over 220 automotive supplier companies and 4 major car manufacturers—Toyota/Salvador Caetano, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Mitsubishi Trucks and Volkswagen AutoEuropa.
The automotive sector a key performer in the Portuguese economy. In recent years, the has become highly positioned as it plays an important role in the economy in terms of GDP. The automotive sector is responsible for almost 8.5% of Portugal’s industry and 2.1% of the production of the Portuguese economy. It employs 0.7% of the population and accounts for 4.8% of the manufacturing industry. According to ACAP, the automotive sector in Portugal is responsible for 11% of the total Portuguese exports. In 2019, the number of vehicles produced reached a total of 345 thousand, a 17,4% increase compared with the previous year, and out of which 97.3% were exported, mainly to Europe.
However, ACAP reported that the pandemic forced car production in Portugal to drop 46.1 percent in March compared to the same month of 2019. In March 2020 a total of 13,686 light passenger vehicles were produced (47.1 percent less than in the same month of the previous year), 3,203 light commercial vehicles (-39.3 percent) and 207 heavy vehicles (-61.1 percent). In the first quarter of 2020 , there was a drop of 18.3 percent in automobile production, a total of 77,204 units were manufactured, a production decrease of 20.5 percent in passenger cars, 4.5 percent in light commercial vehicles and 36.4 percent heavy vehicles.
Of all the automobiles produced in Portugal until March 2020, 98.1 percent were for exports, Europe absorbs 97.5 percent of these exports; Germany (19.4 percent), France (16.9 percent), Italy (15.7 percent), Spain (11.2 percent) and the United Kingdom (9.8 percent) were the main markets for Portuguese car exports .
The automotive components industry in Portugal has recently registered an annual turnover of around 10 billion which represents 5% of the country’s GDP with a workforce of over 50,000 people and one of the main exporting sectors in Portugal. About 85% of total automotive components produced in the country are exported. The automotive components industry has grown 200% over the past 15 years and presently Portugal is supplying carmakers with batteries, glass, plastic molds, interiors, tires, metal works, cables and harnesses, car seats and electronics.
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