In recent weeks, when it comes to talking about an electric car factory in Spain, the latest news has led us to Seat being awarded by the Volkswagen Group for new electric cars in Martorell and Landaben. And also the recent choice of Ford, in Almussafes, for the next zero-emission models of the oval brand.
However, if we really want to do justice and analyze how electric cars are manufactured in Spain, our first reference should be the Vigo factory of Citroën and Peugeot (and now also Opel, Fiat and Toyota), all brands of the Stellantis Group. ; a plant that dates back to 1956 and that represents 9% of the GDP in Galicia and close to 30,000 jobs, between direct -6,500- and indirect.
Although electric cars are a trend in recent years, This Galician factory has been manufacturing electrics in our country for more than 25 years. A development that began with the Citroën C15 decades ago; followed by electrified versions of the Peugeot Partner and Citroën Berlingo and has continued with the K9 project (the new Berlingo, Rifter, Combo) and also with the Peugeot e-2008.
Precisely, and thanks to the success of models such as the Peugeot e-2008, among others, The Vigo plant aims to “manufacture more than 20% of total production electric cars”it states Ignacio Bueno, director of the Vigo factoryin a meeting in which EL ESPAÑOL took part.
This therefore allows assemble between 100,000 and 120,000 electric cars a year, says this manager. “A manufacturing that is also possible thanks to the battery workshop of the Vigo factory, where about 20 batteries are assembled per hour, 350 batteries per day”he points out.
Peugeot e-2008: from the factory to the boat
The next thing we are going to learn about is the process from when a car is manufactured in the plant, to how it is moved and taken to the different markets. We remember in this sense that the great majority of the units that are manufactured of the Stellantis models in Vigo are for countries other than Spain. Hence, transport logistics is also a key element in manufacturing by costs and emissions.
And it is also convenient to make a small stop along the way to point out that the Peugeot 2008, which is manufactured in Vigo, is having great commercial success. Not only is it one of the best-selling urban SUVs, but the electric version is also registering at a good pace in the Nordic countries.
In the port of Vigo
We are at the Bouzas dock, in the port of Vigo. They are the largest facilities in the Galician port. It has an extension that exceeds 862,000 square meters. We could, therefore, have a size greater than 10 Santiago Bernabéu stadiums together.
There, in Bouzas, is the Ro-Ro terminal, specialized in rolling media. It has specific ramps that allow to accommodate the largest cargo ships in the world. Today we will go up to Spica Leader, a vehicle carrier awesome looking UECC shipping line.
This huge floating mass of steel it has the capacity to transport almost 4,000 vehicles at a speed of up to 19 knots (about 35 km/h). Once with him, he impresses with his length of 190 meters (almost two football fields) but above all for its height since it is 10 floors (there are boats even with 12 heights).
When the cars are built and finished all the checks are put into trucks. These trucks are the ones that later move to the port. The company Tramicar receives them there so that later the stevedores (around 50 a day) load the cars onto the ship. In general, around 800 lorries circulate daily at the Vigo factory, of which around 300 are for cars and the rest for parts.
These trucks are responsible for leaving all manufactured cars at the terminal. It is a campa that has capacity for 18,000 cars. And today on the day of our visit there are about 16,000 cars in storage. Therefore, they need to load onto the ship as soon as possible, since they could not save more than another day or two of production at most.
However, today was lucky. Despite the fact that many ships with the drop in production in Europe have diverted part of their activity to Asia, the assigned ship has just arrived in port. The stevedores will board this Spica Leader freighter today around 1,400 cars.
They also have to do it in a working day and at a good pace since the ship will leave for the south in the afternoon. These types of boats are very common in the port of Vigo. We need to keep in mind that the factory (if all goes well with the parts) assembles 2,300 cars a day.
And then the vast majority of these cars (between 70 and 80%) are exported. And in turn, of these cars that are exported, andhe 75% travel by boat to other markets. This means, making a quick estimate that, If in 2021 the Vigo plant manufactured almost 500,000 cars, between 350,000 and 400,000 were destined for export. And of them, 75% (between 260,000 and 300,000 cars) boarded a ship bound for other countries.
Therefore, this means that in order to export to other markets all the cars manufactured in Vigo more than 200 ships like this were needed during the past year, all of them from Vigo to other routesboth north and south. “Total Between all the shipping companies, between 8,000 and 10,000 cars a week are moving in Vigo”says José Noval Vázquez, regional director of the logistics company Gefco, which is in charge of transport from the factory to the port.
we got on the boat
Despite the fact that the visit to this type of boat is not usually frequent, from Peugeot in Spain they have made the appropriate arrangements so that we can see how they load the Peugeot e-2008 and 2008 in this freighter. Following the traditional safety recommendations, they allow us to circulate through a small corridor without being able to leave it so as not to disturb the stevedores.
These, meanwhile, climb the cars with exquisite skill and after parking them millimetrically they go back down in vans to carry out the same operation. Meanwhile, we began to climb the floors of the ship… until we reached the deck. There we are received by the captain who tells us that he has some 22 people in the crew from countries such as India, Bangladesh and even Ukraine.
This captain also tells us that during navigation it is easy encounter waves of up to 5 and 6 meters. “Sometimes the waves can be up to 12 meters, but when the sea is so rough we prefer to wait and not go out”, he tells us. And when asked about consumption, tells us that it spends between 20 and 35 tons of fuel per day depending on speed and weather conditions.
It’s time to get off the ship. Along the way we are recapitulating all the figures we have heard. Stellantis alone is almost 10% of GDP in Galicia, more than half a million cars are manufactured per year, 120,000 electric… In short, visiting a plant like Vigo and knowing how exports are carried out should be a compulsory subject for politicians who then have to make decisions in order to understand the importance of the automobile industry in Spain. Of course, the message has become clear to us: the automobile is the only industry we have left and together we all have to take care of it.