Joel Görsch at Lindholmen
11 December 2019

‘It’s challenging, but very exciting times for our automotive industry’

​​​​​​​Geely, Volvo Cars and Solita. These are just a few of the companies that Business Region Göteborg’s automotive specialist Joel Görsch has helped to facilitate investments in Gothenburg. In an interview he provides insight into the region’s automotive industry, its developments, strengths and opportunities.

For more than 15 years Joel has been working at Business Region Göteborg (BRG). Throughout this time his focus has been on the automotive and cleantech industries. For nearly the past decade he has been the investment advisor for automotive.

“I work with investment promotion. It’s partly about marketing Gothenburg’s opportunities and expertise and partly about supporting companies with the help they need to get the investment going. Essentially, together with my colleagues at BRG, we make it easier for companies to establish here or make their investment. It’s everything from advice and guidance on finding a premise or starting a bank account to connecting the companies with potential partners, networks and service providers. So it’s important for us to know the people, know the region and its companies.

Can you give a few examples of the cases you have worked with?

“Some of the bigger cases I’ve been involved in are CEVT’s establishment in 2013, the company now employs over 2,000 people; and more recently the new Geely innovation centre, where construction is well underway. Other cases I’ve assisted in include Solita, a Finnish company that established recently at Lindholmen and Volvo Cars, which is investing in its production plant in Torslanda, Gothenburg. There have been many over the years.”

You have followed the region’s automotive industry for some time now, what are some of the key developments you’ve noticed?

“ICT and automotive used to be two separate industries, but they aren’t anymore, they are very much integrated. Then of course there is electrification, which is connected to cleantech and environmental technologies. Many of our big actors like Volvo Cars, the Volvo Group and Nevs are really moving forward in this area. At the same we are seeing a lot of things happening with self-driving technology and connected vehicles. In terms of sales, we have had some really good years. But all of these new technologies are demanding heavy investments. It’s challenging, but also very exciting times for our automotive industry.”

Where does Gothenburg stand in terms of electrification and self-driving technology?

“Gothenburg has growing capabilities in terms of electrification - and actually Sweden now has a cell manufacturer. We also see that electric car sales here, after Norway, are the best in Europe. So, I think we are well positioned internationally and have a very interesting future on the electrification side.”

“In terms of self-driving technology, some of our companies were fairly early in the area and have some great strengths. We have a situation where a lot of the technology and the knowledge is there, but it’s quite hard to predict where we will see the first self-driving vehicles, as so much is driven by legislation.”

 

Why is Gothenburg an interesting location for companies?

“It’s a very exciting place because you have two really strong players here who are driving a lot of the development on both the heavy trucks-side and the cars-side. We also have a cluster that has developed over many years with knowledge and a strong supply chain, in and around Gothenburg.”

“Lindholmen Science Park is giving it the extra edge with its close proximity to the companies, to competence and to talent. It’s a place where the talents want to be. And a place where you can easily integrate in new industries; and this is what is happening now actually. We have the automotive and the ICT. Even before this development was big worldwide, it was already happening in Gothenburg, with connections between ICT and automotive back in the 90s. And then when the science park developed from 2000, it was already in place with Ericsson and some automotive companies in the area. This gave us a head start and that is why the future is driving from here.”

“Lindholmen is also an exciting environment for young companies. We are seeing, for example, a lot of start-ups that are applying to be part of the Mobility XLab, where they can work together with some of our big companies: Ericsson, Volvo, Volvo Cars, CEVT, Veoneer and Zenuity.”

What opportunities does Gothenburg offer international companies?

“The region’s companies have a lot of exciting things going on, not in the least around electrification and AD. Just look at Volvo’s Vera and Einride’s driverless pod solution, they combine both of these technologies. So we have a lot of interesting companies to be partnering up with and connect. We also have a very good environment for developing new products and services, and getting them to market.”

Germany has shown interest in our cluster, can you tell us more about that?   

“Yeah, we’ve seen growing interest in our companies from Germany and some investments have been made. For instance, Volkswagon made an investment in Wireless Car and some other German companies have invested in a number of Gothenburg-based start-ups.”

“We also recently had a big delegation here from Baden-Württemberg, a big German automotive region, that included their Minister-President. They were here just to see what is happening in Gothenburg’s automotive cluster and to see how we are working with certain things like innovation and the shift in the industry. We have a lot of things in common. Sweden and Germany are both engineering countries and we have comparable salaries. I think there are a lot of things we can learn from each other; among other things, how to handle competition and develop new technologies.”

Do you expect to see more interaction between Swedish and German companies?

“We will certainly see more things happening both ways. I think this is just the start. We will see more cooperations and these will lead into investments.”

 

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