Analyzing the energy metabolism of the automotive industry to study the differences found in this sector across EU countries

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The automotive industry plays a key economic and political role in developed countries due to its contribution to exports, employment and revenues. Fragmentation of production and offshoring have distributed manufacturing stages among EU national automotive industries. An energy metabolic perspective allows us to explain differences in performance determined by the expression of different functions and the weight within the national economy. This paper analyses the Motor vehicles industry (MVI) and its sub-sectors in 8 EU countries in 2018 visualizing data in end-use matrixes, a Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Societal and Ecosystem Metabolism (MuSIASEM) tool. We study the relation over energy carriers (electricity, and thermal energy), GHG emissions, working time, and value added at three different scales: the whole national economy, the MVI sector, and the subsectors within MVI. Through this multi-scale and multi-dimensional characterisation, we cluster the countries according to their functional specialization in (i) manufacturing intermediate parts and modules, (ii) final assembly of vehicles, and (iii) management and engineering design. This representation provides an integrated overview of this industry in relation to its core-periphery dynamics in the spatial division of labour. Additionaly, we provide new insights to labor productivity, efficiency, decoupling and structural changes for sustainability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number130855
Number of pages13
Early online date9 Mar 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Mar 2024


  • Decoupling
  • Efficiency
  • GHG emissions
  • Metabolism
  • Motor vehicles industry


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