Share this on
December 2023

"Building synergies towards a more sustainable future": an overview of the first FAAS Sustainability Day

Francesca Del Bello

Futurmotive - Expo & Talks hosted the first edition of the important initiative dedicated to the topic of sustainability in the automotive world: we talked about it with Umberto Fassero Gamba, Sustainability & Market Affairs Manager of CLEPA, member of the FAAS Secretariat
A day to remember: on November 17th 2023 the first Sustainability Day took place, an event organized by FAAS – Forum on Automotive Aftermarket Sustainability in Bologna, within the framework of Futurmotive – Expo & Talks.
With over 100 participants coming from all over the world, FAAS Sustainability day was the occasion for the entire automotive and aftermarket ecosystem industry to gather together and discuss on the central topic of the sector debate, in a full day of panel discussion and presentations led by industry and organizations representatives. 
In order to take stock of the event, we interviewed Umberto Fassero Gamba, Sustainability & Market Affairs Manager at CLEPA, part of the FAAS Secretariat since its establishment.
  1. Umberto, let’s start with an overall comment on the Sustainability Day: what was the industry response to the event? Did it meet your expectations?
Sustainability is a high-priority topic in the automotive aftermarket sector, and the attendance at the first FAAS Sustainability Day is a clear demonstration of this. We have seen automotive suppliers, parts distributors, media, industry associations, and other actors with a stake in the aftermarket joining our event – the result went above our expectations!
The FAAS has been established as the platform to exchange expertise, best practices and knowledge up and down the aftermarket value chain. Companies in our sector are all part of a network, and the fact that they are interested in building synergies beyond competitiveness is a very positive message towards a more sustainable future of Europe.
  1. Let’s get to the gist of the matter: sustainability. As many of your panelists pointed out, up to a few years ago sustainability within the automotive and aftermarket sector was a “nice-to-have”, now it is a must. This means not only focusing on new technologies with a lower carbon footprint, but also rethinking the entire productive process, with an important shift towards circular economy. What are the insights, requests and perspectives that emerged on this matter during the Sustainability Day?
The Sustainability Day had one main question at its basis: what can the automotive aftermarket do to improve the sustainability performance of the sector? The first answer to this question, as we have seen throughout the day, has to come from the aftermarket players. The two main trends we have seen relate to decarbonisation and circularity, two objectives that must be coupled with the best-in-class service to customers. A collaborative endeavor is crucial to achieve these objectives: decarbonisation requires buy-in from the entire value chain (from raw material suppliers to dismantlers of end-of-life components), and circularity requires close collaboration among parts suppliers, distributors, garages, remanufacturers, and dismantlers.
Another crucial pre-requisite to achieve sustainability targets is the customer request for more sustainable goods, the appropriate financial support for the needed investments, and the establishment of clear methodologies and rules to measure the sustainability performance of automotive activities and goods.
  1. Now, let’s talk about sustainability under a broader perspective. The industry must shift its perspective and yet protect its workforce and its competitiveness on a global scale: how can we maintain this delicate balance?
As you mentioned, sustainability is defining the rules of the game in Europe. Nevertheless, automotive players are active worldwide and are dependent on global value chains, and policymakers have to ensure that Europe is not alone on this journey.
We have decided to invite the two major US aftermarket associations to the Sustainability Day (MEMA and Autocare) and have the ambition to expand our interactions with Asian players as well. It is clear by now that no technology or solution will fit the needs of the almost 8 billion people around the globe. The automotive aftermarket is playing a crucial role in ensuring accessible and affordable mobility to all, and the FAAS players are deeply committed to make sure that repair and maintenance will be performed with the lowest possible impact on the environment.
Once again, our solution for addressing the complex challenge of working towards a 1.5 C compliant world by protecting the industry’s competitiveness and workforce is collaboration. Climate objectives and social sustainability go hand in hand: we are extremely conscious that we cannot achieve one without the other.
  1. When we think about net-zero mobility, we mainly think about e-mobility (although it is important to point out that EVs are just one of the possible technologies to reach this goal). Nevertheless, the entire battery lifecycle has its weakness – starting from the extracting and mining procedures of raw materials necessary to produce the batteries, up to their disposal. Was this topic considered during your event? What emerged from the discussion?
Electromobility opens a whole new spectrum of opportunities for automotive aftermarket stakeholders, and the aftermarket is by definition involved in the lifetime extension of vehicles. BEVs, given their architecture, will be less affected to powertrain aging, and offer new possibilities for software and hardware updates during the lifetime of the vehicle, resulting in an overall longer life of the system.
The aftermarket sector is also playing a crucial role in improving the circularity performance of vehicles, including BEVs. At the Sustainability Day we had an insightful presentation from Fraunhofer IPA presenting their activities on battery remanufacturing, and many of the FAAS members are looking into opportunities for efficient application of remanufacturing to e-mobility. Focusing specifically on the remanufacturing of batteries, it is essential that circular economy is taken into account from the outset: different battery designs may make battery dismantling more or less complex. If we want to reduce the environmental and social impact of batteries, we need to ensure that the valuable and scarce raw materials contained in them are used to their maximum extent and are then recycled at the end of their life.
  1. The FAAS Forum experience proves that, as the saying goes, unity is strength: two of the most important industry associations at a European level – CLEPA and FIGIEFA – joined forces to create a collaborative space where to “enhance collaboration, exchange best practices, and foster sustainable initiatives”.  So, after the first successful experience of the Sustainability Day, what’s next? What will be the future steps on mid-term and long-term?
Just the day before our first Sustainability Day, more than 30 automotive aftermarket stakeholders officially founded the Forum on Automotive Aftermarket Sustainability (FAAS) as an independent non-profit association. The FAAS aims to establish itself as the platform where stakeholders exchange and build together a more sustainable automotive aftermarket sector.
Our priority is to expand the outreach of the FAAS, get more participants involved, continue the good work that has been done by the four working groups and continue to deliver concrete results. In the coming days we will publish a video, developed thanks to the contribution of the FAAS WG on remanufacturing, providing garages and customers with hard facts on the sustainability contribution of remanufacturing of components. Carbon emissions’ tracking along the aftermarket value chain, remanufacturing of components, development of a common Product Carbon Footprint calculation methodology for the aftermarket, and preparation of guidelines on more sustainable transportation of spare parts are the four key activities that we will work on over the coming weeks and months.
  1. Should we sum up the Sustainability Day in a couple of sentences – or, better, some catchphrases, what would they be?
The Sustainability Day has been the transposition of what the FAAS is about: a collaborative endeavour that will lead the sector towards the forefront of sustainable practices and set new trends. Let me use some keywords: unity, accountability, cooperation, information sharing. This is what our initiative is about, this is the key takeaway from the Sustainability Day.

Do not miss any article from the Autopromotec Blog! Subscribe to our newsletter!


You might be interested in