Decommissioned Auto Machinery Finds New Industry Use

Volkswagen production line
The shift to electric vehicles creates new opportunities as decommissioned automotive machinery is repurposed for use in other industries

As they say, "One man's trash is another man's treasure." This adage is particularly true in the automotive industry today, where the shift towards EVs is driving a significant reorganisation of production facilities. Automakers are eliminating or completely redesigning vehicle components, like gearboxes, to comply with EV specifications. This transformation opens up new opportunities for other industries, which can benefit from purchasing decommissioned production machines at favourable prices.

The vehicle components in an electric car are different to those in a combustion engine. Moving transmission parts in particular are greatly reduced. (© Mark_KA/Shutterstock.com).

Growing demand for EVs in Europe

Many machines and tools traditionally used in automotive manufacturing are becoming redundant as the industry adapts to new technologies. Automotive manufacturers and suppliers are reorientating, retrofitting, or even partially closing their production facilities to meet new market demands. The extent of this transformation is reflected in the rising proportion of electric vehicles sold.

In 2023, the European market for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) experienced a significant surge, with sales of over 1.5 million vehicles representing a 37% increase compared to the previous year. Electric cars have now established themselves as the third most popular driving type in Europe, surpassing diesel vehicles for the first time and trailing only petrol and hybrid engines.

Dejan Dučić, Project Manager at Surplex

Surplex: A premier platform for pre-owned industrial machinery

Surplex is a leading platform that sells used industrial machinery, catering to a wide range of industries globally. With over 20 years of experience, Surplex has become a trusted and reliable partner for companies looking to buy or sell high-quality second-hand equipment. The platform has keen insight into this growing trend of repurposing state-of-the-art equipment from the automotive sector.

Dejan Dučić, Project Manager at Surplex, confirms this trend: "In recent months, we have been conducting more and more auctions for and from the automotive industry. It affects various areas: from robots from a Czech automotive plant to insolvent suppliers and the current partial closure of a German car manufacturer's engine and transmission works."

The gear grinding machine from REISHAUER was recently part of an auction. It comes from the partial closure of the engine plant of a German car manufacturer in Slovakia. (© Surplex).

New applications for decommissioned machinery

So, what happens to these machines when car manufacturers no longer need them? "Even though car manufacturers no longer have a use for these specialised machines, numerous other industries can greatly benefit from the shift in production," explains Dejan. "Just because complex gearboxes will no longer be used in cars in the future doesn't mean they are no longer needed. There are still a multitude of other applications."

Gearboxes play a crucial role in energy technology. In wind turbines, special gearboxes efficiently convert the turbine's rotation into electrical energy. The situation is similar with hydropower, where precision-manufactured gearboxes are essential for reliable and long-lasting performance.

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Machines initially used for manufacturing automotive gearboxes can also find new applications in aerospace and engineering. These machines are valuable for producing complex and precise components for automation and manufacturing plants. Their ability to perform precise and repeatable operations makes them particularly useful for producing parts used in industrial machinery and robotics.

"With the transformation of the automotive industry, many car manufacturers and suppliers are choosing to sell their high-quality machines through platforms like Surplex," explains Dejan. "This provides companies from other sectors with an affordable opportunity to acquire first-rate manufacturing equipment."

The ripple effects create valuable opportunities for other sectors as the automotive industry continues evolving towards electric vehicles. Decommissioned machinery from auto manufacturers finds new life in diverse applications, proving that one industry's obsolete equipment can be another's treasure.

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