French supplier association FIEV, is calling for domestic automakers to keep investing at home despite the lower-cost alternatives of manufacturing abroad as the country slowly recovers from the recent severe recession in the sector.

Given France’s historical ties with North Africa in particular, much activity is centering on the possibilities offered by Morocco and Algeria, but FIEV is also urging car manufacturers to focus domestically too.

“Outsourcing to Morocco and Algeria is a risk and we discuss,” former Faurecia North America president and new FIEV chief, Jacques Mauge told just-auto at last week’s Paris Motor Show. “We are fully in agreement they open plants in Morocco and Algeria, but when we are talking about France, we would like to keep those remaining plants.

If they keep their plant [in France], they should be supplied by our plants in France. If we show we are competitive and invest where they want us to invest, we want to have a dialogue.

“We would like to serve these OEM plants with our plants in France, provided we are competitive. We are working on industry 4.0 to achieve this competitiveness.”

Despite the undoubted challenges, FIEV (Fédération des Industries des Équipements pour Véhicules ) is confident France will bounce back from its lows.

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Memories are still raw of a sector which plummeted 50% in the last ten years and although recent growth rates of 5%-6% are welcome, they are nonetheless only starting to repair the severe drop of recent years.

A plank of FIEV’s activity is to act as a middle-man between component producers and automakers as the country’s car industry slowly recovers after a catastrophic hollowing out in the last recession.

“One of the [jobs] is to pacify the relation between suppliers and carmakers on terms and conditions,” added Mauge. “Those guys are customers so we respect them – we need to negotiate so FIEV can do that without harm.

“We hit the bottom, so yes, I am optimistic, but [it] depends on what the carmakers will do in France. Following them abroad is fine, we do that, we even follow the Germans and Japanese, but for France we need carmakers to invest in France.

“There is a lot to compensate for the severe decrease. The [French] State asked us if you want us to help, we need to understand who you are. We [government] need one voice and please try to organise yourselves.”

To that end, Paris has created the ‘Plateforme Française de l’Automobile (PFA), a body bringing together suppliers and OEMs to evaluate key strategies for the industry and in which FIEV is playing a signiciant role.

The PFA is holding a major technical workshop in Paris next week, where key speakers will include those from Faurecia, Valeo and Michelin, to discuss topics such as alternative energies, emissions, future cockpits and tyres.