“In France the automotive sector plays a very important role in terms of French consciousness" -  Hauts-de-France Prefect Michel Lalande

“In France the automotive sector plays a very important role in terms of French consciousness" - Hauts-de-France Prefect Michel Lalande

French government officials are pointing to State initiatives in the automotive sector as part of the reason for its current success, particularly in the North of the country.

After several years of struggling during the recession engendered by the financial crisis after 2008, France's auto industry has recovered to a large extent, helped in part by actions at a national level

"We have to think about the support of the State and I am obviously referring to the tax credit which is given to R&D, in the way in which we have acted to simplify all the administration processes, which is a fight here in France," said Hauts-de-France Prefect, Michel Lalande at the recent Forum on the European Automotive Industry in Lille (FEAL).

"In France, the automotive sector plays a very important role in terms of French consciousness. The French automotive industry has left a footprint in social terms because more than 55,000 people work directly for the sector in Northern France. There are more than 400 sub-contractors and suppliers [and the sector] produces 800,000 vehicles per year.

"The State I represent has not remained inactive. In a committee at the end of May for the automotive sector, we set up a four-priority strategy. The sector should be a main player for energy transition and create an eco-system for autonomous vehicles. Trying to think ahead in terms of skills in the auto sector, we must not forget all of the work done in terms of moving on to new jobs.

"The fourth commitment is to strengthen the competitiveness of the automotive sector. This territory [region] has suffered a lot, not only in the [auto] sector. After a very long period of crisis we now have strong hopes. What we have learned is we have to work together: There is the State and region [as well as] the Chamber of Commerce."

The Hauts-de-France region in North-East France has seven major production sites and more than 400 subcontractors located in the area, producing almost two-thirds of French vehicle output. The region features centres such as the Heudiasyc research laboratory, the huge Plastic Omnium innovation centre and the Toyota Onnaing plant.

"While the French industry is playing an active role in the future of the automotive sector, it is clear the challenges and technological advances must be understood on a global level, in tandem with players from the international sector," added Pole Automobile Hauts-de-France president, Patrice Le Guyader.

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