The French automotive industry employs 400,000 people of which 2/3 come from tier one suppliers and subcontractors.
The 2012 worldwide French Manufacturer car production was of 6.4 millions. 5 576 308 units including 3 929 533 units produced outside of France. France is the third largest producer in Europe, after Germany and Spain, and the fifth largest in the world. It is home to 16 domestic and international carmakers, as well as 315 component manufacturers.
Domestic groups PSA Peugeot Citroen and Renault dominate the sector (road and sport), nevertheless foreign carmakers such as Ford Motor, Volkswagen (VW) and Opel also have their share of the market. The 2011 annual worldwide turnover for Peugeot and Renault represented EUR102bn.
PSA Peugeot Citroen & Renault account for a total of 15 production facilities in France mainly located in the North half of the country.
France is also home to major tier one suppliers such as Michelin (tyre manufacturer), Faurecia (seat manufacturer), Valeo (braking, thermal, and electrical systems), Saint Gobain (glass) and Plastic Omnium (plastic manufacturing).
Car ownership rates are relatively high, creating a large market for parts and accessories. The market is now the fourth largest in the EU after Germany, the UK and Italy.
Many manufacturers cite the ‘quality of the automotive infrastructure’ as a reason for their presence in the country.
Manufacturers are showing significant development of eco-friendly technology. Renault with its range of all electric vehicles (Renault Z.E) and PSA with the development of hybrid engines.
France rolled out a car-sharing plan in September 2011 in Paris called Autolib, which has seen some 3,000 EVs being made available to the public. Following its success, the scheme is being deployed in Bordeaux and Lyon.
The French Motorsport sector is worth an approximate EUR1.5 billion, consistently less than the UK but significant nonetheless. Rallying dominates the sector, followed by single seater racing, Offroad and Sportcard racing. France is in negotiations to hold a Formula 1 race again.
Electric vehicle (EV) segment and Hybric EV – It ranges from industrial research to infrastructure development and provision of subsidies for electric car purchase.
A bonus scheme lead by the Government is in place which focuses on incentives for the purchase and the rental of clean vehicles.
New product lines could boost demand for French cars in export markets.
The future for small cars looks bright as consumer preferences shift following the implementation of an eco-tax.
Getting into the market
France is often perceived as a difficult market to penetrate although a British company with innovative and competitive products/services will stand good chance of winning business in France.
It is important to note that the journey from engaging with a company to signing a contract can be very lengthy and British companies should be prepared to spend time building up the relationship and to demonstrate persistence in proposing their offer.
Although a lot of business people would speak some English, the preferred language for doing business will be French.
UKTI can assist with facilitating introduction to the right contacts.
Market intelligence is critical when doing business overseas, and UKTI can provide bespoke market research and support during overseas visits though our chargeable Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS).
To commission research or for general advice about the market, get in touch with our specialists in country – or contact your local international trade team.
Audrey Berté, Senior Trade Advisor, British Embassy Paris Tel: +33 (0)1 44 51 33 29 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
UKTI runs a range of events for exporters, including seminars in the UK, trade missions to overseas markets and support for attendance at overseas trade shows.
4-19 Oct 2014, Paris, every two years
16-20 October 2013, Paris, every two years