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Diesel expertise driving automotive investment in France

France’s expertise in diesel engine technology is attracting attention around the world, with major new investment flowing in from Germany and Japan.

“France’s thriving automotive market has the second-highest percentage of diesel engines in Europe – 71% of new cars registered are diesel-driven – making it a strategic location for engine-related research and investment,” says Philippe Favre, President of Invest in France.

The latest investors in France include German automotive-equipment leader Robert Bosch, which will put €65 million into its Rodez factory (in southern France) from the end of 2007 to manufacture new-generation common-rail injectors. Japanese automotive-parts maker Ibiden will also invest €16 million in its Courtenay factory (central France) to launch a third production line for diesel particulate filters (DPF) for diesel engines, which is expected to be operational by January 2009.

Thanks to the popularity of diesel, leading French automotive group PSA Peugeot Citroën recently announced that it has now produced over 10 million vehicles equipped with HDi diesel engines. In France, the HDi diesel engines are produced in the group’s factories in Trémery (eastern France) – the world's largest diesel engine facility – and in Douvrin (northern France), as part of an agreement with Ford Motor Company of the United States. Both sites are considered to be world-class centres of excellence, known for their highly skilled production teams.

R&D spending for the automotive industry is a priority in France, and cutting-edge projects are being driven by the nation’s dedicated motor-industry competitive clusters, which include Mov’eo, Vehicle of the Future, Mobility and Advanced Transportation (MTA), and Lyon Urban Truck & Bus 2015.

Foreign investors can get involved in these clusters and benefit from research funding. In the future, more and more new and diverse diesel-engine investment opportunities will arise in France in response to the need for cleaner hybrid vehicles and the launch of Euro 5/6 emission standards for cars.

Philip Jolly | alfa
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