The automotive industry in Hauts-de-France

Our region is France’s #1 vehicle manufacturer. Two-thirds of Europe’s automakers—and their subcontractors—are less than one shipping day away. It’s the perfect place to launch your operation, find partners, and break into the market.

The automotive industry in Hauts-de-France

Our region is France’s #1 vehicle manufacturer. Two-thirds of Europe’s automakers—and their subcontractors—are less than one shipping day away. It’s the perfect place to launch your operation, find partners, and break into the market.


France’s #1 automotive region

Fast fact

  • 3 world-class automakers operating 7 production sites: Toyota, Renault and Stellantis
  • Over 550 automotive suppliers, subcontractors and service providers
  • Over 56,000 employees in the business ecosystem including:
    • 40,000 in the automotive industry
    • 16,000 at vehicle manufacturing sites
  • 31% of vehicles made in France, with some 700,000 cars manufactured annually
  • 40% of all engines and gearboxes made in France, or 1.4 million gearboxes and 610,000 engines
  • Nearly 2/3 of Europe’s automakers are within 600 km

The perfect place to grow your business

50% of the automotive vehicles made in Europe are produced within a 600-km radius around Hauts-de-France.

7 auto manufacturing sites

Hauts-de-France is home to 7 plants producing a variety of vehicles

  1.  Toyota: Yaris, Yaris Cross
  2. Renault Douai: Scenic, Grand Scenic, Talisman and Espace
  3. Sevelnord (Peugeot Citroën, Opel, Vauxhall and Toyota): Assembly of light commercial vehicles CD [Peugeot Expert, Citroën Jumpy, Opel Vivaro, Vauxhall Vivro and Toyota ProAce] and passenger vans [Peugeot Traveller, Citroën SpaceTourer, Opel Zafira Life, Vauxhall Vivaro Life and Toyota ProAce Verso].
  4. Renault Maubeuge (Renault Group ElectriCity): Kangoo, Mercedes CITAN and Nissan NV250
  5. PSA Valenciennes: Gearboxes
  6. Française de Mécanique: Engines
  7. Renault Ruitz (STA): Gearboxes

High concentration of automotive equipment manufacturers

The sheer scale of the Euro-Region’s auto industry gives carmakers easy access to a wide range of subcontractors and related services. Hauts-de-France is home to over 200 tier 1, 2 & 3 equipment manufacturers and the full range of automotive production—shock absorbers, windshields, tires, alternators, clutches, finished auto body parts and more. The bottom line? Profitable purchasing supply chains for carmakers.

Where Hauts-de-France stands in the European automotive industry

Our region accounts for:

  • 2.8% of the automotive vehicles made in Europe (700,000 vehicles 2017). By comparison, all of Italy accounts for only 3.3% of European production, and Belgium only 2.5%
  • 44.5% of Toyota’s European output
  • 42.8% of passenger cars made in France by Renault
  • 40% of engines manufactured in France (over 600,000 per year)

Recent investments in the Hauts-de-France automotive industry

investissement TOYOTA
investissement Toyota en Hauts-de-France


€1.5bn invested since the automaker committed to a new Valenciennes site in 1997

Discover the timeline

investissement renault


€450m invested over five years to boost output

Read More

PSA Groupe


€90m to produce AET6 gearboxes under license for Japanese equipment manufacturer Aisin

Learn more

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Automotive executive testimonials

Olivier Silva Renault Maubeuge Testimonial

Renault-Nissan Group

In 1977 Renault acquired Maubeuge-based Société des Usines Chausson, and in July 2019 we interviewed Olivier Silva, Plant Manager at the Maubeuge plant, Renault ElectriCity Group (former MCA). He explained how Hauts-de-France helps him stay competitive.

What do you see as the region’s greatest advantage?

“When you arrive in Hauts-de-France as a plant manager, you quickly realize just how attractive the region is for an export-oriented business. We are literally at a European crossroads, sharing borders with Britain, Germany, and the Benelux countries. Multi-modal transport is another strength in the region, with shipments moving easily between waterways, road and rail. Last but not least, Hauts-de-France has a strong industrial culture—and above all a strong automotive culture—that makes it easy to work with partners.”

What about productivity?

“MCA holds the record for productivity in France, with 100 vehicles per employee per year. In fact, our productivity is nearly twice the French average for bodywork assembly plants. [Editor’s note: Renault Group’s 2020 target is 60-90 vehicles per year at all of its plants.] It was this caliber of productivity and production quality that brought Daimler to the region.”

Do you have any tips for international businesses interested in moving into Hauts-de-France?

“If you’re setting up for the long haul, you’ve got to forge links with the local economy and local institutions. That lets you tap into the region’s strengths, including labor, very quickly.”

Toyota Valenciennes

Toyota came to Hauts-de-France in 2001 with the goal of creating 2,000 jobs. Since then, it has reshaped the region’s industrial landscape. Over nearly 20 years, the automaker’s Valenciennes plant has produced over 3.8 million vehicles and doubled its workforce. We spoke with Luciano Biondo, President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing France (2017-2020)

Can you tell us why the Toyota Yaris has been so successful?

“The success of our Yaris compact is the first reason for the plant’s performance. France now manufactures more of the Yaris than any other compact car. […]

The second reason is our equipment and our infrastructure. Our site is very compact: it’s 20%-30% smaller than other sites that make cars for the same segment.

The third reason is the engagement and motivation of our employees. […] And that is the product of our constructive, responsible relationship with local labor.

What about competitiveness?

“Labor costs are higher, but they’re clearly offset by the labor environment and the engagement of our technicians. We’ve increased productivity by 20% in four years. And we have lower, better-controlled costs here than we’d have in another European country. We’re in the heart of our market.”

How is your Hauts-de-France plant different from the others?

“The big advantage is geography. If you draw a 300-km circle around our plant, it covers 110 million people—mostly city dwellers. Having energetic officials at local, metropolitan and regional levels also makes a big difference, because they fight to preserve manufacturing jobs and support our projects.”

témoingnage Luciano Biondo Toyota
PJ Eraud Goodyear Testimonial

Dunlop Goodyear Amiens

Dunlop Goodyear’s tire plant has been operating in Amiens since 1958. In May 2019 we spoke with Manufacturing Director Pierre-Jean Eraud, who told us why the company has stayed in the region and how he sees his employees.

Can you describe your plant briefly?

“Dunlop originally chose the Amiens site because of its strategic location. It was convenient to many northern French cities where automakers were already doing business—Douai, Maubeuge and Sandouville. And since it was within easy reach of the Lille and Paris regions, we had a wide catchment area and could optimize transport and logistics.”

Why do you keep doing business in Hauts-de-France?

“We’ve kept our plant here because our output hits the right benchmarks: we’ve struck a good balance between a high hourly wage and productivity, which keeps us aligned with group requirements for Europe. In fact, our cost price is the same as that of plants in Turkey and in Eastern Europe.

And what do you think of your employees?

“They’re proactive, curious and energetic. There is also pride in working in an industry with a long history. And it’s never very hard to find people who are willing to work overtime.”

Qualified workers available at competitive wages

The automotive industry has a long history in Hauts-de-France. Workers contribute valuable know-how to their companies and are deeply committed to their production units. The region is home to a qualified workforce and a labor pool of 50,000 workers with immediate availability.

Automotive training in Hauts-de-France

To hold onto our lead, the Hauts-de-France region trains some the finest automotive engineers in France. Our centers of excellence offer training at every level, making it easy for automakers and OEMs to recruit qualified employees.

  • Secondary school vocational programs
  • Technical schools
  • Two-year university programs in technical fields
  • Vocational bachelor’s degree
  • Business and engineering schools

Hauts-de-France is home to 24 engineering schools. Here are a few of the training programs dedicated to excellence in the automotive field:

ENSAM - Land transport vehicle engineering
- Mechatronics systems for industrial innovation
École Centrale Lille - Production systems engineering
- Advanced mechanics
INSA - International Master’s in transport and energy
- Mechatronics
- Energy mechanics
UTC Compiègne - Maintenance of multi-technology systems
- Mechanics, acoustics and materials
- Heuristics and diagnostics for complex systems
- Electric actuators and motricity issues for on-board power systems
HEI - Mechanical engineering and design
- Masters in innovative transport system technologies
POLYTECH’ LILLE - Mechanical engineering
- IT, microelectronics and automatic control engineering
École des Mines de Douai - Mechanical engineering
UPJV - Mechanical engineering and computer-integrated manufacturing
- Systems optimization
- Computational mechanics and design

Cost of automotive labor

Did you know? Since 2016, under sectoral bargaining agreements, the hourly cost of labor has been lower in France (€38.3) than in Germany (€38.8). (Source: the French statistics institute INSEE, 2018)

Average work week in the automotive industry in 2018

Source: Eurostat

Productivity: GDP per hour worked in 2018

Source: Eurostat

ARIA automotive association: serving the industry in Hauts-de-France

ARIA is a private-sector association for the auto industry in Hauts-de-France. Founded in 1996, it has nearly 180 members, including:

  • automakers
  • OEMs (large-scale runs of components and equipment)
  • subcontractors operating as equipment suppliers
  • universities, secondary schools, engineering schools, and automotive consultants
  • service providers

Solutions for business

  • Competitiveness and performance: by offering advice, support and training, evaluating performance and forming buying groups
  • Innovation: by helping businesses find partners, secure financing and launch R&D projects
  • Industry and business intelligence: using the Cléo intelligence platform and studies from the Bank of France
  • Networking and business: by helping auto industry players connect with each other at conferences, forums, business speed-dating sessions and other events
  • International growth: by connecting ARIA members with international partners in Europe and around the world, leading visits to other countries, and organizing the FEAL Automotive Forum.

Close-up: FEAL, the global auto industry event in Lille

Since 2013, ARIA has organized FEAL, the European Automotive Industry Forum in Lille. This biannual international event has a single goal: stay ahead of automotive trends in France, in Europe, and around the world. The program is packed with presentations and workshops that shine a spotlight on all of the players in the Hauts-de-France auto industry—automakers, startups, subcontractors, associations, clusters, research centers, institutions and more.

Learn more about FEAL

Transalley Technology Park: Turnkey solutions for your auto company

Transalley is a technology cluster with global ambitions, dedicated to innovative companies, R&D and players in sustainable, innovative mobility. You will find resources for training, research and innovation in a single complex, with close ties to Polytechnic University of Hauts-de-France (UPHF).

The Transalley complex includes:

  • applied research laboratories
  • technology platforms
  • spaces where businesspeople, researchers and academics can mingle, such as a Business Hub for local innovators

Automotive R&D in Hauts-de-France

We’re home to France’s leading auto industry, and to keep our edge we’ve made innovation a core value. Carmakers and OEMs can count on a world-class competitiveness cluster, R&D laboratories and private research centers to fast-track their cutting-edge projects.

ELSAT is a science cluster serving the auto industry in Hauts-de-France. As the regional coordinator for automotive research, ELSAT provides a forum where industry players and scientists can join forces to meet the challenges of sustainable transport and mobility.

Fast facts:

  • 1 consortium with 16 partners
  • 400 researchers, engineers and technicians
  • 27 laboratories
  • 1 Research Federation for Land Transport and Mobility backed by CNRS, the French National Center for Scientific Research
  • 2 technology development centers

ELSAT’s automotive research programs include:

  • The human factor in transport: Autonomy, protection and safety for all
  • Optimization of mobility and logistics systems
  • New materials and structural concepts
  • Vehicle function, design and performance
  • Sustainable mobility and accessibility: Meeting economic, legal and social needs • Information technology and behavioral change

Learn more about ELSAT

i-Trans is a competitiveness cluster for transport, mobility, and logistics—a powerful resource in the Hauts-de-France region, with services that help businesses and laboratories develop, structure and fund new research and development capabilities. i-Trans supports and certifies collaborative R&D projects for the auto industry and other sectors.

Learn more about i-Trans

CRITT M2A is a research center for automotive engines and acoustics, founded by auto industry players seeking an independent center with high-tech research and testing equipment. To meet the needs of automakers, equipment manufacturers and academics, it was designed and built around four strategic areas:

  • Turbocharger testing
  • Engines
  • Acoustics and vibration
  • Electrical testing

Learn more about CRITT M2A

The Technical Center for Mechanical Industry (CETIM) was founded in 1965 at the urging of mechanical engineering specialists in the region. Its mission is to provide companies with the resources and skills they need to:

  • Become more competitive
  • Take part in standardization
  • Bridge the gap between scientific research and industry
  • Spur advances in technology
  • Boost efficiency and deliver quality every time

Learn more about CETIM

CREPIM certifies and approves the fire safety performance of materials and assemblies. As one of Europe’s leading laboratories in the field, it offers benefits for any business that cares about fire safety. When you work with CREPIM, you have access to the resources you need to ensure that your materials meet European fire safety requirements for any field.

To meet the business community’s needs for development and testing, CREPIM focuses on four key areas:

  • testing
  • certification
  • development
  • training

 Learn more about CREPIM

UTAC CERAM is a private-sector technology center that provides technical expertise to government and industry. It serves clients in four complementary areas:

  • Tracking regulatory trends in Europe and around the world through active participation in working groups in Brussels (EU) and Geneva (UNECE)
  • Compiling regulations in French and English and update them in real time
  • Conducting regulatory testing for approvals (types M, N, O, L and T), safety and/or environmental impact
  • Producing type approval applications
  • Verifying conformity of production
  • Assisting clients with manufacturer applications for registration in France

Learn more about UTAC CERAM

Université Gustave Eiffel is a leading player in European research on transport technologies, accounting for some 25% of French research on cities and transport. Its Lille campus, located in the city’s Villeneuve d’Ascq suburb, has two laboratories dedicated to:

  • Evaluation of automated transport systems and their safety
  • Electronics, waves and signal processing for transport

Learn more about Université Gustave Eiffel