French Automotive Sector

The automotive industry and mobility in the broadest sense of the term are facing major and rapid changes in response to several challenges: technological (in connection with the energy transition), digital and customary in order to support the ecological transition.

Environmental transition

The environmental transition is a growth lever for the automotive industry. The automotive industries must be the actors in the fight against global warming and the improvement of air quality, simply because it is these engineers who are the providers of technological solutions.

With 139,000 electric vehicles, France has the largest fleet in Europe, ahead of Norway (128,000), Germany (85,000), the UK (54,000) and the Netherlands (29,000).

In order to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050, we must address the following challenges:

  • Motorization technologies: thermal, electric, hybrid, hydrogen
  • Decarbonated fuels
  • Circular economy & sustainable development
  • Lighter components and systems
  • Environmental footprint of production sites

Throughout France and Europe, Low Emission Zones are being set up around major cities. Some cities have also decided to eliminate certain types of motorization in the short and medium term (2030 or 2040).

Digital transition

The digital transition impacts both vehicles and industrial processes.

Vehicles are increasingly incorporating driver assistance systems that provide new experiences for drivers and users while improving road safety. The development of autonomous vehicles is fully in line with this dynamic of digitalization of vehicles.

By bringing together automotive manufacturers and local authorities, transport operators and new mobility players, the French automotive industry is creating an ecosystem for autonomous mobility, with the aim of launching large-scale trials. 200 million euros will be invested in the Autonomous Vehicle Experimentation Program.

Autonomous and connected vehicle

  • Access to connected vehicle data
  • Experimentation of autonomous vehicles

Industrial tools and manufacturing processes are also undergoing a strong digitalization and digitization. This transformation is better known as Industry 4.0 or Industry of the Future. The challenge for industrial companies is to gain in efficiency and competitiveness and thus enable them to maintain a competitive advantage in this globalized market.

Jobs and skills

Technological and digital issues have obvious repercussions on the skills needed for business development. Some new skills are emerging, others need to evolve, or even disappear.

This in-depth transformation of the industry will not be achieved without focusing on human capital, the women and men who make up the industry, and their talents and skills. It is absolutely essential to anticipate the new jobs and new skills that such profound changes will entail.

The challenges related to skills have an impact on both initial and continuing education, enabling companies to support their employees and source new talent.


The automotive industry is known for its cyclical nature. In the little over a century that it has existed, it has also been confronted with numerous crises (oil crises in the 1970s, economic crises in 2008 and 2009). Each time, it has been able to reinvent itself and bounce back. This new structural and sanitary crisis to which the sector must respond is also characterized by a timeframe that is out of all proportion to what has already been overcome. In order to seize new opportunities and emerge from this period stronger and bigger, companies must become more competitive than ever. This will enable them to continue their development on the national territory but also and especially on the international level.

Part of the sector still suffers from a lack of competitiveness, which has resulted in a steady deterioration in the balance of trade and a situation that remains quite fragile for many SMEs that are insufficiently developed and diversified. For their part, service companies have to transform their business models over the next few years, the success of which will be a determining factor in their competitiveness.

Competitiveness of the sector:

  • Relations between manufacturers, equipment suppliers and suppliers
  • Industry of the future, Factory 4.0: digitalization, big data, cybersecurity
  • Skills, training & apprenticeship
  • Company taxation
  • International development

The challenge for the coming years is to make the ecological, digital and societal transition of the automotive industry an opportunity for our companies and our country, by relying on their mastery of key technologies and the skills of their employees.

The richness of the CARA network is characterized in particular by the diversity of the men and women in the sector and by the multidisciplinary nature of the companies and organizations that make it up (manufacturers, equipment suppliers, subcontractors, laboratories and research centers, training organizations)

Consult the directory of members

Members directory


Support fund – recovery plan

Already highly challenged by the challenges of ecological, digital and societal transitions, the automotive industry has been hit hard by the COVID-19 health crisis. With nearly 400,000 industrial jobs, the automotive sector is particularly affected by the Covid-19 crisis due to the sharp decline in the European automotive market. In order to support this strategic sector with 400,000 direct industrial jobs, the Government has announced a specific recovery plan for the automotive sector. This plan, which is part of the major economic support plan France Relance, supports companies in their R&D, modernization and diversification projects.

The fund to support investment in the modernization of the automotive industry has been allocated 200 million euros in 2020, and 600 million euros over three years. It is intended to help companies become more competitive by accelerating investments in automation and digitization of their industrial processes.