In Western France, the automobile sector includes almost 900 companies, 700 of them with fewer than 50 employees. The sector generates turnover of 9.5 billion euros (not counting PSA Peugeot Citroën) and provides almost 90,000 jobs in the three regions covered by the cluster (Brittany, Pays de la Loire and Poitou-Charentes).
The purpose of the Top-of-the-Range Automobile cluster given formal recognition by central government in December 2005 is designed to increase competitiveness through three forms of action:
- To federate players in Western France: to encourage and strengthen links between the various players in Western France’s Automobile sector i.e. researchers, educationalists and industrialists.
- To encourage innovation: the ability to turn new ideas into new products or processes, or even into new managerial methods, with a view to keeping one step ahead of the competition.
- To develop the export trade: a company which has successfully completed an innovative project improves its competitiveness and has advantages over its competitors when seeking to set up international partnerships with companies or laboratories.
To achieve its goals, the Top-of-the-Range Automobile cluster has defined six areas of research:
- embedded systems: driving assistance, communications, reliability and safety of the systems,
- materials (with the EMC² cluster): materials, composites, polymers, new types of steel etc. to make vehicles safer and lighter,
- sensory aspects: smell, hearing, touch, sight,
- sustainable development: energy savings, environment, recyclability etc. with all features taken into account from the design stage onwards,
- industrial excellence: design methods, new processes, greater vehicle reliability, adaptation of production resources to meet upmarket specifications,
- internationalisation: search for international partners (companies and/or laboratories).
For further information, consult the cluster’s website.