Energy transition, war in Ukraine, shortages… automotive subcontractors in Center-Val de Loire under stress

NGK Spark Plug France announced in January the closure of its factory in Meung-sur-Loire, 20 kilometers from Orleans. The French subsidiary of the Japanese group, a world leader in automotive ignition systems and sensors, accounted for 40% of its business volume in Russia until February 2022, when exports to the country were banned. NGK Spark Plug France was the main supplier in this role. candles for lada car brand. The rest of the activity is mainly focused on customers in the Maghreb, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

Last year, the plant produced about 35 million candles, mainly intended for replacement of heat engine parts. With a turnover of 145 million euros and a net result of eight million euros, NGK Spark Plug France nevertheless performed well in 2022 thanks to the resale of other spark plugs for the market.Europe.

The closure of the factory in Meung-sur-Loire will result in 77 job cuts starting in April. NGK Spark Plug France commissioned an external consulting firm to both reclassify these employees and try to find a buyer. Established in Loiret since 1991, the company has 10 hectares of land and 5,000 m2 of buildings. It will employ 48 people at its headquarters in Plessis-Robinson in the Hauts-de-Seine.

In addition to the economic side of the conflict in Ukraine, the planned stoppage of internal combustion engines by car manufacturers in Europe, planned for 2035, also explains the decision to withdraw from the Japanese giant (3.8 billion in revenue and 11 thousand employees). The Meung-sur-Loire plant was the only NGK Spark Plug production unit on the old continent.

Fighting with car suppliers

The ecological transition, especially the means of transport, already has a significant impact on the economy of Centre-Val de Loire. The automotive sector represents 400 subcontractors in the area with approximately 29,000 employees in 2022. Thus, the Industrial Aluminum Foundry Company (SIFA), owned by Alty Industry and also based in Loiret in Orléans, was liquidated in December 2022. Engine manufacturer La Source-based Tenneco Valves also closed its doors three months ago. Blois-based equipment manufacturer Borgwarner, for its part, focused on injectors for hydrogen engines. A less directly interested but symbolic brick of the sector in Indre, Advance Wheels, the last French wheel rim manufacturer, was finally bought by the Saint-Jean industry with decisive financial support from the state and the region. . ” “Considering the successive crises in the automotive industry, the decline in sales, the increase in inflation, and the shortage of semiconductors, the risk for subcontracting of the firmly established sector in our territory is great.”, – says Francois Bonneau, president of the region. ” The end of the heat engine is also considered a leap into the void for some industrialists and their representative, Luc Chatel. “. The president of the Automotive Platform, which represents a strong sector with 400,000 jobs in France, the former Minister of National Education has been calling for several months to accelerate the transformation of the subcontractor model as the deadline approaches 2030 and then 2035. .

In this uncertain context, the regional executive of the Centre-Val de Loire has revised the business aid policy 180 °. Its subsidies are now mainly focused on their transformation, especially in the transport sector. ” We must anticipate these situations together and support the automotive industry to make the necessary investments to meet the challenges of the transition.” François Bonneau assures. “The new aid system called CAP Transition (environmental energy and digital technology) is primarily intended as a tool for the transformation of the industry. “. The priority goal is to strengthen its sustainability and limit the number of dry shutdowns.

In La Janais, Stellantis is getting help from the Brittany region to decarbonize the car industry.