France has no batteries, but it has ideas. In particular to improve the combustion vehicle with a hybrid, the alternator-starter, an invention explored by Valeo for the past three decades and reached maturity. The factory Valeo at Étaples (Pas-de-Calais), where the president and Emmanuel Macron will announce Tuesday a plan to support the automobile, embodies a French success in the electric technologies and an industry model of the future.
In the huge building of the automotive supplier French who, a few days ago yet it produced masks antivirus, 1 500 employees produce 8 million alternators and alternator-starters per year, one every seven seconds. 80 % are for export, mainly to Europe, but also China, the United States, India, Japan.
The factory team of four cars, ten in Europe with those parts with high technological content responsible for producing the electricity of the vehicle. It has all of the major manufacturers among its customers.
Valeo in Etaples built alternator-starters but has also made masks during the crisis of the Covid-19 © Johan BEN AZZOUZ / MAXPPP / PHOTOPQR/NORTHERN VOICES/MAXPPP
The alternator-starters are used to reduce the CO2 emissions of thermal engines (up to 10 %), a hybridization system lightweight 48 volts, of which Valeo claims the first place in the world with 40 % of the orders registered to date on this technology. Audi himself, among many others, has adopted it for its remarkable advantages that we had detailed in our columns.
Read also : "Audi is betting on the alternator-starter"
The website that assembles, built in 1970 to a few hundred yards from the seaside resort of le Touquet, where the presidential couple has a holiday home, has managed to stabilize its workforce in a context of relocations and massive in France. He recruited a hundred people in 2019.
Better than the emerging market countries
" today We are able to manufacture less expensive than in countries with low costs ", welcomes Alberto Santos, director of the plant. The site leverages automation and digital technologies to remain competitive.
along the endless alleys that crisscross the 35 000 m2 of the workshops, the work on the metal parts is especially the case of robots. The transport of parts, stored in hundreds of crates in plastic apple-green, is carried out on forklift self-sufficient. "It is one of the most automated of Valeo," says Mr. Santos.
Valeo in Etaples built alternator-starters but has also made masks during the crisis of the Covid-19
About 200 people are assigned to the research and development of new products and manufacturing processes. In total, technicians and engineers account for 50 % of the work force.
"It is a market with an acceleration huge level of innovation," explained Mr Santos AFP, " take nothing for granted. It is a war every day ". It underscores the fierce competition, new players from the electronics, to the time when the electrification of engines to reduce polluting emissions from vehicles became a crucial issue.
For Christophe Périllat, chief operating officer of the company, the site of Étaples illustrates the migration of the combustion engine to the vehicle is electrified. It also illustrates the ongoing modernization towards " industry 4.0 ". "We are moving toward more automation, more technology, more digital in all the plants of the group," says-t it.
A beautiful example of the unnecessary cleavage that some would draw between thermal and electrical. It is permissible to take the best of both, like a hybrid, unfairly taken out of the plan of aid for the purchase in spite of their strengths. The visit of Emmanuel Macron may finally clear up the misunderstanding that this technology, in great demand in the world, is a victim among us.Date Of Update: 26 May 2020, 15:33