Tesla, Ikea, new factories: Key takeaways from Choose France summit

We look at the key foreign investment pledges for France made at an event in Versailles near Paris

President Macron launched the investment summit in 2018, which is aiming for a record this year, but he has received criticism for holding it at the Chateau de Versailles
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Business leaders pledged projects worth €13 billion at France’s flagship foreign investment summit this week.

Choose France, held at the Chateau de Versailles, is now in its sixth year, having been launched by President Emmanuel Macron in 2018.

Here are the key takeaways from the event.

Musk ‘hopeful Tesla will invest in France’

Macron’s meeting with Elon Musk made the headlines, but the co-founder and CEO of Tesla did not announce any new investment in France.

But responding to BFMTV, he did not close the door on the idea.

“I think so, at some point, but not today,” said Musk, asked whether Tesla would be investing in France.

“I will not make an announcement today, but I am very impressed by President Macron and the French government, how welcoming they are to industry.

“So I am hopeful that Tesla will make significant investments in France in the future."

Swedish giant Ikea to invest heavily in France

Ikea has announced plans to invest €906million in France over the next three years to expand its clientele in the country and open a new logistics centre near Toulouse (Haute-Garonne).

New jobs will “very probably” be created, Ikea told AFP.

CEO of Ikea France, Johan Laurell, said: “We are investing in existing sites and also in new ones…to make our offer more accessible to more people, and speeding up [sustainable development efforts].”

Jesper Brodin, head of Ikea France holding company Ingka, said France is the company’s “third largest market in the world” and we “think we can do more and grow more” in the country.

Ikea is also set to invest in a solar energy park in Langeron (Nièvre), which is set to be operational from 2024. It also plans to support Dutch start-up RetourMatras, to “build mattress recycling capacity in France up to 500,000”, it said in a statement.

Mr Brodin said that despite the difficulties caused by inflation and raw material costs at the start of this year, “supply chains are normalising…and some costs will drop”. He said: “Prices will fall. That’s not only our prediction but our mission.”

Europe’s largest solar panel factory to be built in eastern France

Holosolis, a company founded by EIT InnoEnergy, says it will build Europe’s largest solar panel factory in Sarreguemines, near France’s border with Germany.

The €710million project will create 1,700 jobs. It is set to open in 2025.

Roland Lescure, France’s minister for industry, said: “For years, we have supported solar panels that have been made on the other side of the world. Now, we will have solar panels made in France.”

It comes after a similar project, by the Norwegian company Rec Solar, was cancelled. That project had been set to take an investment of €681million, and the creation of 1,500 jobs.

Electric car battery factory in Dunkirk

Taiwanese company ProLogium confirmed it is set to open a factory for electric car batteries in Dunkirk (Nord), in a €5.2billion investment project that will directly create 3,000 jobs.

The company had been considering opening in the US, to benefit from President Joe Biden’s investment plan, but ended up choosing France instead, mainly due to its nuclear energy credentials.

CEO Vincent Lang said: “We need a good, cheap, green, stable energy source.”

Lithium battery factory in Dunkirk

This project by Chinese company XTC and French company Orano is set to cost €1.5billion and create 1,700 jobs on the site.

Together, these battery projects have led the Elysée to name the Nord city as a “symbol of the industrial reawakening” in France.

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