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The investment was announced with great fanfare during the fifth “Choose France” summit (“Choose France”) which takes place at the Château de Versailles (the strength of symbols). STMicroelectronics (Franco-Italian) and GlobalFoundries (American) are therefore announcing an investment of nearly 6 billion euros in Crolles in Isère. This will create a semiconductor factory as well as 1,000 jobs.
Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy is necessarily enthusiastic, speaking of “the largest industrial investment in recent decades outside nuclear power and a big step for our industrial sovereignty”. It must be said that Europe has discovered (or not) its excessive dependence on Asia, the leading producer of semiconductors. These fleas are all around us. The automotive industry is a big consumer of these chips, but there are also all consumer electronics, and even household appliances.
Up to 4% of world production in France
This plant will expand the ST Microelectronics site. But, will these 6 billion euros really change everything? Europe’s objectives are ambitious: to return to 20% of world production made locally, against less than 10% to date. The factory will be able to produce different chips, on various engraving sizes. It will be one of the most important sites in Europe. However, it will take more factories like this to increase European production and follow the “Chips Act”, the EU’s program to reduce Asia’s dependence on electronic chips.
In the end, this is good news for the region and France. This plant will double production in France. To date, France represents 20% of European production, or about 2%. With the Crolles plant, France will increase to 4% of world production. The new site will mainly address the automotive industry, which is also good news for French production. Other projects should be launched and announced concerning research (going to 10 nanometers of engraving, etc.).
A chip-dependent automobile
Production at “Crolles 2.0” should begin in 2023 and experience a ramp-up until 2026. Sovereignty will not be achieved in a snap of the fingers. The chip shortage is expected to continue at least until 2023.
The automobile is a major consumer of these electronic chips. Indeed, there are more and more ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) such as radars, various cameras, decision-making, etc., but also electronic chassis crutches, engine management, board and their display, infotainment, car connection, etc.
ST Microelectronics and GlobalFoundries announce 6 billion euros of investment in Crolles to double the production of “made in France” electronic chips. With this “Crolles 2.0” factory, France will produce 4% of the world’s chips and this will benefit our national automotive industry, which is a very big consumer of these little bits of silicon.