“IYou have to change gears when you have the wind at your back”: in the wake of a report by deputy Guillaume Gouffier-Cha on the economic weight of the bicycle, the players in the sector want to come together and create a real sector, which could weigh up to 100,000 jobs by 2050.
Today, the country of the Little Queen matters. The hundred French producers manufactured 660,690 cycles in 2020. At the same time, according to the report, the French have taken the turn of soft mobility by importing more than 2.2 million bicycles.
As a result, a shortfall for the economy at a time when the trade balance is at its worst. If the industrial sector represents 4,000 jobs in 2021, it could rise to 20,000 in ten years, 45,000 by 2050, according to Mr. Gouffier-Cha, who submitted his report to the government this week.
But to get there, the sector must raise its bells.
“We need a sector committee that can discuss with the public authorities and the other sectors, automotive and aeronautics in particular, because that is how we obtain better parts and technological breakthroughs”, proposes the deputy from Val- de-Marne, on the sidelines of the congress of the Federation of Bicycle Users (FUB) from Thursday to Saturday in Tours.
The timing is right after the Covid-19 pandemic and soaring energy costs.
“The health crisis has been great for us: 50% more business in two years. You have to change gears when you have the wind at your back, explains Patrick Guinard, CEO of wheel manufacturer Velox. When there is an awareness like that in France, it’s now or never to make the investments. »
Asian spare parts
“Production must increase so that there is no longer any need to source elsewhere,” hopes the leader. Most of the hundreds of parts that make up a bicycle currently come from Asia. A suboptimal supply, between shortages and delays that can reach ten months…
“It prevents us from growing,” says Augustin Ciresa, mechanic for Douze Cycles cargo bikes. “We manage to find, but we no longer do with what we want, we do with what we have. […] No company in France anymore makes cast aluminum for bicycles. They work for aeronautics or automotive. »
And in cycling, the solution is often the peloton. “Rather than ordering separately in Asia, there would be an interest in organizing to produce together”, breathes Mr. Gouffier-Cha.
“We can have the volume to interest the automobile and aeronautics,” agrees Mr. Guinard, citing the example of the equipment manufacturer Valeo, which is preparing to launch an innovative electric motor, eagerly awaited by the sector. Peugeot, which has a whole history on two wheels, is well suited to really reconnect with this past which also concerns Renault, a manufacturer with Giant in the 2000s and often involved in sports, unlike Citroën, which is very marginal.
But abroad, manufacturers are pro-active, especially in Germany with Porsche, Audi, Mercedes, BMW or elsewhere with Skoda, Aston Martin, Lamborghini for example, but none yet with large-scale ambitions. Yet they have the technological baggage to devil the sector.
Knowledge of suspensions, braking, electric motors and batteries, mastery of light and rigid materials, expertise in mass production and quality, everything pleads for the world of four-wheelers to take an interest in two-wheelers, in continuity of service when the car is left in the parking lot.
On a congress stand, Arnaud Chéreau points to the wheels of his connected cargo bike.
“We do not manufacture hydraulic brakes in France. If the actors all order brakes together, local manufacturers will be found. We still have an industrial fabric and know-how in France, ”says the founder of Wello, who has precisely set up his factory near Le Mans, a mecca for the automotive industry.
Still, some pieces will escape the made in France. “We will not do derailleurs in France,” says the boss of Velox. We will never make them cheaper than Shimano. »
If all the bricks are in place in the industry, the sector must also federate on a larger scale, also become a “political object” capable of influencing local authorities and developers.
The FUB is aiming for the summer of 2022 for the birth of a “sector committee”. A structure which “must start from the cycle path to the cargo bike”, according to its president Olivier Schneider, who quotes the construction giants Vinci and Colas, “interested in being in the round table”.
“Where there is no track or parking lot, there is no development”, agrees Mr. Gouffier-Cha, who recommends investing 400 million euros per year in infrastructure, or 30 euros per inhabitant. “We have a strong history, but we have to move from the Tour de France to daily practice. »