The French auto industry will receive € 4 billion of France’s € 30 billion plan to revive its declining industrial economy, but only if it spends it on electric vehicles and public transport.
This will give Renault – once the world leader in electric vehicles – and the Franco-Italian group Stellantis a head start in catching up with the heavy expenses of the German and Chinese automobile industries and Tesla in the fight against electric vehicles.
French President Emmanuel Macron announced last week the France 2030 plan aimed at orienting French industries towards more modern fields such as green energy, semiconductors, robotics and electric vehicles.
Macron has set a target of two million French-made electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2030 and a transition to full electrification.
“I want us to look to the future and see our weaknesses and our strengths,” Macron said. “We need the country to produce more.
“We need an industrial response to the challenge of the new mode of transport.
“We need to focus on disruptive innovation technologies on new vehicles,” Macron said.
The move is a huge boost to the plans of Renault CEO Luca de Meo, who has launched an electric vehicle production center in northern France.
Stellantis, Renault’s former domestic rival and now the Franco-Italian-American powerhouse, will also benefit, with the cash incentives planned to bolster its gigafactory projects with French energy company Total.
Three gigafactories are in various stages of development or construction in France, which is used to supporting the French auto industry through subsidies to customers.
It poured 8 billion euros indirectly into the industry during the darkest days of the Covid-19 pandemic, allowing customers to reduce the price of a new electric vehicle by up to 10,000 euros, as well as a direct loan of 5 billion euros to Renault to compensate for its losses.
The French government maintains a 15% share of Renault, which would see calls for conflict of interest in other economies, but not in France. Renault also owns a 44% stake in Nissan and, through that, a majority stake in Mitsubishi.
De Meo, who has already shown Renault’s new 5 EV, told his unions and senior executives that an EV of less than € 20,000 is crucial to the brand’s fortunes in Europe.
It is Zoe who is the reigning European leader in electric vehicle sales from 2020, but French electric vehicle manufacturers were overwhelmed by the Volkswagen group, which spends a lot, last year and fell behind by compared to the Germans.
Stellantis was born from a merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the PSA Group, controls the Peugeot, Citroën, DS, Opel, Fiat, Lancia, Maserati, Jeep, Chrysler, Alfa Romeo, Ram, Abarth, Mopar, Dodge and Vauxhall brands. It currently offers electric vehicles under its Peugeot, Citroën, Fiat, Opel and Vauxhall brands, but plans to electrify almost all other brands.
According to Matthias Schmidt’s Electric Vehicle Market Report, electric vehicles held an eight percent share of the French car market in the first half of the year, which is the average for Western Europe. Germany climbed to 11% and Austria to 10%. Norway remained the European leader in electric vehicles, with a share of 57%.