The French car industry will be the recipient of €4 billion of France’s €30 billion plan to revive its flagging industrial economy – but only if they spend it on electric vehicles and public transport.
That will give Renault – once the world leader in electric vehicles – and Franco-Italian group Stellantis a leg up to catch the big-spending German and Chinese car industries and Tesla in the EV fight.
French President Emmanuel Macron last week announced the France 2030 plan to steer France’s industries into more modern areas like green energy, semiconductors, robotics and EVs.
Macron has set a target of two million French-built EVs and plug-in hybrids by 2030 and a transition to full electrification.
“I want us to look ahead and see our weaknesses and 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 hub in northern France.
Stellantis, Renault’s former domestic rival and now Franco-Italian-American powerhouse, will also benefit, with the cash incentives set to boost its gigafactory plans with French energy company Total.
Three gigafactories are in various stages of development or construction in France, which has a history of supporting the French car industry via subsidies to customers.
It tipped €8 billion indirectly into the industry during the darkest days of the Covid-19 pandemic, allowing customers up to €10,000 off the price of a new EV, as well as directly loaning Renault €5 billion to shore up its losses.
The French Government maintains a 15% share of Renault, which would see calls of conflict-of-interest in other economies, but not France. Renault also owns a 44% stake in Nissan and, through that, a controlling interest in Mitsubishi as well.
De Meo, who has already shown Renault’s new 5 EV, has told his unions and senior managers that a sub-€20,000 EV was crucial for the brand’s fortunes in Europe.
It’s Zoe is the reigning European EV sales leader from 2020, but the French EV makers have been swamped by the big-spending Volkswagen Group in the last year and have fallen behind the Germans.
Stellantis was born out of a merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the PSA Groupe, controls the Peugeot, Citroen, DS, Opel, Fiat, Lancia, Maserati, Jeep, Chrysler, Alfa Romeo, Ram, Abarth, Mopar, Dodge and Vauxhall brands. It currently offers EVs under its Peugeot, Citroen, Fiat, Opel and Vauxhall brands, but has plans to electrify almost every other brand.
EVs had an eight percent share of the French car market for the first half of the year, according to Matthias Schmidt’s EV market report, which was right on the western Europe average. Germany climbed to 11% and Austria to 10%. Norway remained Europe’s EV leader, with a 57% share.