In a conversation with Mobility Portal Europe, François Roudier, Communication Director of the Plateforme automobile (PFA), discusses the current state of the electromobility sector in France.
Regarding the recent “threats” from Chinese business groups about not installing their factories in Europe or raising the price of their batteries, Roudier remained unconcerned.
“The system is working, sales are increasing, there are options of all kinds, including cars that will be below 20,000 euros. In addition, the batteries are safe,” says Roudier.
It’s worth noting that after the recent modification of the French ecological bonus, which excludes Chinese electric vehicles (EVs) from the benefits, some Asian business groups felt “discriminated against.”
Such is the case with BYD. As reported by La Tribune, a representative from the firm opposed the new implementation.
“The more the government threatens us, the less we will want to establish a factory in France,” declared the spokesperson.
Furthermore, some Chinese entrepreneurs might drive an increase in prices of lithium batteries produced in Asia, with the intention of impacting the prices of French electric vehicles that use them.
In this regard, Roudier, who has been working in the automotive sector since the 1990s, appeared relaxed.
“Our industry no longer operates that way,” asserts the Communication Director of PFA.
At the same time, he expresses, “While they have an advantage since their salaries are lower than those of any European nation, companies like Stellantis or Toyota plan to open Gigafactories in France.”
He also pointes out that the largest plant in the national territory belongs to Toyota.
“The interest and arrival of these companies are indicative of the good moment and the quantity of sales in the EV market,” indicates Roudier.
This is not the main concern of the electromobility sector in France.
“The real problem we face is that the infrastructure is not good. As you move away from a main highway or a big city, you will see fewer charging stations,” acknowledges the Director.
In relation to this difficulty, Avere-France sent an open letter to the French government, which was also signed by the PFA along with many other national associations and companies.
In the document, they warn about the dangers of reversing the France 2030 Plan, emphasizing the concentration of charging terminals in populated areas and the lack of them in rural areas.
“There is a significant disparity in infrastructure, which means that a French person with an EV cannot go on vacation to Greece. This is a real problem,” states Roudier.
“There is a lot of difference between European nations,” he adds.
What are the effects of state subsidies for EVs?
In recent years, the French government has implemented a series of incentives to boost sales in the low and zero-emission car market.
Some of the tools applied include social leasing and the ecological bonus.
The first aims to allow citizens to acquire an electric vehicle without having to pay the total cost upfront.
The second is a financial aid granted to any buyer or lessee of these means of transport.
However, lately, these incentives are in doubt.
It was expected that for the first week of 2024, the ecological bonus would be reduced by 20%.
But according to the PFA spokesperson, the cut is currently blocked.
“There was a dual effect with the change in subsidies,” says Roudier, who does not believe that the success of the EV industry entirely depends on state aids.
“If subsidies are kept and the market is too small, there is a problem. For example, in Germany, there are no subsidies, and suddenly the market drops,” declares the Communication Director.
The Automotive Platform (PFA) brings together the automobile industry in France.
It defines and implements, on behalf of all partners (manufacturers, equipment manufacturers, subcontractors, and mobility stakeholders), the sector’s strategy in terms of innovation, competitiveness, employment, and capabilities.
Its governance is based on a Board of Presidents composed of a group of French manufacturers (Stellantis, Renault, CCFA) and a group of equipment manufacturers and subcontractors (Faurecia, Michellin, Plastic Omnium, Valeo, as well as Professional Federations: FFC, FIM, FIEV, GPA, SNCP).
The PFA represents the 4,000 companies in the automotive sector that cover the entire territory and relies, in particular, on the network of regional associations in the automotive industry (ARIA) and competitiveness clusters.