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The State renews its promises of support for the automobile industry

Coincidentally, the entire French automotive industry is meeting in Bercy this Monday as Chinese President Xi Jinping begins his official visit to France.

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The State renews its promises of support for the automobile industry

Coincidentally, the entire French automotive industry is meeting in Bercy this Monday as Chinese President Xi Jinping begins his official visit to France. Faced with Chinese domination in the production of electric vehicles, representatives of companies in the sector, ministers of Economy, Industry and Labor, and even trade union organizations are forming for the first time a united front to guarantee the survival of factories and jobs in the automobile industry in France, i.e. nearly 900,000 employees including 350,000 in production.

The new strategic contract for the automotive sector, a reciprocal commitment between the State and the entire profession, the signature of which had been awaited for several months, has finally been signed. No revolution on the menu. There will be no new budgetary efforts intended to support the transition to electricity, but a course maintained and the presence of new actors around the table: representatives of three unions, the CFDT, FO and the CFE-CGC .

“The organizations that represent employees are not intended to play the role of smiling extras in the photo,” explains Olivier Lefebvre, the federal secretary of FO-metaux. Our purpose is to defend the interests of those who support the industry, their jobs and the maintenance of factories on our soil. This is why we refuse to see our automobile industry die slowly. The public authorities have the same interest as us: maintaining employment in France. French automobile companies also have a common objective with us: not to give way to foreign competition which produces vehicles on the other side of the planet. »

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The commitment of trade union organizations is welcome. The challenges multiplied during the previous strategic contract signed in 2019 which ran until 2023: the crisis linked to Covid, component shortages, the war in Ukraine and its geopolitical consequences, the end of thermal vehicles in 2035 established in Europe , the rise of China in the electrical sector, etc. have increased the pressure on companies and weakened subcontractors.

Since then, the French automobile industry has struggled to regain its strength. The production of vehicles (personal and light utility vehicles) in France has declined spectacularly, from 3.5 million units in 2005 to 2.16 million in 2019 and to 1.5 million in 2023. Sales of passenger cars new ones also plunged: they went from 2.2 million in 2019 to 1.8 million in 2023 in France, of which just under 300,000 were 100% electric.

How in these conditions can we achieve the objectives set at the end of 2021 by Emmanuel Macron? During the presentation of the France 2030 plan, the president outlined the roadmap: produce by this date two million “electrified” vehicles, that is to say 100% electric, hybrid and rechargeable hybrid vehicles per year. Knowing that in 2035, all new hybrids, considered to be thermal vehicles, will be banned from dealerships in Europe.

France has no choice. To reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 50% between 1990 and 2030, the automobile industry should accelerate the number of sales of electric passenger vehicles to reach 800,000 units per year from 2027, compared to nearly 300,000 in 2023. The volume of electric and hydrogen utility vehicles should increase from 30,000 in 2023 to 100,000 in 2027, according to the general secretariat for ecological planning.

“The State is not going to leave you alone! », promised the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, last October, aware that the automobile industry was going to have to “transition in a few years from the thermal century to the electric century”.

Six axes have been redefined to respond to technological, industrial and social challenges: gaining competitiveness by supporting innovation, strengthening the attractiveness of the sector, ensuring its sovereignty, accelerating the energy and ecological transition, promoting the circular economy, renewing the vehicle fleet and develop new forms of mobility. At the same time, the State is committed to ensuring that the charging infrastructure is boosted. The number of public charging points is expected to increase from 100,000 currently to 400,000 in 2030.

The new contract provides that the budgetary envelope of 1.5 billion euros intended in 2024 for the ecological bonus, social leasing, the conversion bonus, etc. will be renewed in 2025. “As the market grows , the amounts allocated will be adjusted over the course of the finance laws,” Bercy nevertheless specifies.

This new pact perhaps does not have the same political ambition as the previous one. But the government does not have the same budgetary room for maneuver. It has the merit of raising the major challenges of a high-risk transformation.

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