France to take the lead on electric cars

French President Macron announced a multi-billion-euro aid package for his country's crisis-stricken automotive industry on Tuesday. The goal is to save hundreds of thousands of jobs in the sector and make driving more environmentally friendly. Among other things purchases of electric cars by private buyers and companies are to be subsidised. Will the plan work?

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Handelsblatt (DE) /

Not the solidarity needed for EU recovery

Handelsblatt criticises Macron's demand that French manufacturers keep the added value in the country:

“Macron is combining two goals that are partly contradictory: Europe's technological sovereignty and the creation of jobs in France's car industry. France's top suppliers such as Valeo, Faurecia or Plastic Omnium make important contributions to ensuring that Europe remains a technological leader in the automotive industry, in electronics and hydrogen. But they don't necessarily develop and manufacture in France. On the contrary: they follow their customers, and the main one is the German automotive industry. ... It almost seems like a mockery of the efforts to find a common European answer to the corona crisis ... You can't have both: an economic reconstruction scheme based on solidarity and a purely national subsidy programme.”

Mediapart (FR) /

Backward-looking rescue plan

Macron's plan ignores the fact that our mode of transport is changing, Mediapart criticises:

“The car is no longer an attractive object. Many families are turning away from it if they can - but many cannot. All manufacturers are looking to the new technologies for salvation. ... But if you think that replacing a diesel or petrol engine with an electric or hydrogen engine will solve all your problems, you're turning a blind eye to a disturbing reality. What has to be rethought is the use of the car itself. Far from helping manufacturers to tackle this change and embedding it in a broader vision of transport and mobility, the government is encouraging them to prolong the current situation with subsidies and loans.”

Financial Times (GB) /

Force pan-European shift to electric cars

Government grants are a golden opportunity to make the auto industry greener, The Financial Times says:

“Leaders should remember the lessons of the bailouts a decade ago, and use their influence to change the industry - and transport - for the better. They should put their money not into sales incentives, but plans to bring about the electric charging infrastructure necessary for a decisive shift away from hydrocarbons. A pan-European initiative to build electric car batteries is a positive step. Any financial assistance to automotive companies should be conditional on them working in the same direction. Governments are focused on hitting their climate change goals. Today's crisis offers an opportunity they should not miss.”