100% electric cars from 2035, the only solution to save the French auto industry?

The electricity fairy to the rescue of the French automobile. In a report that they publish jointly on Tuesday, the Nicolas Hulot Foundation (FNH) and the CFDT Métallurgie believe that the salvation of the automobile made in France can only come from 100% electric. “If we want to save as many jobs as possible in the sector, or even in a second step to create new ones,” estimates Marie Chéron, mobility manager at the Nicolas Hulot Foundation (FNH) and co-author of this report with Jean-Marie Robert, secretary CFDT Métallurgie, we should only produce electric cars from 2035. ”A rather logical punch target for an NGO known for its commitment to protecting the environment. But more unexpected from a metalworking union.

“France has signed to stop the sale of combustion vehicles by 2040,” recalls the head of the FNH. Europe, for its part, has revised its targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, or GHGs, by 2030, from -40% to -55%. However, this is impossible to achieve with the current measures, in particular the stimulus plan put in place by the government in 2020. ”The report points to a paradox: continue to build thermal vehicles after 2030, when we do not will no longer be able to sell them from 2040, knowing that their average lifespan is now around ten years, makes little sense. “We must therefore speed up the transition, by at least five years,” confirms Marie Chéron. For the environment, but also to save jobs. “

It is therefore urgent. Relocation requires, the number of vehicles assembled in France increased from 3 million in the early 2000s to 2 million in 2019, according to figures from the Automotive Platform (PFA). And even 1.3 million in 2020. Result: 100,000 jobs have vanished in ten short years, dropping the workforce to 400,000. And 100,000 additional jobs could still disappear by 2035.

To avoid an announced industrial disaster, producing 100% electric vehicles by 2035 therefore appears to the authors of the report as the only solution. But the means must match the ambition, by setting milestones. Thus in the most successful scenario, entitled “Just Transition”, the three manufacturers producing on French territory (Stellantis, Renault and Toyota) will have to supply at least 60% of electric vehicles by 2030. And 40% of rechargeable hybrids. Then switch to all-electric less than five years later.

Condition public aid on ecological and social guarantees

Are manufacturers able to achieve this? “Yes, if they put in the means,” says Marie Chéron. Renault or Stellantis have already taken measures. This is good, but not sufficient. “Training will be one of the most important levers. It is also what will allow employees in the sector to promote their know-how and apply it to new technologies. And therefore not to find yourself in a professional impasse. In this, the report shows realism and pragmatism. “We know that not all jobs will be able to be kept,” notes Marie Chéron. There will be a trough during this decade. But if we anticipate early enough, social damage will be avoided. And significant hiring needs will appear from the start of the 2030s. “

Among the levers to be operated to achieve this ambitious objective, the authors put forward subjecting public aid to ecological and social guarantees. “Today, only 15% of this aid really goes to support employment and ecological transition”, still deplores Marie Chéron. In the same vein, it will also be a question of reviewing public procurement policies at European level.

“The EU now considers the support of the local economy through public procurement as an obstacle to trade and therefore as a distortion of competition”, she analyzes. However, it is also by ordering from French manufacturers, for the fleets of public companies for example, by favoring “Made in France”, that we can also further support their activity.

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