Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Wisconsin companies that can aid in the development of electric, hybrid and autonomous vehicles should pursue connections in the market.

The 2018 figures published by the French Committee for French Automobile Manufacturers (CCFA) state that French automobile manufacturers, which include the Peugeot Citroën (PSA) Group and Renault-Nissan Group, produced 7.8 million vehicles (out of a world market of 97 million vehicles), of which 2.17 million new vehicles were sold in France alone, an increase of 3% over the prior year. The PSA Group increased its sales by 6.2%, boosted by an increase of 13.4% in sales of its new model DS and CS Aircross, while Renault increased sales by 2.5%, buoyed by the success of its low-cost Dacia models, which increased sales by 19.1% over the prior year (for a total of 140,000 models sold).

The industry is undergoing a transformation with regard to diesel versus gasoline combustion engines. Diesel vehicles have seen a brutal decline accelerated by recent exhaust emissions scandals (such as that of the Volkswagen Group) and fraud, as well as restrictions on these vehicles in some cities due to their contribution to climate change (despite the Euro 6d Temp solution). Market share for diesel vehicles sits at around 47%. Consumer values are changing to prefer vehicles with lower carbon dioxide emissions, which creates opportunities for companies that specialize in this type of engine technology. The European Commission is drawing up new directives for 2030 to reduce exhaust emissions drastically.

Emphasis has shifted to developing electric, hybrid and autonomous vehicles, with increasing R&D investment in this area carried by the continued success of the French automobile industry, which has seen a 25% increase since 2013 in its annual production within France, which now constitutes 460,000 vehicles, and in spite of high costs compared to other European countries. This technology has drawn a major investment in research from the Strategic Sector Committee (CSF). Today there are more than 20,000 electric vehicle recharging stations in France, mainly in major cities, and this is expected to increase to more than 100,000 by 2022, with a goal of also multiplying the sales of electric and rechargeable hybrid vehicles fivefold.

Both the PSA and Renault groups are fully dedicated to developing new vehicle types—especially autonomous vehicles—and are sharing their experiences with one another, with support from the government, which facilitates testing procedures. Onboard technology is also a fast-growing area, with the new concept of the “connected car” equipped with computer servers, wireless internet and tracking technology, thus opening up opportunities for suppliers of high-tech solutions and components within the electronics sector, batteries and new lighter materials such as reinforced carbon fiber and special plastics.

Two major French automotive trade shows occur in Paris or the Paris region: the biannual Mondial Paris Motor Show (Oct. 1-11, 2020) and the International Equipment Manufacturers and garage trade show EQUIP AUTO (Oct. 15-19, 2019).