Region/Countries: Europe, France Industry: Other Date: June 2020

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Private cars are the preferred means of transport, and French consumers' attention to environmental friendliness is accelerating the growth in sales of electric and rechargeable hybrid vehicles.

Following the coronavirus pandemic, France’s automotive industry is undergoing a transformation, with new environmental laws being put forward. This opens new doors of opportunity for component suppliers within the electronics; battery manufacturing; and new, lighter materials (such as reinforced carbon fiber and special plastics) sectors.

2019 figures published by the Committee for French Automobile Manufacturers state that French automobile manufacturers (including Peugeot Citroën Group and Renault-Nissan Group) produced 8 million vehicles worldwide (1% more than in 2018), 81% of which were sold abroad. The industry invested €5.2 billion in research and development. 4,000 companies are involved in the French automotive industry, generating €155 billion turnover, representing 18% of France’s manufacturing industry and producing 2.2 million vehicles in 2019.

Despite the collapse in car sales of (-56% in May), the pandemic has had a positive effect in driving industry to rethink its strategy and pushing investment into developing electric and autonomous vehicles. French Economic Minister. Bruno Le Maire has unveiled an €8 billion plan to sustain the industry, including a guaranteed government loan of €5 billion to Renault with a commitment to develop electric and hybrid vehicles.

France is the European leader in the race to develop sales of such vehicles, in line with the European Commission’s directive to reduce exhaust emissions drastically by 2030.

In the wake of the pandemic, the private car overwhelmingly remains the preferred means of transport for 48% of the French population, who will take environmental criteria into account when they buy their next vehicle.

Given the scale of investments made to adapt to standards set by the European Union, automobile companies had already set in motion the dynamics of electrification well before the pandemic. To this end, the government has created a €1 billion fund to help modernize production and improve its ecological footprint.

The first quarter of 2020 saw a staggering increase in sales of electrified vehicles, and car companies are expecting acceleration in this trend when the pandemic ends. In the first quarter, electric car registrations (25,914 units) saw growth of 146% relative to the same period in 2019, and these vehicles now account for 7.1% of total sales. Nearly 9,500 rechargeable hybrid vehicles were sold in the first quarter, showing an increase of 143% over 2019. More than 310,000 electric and rechargeable hybrid vehicles were in circulation, of which 245,964 were electric vehicles as of April 1, 2020.

France has more than 20,000 electric vehicle recharging stations, mainly in major cities, and this will increase to over 100,000 by 2021 to support the targeted 5x increase in the sales of electric and rechargeable hybrid vehicles.

Two major French automotive trade show occur in and around Paris: the bi-annual Mondial Paris Motor Show, with dates to be confirmed for 2022, and the International Equipment Manufacturer’s and Garage Trade Show EQUIP’AUTO, Oct. 12- 16, 2021: