Motor industry plan expected

The industry minister will announce help for car firms today, likely to include more money off buying electric cars

24 July 2012
By

A GOVERNMENT plan to boost the motor industry is being announced today in the wake of the Peugeot Citroën’s warning of 8,000 job losses.

The details of what will be proposed are not yet known, though a key aspect will be encouraging people in France to buy eco-friendly electric or hybrid cars, in which the largest French firms have invested heavily.

The bonus available towards buying a new electric car – already €5,000 – could go up to €7,000 or more it is rumoured. That for a hybrid car could double from its current €2,000 to €4,000. The surcharge levied on the most polluting cars could also increase.

At present, despite the incentives, the market is small – in the first half of the year 2,270 electric cars were sold and 10,350 hybrid ones.

Commentators say extra financial help may also be offered to the motor industry, for example through the state bank Oseo or the FMEA, a fund set up in 2009 to give support to car parts manufacturers.

The industry, which represents 3% of French GDP, is going through difficult times – with Peugeot Citröen, notably, planning 8,000 lay-offs due to the size of its losses this year – 810 million euros in the first six months, compared to a profit of 806 million in the first half of 2011.

Unions have criticised a lack of discussion in relation to the motor industry plan, with CFDT leader Philippe Portier saying: “We have not been directly consulted”.

They hope to see more use made of the Comité Stratégique de la Filière Automobile, a committee bringing together government and union officials and manufacturers, which has not met since April.

Mr Portier has said a key aspect of the plan should be the question of electrical charging points. “Electric and hybrid cars are the main thing at stake, but above all you need charging stations for these new vehicles,” he said.

“It’s the role of the state and local councils, who must give a strong commitment. Otherwise the bonus-surcharge system won’t do anything.”

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