Mondial de l’auto: how the car accelerates its ecological transformation

Electric minicars, photovoltaic-powered vehicles, hydrogen specialists: the Mondial de l’auto, which takes place in Paris from October 17th to 23rd, bears witness to its time. A trend that owes a lot to a decision taken in June by the European Parliament: the pure and simple ban on the sale of new combustion engine vehicles to private individuals from 2035. Consequence: until this deadline, the electricity share of engines must increase by 24% per year in Europe, according to consultancy EY-Partheron. With a great challenge: the deployment of 65 million chargers, knowing that today there are only… 410 thousand, according to calculations by the European Observatory for Alternative Fuels.

For its part, the European Transport and Environment Federation published a study in June on the potential market value of six European car manufacturers: Volkswagen, Stellantis (formerly Peugeot-Citroën), Toyota, Mercedes, BMW and Volvo. This would increase by … 800 billion euros if they accelerated their transition to 100% electric over the next ten years. With, as a result, an increase in its share price of 316%.

Between regulatory obligation and the prospect of profits, manufacturers are accelerating their conversion. Renault and Ford thus separated their activities. Ford Model-e will bring together new energy vehicles; Ampère will be Renault’s entity for electric vehicles, while thermal and hybrid engines will return to Horse, in which Geely and Aramco are expected to hold the majority of the capital.

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Driven by the offer of new models and the increase in prices at the pump, sales of electric cars are advancing at a good pace and are already feeding the used market, since they represent 10% of Aramisauto’s transactions. “We saw a peak in demand in the week of March 6th to 12th, with the increase in fuel,” explains Marie Laloy, the distributor’s director of marketing and services. In August, demand rose again by 61% for electric vehicles and 38% for hybrids compared to August 2021.”

It is in this spirit that Citroën designed the Oli. This electric family car, with a range of 400 kilometers, uses recycled and recyclable materials, striving for simplicity to facilitate repair, modernization and customization. Stated objective: to pass it on “as new” to several successive owners or several generations.

In order to adapt to rising energy prices and facilitate battery recharging, some manufacturers equip their models with photovoltaic panels. The Dutch Lightyear presented its first production car equipped with five square meters of solar panels and four electric motors, with a range of 710 kilometers. Toyota is offering a sunroof as an option on its first 100% electric SUV, as it did with the Prius hybrid. Mercedes equipped the roof of its luxury Vision EQXX prototype with photovoltaic cells, which has already completed two 1,200-kilometer journeys on a single battery charge. More affordable, the Sion, designed by a German start-up, is fully covered with solar panels. Its designer, Sono Motors, plans to produce 260,000 by 2030.

Hydrogen is the second route followed by manufacturers to increase the range of their vehicles and reduce charging time to a few minutes. Toyota and Hyundai already market fuel cell models. Stellantis offers three in its light utility lineup. BMW is launching its first model, the iX5 SUV. “We have partnered with Toyota to manufacture the battery in our center in Munich,” said Vincent Salimon, Chairman of the Board of BMW France. Finally, two French start-ups have stood out recently. NamX designed its SUV with Pininfarina. It is equipped with six interchangeable pods at the service station, in addition to the main tank. Its commercialization is scheduled for 2025, at the same time as Hopium’s high-end sedan, which has installed its factory and research center in Douains, Normandy.

One in two French people ready for carsharing

To reduce its ecological footprint, the automotive sector is not only relying on new technologies, but also on services such as car sharing. It is true that one in two French people say they are ready to switch to this mode of transport and that 28% want to see this offer expanded, especially young people under 24 (45%), according to an OpinionWay study published in July. “This is the ideal solution in urban areas, where the car is immobilized 92% of the time. This market is expected to triple in Europe by 2030”, says Laurence Béchon, director of mobility services at Mobilize, Renault’s armed arm in this area.

The company currently offers two different solutions: Zity, self-service car-sharing for large cities; Mobilize Share, for medium cities in closed loop (the vehicle must return to a station). In France, the franchise was granted to 500 dealers, as close as possible to the needs of local authorities and companies. Ikea, Leroy Merlin or west of France use it for your employees.

In total, 20,000 vehicles are used in car-sharing in companies, all operators combined, to which are added 11,550 cars for the general public. This volume is still low compared to the 30,000 cars available in Germany where this concept was launched in the 1980s. Not to mention Switzerland, “where it all started ten years earlier and where all municipalities with more than 10,000 inhabitants are now equipped” , highlights Laurence Bechon.

In late 2023, Mobilize will launch the Duo, an electric cart designed to be shared, connected and easy to repair. It will compete directly with Circle, whose batteries are removable – like those on scooters. “An advantage for operators that will avoid the astronomical costs of investments in terminals, collection and immobilization of vehicles during the six or eight hours of charging”, explains Eric Boullier, its founder. Decontamination by renewing the air will be carried out between each trip – an asset in the era of epidemics – while the sensors will let you know if residues are left in the car or if they have been degraded. Marketed to stationless rental companies such as Lime or Bolt, 2,000 copies of the Circle will be delivered in Paris in late 2023, then available in Munich and Berlin.

In less dense areas, platforms like Getaround connect individuals who want to rent their car, like an Airbnb. Thanks to the installation of a box for handing over the keys, in 2016 the service accelerated sharply. “The collaborative economy is also ecological sharing”, says Simon Baldeyrou, CEO of Getaround. In fact, a shared car would replace four individual vehicles, according to the French Agency for the Environment and Energy Management. Which, across France, would save 40% CO2 and 52 million kilometers. More than a thousand laps around the Earth!


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