Luc Chatel: “The electric car revolution marks the advent of the new automotive world”

Posted on Oct 17, 2022 8:00 am

How is the automotive industry trying to recover after the succession of crises we have been through since the beginning of 2020?

Our sector is the victim of the most serious crisis in its history at the exact moment when it is undergoing a historic change. The health crisis has led to disruptions in raw material supplies from Asia and rampant inflation in their prices. To limit its dependence on Asia, the automotive industry is trying to better control its supply chain. Faced with a shortage of electronic components, manufacturers are looking to source more locally.

That’s the goal of the European Union, which is launching its Chips Act action plan that aims to quadruple its production of electronic chips by 2030. supply, closing supply agreements with global suppliers. At the same time, they focus their research and development on designing the battery of the future, with little or no rare metal. Renault, Valeo and Siemens are working on it.

Will the sector be ready for the end of thermal vehicles in 2035, decided by the European Commission?

The industry is gearing up to meet this unprecedented challenge. We far exceeded the objective of the strategic contract for the automotive sector signed in 2018 with the State, which was to multiply electric vehicles by five in 2022. The market share of electrified vehicles has multiplied by more than ten in five years! The entire automotive ecosystem is investing in vehicle electrification. Renault and Stellantis are investing to produce batteries and electric motors in France.

This all-electric goal is accompanied by uncertainty about the prohibitive price of the electric vehicle, 50% more expensive than its thermal equivalent.

Luc Chatel, President of the Automotive Platform (PFA)

But this objective of the all-electric vehicle is accompanied by uncertainties about the prohibitive price of the electric vehicle, 50% more expensive than the thermal one, about the infrastructure of charging stations and about the ability of subcontractors to keep up with manufacturers. We therefore regret the European political choice to put an end to a century of thermal motorization, keeping the rechargeable hybrids that allowed to serve all uses and maintain thermal vehicles. We recommend having an energy mix combining electricity, hydrogen, biogas, synthetic fuels and rechargeable hybrids. But Europe decided otherwise.

How do you assess the social impact of the industrialization of electric vehicles?

The transition from thermal technology to the electric motor, with a simpler design, will lead to the disappearance of a certain number of trades, with consequent significant loss of employment. In five years, the automotive industry has already lost 50,000 jobs. It is estimated that at least 65,000 jobs are under threat by 2030. At the same time, other professions are emerging. This is what is at stake in the battle for recycling and training that we are fighting alongside the government.

In addition to the energy transition, what other major transformations does the sector need to face?

The sector must face two major challenges: the digital revolution with the smart and connected vehicle, as well as the societal transformation of new uses for the car and mobility. The connected car requires huge software development. In a new car stuffed with an astronomical number of electronic components, there are over 100 million lines of code, that’s more than on an airplane!

New uses of mobility are shifting the sector towards an “Industry as a Service” logic. We will sell fewer and fewer vehicles and charge more and more for mobility services. Manufacturers are developing offensive offerings in this area. This is the case with Renault’s Mobilize, which aims to account for 20% of the group’s revenue by 2030, while Free2Move, the Stellantis brand, wants to extend its global presence to 15 million active users on the same due date.

Where is your relationship with the government on the best way to face these challenges?

The challenge is to bring France into this second automobile revolution. In order to face this challenge and guarantee our technological sovereignty, it is essential to provide the means, within the framework of ambitious public-private partnerships, to massively locate investments linked to the mobility of the future in France. These investments are estimated, in Europe, at more than 200 billion euros in ten years. To capture the most in our territory, we must continue to fight, through exceptional measures, the lack of competitiveness of the France website.

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