Electric car: they went crazy! | The all-electric bet under the magnifying glass

Electric car: they went crazy! is the first book by François-Xavier Pietri. A journalist and author, he worries about the rise of Chinese manufacturers and wonders about the individual mobility of the middle class. He criticizes the European Commission’s decision to ban the sale of new CO-emitting vehiclestwo until 2035. The press spoke to him.

Published at 11:45 am.

Eric LeFrançois

Eric LeFrançois
special collaboration

Q: Several manufacturers say they are pushing hard into the all-electric bet, but shouldn’t they blame themselves, especially with the rigged diesel engine scandal?

A: The “dieselgate” has reduced to nothing the lobby of the automakers and especially the Volkswagen group that, let’s be honest, cheated. But this obligation to switch to fully electric represents, in this context, a kind of lifeline for many manufacturers who can redeem themselves by driving.


PHOTO HANNAH ASSOULINE, PROVIDED BY FRANÇOIS-XAVIER PIETRI

Author François-Xavier Pietri

Q: Car brands lament the frenetic pace of changes imposed under the pressure of standards, but at the same time praise their environmentally friendly innovations. How to separate the true from the false?

A: Builders are looking to show they’re making a real effort, and that’s fine. But we must not forget that the electric lap is also suitable for them. This allows these companies to downsize, as an electric vehicle is, in some ways, easier to assemble. The electric vehicle also increases profits as it is sold at a much higher price.

Q: At the Paris Motor Show a few days ago, the presence of such a large number of Chinese brands ready to electrify the European market visibly shook politicians and industry alike. But not consumers who will undoubtedly take advantage of a favorable opportunity to buy an electric vehicle at a better price, right?

A: The only thing I can report from witnessing this is that Chinese brands have the curiosity of visitors. One can easily understand why. These electric vehicles compare in many respects to comparable European vehicles, are displayed at more advantageous prices and come with a seven or eight year warranty. There are probably still some pitfalls to overcome, such as distribution, but its arrival poses, at the very least, a serious threat to European manufacturers. In France, the vehicles the French buy are no longer produced here. Of the ten best-selling car models last year, nine were French-branded, but only two are built in our territory.

Q: In this context, do you think Europe should, like the US administration, invoke the defense of its sovereignty to support the local auto industry? And then reserve its financial aid for consumers who buy vehicles made in Europe?

A: For the time being, there is no reason to believe, at least on the French side, that this option will be maintained in the short term, according to President Macron.

Q: You mention in your book that the electric car is not the only way to reduce a car’s carbon footprint. Authorities do not seem to share this view.

A: The decision to switch to all-electric is binary. That’s what’s regrettable. Current and future advances by car manufacturers are not taken into account. See, for example, the air quality report presented in 2019 by the Ministry of Ecological Transition. We learned that air quality generally improved during the period 2000-2019 in France. Fine particle emissions, those with a diameter of less than 10 microns (PM10), dropped by 51%, up to 61% for particles smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5), the most dangerous to health. At the same time, emissions of NOx, nitrogen oxides, largely from combustion emitted by transport, have dropped by 56% in less than 20 years. There is progress there.

Q: The ecological and health issues plead unambiguously in favor of the eradication of vehicles equipped with combustion engines. But the economic stakes weigh. On the consumer side, electric vehicles are now much more expensive and many families no longer have access to them. Will it be the end of an era? Should we say goodbye to individual mobility?

A: That’s the question everyone avoids. No one seems to take into account the ability of families to pay. To buy a virtue, an electric vehicle, today you have to pay a lot of money. A social division is forming and, obviously, this perspective has not been sufficiently studied and thought through.

Electric car: they went crazy!

Electric car: they went crazy!

Observatory Editions

203 pages

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