By suggesting that its aid to Renault could be granted under certain conditions, the government has toughened its tone against the carmaker in distress, while, according to information from Europe 1, the manufacturer will close at least three sites: Choisy- le-Roi, the Foundries of Brittany and the Dieppe factory, as part of a vast savings plan. After recalling in Le Figaro that he had "not yet signed" the bank loan of around 5 billion euros guaranteed by the French state, the Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire indeed warned Friday on Europe 1 that he expected in particular commitments on the construction of electric vehicles.
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What did Bruno Le Maire say?
Invited Friday of the morning of Europe 1, the Minister of the Economy reaffirmed his wish to see Renault engage more strongly in the production of electric vehicles. "The strategy that seems to us the right one, as a shareholder State, is to make Renault one of the most technologically advanced manufacturers on the planet, and one that is at the forefront of the electric vehicle," he said at Sonia Mabrouk. But, he added, "this means reorganizing its production chain in France and around the world, in order to be more efficient".
For this, concluded the Minister, "we need clear commitments, in particular on the alliance of electric batteries, which we have created with Peugeot and Total. We hope that Renault will become a full shareholder of this alliance". "Renault can disappear, the big industrial manufacturers can disappear, you have to be lucid", added the minister to our antenna.
A strategic interest for a government in search of relocations
This pressure from the government must notably allow the executive not to lose face, at a time when it continues to display its objectives of more economic sovereignty. "We can clearly see the embarrassment of the government," notes Axel de Tarlé, editorialist for the economy of Europe 1. "He talks about 'made in France', relocations, economic sovereignty, and helps Renault, which is closing its factories. It is not very consistent with all this talk about the location of the industrial tool. "
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Axel de Tarlé also recalls that before the coronavirus epidemic, the Minister of the Economy had launched "an Airbus of batteries", with its alliance of electric batteries, which Germany intended to join, and that "Renault had refused to join. " "Bruno Le Maire therefore has a means of pressure with this aid of 5 billion euros, and he can say: 'I will sign it as soon as you agree to join Total and Peugeot to manufacture batteries in France'", Axel analysis of Tarlé.
Economically, "it's not neutral," says our editorialist, because the battery "represents 40% of the value of a car. So we understand that Europe, if it loses the batteries, loses control of this automotive industry ", whereas" today, all batteries are made in Asia ".
Electric cars "cost more for manufacturers"
But is electric really what Renault needs? At the microphone of Europe 1, Flavien Neuvy, director of the Cetelem automobile observatory, was skeptical of the group's chances of advancing quickly on this subject. If he recalls that Renault "had taken a step ahead of the electric, by launching the 'Zoé' a few years ago, when nobody believed in it", he immediately indicates that since, "Renault has not launched a new 100% electric model ". In addition, adds this specialist, "competition has intensified on the side of German manufacturers who have planned to launch a lot of models".
While the launch of an electric model is very expensive, "with the difficulties encountered by Renault and the automotive industry as a whole, investing hundreds of millions of euros in electric models is complicated", explains further Flavien Neuvy. "In France, the authorities are pushing manufacturers to manufacture electric vehicles, but these cars cost more, and are less profitable for manufacturers." And to conclude: "For the moment, the technique is progressing, but it is not yet mature enough to allow manufacturers to have the same margins as on thermal vehicles."