One of today’s challenges is to ensure industry transitions to provide new mobility services. France is developing the EV industry by focusing on all the pieces of the puzzle: energy research, battery production, adequate battery range, optimal energy consumption, charging points, local government investment, EV models, and finally, road and grid infrastructure.
The situation in France is favorable for a full-fledged, low-carbon vehicle industry that includes plug-in vehicles because of the high percentage of nuclear and hydro power energy sources that emit low CO2 emissions. France also benefits from the recent efforts taken by auto makers in the production of plug-in vehicles in all segments of the value chain: electric powertrains, charging equipment, batteries, and services.
Progress is afoot: car manufacturers PSA Peugeot, Citroën, and Renault have pledged to produce and deliver 70,000 PEVs by 2015, while a group of companies including Electricite de France, SNCF, Air France, France Télécom, and La Poste have committed to an initial purchase order of 50,000 electric vehicles.
In addition to the 14-point State “Electric Vehicles” plan, France is starting a whole new industry beginning with vehicle batteries. Renault, the CEA (French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission), and Nissan are currently building a factory in Flins, 30 miles outside of Paris, with the capacity to produce 100,000 to 350,000 batteries annually. French firm Saft, a world leader in production of high-tech batteries, began production in 2009 at its French factory in Nersac (Poitou-Charentes). Saft has been providing power supplies for foreign automakers that produce vehicles such as the Mercedes S-Class hybrid and the BMW 7 Series ActiveHybrid.
Meanwhile, the EV Plug Alliance created in March 2010 by Schneider Electric, Legrand, and Scame is working towards a standardized plug and socket solution. Equipment manufacturers Valeo, Michelin, Leroy Somer, GKN, Johnson Controls-Saft, and Leoni joined forces in June 2009 ina consortium to develop an integrated product range of electric vehicles.
Automotive manufacturers (Renault, PSA, Bolloré, etc.) have launched their first electric vehicles and their first rechargeable hybrids by the end of 2012. Spurred on by this bustle of activity, BMW has chosen France as a platform for trials of its new electric Mini.
Renault aims to become the first full-range car manufacturer to market zero-emission vehicles in use, available to the greatest number. Electric cars emit no CO2 in use. The Renault-Nissan Alliance is developing a complete range of 100% electric powertrains with power ratings of between 15kW (20hp) and 100kW (140hp).
Image courtesy of Renault.