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Manon Chevassut :
New Motor Power In France: The Electric Car, Or Mastering Clean Energy (Y059)


Manon Chevassut :
Transport policy, designated a priority for the French government during the Grenelle Environment Round Table, is being revolutionized in France. Research into alternative fuels and the reduction of carbon-dioxide-emitting gases are leading to the development of electric motors powered by new generation batteries with high-energy density or electricity produced by fuel cells. Combined with elaborate electronics, these batteries can provide a minimum range of approximately 100 miles.

French car manufacturers have been perfecting this process since the 1980s. Second generation electric vehicles (with lithium batteries) are being developed by partnerships such as SVE (Electronique Serge Dassault) and Heuliez, the car module manufacturer, to produce the CleaNova that is already being used by the French postal service (La Poste), Veolia, Accor, and French electrical giant EDF. The Bolloré group has partnered with the Italian company Pininfarina, which specializes in car module design and manufacturing, to produce and develop the BlueCar project by the end of 2008. By 2011, Renault-Nissan will be producing 100% electric vehicles for Renault Israel, a project that is estimated at EUR 150 million (about 240 million USD). In 2011, Renault-Nissan will also supply Danish consumers with 100% electric vehicles that comply with European standards, in conjunction with the Project Better Place company and local electricity supplier DONG. In France, Matra distributes electric cars manufactured by the American company GEM.

The technical and energy environment is favorable in France thanks to the high number of public recharging stations already established in large urban areas. Municipal authorities are increasingly sensitive to the need for hybrid or totally electric vehicles in urban areas.

These advantages explain the high level of interest in France shown by foreign industrial firms over the past several years: Johnson Controls which has partnered with SAFT, as well as many other actors in the automotive industry, including Robert Bosch, General Motors, Delphi, Honda, Volkswagen and other manufacturers involved in the production of powertrains for electric or hybrid vehicles. Toyota recently entered into a partnership with EDF to promote the new generation “Plug-in” Prius hybrid electric vehicle. The batteries used in these hybrid vehicles can be charged with a simple electrical outlet, offering increased power supply for short journeys.

“The French government has been supporting R&D heavily since January 1, 2008, with the best R&D tax credit system in Europe, which reimburses 50% of R&D costs in the first year. This credit, together with the eight innovative clusters dedicated to the automotive sector, are a boost to this industry, playing an important role in innovation and contract research for industrial firms engaged in the development and production of new solutions,” says Philippe Favre, president of Invest in France.

Invest in France Agency (IFA) promotes and facilitates international investment in France. The IFA network operates worldwide. IFA works in partnership with regional development agencies to offer international investors business opportunities and customized services all over France. For more information, please visit

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