A recent article by echoes titling ” The electric car widens the French trade deficit caught our attention. While it is true that imports of electric vehicles are now more important than exports, this could well change in the next few years. In any case, this is the will of the government and of French brands.
According to official data provided by customs, exports of electric cars manufactured in France have represented 3.14 billion euros over the last twelve months (between June 2022 and May 2023). This is more than in 2022 and almost double compared to 2021. On the other hand, the observation is clear: imports of electric cars are greater: they represented 7.42 billion euros over the last twelve months. , nearly half of which come from China and Germany.
Renault concentrates its industrial activities in France
The gap is there. However, the hope that the situation will be reversed within a few years is real. Several French manufacturers are operating a reindustrialization strategy, led by Renault. The diamond brand manufactures its 100% electric Mégane E-Tech in the Douai factory (North). The site has undergone a complete transition and now only produces electric vehicles. After fifty years of producing thermal cars, the Douai plant now focuses solely on electric models.
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46,722 units of the Mégane E-Tech rolled off the production lines in 2022. Renault is accelerating. The Douai site is also the first at Renault to pass from thermal to electric according to Luciano Biondo, Managing Director of Renault Electricity. He told our colleagues of France Blue North that the grouping of factories in Douai, Maubeuge and Ruitz have set themselves the objective of “ produce 500,000 electric vehicles per year in Hauts-de-France by 2025 “. The new 4L will be assembled in Maubeuge and the electric Scenic will come out of the chains in Douai.
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Douai is not the only site to go electric. Renault is committed to “ concentrating industrial activities related to electric cars in France “. Efforts that cover the entire value chain. In Ruitz (Pas-de-Calais), the French manufacturer will, for example, manufacture battery boxes for the future R5. The opportunity also for Renault to relaunch sites that were operating in slow motion due to the decline in sales of thermal vehicles. In all, nine new electric models of the brand will be manufactured in France.
The employees of the factories in the North also seem rather satisfied with this transition to electricity. According to one trade unionist, this transformation was vital for us. If we don’t change, we die “. Something to breathe new life into this region with its historic industrial past. The electric R5, whose release is highly anticipated, will also be manufactured in France. According to Jean-Dominique Sénard, the president of Renault, the model will also leave the production lines of the Douai factory. Renault wants to do the North ” the largest European hub for electric vehicles ».
Stellantis will produce 12 electric models in France
The hopes of the French government also rest on Stellantis. The car giant has promised to manufacture twelve electric models in France, the majority of which under the Peugeot brand. Among the electrified models of the group already in production in France, we find in Hordain the Peugeot e-Expert, Citroën e-Jumpy, Opel Vivaro-e and the Toyota ProAce Electric. The Poissy site currently assembles the DS3 E-Tense and Opel e-Mokka. The electric 308 and 408 will be produced in Mulhouse.
The lion brand also intends to manufacture the new generation of 3008 and 5008 on national territory. Probably in Mulhouse too. Citroën is also preparing to produce an electric SUV in Rennes in 2025. Presented as a “ a high-end family vehicle “, this future electric SUV, whose code name is CR3, will succeed the current C5 Aircross. Stellantis also plans to produce one million electric motors at Trémery by 2024. Finally, the Douvrin site is preparing its transition.
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What about the 208 electric?
The case of the e-208 is debated. If the government is pushing for the production of the brand’s flagship model to be repatriated to France, Stellantis prefers Spain. Manufactured and assembled initially in the Trnava factory in Slovakia, the Peugeot e-208 from Stellantis will soon leave the Zaragoza factories. A forced relocation, which could have been directed towards France. Carlos Tavares demanded subsidies to finance this relocation, but he probably did not win his case. This is not definitive and it cannot be ruled out that the 208 electric will one day be manufactured in France.
Carlos Tavares’ group also plans to assemble its hydrogen models in France, on the Hordain site in the North. An investment of 10 million euros is planned to develop specific hydrogen lines within the plant. The objectives of Stellantis nevertheless remain modest on hydrogen: the group estimates that 5,000 units operating with a fuel cell will come out of this factory by 2024. It is always taken.