France could lose 25% of auto jobs in EV transition, lobby group says


France is at risk of losing one in four car jobs as the country struggles to keep pace with the rapid transition to electric vehicles.

The French automobile industry, the birthplace of the Peugeot, Citroën and Renault automobile brands, could see up to 100,000 of its 400,000 jobs lost over the next decade at the end of the combustion engine era, according to Luc Chatel , responsible for the automotive lobby. The Automotive Platform.

Chatel blamed the high production costs and said the government will need to help automakers and suppliers meet the costs of the transition. The PFA estimates that around 17 billion euros ($ 19.7 billion) will be needed across the industry within five years.

“We still haven’t solved our competitiveness problem,” Chatel said at an industry conference on Tuesday, noting that auto assembly is significantly cheaper than in Spain and Eastern Europe. “The stress on the balance sheets of many companies is very real.”

The pressure on automakers like Renault and Stellantis – owners of Peugeot and Citroën nameplates – was highlighted as Tesla’s Model 3 overtook all conventional rivals to become the best-selling vehicle in Europe last month.

Labor costs in France are 30% higher than the European average, while production costs are a fifth more, according to Renault CEO Luca de Meo, speaking at the conference . The company plans to stop production of vehicles at a factory outside Paris in the coming years.

President Emmanuel Macron, who faces elections next year, was keen to show that he was seeking to reverse France’s industrial decline. Earlier this month, he unveiled a € 30 billion ($ 35 billion) plan that includes a goal of producing 2 million electric and hybrid vehicles in France.

Renault, in which the State is its most powerful shareholder, is creating an EV production center in the north of France, including a battery factory.

While the automaker has also pledged to make 700,000 vehicles at home by the middle of the decade, it wants to cut around 6,600 jobs in the country.

The company manufactured 686,000 vehicles in France in 2019 and 514,000 in 2020.

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