Batteries: what if Europe was catching up?

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The two years 2020 and 2021 have been the years of the real take-off of the battery electric vehicle (BEV) mass market. Although announced years ago, this transformation continues to reveal, month after month, the fragility of the certainties and forecasts that some of us have made. This is the case, we can hope this autumn, of the Asian ultra-domination in the field of batteries and its political corollary, which was the inability of the EU to show itself to be equal to what the Chinese state is undertaking to manage this transition in terms of industrial policy. The two 'battery Airbuses' that have finally taken off are not ULMs but solid hitches that make it possible to see this transformation of the automotive industry as likely to be negotiated without the loss of sovereignty emerging as inevitable.

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Reindustrialisation: what if Stellantis followed in Renault's footsteps?

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Renault confirms its reengagement in France month after month and thus offers us a less gloomy vision of electrification: this could be an opportunity to reverse a long term trend which has seen the interests of French manufacturers diverge from those of French employees, territories and subcontractors. The serious hopes that we can nourish would be made more consistent if Stellantis were to follow this logic in its turn. The employees of Mulhouse and their trade unions have expressed themselves in this sense to Carlos Tavares. The very cautious answer they obtained should encourage the politician to be more offensive.
As Florence Lagarde underlined on Friday, Luca de Meo (LDM) is keeping his promises and the major change of direction that he announced in terms of industrial strategy is confirmed month after month. Last September, as soon as he arrived, he circulated 18 pages corresponding to his first analysis and was already preparing a real social state of grace by writing:

"My vision for France is the following: we must reconnect with our territory. All the strong brands are leaders in their own markets. For us, it's about knowing what value we can bring to the country."
A little further on, cutting the ground from under the feet of anyone who might have feared that he was sticking to rhetoric, he added: read more

The major project of the organisation of the automobile distribution

Although still important, the debates on the legal regime applicable to distribution have, since 2010, become less acute. If this is the case, it is essentially because "the die has been cast": the fact that the legal debate has been brought under the general regime has technically clarified and corresponded to a kind of "technical purification" of the issue, which now only raises questions of competitive efficiency and refrains from seeking to preserve the interests of the parties. The current debate confirms these trends and reinforces them with regard to the digital file in particular: with few legal constraints, manufacturers will have to be skilful and imaginative in the face of major developments.   read more

Investment, Sustainability, Decent Jobs: Challenges and Promises for the Sub Saharan African Auto Industry

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By Lorenza Monaco et al

In a comparative research recently conducted for IndustriALL Global Union/ FES South Africa, we[1] tried to shed light on the high potential of the automotive industry in Sub Saharan Africa. At the same time, we explored the key challenges and pressing issues that need to be addressed for a sustainable industrial development path in the region. Our research report focuses on seven countries, identified as promising, fast-growing or broadly committed to supporting their Auto sector: Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda and South Africa.
 
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Charging Ahead—The Electrification of the Auto Industry

By Thomas H. Klier and James Rubenstein

June 23, 2021
 
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France must negotiate its place in the new automotive Europe

Put at the foot of the wall by a kind of political overbidding in the decarbonisation requirements that are being placed on them, the players in the sector are paradoxically asking for both tax exemption and a reduction in charges and massive public support. Insofar as this demand is addressed in France as elsewhere, the Europe of the electric vehicle hardly breaks with its dominant software, which is that of competition between sites and countries. In this game, France's automobile industry has lost a lot so far and we can hope that, aware that this is a dead end, the government will take the opportunity to propose another Europe for the automobile, another positioning of France within it and ultimately another deal to our two manufacturers.
 In the preparatory documents for the meetings that will take place this Monday between Emmanuel Macron and the representatives of the industry, we read - in the form of a concession to minimal intellectual honesty - :
"The decline of automobile production in France is not linked to the energy transition since it began several decades ago, but the elements listed above show that the forced transformation to all-electric in the short term could accelerate this decline."
 
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The insurance of large firms to capture the anxiety market: who benefits from the figure?

The growing anxiety of those involved in the automotive industry generates a demand for certainty such that any study is now sure to find its audience. To separate the wheat from the chaff in the statistical abundance thus generated, we propose a Sherlock Holmes method which consists in asking not who benefits from the crime but who benefits from the figures and let us try to apply it to two studies recently mentioned by Autoactu.com read more

What if 8 June 2021 became the anniversary of the French car revolution?

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The six trade union organisations (OS) representing the employees of three of Renault's industrial sites all signed an agreement without exception, which provides for the creation of a new company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Renault, which will manage the revitalisation of an automobile basin by mobilising electrification as a lever.
 
As the FO metals press release on this signature states: "For the first time since 2013, the agreement meets our ongoing demand, namely, the production of a B-segment vehicle on national territory (the future electric R5) and the allocation of new C-segment models."
 
In fact, FO, like the five other unions, had carefully read the "road map" that Luca de Meo had sent them in September and all of them, like us at the time, had stopped at this passage where, surreptitiously, the new boss indicated: "We must concentrate on the CMF-B-EV platform, developing a range of emblematic, profitable electric vehicles, with an entry price of less than 20,000 euros, produced in France."
 
L. De Meo, like the SOs, knew that if this intention were to become reality then, for Renault, we would be changing times: 
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Motor vehicle exemption Regulation 461/2010: what does the Commission's evaluation report say?

Published on 28 May, the Evaluation Report on the functioning of Regulation 461/2010 on the motor vehicle block exemption, seems to outline a continuation of the movement initiated during the transition to the general regulation: in the field of the sale of new cars and PR, manufacturers will be very free and their networks will only have to comply. Conversely, as was already the case with the 2010 regulation, DG Competition will support the interests of the independent repair industry and all stakeholders who consider that manufacturers are tempted to use technological developments to strengthen their market power.
 
The Commission published at the end of May 2021 its "Evaluation report on the functioning of Regulation 461/2010 on the motor vehicle block exemption".
 
Indeed, this Regulation concerns the application of Article 101(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to categories of vertical agreements and concerted practices in the motor vehicle sector1 (called the "Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation" and abbreviated as RECSA). Article 7 of the Regulation requires the Commission to monitor the operation of the Regulation and to report by 31 May 2021. 
 
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Stellantis: terminate to re-sign?

 The management of Stellantis surprised everyone, and its distributors in particular, by indicating their termination. Although it is still difficult to determine precisely, the content of this decision seems to be associated with a quest for performance which Carlos Tavares wants to embody. It involves strong pressure on the networks to reduce both their size and their remuneration and to transfer part of the power and value to the manufacturer's head office. However, it risks coming up against the unavoidable obligation to have physical networks and the impossibility of integrating them. Negotiations will begin and will reveal the weapons that the stakeholders have to conduct them. It is not certain that Carlos Tavares has not overestimated his own. read more

Stellantis' Europe/North America bipolarity:asset or liability?

The presentation of the results of the first quarter of Stellantis's activity brings out vividly what we already sensed: the entity is torn, as FCA was, between an American and a European division. The two do not call for the same products and the same technologies and therefore the expected synergies are difficult to achieve. If the question is an old one that Ford and GM faced very early on, it is posed in new terms in 2021 because others have to manage a European and a Chinese division and this seems less difficult.
 
The first quarter of Stellantis, which was almost complete, gave us an incarnation of this new group at the beginning of May and allowed us to grasp its originality.
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Electric vehicles: Volkswagen leads the race, it's time to get in

The last week of April 2021 confirmed that in Germany as in France, the transition to electric vehicles is clearly accelerating. In Germany, it is wanted and led by VW. In France, the prevarications that VW has tried to banish from the public debate persist. However, week after week, the last reticence is being lifted and the race towards a massive switch to battery electric vehicles (BEVs) seems to be on. Such a development is an opportunity for French industry that there is still time to seize, since most of the capacity has yet to be installed. The first bricks have been laid. The industrial edifice remains to be assembled.
 One week after the announcement by the European Parliament and the European Council of stricter CO2 targets for 2030, the very clear acceleration in the pace of the transition required of the automotive industry is being emphasised on both sides of the Rhine, but is not necessarily welcomed in the same way.
 
To understand this, we can compare what was said and decided at the meeting of the Comité Stratégique de Filière in Bercy on Monday 26 April and what we heard at the "Way To Zero" Convention organised by the Volkswagen group on Thursday 29.
 
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