By Damon Mitchell • 26 May 2020 • 13:57
FRENCH President Emmanuel Macron is set to unveil today (Tuesday) new measures to rescue the country’s struggling car industry, which has been hammered by the virus lockdown and resulting economic recession.
Macron tweeted that the government’s support for the national car industry, which includes brands like Peugeot-Citroen and Renault as well as parts suppliers, will increase “massively.”
The President met with carmakers and unions at the Elysee presidential palace on this morning. He will also visit supplier Valeo, which makes equipment for electric cars, at its factory in Etaples, in northern France, from where he will detail the rescue plan.
The issue is politically sensitive since France is proud of its auto industry, which employs 400,000 people in the country and is a big part of its manufacturing sector. The government wants carmakers to develop innovative products in France and keep jobs in the country.
Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Monday that carmakers must commit to bringing back manufacturing to France in exchange for the support measures.
The aid is expected to include government subsidies for consumers to buy a battery-powered car as well as other incentives for people to scrap their old car and buy a lower-emissions model.
Auto sales in France fell by about 90 per cent in April compared with a year earlier as showrooms were shut and factories suspended production.
The plan to support the industry comes at a crucial time for carmaker Renault, which came into the virus crisis in particularly bad shape.
Le Maire said Monday its survival is at stake and that the government would not require Renault to keep all its French jobs and facilities in exchange for the rescue funds, in order to allow the company to adapt to the economic situation.
PSA Group, which makes Peugeot and Citroen cars, came into the current crisis in better shape, after years of cost-cutting under CEO Carlos Tavares as the industry grapples with the transition to electric and driver-less vehicles.
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