France Charging Ahead Toward EVs and Plug-In Hybrids
PSA Peugeot Citroën Teams With Energy Company EDF; French President Sarkozy Pledges 400 Million Euros For R&D
By Kevin Miller
Today PSA Peugeot Citroën and energy company EDF (Europe’s largest producer of electricity) have announced a partnership to develop and subsequently market electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles, and related vehicle charging equipment. The cooperative agreement covers several technological programs, including development of electric vehicles, research and development of new energy storage technologies (such as lithium-ion batteries), and development of vehicle recharging systems and standardized protocols to enable vehicles and the power network to communicate during recharging.
PSA Peugeot Citroën is no stranger to electric vehicles, with more than 10,000 EVs on the road between 1955 and 2005. In June of this year, the Group announced that it was starting a feasibility study on a cooperative project with Mitsubishi Motors Corp. in the area of electric powertrains. The development of plug-in and other hybrids is an integral part of PSA Peugeot Citroën’s strategic commitment to offering “everyone an eco-car.”
As a part of that goal, the Group is going to extensively deploy the Stop & Start micro hybrid system across all of the Peugeot and Citroën model line-ups. In 2011, both brands will offer full diesel hybrids that will deliver marked improvements in both fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions.
Energy company EDF currently has the world’s largest EV fleet (1,500 vehicles), and has gained technological expertise and experience in power storage, recharging infrastructure and plug-in vehicle trials. It is currently developing a new generation of innovative EV recharging stations.
“This new collaboration,” said Pierre Gadonneix, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of EDF, “marks an important new step in the development of electricity as a competitive, clean source of energy, especially for transportation, that respects both the challenges facing our planet and everyone’s individual mobility needs.”
In related news out of France, Reuters has reported that French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged that France will support research and development on non-carbon-emitting vehicles, with 400 million euros in funding over four years.
Sarkozy also pledged to look at changes to EU rules which regulate governments of member countries supporting carmakers with such funding. The pledge of financial support is an attempt by Sarkozy to level the playing field for European automakers, in response to the U.S. government plan to grant 25 million dollars in long-term loans at unbeatable rates to U.S. carmakers for plant renovations and retooling.
“I don’t want [Europeans] to be living in a framework that doesn’t allow us to help our own carmakers undertake a major technological shift,” Sarkozy said. “That is why I will propose to the European Commission and to our European partners a revision of the common framework on state aid … so that it can be harmonized with the goals we are pursuing in the context of the climate-energy package.”
While it is unclear whether any of the funding discussed by President Sarkozy would benefit the PSA Peugeot Citroën/EDF partnership, or the Group’s joint project with Mitsubishi, that outcome is likely because of the Group’s stature as one of France’s key automakers. As Ford has recently received a ten million dollar grant from the US Department of Energy for development of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in addition to the forthcoming government loans, Sarkozy seems to have a point about needing to level the playing field against American companies.
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