The future is electric at the Paris Motor Show : No. 35, October 2012

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The electric sports coupé from SME Exagon Motors

‘The future is now’ was the slogan with which the Paris Motor Show opened its doors to the public on 29 September. A logical choice in the light of the ambitions of both major and minor players in the French automotive industry, all of whom are focusing on the future with innovative technologies. In 2012, the future of the car is all about reducing CO2 emissions. It is an issue no-one can afford to ignore, as the plan presented by the Government in July, geared mainly to the sharp rise in the market for clean vehicles, makes clear.

Green cars, as they are commonly known, are therefore clearly part of Renault’s development plan (http://www.renault.fr/). The firm – known for its diamond shaped badge – aims to be the leading general car manufacturer to market zero-emission vehicles, making them accessible to as many people as possible.
Although the group has been marketing the Fluence saloon and the Kangoo in an electric version since 2011, this year it is promoting the Zoé. The first vehicle designed exclusively for an electric traction system, it sells for €13,700 euros in France with a €79 monthly battery hire charge. The Zoé is produced at the Renault Flins site and is fitted with a heat pump – a world first – used to provide heating or air conditioning for the passenger compartment and increasing the vehicle’s range by 25% compared with conventional heating.
At PSA, which is currently undergoing a significant restructuring plan, Citroën (http://www.citroen.fr/home/) is aiming for one figure: 9. The Number 9, unveiled for the first time at the Beijing show this year, is fitted with a hybrid engine that combines a petrol engine with a 75 horsepower electric motor. According to the group, its C02 emissions are around 39 g/km.

Electric and luxurious combined
Whilst Citroën’s sister firm Peugeot (http://www.peugeot.fr/) is concentrating on reducing emissions, it has not forgotten that drivers want to dream, too. The firm is launching the Onyx, the star of the Paris Motor Show, a combination of innovative materials and carbon and copper bodywork. Behind the designer look is a hybrid engine powerful enough for motor racing.
Exagon Motors (http://www.exagon-motors.com/) has also been positioning itself in the luxury segment since the Andros Electric Trophy, the world’s first motor race specifically for cars without thermal engines. Luc Marchetti, the boss of the SME in Magny Cours, in the Nièvre region, has worked with his team of some 70 people to develop an electric sports coupé, the Furtive-eGT. It seems that French luxury manufacturing is back on the map. The final version of the car was presented at the Paris show and the group’s boss hopes to sell up to 300 vehicles a year.

A world first
Of all the SMEs present at the Paris Motor Show, Mia Electric’s stand (http://www.mia-voiture-electrique.com/), just next to the famous Italian manufacturer, Ferrari, was impossible to miss. The small firm in Cerizay has already sold several miAmor cars, a special edition of the group’s flagship vehicle, the Mia, designed specifically for the event. The white three-seater electric model was produced to celebrate the firm’s first appearance at the Motor Show.
It was also the first time at the show for recently formed Brandt Motors (http://www.brandtmotors.com/). Its founder, Pierre Millet, took over the household appliance specialist FagorBrandt’s site in Lyon in 2010. Since then, the plant has been producing small electric utility vehicles. Amongst other things, the group used the Paris Motor Show to showcase the Citélec, the first modular electric utility vehicle. The firm produces it in five versions, from a van to a vehicle designed to take a hybrid engine. Its advertised range is 85km at 80km per hour.
In 2013, Brandt Motors aims to become the only French manufacturer capable of producing a full range of 100% electric modes of transport.

Whilst the take-up of electric vehicles still seems slow, the French government is counting on there being two million vehicles on the road in France by 2020. The Paris Motor Show will certainly have given this aim a helping hand.

Barbara Leblanc

publie le 15/10/2012

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