By on December 19, 2008

According to the Financial Times, the French president Nicolas Sarkozy and his government are sitting on an independent report about the future of cleaner, more fuel efficient cars. The 129-page document has been finished for months (since late September) and yet, from what the FT says, it will not be released to the public in the forseeable future. Apparently people who have seen the report say that it looks negatively on all-electric cars, instead preferring a motoring future based on a mix of gasoline, diesel, biofuel, and parallel and series hybrid cars, all with enhancements in tires, aerodynamics, and so on. In other words, the report said the variety pack we’ve got now seems to be the right approach. Unfortunately, Sarkozy is chummy with two billionaire businessmen who are both pursuing electric car businesses (Serge Dassault and Vincent Bolloré). To make matters worse, the French government still owns a 15% stake in Renault, which has poured a small fortune into the development of electric cars — including a large pilot testing program in Israel previously expected to launch in 2011. This stinks of corruption. And before we say “Well, it’s the French. They surrender and keep mistresses,” keep in mind that you should be no less bothered.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

32 Comments on “French Government Quashes Negative Report About Electric Cars...”


  • avatar
    Lokki

    French Government Quashes Negative Report About Electric Cars?

    I’m positively shocked!!

    :-)

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    …“Well, it’s the French. They surrender and keep mistresses,”…

    But do they surrender to their mistresses?

  • avatar
    Casual Observer

    This is why government can never be both a player and a referee – whether it’s healthcare, cars, or whatever.

  • avatar
    DeanMTL

    Let the public take to the streets and revolt, like in Athens. The Athenian model of civil unrest should be a model for the rest of the world who takes everything lying down and yawning. Storm the Bastille, you smelly unbathed Frogs, and show Sarkozy his ideas are a grande plat de la MERDE!!!

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Can I say I’m not surprised? Either that a mixture of hybrids, gasoline, and deisel driven vehicles is the best or that the French government would quash a report stating the same.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    Before we get too holier-than-hirsute, let us not forget that our government has buried more reports than can be counted.

    I’m not talking UFOs, Kennedy, or an Antarctic Nazi Base…

    NHTSA, FCC, HUD, SEC, CIA, NSA, pick your bowl of alphabet soup. The reports/studies generally do find their way out, but only after some whistleblower/patriot decides to sacrifice their career.

    Should you be pissed off when this happens?
    Damn skippy.

    Fight/vote for change?
    Praise deity/non-deity of your choice.

    But if you are surprised, or shocked you have no clue how ANY (and every) large organization works.
    Sometimes the truth is subverted to further a goal. Not saying that it’s inherently good or evil, just the way the world works. Always has. Always will.

    The primary goal of any organism is to survive and propagate. Corporations and governments function much like any other organism.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    You don’t need a French Government report. I told you why electric cars will never happen a few days ago, besides, it’s written in French (duh’oh), and you can’t read French.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Robert Schwartz :
    You don’t need a French Government report.

    The news isn’t the government report. It’s that the French are suppressing the report.

    I told you why electric cars will never happen a few days ago

    Forgive me.

    besides, it’s written in French (duh’oh), and you can’t read French.
    I can’t?

  • avatar
    autonut

    They do surrender! As far mistresses, they tend to marry them (at least Sarkozy does). If I could afford a mistress I would get one or two!
    I think test pilot will give more credence to electric car idea or discredit it. Report by pundits just a report. Which expert told you last year to put money under the pillow? It was the safest bet!

  • avatar

    Before anyone dumps on the French, remember that they invented the automobile, in 1769 (if you don’t, google Cugnot’s Fardier a vapeur). They have also made cars that were amazingly advanced (perhaps way ahead of their times). And good coffee was ubiquitous in France many years before anyone had ever heard of skcubratS. (And I’m not saying that skcubratS is good; if I thought it was, I would have spelled it the normal way.)

  • avatar
    Johnster

    David Holzman : Before anyone dumps on the French, remember that they invented the automobile, in 1769 (if you don’t, google Cugnot’s Fardier a vapeur).

    Not only that, but the 1769 Cugnot was more unstable than a first gen Ford Explorer on defective Firestone tires. It lacked brakes and apparently had defective steering which lead to the French being able to claim being involved in the first auto accident when the vehicle went out-of-control and crashed into a brick wall. It has also been variously reported that the driver of the 1769 Cugnot was arrested and jailed. The first case of someone being arrested for wreckless driving. Way to go, France!

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    This is not about France, this is about socialism. The idea that it’s better than free market capitalism is a farce, and this is just more evidence. Concentrated power will always end up being abused.

  • avatar

    The document was obtained and published by french news mag Le Point last week. Here it is, for those of you who can read french and are willing to spend a couple of hours on it:

    http://www.lepoint2.com/sons/pdf/rapport-syrota-voiture-electrique.pdf

    It contains a good overview of the available solutions for propulsion systems and the short and middle term evolutions. The gist of it is that hydrogen and/or electric cars are not realistic for the foreseeable future because of a number of technological and logistical unsolved issues, and that hybrids and plug-in hybrids are the way to go, along with progress in materials, tires and so on. Refine the existing while gradually blending in new technologies as they become manageable. Common sense at work, if you ask me.

    Conspiracy theories (always entertaining, nevertheless) aside, the main problem with this report is that it rains on the parade of european car manufacturers and industrialists who, apart from Daimler, want to ignore the hybrid solution to go all diesel now and all electric, well, you know, someday.

    Renault, PSA, Fiat, BMW, VW are toying with hybrid/[petrol or diesel] concept cars for a number of years now, and then, when it is time to put it on the market, say “yeah, but no, too expensive, no real advantages, the market is not ready, blah, blah, blah, get my super duper new diesel instead”. Yeah, right. Meanwhile, Prius 3 and Insight (IMA 2) are coming to a dealer near you in the next couple of months.

    I think that either 1) the hybrid technology is *really* difficult and they realize at some point of the development that they need to go through the same grueling and expensive years Toyota and Honda put in the thing before it caught on, a humbling thought, and/or 2) this is a patent minefield, with all the patents held by said Toyota and Honda. In which case, they will have to admit that they are pwned and will always lag a couple of innovations behind the Japanese, another sobering perspective.

  • avatar
    FromBrazil

    well said prilbault!

    you know, this just smacks of politics. Like Americans and Japanese staying on gasoline and the Europeans all going to diesel.

    Sorry if you don’t agree but my opinion is gasoline cars are better now and I think gasoline hybrids are the way for the foreseeable future. I don’t like diesels. Despite all advances they are smelly, they shudder more, they spew that black thing out the pipe when no matter how up to date an modern they are. I’ve been in a slew of modern European cars and despite claims to the opposite, to me it’s just so easy to tell when I’m in a diesel (endless torque aside, there is no advantage for diesel).

    Now I know Europeans clamor all over themselves claiming diesel spews out less CO2. I accept that. How about all the other shit? Particulate matter? Doesn’t it cause lung cancer and get the city all gritty and black? And how about NOX? Don’t diesels throw them out in greater quantities and isn’t NOX what causes acid rain?

    Not to hijack the thread and all, and I’m no engineer but could anyone explain to me which one is better? Gasoline or diesel? And why, exactly? As I said I have an opinion, and BTW, isn’t diesel more expensive to produce? Isn’t it a by-product of gasoline? So, if all used diesel we’d just have a lot of left over gasoline that we’d do what with?

    Txs

  • avatar
    don1967

    The French government would never allow anything to be published which seems to support capitalism, free markets, common sense or (gasp) American values, for fear of being banished to the seventh level of Socialist Hell. And I am Canadian.

    They make me want to cheer for the Lincoln Navigator…

  • avatar
    beyondgreen

    We seriously need to get on with the business of becoming energy independent. While we are doing the happy dance around the pumps with the lower prices OPEC is planning yet more production cuts and will not quit until they achieve their desired price per barrel. The record high prices this past year have done serious damage to our economy and society. It would cost the equivalent of 60 cents per gallon to charge and drive an elctric car. If all gasoline cars, trucks, and suv’s instead had plug-in electric drivetrains, the amount of electricity needed to replace gasoline is about equal to the estimated wind energy potential of the state of North Dakota.WE must move forward with energy independence. We have the knowledge, we have the technology, what America lacks is a plan. Jeff Wilson has a new book out that is beyond awesome. The Manhattan Project of 2009 Energy Independence NOW. He walks you through every aspect of oil, what it is used for besides gas, our depletion of it. The worlds increased need ie 3rd world countries becoming more modernized and consuming more. He explains EVERY alternative energy source and what role they can play to replace oil. His research is backed up with hard data and even includes a time frame and proposed legislative agendas to wean America off oil. http://www.themanhattanprojectof2009.com

    He also has a VERY interesting article posted on the Better Place Blog called How Much Electricity Would It Take To Replace Gasoline you can read it @ http://planet.betterplace.com/profiles/blogs/how-much-electricity-does-it

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @don1967:

    How would publication of this report support capitalism or free markets?

    I’m sorry, and I don’t mean to single you out. But it seems like there are a lot of folks here who hear “France” or “Government” and then say “free markets are the best.”

    By the way, most economists (Adam Smith, deity, included) think that capitalism doesn’t work in a totally free market. But that’s neither here nor there.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Justin: the you was plural, if you are Francophone please accept my apologies. Most Americans are monolingual, and few of the ones who are not, read French.

    Link to my explanation of why BEVs will never be competitive.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    JB,

    The problem comes down to how you define “free market.” Without ANY regulation, no market is actually going to be a free market. It will become dominated by some who gain a position from which they can exploit others. At the very least you need protection of private property and judicial enforcement of contracts.

    To me, you don’t really have a free market unless those involved can make trades without unreasonable duress. That’s one reason why healthcare can’t ever really be a free market.

  • avatar
    Dutchchris

    So maybe the report was a bit inconvenient for some of Chirac’s friends. It was also very convenient for the traditional car industry. They can keep doing the same cars they have been doing for the past century if they only improve their efficiency a bit.

    It excuses them for doing the dreaded EV’s that don’t fit their businessmodel that heavily depends on after market sales of parts and a dense dealer network that needs the income from maintenance and repairs to stay alive.

    It’s useful to keep in mind though that like America France depends for it’s oil on it’s enemies like Russia, Venezuela, Iran, Saudi Arabia. Right now Iran is putting it’s petro-dollars to work to develop nuclear weapons (with Russian support). De fruits of this effort may someday find it’s way to Europe or the States in a suitcase. All those who claim that EV technology is too expensive ( even though BYD proves it’s clearly not) may find it is actually quite reasonable if you factor in the costs of a nuclear 9/11.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Dutch,

    I call Merde! (That’s as close as I get in French).

    You can justify anything by assigning infinite cost to the failure to follow your plan. That doesn’t mean anything to anyone.

    How about this scenario instead: The west develops the electric car throwing Russia into economic turmoil due to lack of oil income resulting in a small nuclear device being sold off to terrorists…

    According to this doomsday scenario, the EV is actually the CAUSE of nuclear doomsday.

  • avatar
    Dutchchris

    @Landcrusher,

    Actually for all it’s oil (which is rumoured to run out in 20 years anyway BTW)Russia is in economic turmoil right now. Too dependend on oil income in a buyer’s market. Oil is actually a destabilising factor even for the suppliers.

    I maintain my thesis: the world would be a safer place if oil addiction were reduced.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Dutch,

    Your position is quite reasonable, but your argument was…not so much.

    I suspect that the Sov’s have plenty of more oil, but they haven’t yet learned how to find it.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    France has lots of electricity, and absolutely no oil.

    One can understand why there would be a political motivation for a government with plenty of electricity and no oil to want cars to run on electricity, instead of oil.

    I don’t see the connection to socialism. Rather, they are trying to reduce the political baggage and trade deficits that come from oil dependency, including the ongoing costs of playing kissy-face with Middle Eastern theocrats.

    That doesn’t mean that the cars will be up to the job or that it’s nice to suppress research that points out the flaws. But Karl Marx doesn’t have Sarkozy’s back on this one.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    The connection to socialism is the government picking the winners and losers in technology, and even manipulating the evidence available to the electorate to support their position.

    It would be fine for them to openly disagree with the study by pointing out that it does not properly take defense matters into the equation.

    No, that wasn’t good enough. A few hundred French elites are going to overrule what millions of people all over the world already figured out using the market (at least for their millions of people).

    As much of an improvement that Sarkozy is, this wasn’t his brightest move.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The connection to socialism is the government picking the winners and losers in technology

    The US also made a technological choice by making itself so dependent on oil that it needs to maintain the world’s largest military (and the budget to pay for it) in order to maintain access to oil.

    If that isn’t a subsidy for Detroit and the oil industry, I don’t know what is. After all, we are literally willing to get American soldiers killed for the black goo. Even so, I wouldn’t call that socialism.

    Countries that don’t have an energy policy still end up having an energy policy. But instead of making that policy themselves, they are surrendering their responsibility to OPEC, Chavez and the rest.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    When the US made it’s choice, it was based on market conditions. That’s a whole other story than the socialism process. Especially the process we see used in this case. Having given up their rights to free speech, they will eventually get what they deserve.

    Calling the military and our foreign policy a subsidy is simple sophistry. Great for points, great for getting votes from idiots, bad for progressing towards a best solution.

    I find the whole blood for oil argument gets tiresome because most people against spending blood have a warped view of issues pertaining to foreign policy, military force, and even the investment of blood to save more blood.

    If we want to look at reducing dependency on foreign oil while paying for that out of military savings, then that may be worth looking at. However, as soon as the dialogue sounds like a bumper sticker, it’s over. So, it will last about 10 seconds.

    I will, of course, agree that no policy is a policy choice.

  • avatar
    Detroit Todd

    “Well, it’s the French. They surrender and keep mistresses,”

    They also fought on our side during our little problem with the British. The big park across the street from the White House is called Lafayette Park. (Hint)

    Are you your own sovereign? Thank the French!

    This is not about France, this is about socialism. The idea that it’s better than free market capitalism is a farce, and this is just more evidence. Concentrated power will always end up being abused.

    Our government “got out of the way” and de-regulated the financial sector. How’d that work out?

    Yes, Sarkozy should release the report. And, this further calls into question the wisdom of pursuing electric cars.

    That said, chauvinistic bashing of the French and rants against socialism are not remotely on point regarding this subject. How tiresome.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    It might help if we had a moratorium on the inappropriate usage of jargon such as “socialism”, “fascist”, “Nazi” and the rest, unless for those rare occasions when we are actually discussing socialism, fascists and Nazis. When we overuse them, we create the impression that our vocabularies are limited and we’re just using the verbiage because we aren’t sure what else to say. The rhetoric gets in the way of getting to the heart of the matter, and both right and left should give it a wide berth.

    Back to the topic, the Bush administration spent years censoring scientific research and otherwise stifling the truth in order to make it seems as if climate change was suspect or controversial. That wasn’t socialist, capitalist or any other -ist, but just a politician doing what politicians do to serve their own agendas.

    When the US made its choice, it was based on market conditions.

    When the US made its choice, Pennsylvania was one of the world’s largest producers of oil. The market has changed, but our consumption habits have not.

    France has never had oil. There would be no sound reason for them, market-driven or otherwise, to depend too much on something that they have never had, except to the extent that there is no other option.

    Calling the military and our foreign policy a subsidy is simple sophistry.

    The Carter Doctrine established that oil was a vital US national interest that could justify military action if US supplies were threatened. No president has since deviated from this doctrine.

    That isn’t sophistry or a bumper sticker, that’s a foreign policy fact. The US has openly declared its willingness to fight for oil, and has arguably already done so at least once since that doctrine was established.

    The Middle East does not hold our interest because we are crazy about sand, mosques and camels, but because of what lies beneath it.

    The French policy is to sell them weapons, and otherwise being nice to them, while praying that their domestic bans on head scarves don’t lead to rebellion. The US approach is to build bases, engage in conflict when necessary and selectively arm the ones who seem the most agreeable. What both nations have in common is that they both want their access.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    Pch101 :

    It might help if we had a moratorium on the inappropriate usage of jargon such as “socialism”, “fascist”, “Nazi” and the rest, unless for those rare occasions when we are actually discussing socialism, fascists and Nazis. When we overuse them, we create the impression that our vocabularies are limited and we’re just using the verbiage because we aren’t sure what else to say. The rhetoric gets in the way of getting to the heart of the matter, and both right and left should give it a wide berth.

    THANK you.

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Detroit Todd,

    “Our government got of the way and deregulated…”

    Buzzzz. Wrong Answer! The financial companies who bought into the derivatives did so only AFTER approval of the regulators. Many of the derivatives that were so poisonous were poisoned by Freddie and Fannie with urging from Congress and the White House. That’s not deregulation, that’s bad regulation. Had these companies been left on their own to decide if these investments were wise, do you really think so many of them would have gone for it? No.

    Also, as I said, French bashing this ain’t. Socialism bashing this is. That’s precisely what this story is about. A country that believed in liberty, but got sidetracked by socialism even after we spent a lot of treasure and blood to rescue them from it. How can you think this is a story NOT about socialism and the dangers of big government? This is a poster child case. You have the cause du jour, propaganda, and corruption all rolled into one!

    PCH,

    Did the Bush folks really try to stifle the truth, or just overspending on bad science? After all, it wasn’t “climate change” that they were skeptical of, at the time it was “global warming”. Sort of changes the argument. If there was any inappropriate squelching of studies, then I would agree it was wrong.

    Market Conditions: Except the French DID choose oil based on market conditions. I will be happy to yield the point in light of government edict being brought forward. Until then, sorry. This really gets to the heart of it. The market isn’t perfect, but it’s still the best. The idea that energy independence would be desired by the market seems to have been disproven. As much as it would seem to be a big problem, has it really been wrong? What was the better solution? What would you decide if you were King? I would actually agree with the French and build more nuke facilities, but I think they would pay off in the long run.

    Sophistry: Factual or not, it’s still sophistry to call them a subsidy. They may behave in a fashion to subsidize those industries, but that doesn’t make them a subsidy. Otherwise, every move by government would have to be labeled a subsidy or disincentive. The military, being a necessity, is a subsidy for EVERYTHING we do. Period. Like I said, we could possibly have a reasonable discussion on the policy, but when you start like that, it’s over before it begins.

    Lastly, as I have said, this article is precisely about socialism and it’s ills. How those ills affect transportation policy, and the car industry. I will be happy to not use socialism as a whipping boy, but it won’t help because the ideals will still be a target of my derision, just like you all love to go after Bush policy as if it were an example of conservatism, which usually it’s not.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Did the Bush folks really try to stifle the truth, or just overspending on bad science?

    The administration was engaging in censorship. Good science compromised by a political agenda. Just one example: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/05/AR2006040502150_pf.html

    By your definition, that’s socialism. By mine, that’s politics. Nobody has a monopoly on this stuff. The ideologues may not want to see what’s in plain sight, but pragmatists on all sides know a duck when it’s quacking.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India