Macron presents a €8bn plan to save French car industry

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday unveiled a plan worth €8bn to save the country’s car industry from huge losses by virus lockdowns, news wires reported. The plan envisages a big boost for electric vehicles. “Our country wouldn’t be the same without its great brands Renault, Peugeot, Citroen,” Macron declared, announcing a goal of making France the leading producer of “clean” cars in Europe.

The €8bn does not include a €5bn government loan guarantee under discussion for struggling Renault, or the millions the government has already spent on temporary unemployment payments to auto workers told to stay home for weeks to keep the virus at bay.

Auto sales in France fell by about 90% in April compared with a year earlier as showrooms were shut and factories suspended production during virus lockdown . 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.

Macron met with industry representatives and unions at the Elysee presidential palace on Tuesday morning, notably to discuss the loan guarantee for Renault. He then visited supplier Valeo, which makes equipment for electric cars, at its factory in northern France, from where he detailed the wider rescue plan. French auto industry employs 400,000 people in the country and is a big part of the country’s manufacturing sector.

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