Luca de Meo writes a letter to Europe ahead of the upcoming European elections, scheduled for 6 to 9 June 2024. He does so in the role of CEO of the Renault Group, not forgetting that of president of Acea, the association of European car manufacturers.

He writes a letter containing diagnoses and recommendations for the future of mobility in the Old Continent, an appeal 'to successfully and synergistically achieve the energy transition of the automotive industry'.

The example given by the French group's number one is that of Airbus, a European consortium (French, German and Spanish states are among its members) that over the years has become the world's leading manufacturer of civil aircraft. 'We have already seen with Airbus what Europe is capable of doing. By intensifying cooperation initiatives, we will put our industry on the road to renewal'.

The analysis

"China is rising rapidly in the 100% electric vehicle segment. Buoyed by its huge domestic market (8.5 million electric vehicles sold in 2023, according to the China Passenger
Car Association, accounting for 60% of total world sales), it has already captured a market share of almost 4% in Europe by 2022. In 2023, some 35% of the world's exported electric vehicles will come from China."

De Meo's analysis starts from China and the electric car offensive, but looks at what Europe is (or is not) doing.

"Every year, eight to ten new regulations are introduced. Cars are asked to be more sophisticated and more fuel-efficient, but at the same time to become less expensive'.

A contradiction made in Europe, which in the face of strong incentives to industry given by the US administration and strategic planning in China, responds with increasingly stringent and complex regulations: 'China supports industry, the US incentivises, Europe regulates'.

"Environmental and social requirements mean a series of tests and checks to be passed and new standards to be met. This has already had a completely counterproductive effect: the weight of cars has increased by an average of 60 per cent. Since the 1990s, this policy has objectively favoured premium models and penalised models with a broader market. To adapt to these demands, manufacturers have not only delocalised production (40% of jobs have been lost in France and a similar trend can be seen in Italy), they have also increased the prices of their vehicles (+50%)'.

As far as China is concerned, de Meo comes to terms with reality, highlighting how Europe is dependent on the Asian giant for numerous aspects such as supplies of lithium, nickel, cobalt and chips. A technological dependence that makes Renault's number one say: 'Relations with
China will have to be managed in the best possible way. To close the door completely would be the worst possible response'.

The recommendations

In his 20-page letter, Luca de Meo lists his recommendations to Europe, from the definition of an industrial strategy for Europe to scientific technological neutrality, passing through the end of a 'system based on the continuous introduction of new regulations' and the acceleration of the development of autonomous and hyperconnected vehicles.

De Meo then returns to a topic addressed at the Geneva Motor Show 2024: the weight of cars 'The idea: to encourage cooperation projects between manufacturers to develop
and market affordable small cars and vans produced in Europe. At the same time, encourage consumers to buy these vehicles through incentives and benefits such as reserved parking spaces, cheaper parking and reserved charging points'.

In total there are 10 proposals from the Italian manager to Europe:

  1. Promote affordable European small cars
  2. Revolutionise last-mile deliveries
  3. Accelerate fleet renewal
  4. Develop charging infrastructure for electric vehicles and vehicle-to-grid (v2g) technology
  5. Achieve sovereignty of supply for critical raw materials
  6. Increase Europe's competitiveness in semiconductors
  7. Standardise the 'software-defined vehicle' (sdv)
  8. Foster the emergence of a European champion of the industrial metaverse
  9. Unify battery recycling
  10. Exploiting the potential of hydrogen