Renault chief urges European leaders to envision end of urban SUV

European car makers should be helped to develop small affordable city cars in a bid to radically shrink their carbon footprint.

Renault Group CEO Luca de Meo set out his vision for a competitive – and low-carbon – European automotive industry in an open letter to political leaders before the forthcoming European elections.

He proposes an industrial strategy to develop small cars which is one of ten major European projects in strategic areas that includes revolutionising last-mile delivery, developing charging infrastructure, V2G technology and increasing semiconductor manufacturing capacity.

“If all the parking spaces in Paris were sized for small city cars,” said de Meo, “the space saved would be equivalent to 55 football stadiums in the same city. These cars would also significantly improve air quality in cities – one city in four suffers from poor air quality with 39% of emissions being caused by road traffic.

“They would also be an ideal alternative in the international arena: compact cars are between 20 and 30% cheaper than average; they could create a growth surplus for Europe (€500 million in GDP per year) and create over 10,000 jobs in industry.”

He said consumers should be encouraged to buy these vehicles through bonuses and benefits such as reserved parking spaces, cheaper parking and reserved charging points.

He said this transiiton could be achieved through developing inter-sectoral cooperation and leading large-scale projects between public and private sectors, citing aircraft manufacturer Airbus which is a European company with management shared primarily between France, Germany and Spain.

“With Airbus, we have already seen what Europe can do,” said de Meo. “By stepping up co-operative initiatives, we will set our industry on the road to revival.”

De Meo stressed that the automotive sector was important not only for the economy, but also for the European way of life, which today faced unbalanced competition: “The Americans stimulate, the Chinese plan, the Europeans regulate,” he said.

“Europe must invent a hybrid model,” he added, “by involving “Europe’s 200 largest cities in the decarbonisation strategy by setting up an “industrial Champions League” to reward players committed to the transition, and by establishing “green economic zones” that would concentrate investments and subsidies for the energy transition.”

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