France wants ‘electric car for the masses’

France on Thursday floated a global tender for an electric car that would cost less than €7,000, charge faster, and feature new materials that would make it far lighter than green cars now available in the market. The jury to pick the best choice is being finalised at the ongoing CoP21 Climate Change conference here.

Announcing the host nation's desire to push 'electromobility' — or emission-free electric vehicles — French Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy Segolene Royal said the objective was to produce a car that would charge its battery in 30 minutes and have a transport range of 500 km on a single charging.

The Minister was participating in a discussion at the CoP21 on how the transport sector could shift gears to a trajectory of reduced carbon emissions.

To a question from The Hindu on how the plan for such a low-cost car would sit with the objective of mass transport and efficient mobility, the Minister said individuals would continue to use personal cars along with other modes of travelling, and that the quest was to prevent pollution from conventional automobiles. Electric vehicles could also become part of a sharing network. France has allocated 2 billion euros to support electric cars in 20 of its cities.

The competitive approach to build such a car would lead to innovation in materials and batteries, which are crucial to the venture. However, Ms. Royal was countered by the Secretary-General of the International Association of Public Transport, Alain Flausch, who said traffic congestion and associated issues with cars would not disappear with a cheap electric car. “A green traffic jam is still a traffic jam,” he said.

Owning cars is seen as a status symbol in India and China, and the quest should be to move to high-quality public transport systems that are comfortable and accessible. “If everyone in India and China bought a car, we would not be able to breathe,” he said.

Many Indian city transport networks are part of the International Association of Public Transport (UITP). France is also moving ahead with plans to deploy cable cars as a mobility solution, avoiding the problems associated with terrestrial transport growth, such as land acquisition.

Twenty cities from Asia and Africa are also being partnered under the 'Mobilise Your Cities' initiative, the French Minister announced, with a first list of 20 already enrolled. They will be encouraged to introduce sustainable urban mobility practices with support of 2 million euros from France. The number of cities introducing such facilities is expected to go up to 100 by 2020.

Another emission-cutting intervention by France is to create solar roads — paving road surfaces with panels dramatically smaller than those used in building installations.

These roads are claimed to be durable by their promoters, with one technology featuring 15 sq. cm. solar cells.

“You do not use the road surface normally, and this can be converted into an emission cutting feature. Arable land can also be spared from being covered by panels,” Ms. Royal said.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 4:27:44 AM |

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