The motor industry has been in crisis for several years now, particularly in France, and despite regular support from the public authorities, the trend shows little sign of reversing. If we add in the economic crisis, the rise in fossil fuel prices and the need to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions so as not to aggravate climate change, the future for the classic thermal-engine vehicle does not look particularly bright. Given this context, what are the alternatives?
Following an initial article in April 2009 aimed at assessing the question, Pierre Bonnaure studies this strategic industry once again and presents the developments that have occurred in the interim where electric and hybrid vehicles are concerned, both on the part of the automobile companies and among the consumers and public authorities in various countries. He shows that, of these two major options that are likely to provide an alternative to the traditional types of vehicle, it is the latter which seems to be making headway and is, in his view, currently the most apposite, at least in these early years. For if the long-term aim is to have our societies evolve towards ways of life free of oil use or carbon dioxide emissions, then the transition period is likely to be long and the adaptation of infrastructures and industries expensive. Hence the advantage, for the motor industry, of the hybrid option, which enables such a transition to be implemented rather more gently.