Will Obama Follow Sarkozy’s Green Lead?

Sparks fly at Paris Auto Show

PHEV France - Photo by Hatfield, RodLast month, we posted about how green Paris is this time of year. That is to say that the Paris Auto Show is showing more eco-friendly cars than ever before. One category where auto manufacturers are really competitive: electric cars. Nineteen electric cars were on display in Paris and each auto maker wants to be the first to put theirs on the market. The stakes are high and the potential benefits for our environment are huge.

TIME Magazine had a great article two weeks ago about how the current economic downturn could negatively impact auto makers who are pining their futures to selling lots and lots of hybrid and electric cars with a slightly higher purchase price. The article says that with American jobs being cut, people’s savings evaporating and the price of oil returning to a less-painful price (side note, it’s $2.45 where I live but over $8 per gallon in Pari) more and more people may just make due with their current vehicles despite their love of all things green.

Meanwhile, in Europe, French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged $400 million euro ($549 million U.S. dollars) to french auto makers to fast-track the development of hybrid and electic cars last Thursday after he visited the Paris Auto Show. He also stated that he will urge other European countries to offer packages that will speed the development of eco-friendly transportation.

Sarkozy’s announcement came after European auto giants, Renault and Peugeot Citroen announced that they have struck a deal with French electric company, Electricite de France (EdF), to develop and market green vehicles. The plan is to build a network to support plug-in electric vehicles by building charging stations across the country. The charging stations would also have smart technology that would recognize individual cars and directly invoice the owner for any charges. This partnership between the car makers and EdF only reinforces the strong French stance and commitment to being a leader in green transportation. It comes as no surprise because EdF is 85% owned by the French government, so their message is consistent, “We need green transportation now.”

It remains to be seen if Obama’s green plan will happen; putting one million PHEV’s on the U.S. highways in the next 6 years, including a $7,000 tax break for those who buy electric cars. Nobody is questioning the fact that something has to change with America’s auto industry.

To learn more about France’s commitment to developing a green system, read this International Herald article or this post at Red, Green and Blue.

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