The formation of a new technological trajectory of electric propulsion in the French automobile industry

The formation of a new technological trajectory of electric propulsion in the French automobile industry

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Schamp, Eike W.
Discussion Paper 12/2014

Bonn: German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)

ISBN: 978-3-88985-599-2
Price: 6 €

Public debate on climate change mitigation and low-carbon policies has brought the issue of transportation and the choice of propulsion technologies to the fore. A radical shift in drive technologies from the internal combustion engine (ICE) to various forms of electric vehicle drive – hybrid (HEV) and battery electric (BEV) – seems to be emerging. While there are many actors involved in forming this new technological trajectory, they would appear to be embedded in national societies and their institutional settings. Yet, the character of this process and the factors determining it remain fairly unclear. In order to unravel the nature of these early stages of trajectory formation, the paper poses three questions: Firstly, which societal factors have an impact on the early formation of technologies in the field of electric propulsion and how far are they country-specific? Secondly, is a nascent trajectory in electric propulsion that can be defined as being specific to a particular country emerging? And, thirdly, how sustainable do we consider the trajectory, in terms of maturing into a “dominant” design of the technology and competitiveness of the nation’s economy in related green technologies?
France is a good case in point as the country has long-term experience in the development of such technology and is currently Europe’s leader in HEV and BEV production and consumption. Combining an evolutionary perspective and a systemic approach to electromobility, the paper provides an in-depth analysis of the emerging processes of trajectory formation in France and gives some tentative answers to the above questions.

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