The French government is banking on green technology to prop up its ailing automotive industry.
But there are doubts subsidies for electric and hybrid cars will help the Peugeot Citroen Group, which has just reported more than 800 million euros of losses in the first six months of 2012.
Peugeot Citroen’s boss admitted on Wednesday the group needed to make savings of 1.5 billion euros by 2015 as part of plans to clear debts of 2.4 billion.
Philippe Varin said the measure announced by the government could boost the group’s innovation efforts regarding low and very low carbon emission vehicles. “Of course I welcome with great interest anything that supports the competitiveness of the entire sector in France,” he added.
But Peugeot Citroen workers who have just found out they’re facing redundancy weren’t impressed. They were hoping the government would do more to protect their jobs.
Union member Jean-Pierre Mercier complained: “The state coffers are already empty. If the idea is to empty them a little more, to use our taxes to pay even more public subsidies to automotive bosses without asking for the slightest guarantee, the slightest quid pro quo in terms of job security then it is scandalous, sickening and obscene.”
According to Mercier, shareholders’ dividends amount to more than the group’s debts.
Peugeot Citroen is laying off 8,000 workers from its Aulnay plant – a move that sparked outrage because just a year ago the company denied rumours of a closure.