December of 2020 was a busy month for French Police in Versailles as they started a crackdown against French Car smugglers operating from the city. The smugglers were known to be from an African background and had deep connections in the area around the city.
The probe surrounding the illegal activities began back in June when police uncovered a shipping container with three stolen cars from a small village located west of the city of Paris. Following the footprints from the probe, the highly organized operation ended up sniffing up the smugglers in their act.
The smugglers operated mostly at night when they would steal cars and then ship them over to African countries in an undocumented manner. The suspects were all aged between 20 and 35 years.
“First they would break into the car, plug a computer into the on-board diagnostic port and use software to reprogram the vehicle to accept a new key. They would then pay someone 50 Euros ($60) to pick up the car and park it on the street with a new registration plate for days or even weeks. Once the car was no longer deemed “traceable” it would be shipped in a container to Africa,” noted AFP.
Investigators and police officials have officially linked 30 stolen vehicles, especially SUVs with this gang.
YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4oLbr-DqIM
Tens of thousands of people in France have taken to the streets and burnt down French cars as a means to demonstrate their anger against a new security law. The security law passed in the European country stopped residents from filming police officers during random observations and checks.
Protests were largely concentrated in the cities of Paris, Lyon, Marseille and Strasbourg. Local reports suggest that a total of 50,000 people marched in Paris during isolated riots.
The countrywide figure was marked at 500,000 as half a million people took to the streets. Protestors disturbed barricades, three different objects at police officials on duty and even burnt down French cars.
Banners and signs were held by some proclaiming defiant messages against police: “Not see, not caught,” “France: Country of Rights of the Police,” “Carrying weapons is out of service,” and “Police everywhere, justice nowhere.”
According to France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, a total of 37 police officers suffered severe or minor injuries during the protests and the violence that ensued. Police had also arrested 9 people for instigating violence and vandalism.
“Our liberty is in danger; we are really happy to see all of these people here today,” said a student marching in the protests. “It shows that Parisians are a people in pursuit of their liberty.”
YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLDkLpxx3VQ
French car brand Citroen has taken Swedish Company Polestar to court over the alleged use of its trademark logo. Citroen is vying to block the sales of Swedish electric car brand Polestar in France on the grounds that their logo is too similar to the iconic chevron logo that the car manufacturer currently has.
Polestar has started production on its electric 2 model in China and was expected to launch it in France by the start of 2021. Polestar carries chrome, 3D logo, which Citroen blames is too-similar to their chrome chevron logo.
The court notice said, “The Polestar Performance company has harmed the reputation of French trademarks 3422762 and 3841054 owned by Automobiles Citroën.”
The French website for Polestar is current displaying this message, “Access to the Polestar site is not accessible to the French public due to territorial restrictions on the use of French trademarks n°016898173 and n°01689532.”
The website then goes on to offer an international number that leads to a voicemail asking you to leave your contact details to be contacted later. Polestar’s reputation, which was already reeling from electric glitches in two of their previous vehicles, has further been damaged by this scandal.
YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IifJLUdK2Ag
While French politicians aren’t really known for their wise antics, Jean Lassalle, an Independent Member of Parliament made a surprising entry to a rugby match in Bedous by parking his car on a railroad crossing.
Lassalle was there to see his son play Rugby, and in his haste forgot to park his car right.
It was later during the match that police approached him and asked him to pay a 135 Euro fine and to also move his car as it had been blocking a passenger train for the last half an hour.
“I saw this magnificent place and I parked there,” he told France Bleu. “The train was indeed at a standstill. I apologized to the passengers. Everyone was very nice.”
“I have no excuse: it’s been two years since the line [opened] and I even inaugurated it,” he said. “It’s a big mistake.”
Lassalle further went on to quip that if he had a driver like many of his peers, the accident wouldn’t have had happened in the first place.
The visibility on the day was good, which is why the passenger train’s driver could see Mr. Lassalle’s parked car from a distance. With poor visibility, this could have ended badly.
YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IuV1Rsyhlw
While the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, France might just have witnessed a return to normalcy as far as the car market is concerned. Car sales in the country plummeted to a new low in April, as the country witnessed an 88 percent drop in demand.
An automobile study carried out by La Plateforme reveals that sales in the auto industry of France for June are just at par with the sales during June of last year. The monthly figures were published by La Plateforme and its Director General Marc Mortureux during the month of July.
“We remain cautious because the last days of the month are very important, but there are clear signs of a restart,” Mortureux said in an interview. “After catastrophic months of March, April and May, the month of June is shaping up to be near normal at last year’s level, which was in itself relatively high.”
While orders are almost near normal, the Director General believes that the current French car industry production levels are still at 60 percent of what they were before the crisis. Still a 50 percent increase from the 40 percent they were at during the last month.
YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRq6IA0Cno8
German based Volkswagen, one of the top sellers in the French car market, recently pulled out a social media advertisement after it was heavily criticized for its racist overtones.
The ten-second ad posted across Instagram, FB and Twitter, showed a massive white hand intrude in and push a black man away from next to a new Volkswagen Golf on the road. The hand then moved on to flick the black man into a French café.
Commenters on social media were disgusted by the overt racism at display in the advertisement. Volkswagen immediately removed the ad from across all social media.
“Without question: the video is inappropriate and tasteless,” Volkswagen wrote. “We will clarify how something like this could happen, and there will be consequences.”
“Many initiatives in the company and in our global workforce promote diversity, integration and unprejudiced cooperation,” Volkswagen said. “That makes it all the more annoying that we made this mistake.”
Finding its roots in Nazi Germany to produce the people’s car, Volkswagen realizes the precarious situation it is in considering its history and the way people look at the brand. They vow to position themselves against all forms of xenophobia, racism and discrimination.
YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CBTs67Oh1MI
A French Media Daily has reported that French automobile giant Renault has earmarked three of its manufacturing and assembling factories for an early closure in France. The move has come as a result of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, as companies reel from lowered consumer interest toward automobiles.
Renault as a company has plenty of fixed costs to cover and the company might not be able to continue on this trend going into the future. According to reports from the newspaper, it is the Alpine A110 producing factory on the outskirts of Paris that will be the first to shut down.
Similarly, Renault will also shut down another facility located at Flins.
Recently, thousands protested on the streets of France against the job cuts on the cards by Renault.
“It’s an earthquake that is taking place. We want to keep our company here,” Jerome Delvaux, a union member, said.
“This demonstration today is very important, even if it is a first step, to show the government and Renault that workers and residents of this area are committed to this company and that we have support,” Delvaux added.
“We need these jobs, otherwise it’s a whole territory that will die,” he said.
The company is looking to target savings, but these savings have certain repercussions that it isn’t accounting for.
YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNIOehncMj4
Car sales in the French market have come to a screeching halt as the country reels from the impact of the Coronavirus lockdown. March saw a steep contraction of 72 percent, but the downfall for April has been even more severe. All businesses deemed non-essential, including auto dealers, have been closed since March 17th.
Only 20,000 units were sold during the month of April, out of which 17,000 were sold by the two biggest automaker models in France, PSA and Renault.
“There were some deliveries, some car registrations, especially by Renault and PSA, for medical staff, government workers and individuals who had ordered and already paid for their cars,” Francois Roudier, spokesman for the CCFA, told AFP.
Looking ahead, “it will be the recovery plan that determines the state of the market over the year,” Roudier said. “There are a lot of unknowns.”
The unknown factors in the market include speculations over when the lockdown will be lifted and by when we can expect a full fledged return back to normalcy. Until then, consumers and buyers would have to live and bear with the reduced sales and market growth in the automotive sector.
YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZQUEOrS3bA
Corona is at play and the world seems to be suffering at its hands. Almost all financial, sporting, business and other activities have come to a standstill because of the impacts of COVID-19. While the virus has struck hard all over the world, Europe seems to be hit the most by it. France, Spain, England, Italy and Netherlands are all reeling from it.
The repercussions of COVID-19 include a lockdown across all countries of Europe. What this has meant is that there is little to no financial and business activities happening around.
The impact of the virus was also felt by the French car registration agencies. French Car Manufacturers PSA reported that their car registrations fell by a massive 73.43 percent in March. This is a record fall and is a severe shock to the embittered manufacturers.
PSA is responsible for making cars for the Peugeot and Citroen brands. Additionally Renault also reported a 71.6 percent drop in their registered vehicles. This total drop will harm the economy as consumers have literally altered their spending patterns.
Whether the world ever comes out of the COVID-19 pandemic is yet to be seen, but what we do know is that the French Car industry is suffering damage beyond repair.
YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUBL2IlORFU
Drivers of French Cars registered on ride-sharing apps such as Marcel, Uber, and Kapten will soon be going into a strike because of poor policies by both the government and the ride-sharing apps in question.
The decision was taken by the INV, which is the national union for all drivers and cars registered in ride-sharing applications. All drivers and stakeholders for these apps are expected to gather for a protest outside the Paris Uber Headquarters on the 6th of March. This protest is meant to urge the ride-sharing company to pay heed toward their demands.
The grievances for the ride-sharing app drivers include insane commission charged by the parent company they work under, no minimum payment being given on rides, and high chances of suspension if they cancel a trip.
President of the Union Brahmin Ben Ali sided with the drivers and said this was a precarious profession, which needs social protection and government justice. Drivers have special grievances with Uber after the company implemented a change in policy to suspend drivers who refuse rides. This leaves drivers without a source of income or access to work all of a sudden.
There were previous protests against Uber 4 years ago, which turned violent. Hopes are these protests remain safe, and violence is avoided.
YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UI-E8Llca74