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ERIEP | Number 3 | The challenges facing the European automotive industry

Shaping an emerging market for electric cars: How politics in France and Germany transform the European automotive industry

Our account of the interaction between politics and market actors in the French and German automotive industries tries to show how a classical economic explanation is not sufficient to understand and analyse the sector’s current transformation based on the development of the electric car. From an economic-sociological point of view, we analyse how the negotiations between incumbent firms and challengers on the one hand, and public politics on electric cars on the other, affect the existing power balance in the French and German car industries. Although most carmakers are contributing to stabilising the sector’s existing “conception of control” by adapting to the electric vehicle (EV) as a challenge to their strategies, national electric car programmes support carmakers in their desire to control innovation know-how as much as challengers seek to establish themselves in an emerging market. Together with carmakers’ strategies, the role of politics is decisive in determining the degree to which the industry is changing. The transformative influence of politics should thus be taken more explicitly into account by economic sociology.

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