A rectangular steering wheel? Why the announcement worries Stellantis unions

A rectangular steering wheel? Why the announcement worries Stellantis unions
A rectangular steering wheel? Why the announcement worries Stellantis unions

A rectangular steering wheel, from 2026 on a Peugeot model and gradually extended to all the brand’s vehicles. The innovation of the Stellantis group, which will operate thanks to electronic connections, worries the unions.

Forget the flyer. At Peugeot, make way for the rectangular. On Friday May 24, the car manufacturer presented its rectangular steering wheel prototype at the Parisian technology show Vivatech. And this novelty, which will equip a first car model from 2026, is brought to “sign all future Peugeots subsequently developed” indicated Jérôme Micheron, Peugeot product manager, to our colleagues at AFP.

>>

The new rectangular steering wheel will be present on a first Peugeot vehicle model from 2026.

© Peugeot / DR

An upheaval since this technology, already tested with several customers, will replace the classic steering column. This mechanically connects the steering wheel to the wheels and will therefore give way, on Peugeot vehicles, to electronic connections which worry the trade union organizations in the sector.

If, initially, it will not change much for Franche-Comtois and French employees of PSA, we fear long-term effects” confides Eric Peultier, deputy secretary of the Force Ouvrière union in the Territoire de Belfort.

We are going to have a beautiful rectangular steering wheel, which will undoubtedly be very comfortable for driving. But in terms of its production, it will happen far from home.

Eric Peultier,

deputy secretary of the Force Ouvrière 90 union

“We currently have positions dedicated to manufacturing the parts needed to attach the steering columns” continues Eric Peultier. “With the gradual replacement of these systems by electronic steering wheels, what will become of these positions? We fear further deletions“.

If for the moment, Peugeot has not leaked the identity and nationality of the companies responsible for supplying the electronic components and developing this technology, the FO manager, formerly of PSA, is certain: “it will not be in Franche-Comté, and probably not in France, nor in Europe”.

This scenario joins the general challenge of electricity in the automobile. We announce innovations, but we do not have the necessary skills to develop them at home. So, we export their production.

Eric Peultier,

deputy secretary of the Force Ouvrière 90 union

“This is always the difficulty of these new technologies” specifies Benoît Vernier, CDFT central union delegate at Stellantis. “We know that we will not be able to cut back, that the company needs to renew itself. But we have no guarantee that these new know-how can be provided internally, and even in France“.

Eric Peultier goes further. “New jobs will be destroyed in France and Europe” he assures. “And these job cuts will not be compensated“. “It’s true that if we look at the general policy of Stellantis, we are moving in this direction” corroborates Benoît Vernier. “The company works more and more with countries with low cost labor, and tries to decentralize as much as possible.

This is even more true for new technologies: in this sector, Stellantis can simply say that its French subcontractors do not have the necessary skills.

Benoît Vernier,

CDFT central union representative at Stellantis

If these fears were confirmed, this would accentuate the findings of the latest INSEE study on the evolution of the automobile industry in Burgundy-Franche-Comté between 2018 and 2022. One in five jobs has disappeared in the automobile manufacturing sector. in Burgundy-Franche-Comté.

To explain this trend, in addition to the drop in registrations, the institute also highlighted the effects of the rise of electric cars in the sector: “electric vehicles require almost four times fewer steel parts, but a higher proportion of electronic components”.

The case of the rectangular steering wheel is therefore, in spite of itself, the symbol of the complicated situation of the automobile in Franche-Comté, even in France. A situation that cannot be resolved “with heavy investments from the State and the European Union to develop and train in the necessary technologies, throughout our territory, while protecting our jobs” summarizes Eric Peultier.

► READ ALSO: One in five jobs has disappeared in the automobile manufacturing sector in Burgundy-Franche-Comté

And the trade unionist cites as an example the case of the former Stellantis buildings on the Sochaux site, “which is currently being destroyed to rebuild premises which will be used for logistics”. “While we could have taken advantage of this to attract innovative companies to the area” regrets Eric Peultier.

Contacted by France 3 Franche-Comté, the Stellantis group had not yet responded to our questions at the time of publication of our article.

-

-

PREV Tenants hit by dizzying increases
NEXT dates and good deals to make the most of it