Business Opportunities Forum to promote Saudi-French links

Updated 13 September 2015

Business Opportunities Forum to promote Saudi-French links

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will host the 2nd Saudi-French Business Opportunities Forum in Riyadh on Oct. 12.

A high-powered French delegation represented by Prime Minister Manuel Valls, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development Laurent Fabius, Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Ledrian and the Minister of Economy and Industry Emmanuel Macron will attend the two-day event as also representatives from over 100 companies.
French Ambassador Bertrand Besancenot stated this at a press conference here on Sunday. Also present were Saudi-French Business Council President Mohamed Bin Laden, and Phillipe Gassman and Romain Keraval, senior diplomats from the commercial section of the mission.
“This forum will be a tremendous platform to link companies of both countries. Some top statesmen and business and community leaders from both countries will spearhead the forum’s plenary sessions and workshops,” the envoy said.
The first edition of this forum was held in Paris in April 2013 and attracted more than 650 business and official participants.
In conjunction with this event, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense, and Laurent Fabius, minister of foreign affairs and international development will lead the second session of the joint implementation committee on economic cooperation.
“The economic ties between the Kingdom and France have been strengthened within the recent period. The bilateral trade reached, for the first time, 10 billion euro in 2014. This figure doubled over the last five years and increased by seven percent during the last year,” Besancenot said.
According to figures from French Customs, the ambassador said, the French exports to the Kingdom amounted around 1.5 billion euros in the first half of 2015. “It shows consistency as this figure is almost equivalent as the one of the first semester of the previous year.”
He added: “Our civilian exports are therefore roughly stable around 3 billion euro in the last 12 months, while our imports reached 3.5 billion euros.”
Some 82 French companies are established in the Kingdom employing over 30,000 people with a Saudization rate of 36 percent.
French companies invested over $15 billion in various fields such as finance, petrochemical industry, energy, water, services such as distribution and hospitality.
Bin Laden said the French government has eased its visa regulations for the Saudi businessmen. “A maximum of five years Schengen visas are issued to Saudi businessmen or to period of validity of their passports,” Bin Laden said.
Some 280,000 Saudi tourists visited France last year.


Electric luxury vehicles, SUVs ‘more likely to cause accidents’

Updated 34 min 43 sec ago

Electric luxury vehicles, SUVs ‘more likely to cause accidents’

  • As EV sales rise, French insurer AXA warns that drivers are struggling to adapt to cars’ rapid acceleration

LONDON: Electric luxury cars and sport utility vehicles (SUVs) may be 40 percent more likely to cause accidents than their standard engine counterparts, possibly because drivers are still getting used to their quick acceleration, French insurer AXA said.

The numbers, based on initial trends from claims data and not statistically significant, also suggest small and micro electric cars are slightly less likely to cause accidents than their combustion engine counterparts, AXA said at a crash test demonstration on Thursday.

AXA regularly carries out crash tests for vehicles. This year’s tests, which took place at a disused airport, focused on electric cars.

Overall accident rates for electric vehicles are about the same as for regular cars, according to liability insurance claims data for “7,000 year risks” — on 1,000 autos on the road for seven years — said Bettina Zahnd, head of accident research and prevention at AXA Switzerland.

“We saw that in the micro and small-car classes slightly fewer accidents are caused by electric autos. If you look at the luxury and SUV classes, however, we see 40 percent more accidents with electric vehicles,” Zahnd said.

“We, of course, have thought about what causes this and acceleration is certainly a topic.”

Electric cars accelerate not only quickly, but also equally strongly no matter how high the revolutions per minute, which means drivers can find themselves going faster than they intended.

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Accident rates among luxury and SUV electric vehicles are 40 percent higher than for their combustion engine counterparts.

Half of electric car drivers in a survey this year by AXA had to adjust their driving to reflect the new acceleration and braking characteristics.

“Maximum acceleration is available immediately, while it takes a moment for internal combustion engines with even strong horsepower to reach maximum acceleration. That places new demands on drivers,” Zahnd said.

Sales of electric cars are on the rise as charging infrastructure improves and prices come down.

Electric vehicles accounted for less than 1 percent of cars on the road in Switzerland and Germany last year, but made up 1.8 percent of Swiss new car sales, or 6.6 percent including hybrids, AXA said.

Accidents with electric cars are just about as dangerous for people inside as with standard vehicles, AXA said. The cars are subject to the same tests and have the same passive safety features such as airbags and seatbelts.

But another AXA survey showed most people do not know how to react if they come across an electric vehicle crash scene.

While most factors are the same — securing the scene, alerting rescue teams and providing first aid — it said helpers should also try to ensure the electric motor is turned off. This is particularly important because unlike an internal combustion engine the motor makes no noise. In serious crashes, electric autos’ high-voltage power plants automatically shut down, AXA noted, but damaged batteries can catch fire up to 48 hours after a crash, making it more difficult to deal with the aftermath of
an accident.

For one head-on crash test on Thursday, AXA teams removed an electric car’s batteries to reduce the risk of them catching fire, which could create intense heat and toxic fumes.

Zahnd said that studies in Europe had not replicated US findings that silent electric vehicles are as much as two-thirds more likely to cause accidents with pedestrians or cyclists.

She said the jury was still out on how crash data would affect the cost of insuring electric versus standard vehicles, noting this always reflected factors around both driver and car.

“If I look around Switzerland, there are lots of insurers that even give discounts for electric autos because one would like to promote electric cars,” she said.