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Peugeot e-2008. Image courtesy of Peugeot.


Stellantis CEO: Speeding Up EV Transition Is “Beyond The Limits” Of What Auto Industry Can Sustain

Stellantis’ CEO doesn’t seem to think they’ll be able to keep up with the rapid pace of EV development.

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In an interview at the Reuters Next conference, Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares said that the costs of speeding up the transition to EVs are “beyond the limits” of what the auto industry can sustain. Tavares was discussing how governments and investors want automakers to speed up the transition to electricity and shared how difficult this was.

In the interview, Tavares said:

“What has been decided is to impose on the automotive industry electrification that brings 50% additional costs against a conventional vehicle.

“There is no way we can transfer 50% of additional costs to the final consumer because most parts of the middle class will not be able to pay.”

He noted that automakers could charge higher prices and sell fewer cars or accept lower profit margins. Both of these paths lead to cutbacks, the article pointed out, while emphasizing that union leaders in both Europe and North America have warned that thousands of jobs could be lost.

The solution? More time. Tavares said that pushing to speed up the process would be counterproductive.

“It will lead to quality problems. It will lead to all sorts of problems.”

He noted that much greater productivity is needed in order to make the transition quickly and survive the transition. Tavaras explained:

“Over the next five years we have to digest 10% productivity a year … in an industry which is used to delivering 2 to 3% productivity.

“The future will tell us who is going to be able to digest this, and who will fail. We are putting the industry on the limits.”

Tavares thinks that governments should shift the focus of climate policy toward cleaning up the energy sector and developing better charging infrastructure for EVs.

“We can invest more and go deeper in the value chain.

“There may be other (investments) in the near future.”

When You Are Failing To Innovate …

I agree with his points on governments needing to focus on charging infrastructure more. Many of my own friends are worried about charging, and this is normal. I think if there was a stronger charging infrastructure, more people would switch to EVs simply because they’d see chargers everywhere.

However, many of the other comments just sound like they are coming from someone who is failing to innovate, failing to seize the moment, and expecting to fail. They seem like an excuse to not try harder. You don’t see Volkswagen’s CEO complaining that they just — can’t — do — it. You don’t see SAIC’s or BYD’s CEO saying that we really need to slow down this EV transition. On the flip side, they are focusing on trying to be leaders in the legacy automotive world. Heck, you don’t even see Ford’s or GM’s CEOs saying that we need to put they brakes on the EV revolution. They may not have high sales of electric vehicles yet, but they are jockeying for the best EV image.

And we haven’t even mentioned Tesla yet. Tavares is insinuating that investors have unrealistic expectations of what legacy automakers can do. However, at the same time, Tesla’s market cap is more than several of the largest automakers’ market caps combined. Maybe investors are just looking for greater innovation and more leadership in the technologies of the future rather than excuses for why “we have to” stock to clearly faulty, problematic technologies of the past.

Stellantis is actually producing and selling more plugin vehicles than all but 4 other automotive groups across the world. However, at the same time, the conglomerate’s plugin vehicle sales in the first 10 months of 2021 were just 42% of young Tesla’s plugin vehicle sales — and that’s including plugin hybrids from Stellantis.

By Johnna Crider and Zachary Shahan

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