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Chrysler Airflow Concept
Chrysler Airflow Concept, image credit: Chrysler


Stellantis CEO Certain Company Can Catch Tesla

Carlos Tavares is bullish on Stellantis. Will that be enough to make the company viable in the coming battery-electric future?

Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares told the world this week, “I am very confident — I am trying not to be arrogant, just confident — of the fact that we are going to catch up in the next couple of years with Tesla and it’s going to be a very healthy competition.” The company released a revised business plan recently that aims to double revenue to €300 billion by 2030 and to move faster to bring more electrified vehicles to market. According to Autoblog, Tavares also called for greater investment in charging networks in Europe and the United States, to create a “density,” which he deems fundamental to persuading customers to switch to electric cars.

This is the same CEO who a short while ago was telling the world that electric cars have enormous hidden carbon emissions and that internal combustion engines will have a place in the world of automobiles for decades to come. The problem with his analysis is that it takes into account every jot and tittle of carbon dioxide associated with manufacturing batteries while ignoring the massive emissions that occur just from moving oil from wells to refineries. As Bill McKibben told us recently, 40% of the emissions attributable to fossil fuels come from transporting the stuff from place to place. Those emissions are ignored by those bashing electric cars.

In other words, the fossil fuel apologists have been hard at work distorting the truth and trying to convince people an apple is really the same as an aardvark, and Tavares fell for it because — hello! — he is the head of legacy automaker whose business depends on manufacturing conventional cars with infernal combustion engine. Sure, he’s all for electric cars — in 2050 or 2079 at the latest.

Electric Cars Coming From Stellantis

Jeep EV

Image courtesy of Jeep

To be fair, Stellantis has shown the world some of its upcoming electric cars and they look pretty nice, especially to Americans who think any vehicle less than 17 feet long is an insult to their God-given right to drive the biggest, baddest, meanest, and most wasteful automobiles in history. The Chrysler Airflow Concept is a perfectly fine looking automobile in a sedan, crossover SUV, sports coupe sort of way, and the as yet unnamed new SUV from Jeep is an appealing offering for those who think a Jeep should look like a Jeep even if it has an electric motor and runs on a battery.

Stellantis & Russia

In January, Stellantis said it planned to expand its manufacturing base in Kaluga, Russia, where it builds cargo vans in conjunction with Mitsubishi. But now, those plans are being cancelled after Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine. Also this week, Tavares said, “New investments in Russia are not on the table,” according to a report by Automotive News Europe.

The company has suspended all exports and imports of vehicles with Russia. Tavares said Stellantis plants in Hordain, France, and Luton, England, could easily absorb the low volumes that were produced in Kaluga for export. Kaluga is about 180 kilometers southwest of Moscow and has become a center of the Russian auto industry. Volkswagen Group opened an assembly plant there in 2007, as did Volvo trucks. Prominent suppliers in the area include Continental, Magna International, and Visteon.

The Takeaway

Stellantis may have plans to remain the world’s fourth largest automobile manufacturer and may be dragging itself into the electric car future, no matter how grudgingly, but catching Tesla? That will take some heavy lifting.

Those who have followed the US auto industry for a while know the key piece of the Stellantis puzzle in America is Jeep. It has been part of many auto conglomerates, from American Motors, to Mercedes, to Fiat, and now Stellantis. There will always be a place for Jeeps in the world of automobiles. There will probably always be a place for Ram pickup trucks in America. But will there be a place for the rest of the automobiles manufactured by Stellantis in the battery-electric future? That’s a question that can’t be answered definitively at this time.

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Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?


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