why Carlos Tavares, boss of Stellantis, puts his foot on the brake

In an interview published in The echoes and in foreign newspapers, the leader of Stellantis – Chrysler, Citroën, Fiat Automobiles… – warns: the switch to electric cars is a major social risk in Europe.

From 2035, Brussels wants to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars and the alternative is the electric vehicle, which is cleaner but also up to 50% more expensive. In fact, in a Europe where inflation is rampant: “We risk losing the middle classes who will no longer be able to buy a car” predicts Carlos Tavares. In France, this threat is reminiscent of the “yellow vests” crisis triggered, in part by an increase in fuel taxes, when the government’s objective was to encourage the French to be greener. We were already talking about the difficult, even impossible arbitration, for the most modest, between the end of the month… and the end of the world.

The shift to all-electric will lead to job losses: to manufacture an electric car, it takes three times fewer people than for a gasoline-powered car. According to a study last December by the PFA platform which brings together manufacturers: in France alone, we can expect the disappearance of 40,000 jobs because the new jobs created, particularly in the battery factories needed to run these vehicles, will not make it possible to compensate for these losses.

This change is not neutral for the environment, emphasizes Carlos Tavares. That’s the whole paradox. According to him, “The electric vehicle must travel 70,000 kilometers to compensate for the bad carbon footprint of battery manufacturing.” Carlos Tavares refers to the fact that electric batteries are not completely ecological insofar as they are produced from rare metals, such as lithium, cobalt which we find in emerging countries, metals which bring from afar.

Carlos Tavares’ solution would be to slow down the pace of the transition, implying to postpone the ban on petrol and diesel after 2035. He asks: “Isn’t it better to run high-performance thermal hybrid cars that remain affordable and bring an immediate carbon benefit?”

A question which, in the mouth of Carlos Tavarès, is worth a suggestion. Make no mistake about it, the boss is lobbying European leaders. Stellantis is less advanced, for example, than its competitor Renault in electrics, but the concerns it raises are no less interesting.

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