Stellantis has become one of the healthiest car company the world has moved on. This is the result of the vision and strategy of Carlos Tavares, who managed to save three dying giants – PSA, Fiat and Chrysler – as well as a brand in danger of disappearing. Opel and build a global brand alliance that sets records for profits and sales volume.
Stellantis’ electricity transmission plan is fully underway, even if Tavares continues to criticize the actions of parliamentarians in the European Union. In the United States, half of all cars sold will be fully electric by 2030, the year Stellantis aims to be 100 percent electric in Europe. Until then, only seven years remain, in which no less than 75 models from the world of the group brand will be on the market.
Tavares says that his company controls the entire value chain, from the battery for electric motors and platforms. Five battery manufacturers support the initiative: one in the US (Samsung), another in Canada (LG Energy Solutions) and three in Europe (Germany, France and Italy), as part of a joint venture with ACC (Automotive Cell Company) and in collaboration with Mercedes and Total, each with an annual capacity of 40 GWh.
Peugeot’s world premiere on North American soil must have been a first. Does that have a special meaning? Will Peugeot return to this market?
We have no such intention and just wanted to show the technology we have in our group and how it is progressing. In any case, Peugeot is not exactly known in this country, having won three editions of the Indianapolis 500 in its early years.
Eagerly awaited is the Dodge Charger, of which we have only seen the lines of the body of the concept and heard the incredible sound of its electric motor. What can we expect from Stellantis electric sports cars?
We are very pleased with the results; I think the sound is absolutely amazing and many people will love it. And like other future sports cars from several of our brands, it will be able to do more combustion and drift than any of its predecessors, and with zero CO2 emissions! The team often asks me for my opinion on what is being done and they value this feedback and use it to improve the product. And that is also something I like to do.
What will happen to cars and car manufacturers in the medium term when they have more lines of software code than shipping lines? Will the car lose its important role in our lives?
It’s probably an understatement to say that the app is taking the world by storm because it started 10 years ago. Today, with rising interest rates and inflation, money is tied up. In 2022 alone, billions of dollars more and new mobility resources will disappear from the world. And yet the need for innovation that improves our lives is greater than ever. Our communities are powered by the ability of their members to seamlessly balance their digital and physical needs. We are entering an era where we must not only be efficient but also efficient in the use of resources.
And at Stellantis, with the ultimate goal of enabling freedom of mobility, by bike, car, shared car, commercial vehicle, self-driving car, plane… whatever the user desires. We have the spirit of a technology company, global scale and entrepreneurial spirit, all with the goal of achieving zero carbon emissions by 2038, becoming the first in our industry.
You talked about the friction between the digital and the physical world. Can you give an example?
Normally. For example, when using our in-car infotainment systems, we want to provide the ease of use that we know our customers want. There is a need to provide simpler, more intuitive and more ergonomic systems that allow you to perform any action you want by look and/or touch. We are working on this with companies like Foxconn, Amazon, Qualcomm, etc
Such is the case with the new Synthesis Cockpit concept we just launched for Chrysler, which is one of our first visions to make life easier, better and more efficient. A concept that will apply to all Stellantis brands.
Many development programs for autonomous driving technology are being abandoned. But not in your company. What do you see that others don’t?
We continue to invest in this sector and have acquired one of the most promising companies in the field of artificial intelligence and ADAS (Autonomous Driving Assistance Systems), aiMotive. We are in no rush to have robots on wheels. What drives us is to add value to our customers’ daily lives, prioritizing their safety.
We know that the technological barriers are as difficult as the legal ones, but we are moving in this direction even if in the first phase we see this technology in a controlled environment and in the use that humans can be changed due to the absence of labor costs helps. make sure that the foundation is right for the business model.
One of the most pressing problems facing the automotive industry is overcapacity, as the high prices of electric vehicles threaten to make them unaffordable even for the middle class. How do you deal with this problem?
That’s today’s million dollar question. Will we be able to produce electric cars that are affordable for middle class consumers? If we do not take appropriate measures to prevent this, in a few years we will have electric propulsion systems that are 40 percent more expensive than modern internal combustion engines, and we cannot pass these additional costs on to consumers.
If we did that we would lose the middle class, the market would shrink dramatically as we would ask people all over the world who buy $20,000 cars to suddenly pay $30,000 to $35,000 for the same type of car Use a car, just electric. If we don’t pass costs, we will lose money and eventually have to go out of business.
We have no choice but to be more productive and get an additional 40 percent of the cost of electric propulsion technology. Especially because if we lose the middle class, the effect of full car electrification will be much smaller and deny the reason for everything we do, which is to solve global warming.
How can this be achieved?
There are three levers we can use to achieve this. The company’s fixed costs, variable costs and marketing costs. And we’ve been doing that for a while, but it’s getting harder and harder because of runaway inflation, rising energy and commodity costs. In Europe, for example, sales figures have not yet returned to pre-Covid19 levels, also because cars are already more expensive.
On the other hand, there are more taxes, more fees to buy and drive cars, which aggravates the situation. And if the market does not return to the way it was, at least we have the problem of exceeding the capacity in production, and that endangers our competitiveness and thus employment in our company. This is not a new thing… it is something that has been happening for the last six or seven years and I warned the government a long time ago.
Stellantis is one of the international manufacturers that invest the least in the number one car market in the world, China. And why?
It is quite obvious that we do not need to manufacture cars in China as we are making huge profits from the cars we sell there under the current import system. The Jeep case (which we stopped local production of last year) is a good example of this. We will continue to sell in China, but we are careful about the geopolitical tremor in some parts of the world, and we are also a Western company: big in the US, very big in Europe, number one in Latin. America, is growing rapidly in Africa and the Middle East.
In the hypothetical event of tensions between the United States and China increasing, the presence of power in China and industrial facilities may increase the risk in the event of bilateral sanctions between the parties involved. And I don’t want to expose my company to such problems. We have less growth potential, but more profit.
The emergence of solid state batteries (SSB) is seen as a turning point in automotive electrification, or at least an important moment in its evolution. Can you say when your first SSB electric cars will be on the market?
If we want to provide a range of 600 to 700 km today, we will have to make some decisions. This will solve a small range problem, but it means that the cars will have a lot of battery weight. At least 1,000-1,000 pounds of extra weight, which means it’s pointless and we won’t be doing it for that long range.
What weight will be acceptable for an electric car to ensure a reliable range? Maybe 200kg, because that’s more or less what we’ve added to cars over the last 20 years for passive safety measures. So we need to change the way we store cells in cars and double the energy weight per kilogram of batteries. If we can do that, we can halve the weight of the battery for the same range and at the same time potentially reduce the cost. That’s what we expect from solid state batteries.
But is this the right time for such a change when many manufacturers are investing hundreds of millions in battery gigafactories?
Yes – if the new chemistry can be made with the same materials with current lithium-ion technology used. There is no point in throwing away past investments because we are starting the volume cycle now and we cannot afford to lose those invested resources. SSB (which we are working on with Factorial Energy in the US and ACC in Europe) will enter the final stages of development between 2028 and 2030, so they should be on the market by the end of this decade.
Mercedes has just announced a heavy investment (several millions) in its electric vehicle charging networks to accelerate the switch of consumers to electric. Is this a solution that Stellantis can pursue?
Obviously not. I can only assume that the investment in infrastructure with its own charging network is being made to keep customers happy. But how many payment points do we need in this case? It’s clear beyond what we intend to put out, and that means we’re going to treat people who buy our cars differently. I believe our investment is better spent elsewhere, with all due respect in front of my friend Ola Kallenius and his team – who have achieved excellent results – and in our case that will mean that at some point we will have to choose between improving the payment infrastructure and creating new cars and new technologies. And our strategy will not deviate from this.
The interview was conducted by Joaquim Oliveira; news media