They ended up in Versailles, a logical destination for the two kings of the French car. On the one hand, Carlos Tavares, general manager of the Stellantis galaxy and its fifteen brands, on the other, Luca De Meo, CEO of the Renault group and its five brands. Competitors, they nevertheless left their rivalry in the dressing room for 1.30 exchange at the invitation of our colleagues from Parisian.
During this joint interview, the two men discussed all the current topics, from the Paris Motor Show, which starts in fifteen short days, in which they participate in a more or less distanced way, to the self-driving car, which they are pushing back the level. 5 indefinitely. Above all, the two men discussed what is undoubtedly their greatest concern at the moment: the transition to total electricity and the 2035 divide.
Carlos Tavares: “If electricity is expensive, the middle class will not be able to access it and we will have a problem of social stability.”
Carlos Tavares and Luca De Meo are exactly on the same wavelength on this revolution, certainly the most important in the history of the car, and regret the negative fallout. Carlos Tavares, who we already knew was the caveat on the subject, provides a layer of it, especially regarding his price of admission: “If electric cars are expensive, they will be elitist, the middle class will not be able to access them, and we will have a problem with social stability. By the way, if we don’t get enough quantities, we won’t have any impact on the planet either.” .
However, he does not deliver his solution to avoid disasters and make E more accessible. Luca De Meo agrees and adds “that we didn’t even let them develop plan B and C with the heat engine. » But the Renault boss is more optimistic than his counterpart and believes he will come “to democratize the electric vehicle”.
But this deadline of 2035, which the two bosses do not honestly carry in their hearts, who is responsible for it? European public authorities, the ecological wave, an international and underground plot? Nothing of the sort. If the industry has to switch to electricity, it’s Volkswagen’s fault, and dieselgate, no less. “The whole profession lost its credibility the day this event took place with one of our German competitors. We all paid the price and so did society. explains Carlos Tavares. This should please Oliver Blume, the brand new head of the VW Group.
Switch to all-electric? Volkswagen’s fault
To this price, very dearly paid by the automotive industry, according to the CEO of Stellantis, is added a wave of Chinese manufacturers in Europe. Still very upset, Carlos Tavares evokes the trap that the Middle Kingdom has set in relation to electrification. “The Europeans, knowing full well that the Chinese had started ten years before them, foolishly followed their rules. Then we opened a gaping door for their exports. And the trap is closed for European industry”.
Always more measured and optimistic, Luca De Meo meanwhile understands, “ turn the tide » to avoid social damage. A break that Carlos Tavares does not rule out. “In any case, you will not escape the question”, though he explains that he wanted to create the Stellantis Galaxy to avoid it, while warning that due to Chinese brands, “It should come as no surprise, over the next few years, that European manufacturers will continue to reduce their costs very significantly.”.
the electric? They get full throttle
As we can see, both De Meo and Tavares have only bad news to report about the future of the European car industry. And yet, when asked if they are reluctant to switch their business 100% to watt-powered cars, they speak as one. “We’re going to get there very, very quickly,” admits De Meo. “we’re going full pot” Tavares outbids. A forced march rather than a flower parade.
It is clear that the two men are tempted to turn the tide after all and want to fight against the surrounding autophobia, or maybe, who knows, influence the will of the public authorities regarding C02 emissions. In an attempt to calm things down, Carlos Tavares wants to create one Forum for freedom of movement where Luca De Meo intends to participate. A way to recreate an ACEA bis since Stellantis left the Association of European Automobile Manufacturers and to encourage Renault, which is still clinging to it, to do the same?
The fact is that the famous car lobby, said to be so powerful in its day, is tearing itself apart between its various players, and that when division prevails on one side of the chessboard, the game is practically won on the other page. .