Stellantis boss ‘ready to fight’ against Chinese competition

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On the occasion of the Paris Motor Show, CEO of Stellantis (6th world group resulting from the merger of PSA Peugeot-Citroën and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), Carlos Tavares, describes his strategy for the electric vehicle and accuses Europe of rolling out “red carpet ” for the Chinese. Maintenance.

RFI: The Stellantis group is engaged in an approach to accelerate electric mobility: design, manufacture and reuse of vehicles. What are your current projects?

Carlos Tavares: It’s quite simple. We want to offer our fellow citizens, especially Europeans and French, clean, safe and affordable mobility. We have excellent results as the Peugeot 208 is the best selling electric car in France. We have about thirty models for sale, reinforced our technological development with the creation of Stellantis within the legislative framework established by the EU. Here in Paris, we have many new products, starting with the Jeep Avenger, the brand’s first vehicle that is 100% electric.

This is an approach encouraged by the public authorities. French President Emmanuel Macron announces financial incentives for the most modest households. It is definitely an asset to you. ?

If these incentives did not exist, middle and lower class households would not be able to purchase an electric vehicle. The real problem is its cost, and therefore its price. If we do not facilitate its access to the middle class, Europe’s electrification strategy would be stillborn. At some point, dogmatism must meet reality. And in a way be reinforced by a layer of pragmatism. It is normal that we help the most modest households gain access to the electric car, because this is about protecting freedom of movement. And if there is no freedom of movement for the middle class, there is no modern democracy.

Read also: Emmanuel Macron puts a turbo on the electric car

How do you see China’s arrival as a major player in this market?

There are no surprises. We have explained many times that the dogmatic decisions made by the EU rolled out the red carpet for Chinese manufacturers. It was predictable. Here at the Mondial de l’auto in Paris, apart from Stellantis and its French competitor (Renault), there are only Chinese manufacturers. The Chinese offensive is now a reality. We have been warning about this risk for five or six years. Unfortunately, it comes to nothing. We will have to deal with it. We are ready for the match. Ready to race. It gets rough. European citizens need to know this and I encourage them to support European producers.

Talk about a fight. China is not a partner, a potential market?

For Stellantis, the least that can be said is that the competitive conditions in Europe make the task much easier for Chinese manufacturers than the Chinese regulatory context does for Western manufacturers. It would therefore be the least if there were to be reciprocity imposed by the EU in the competitive conditions of the European market compared to the Chinese market. We note that this is not the case, we regret it, it is part of the naivety that is added to the dogmatism of the decisions that the EU takes. And this is a serious problem for the European citizens themselves.

We are in a serious energy crisis. How can a car manufacturer act to save energy for its customers and at the same time save energy for society, in its factories?

We have implemented a plan that will enable us to reduce our electricity consumption by 20%. It is an environmental and economic necessity. We have also launched an energy production plan which by 2025 will allow us to produce 50% of our needs. This is a very significant contribution to reducing the burden on our society’s shoulders.

Stellantis is a global group. What are its ambitions in Africa?

The region of Africa and the Middle East is probably the region of the world with the highest growth potential among the population’s youth, while the Western world is aging. Due to the birth rate, the need for mobility is enormous. We will make our contribution. We lead several initiatives to bring the best of technology to the African continent. We will do it under economic conditions that will give the middle class access to use the car, an absolutely fantastic instrument of freedom.

Which countries are prioritized?

We have Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and we recently have Algeria [accord-cadre avec Fiat, NDLR]. And we have every intention of being present in the near future in other countries on the continent. Our strategic goal is very simple: we want 70% of the vehicles we sell in Africa to be manufactured there. There are also used vehicles that respond to the financial power of families. Today it was a business that is very profitable due to the low production of new cars, a consequence of the semiconductor crisis. We have a unit dedicated to used vehicles, including in the Africa region. We will continue to invest in this sector, also for the circular economy: extending the life of vehicles, recycling, recycling components, what we call standard exchanges on transmissions, on engines, on the bridges. We have very ambitious financial goals.

How do you analyze the labor market as a manager of a large global company? There has been a lot of talk about the big resignation. In connection with the crisis, employees ask many questions about the level of remuneration.

I see it with some concern. In Europe, and especially in France, we have an exceptional quality of life. I am a privileged person who has the opportunity to compare many very different situations in the world. Only Europeans are unaware of how lucky they are to live in such a beautiful region. You have to tell them: if you want to protect your lifestyle, you will have to work more. If you want to work less, you reduce your quality of life. If you don’t create wealth, you can’t redistribute it. It is very important to respect Europeans by telling them the truth and avoiding electoral demagogy. We must work with less bureaucracy, less technocracy, in a more fluid way using modern communication tools. Get better productivity at work to produce more without working more hours. It is a form of intelligence that the EU has lost.

And the wages?

It is quite obvious that we must continue to improve remuneration, and that is what we have done at Stellantis. What we decided with our social partners exceeded the level of inflation, especially in France (7%). Last year we awarded €1.9 billion in performance bonuses to all our employees over a 10-year period. We distribute as much to our employees as to our shareholders, we have a fairly balanced approach.

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