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On the occasion of the Paris Motor Show, the CEO of Stellantis (6th world group resulting from the merger of PSA Peugeot-Citroën and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), Carlos Tavares, details his strategy for the electric vehicle, accusing Europe of launching the “carpet red” for the Chinese. Maintenance.
RFI: The Stellantis group is engaged in an approach to accelerating electric mobility: vehicle design, manufacture and recycling. 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 accessible mobility. We have excellent results, as the Peugeot 208 is the best-selling electric car in France. We have around thirty models for sale, we have reinforced our technological development with the creation of Stellantis, within the regulatory framework defined by the European Union. Here in Paris, we have a lot of news, starting with the Jeep Avenger, the brand’s first vehicle to be 100% electric.
This is an approach that is encouraged by public authorities. French President Emmanuel Macron announces financial incentives for the most modest families. It’s definitely an asset to you. ?
If these incentives did not exist, middle and lower class families would not be able to buy an electric vehicle. The real problem is its cost and therefore its price. If we don’t facilitate their access to the middle classes, Europe’s electrification strategy would be stillborn. At some point, dogmatism has to meet reality. And, in a way, to be potentiated by a layer of pragmatism. It is normal that we help the most modest families to have access to the electric car because it is about protecting freedom of movement. And if there is no freedom of movement for the middle classes, there is no modern democracy.
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How do you see China’s arrival as a major player in this market?
There are no surprises. We have explained many times that dogmatic decisions taken by the European Union 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’ve been warning about this risk for five or six years. Unfortunately, this materializes. We’ll have to deal with it. We are ready for the fight. Ready to run. It will be rough. European citizens need to know this and I encourage them to support European manufacturers.
Talk about a fight. Isn’t China 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 environment for Western manufacturers. It would therefore be the minimum that there was reciprocity imposed by the European Union in the conditions of competition in the European market in relation to the Chinese market. We note that this is not the case, we regret it, this is part of the naivety that is added to the dogmatism of the decisions taken by the European Union. And this is a serious problem for European citizens themselves.
We are in a serious energy crisis. How can an automaker act to save energy for its customers and also save energy for society, in its factories?
We have implemented a plan that will allow us to reduce our electricity consumption by 20%. It is an environmental and economic necessity. We also launched an energy production plan that, by 2025, will allow us to produce 50% of our needs. This is a very significant contribution to reducing the burden on our societies.
Stellantis is a global group. What are your ambitions in Africa?
The Africa and Middle East region is probably the region in the world with the greatest potential for growth in the youth population, as the Western world is aging. Due to the birth rate, mobility needs are huge. We will make our contribution. We lead several initiatives to bring the best of technology to the African continent. We will do this under economic conditions that allow the middle class to have access to the use of the automobile, an absolutely prodigious instrument of freedom.
Which countries are primarily concerned?
We have Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and recently we 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 objective 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 economic power of families. Today it was a very profitable business due to the low production of new cars, as a result 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, reusing components, what we call standard exchanges in transmissions, engines, bridges. We have very ambitious economic goals.
As the leader of a large global company, how do you analyze the job market? Much has been said about the big layoff. In the context of the crisis, employees are asking a lot of questions about the level of pay.
I view this with some concern. In Europe, and particularly in France, we have an exceptional quality of life. I am a privileged person who has the possibility 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 their way of life, you’re going to have to work harder. If you want to work less, it will degrade your quality of life. If you don’t create wealth, you can’t redistribute it. It is very important to respect Europeans, telling them the truth and avoiding electoral demagoguery. We must work with less bureaucracy, less technocracy, more fluidly, using modern communication tools. Get better productivity at work to get more done without working longer hours. It is a form of intelligence that the European Union has lost.
And the salaries?
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 distributed €1.9 billion in performance bonuses to all our employees over a 10-year period. We distribute to both our employees and our shareholders, we are on a very balanced approach.