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Carlos Tavares Says Politicians Chose Electric Cars, Not the Industry

Carlos Tavares is making sure Stellantis will meet emission goals and have electric cars to sell in the future. That does not mean he is comfortable with it. In an interview with European newspapers, he made that pretty clear by stating that EVs are not an option picked by the automotive industry: it would have been a politicians’ choice.
Carlos Tavares told journalists that EVs were chosen by politians, not by the automotive industry 7 photos
Carlos Tavares told journalists that EVs were chosen by politians, not by the automotive industryCarlos Tavares told journalists that EVs were chosen by politians, not by the automotive industryCarlos Tavares told journalists that EVs were chosen by politians, not by the automotive industryCarlos Tavares told journalists that EVs were chosen by politians, not by the automotive industryCarlos Tavares told journalists that EVs were chosen by politians, not by the automotive industryCarlos Tavares told journalists that EVs were chosen by politians, not by the automotive industry
According to the Stellantis CEO, that would be clear considering that there were much cheaper ways to decarbonize personal transportation. Reuters wrote that his example for that was “a light hybrid, which costs half as much as an EV.”

Tavares also said that an electric car has to drive 70,000 kilometers (43,496 miles) to compensate for the higher carbon emissions in its production and with Europe’s current energy mix. This seems to be based on a study called “Decarbonising Road Transport: There Is No Silver Bullet.” Elaborated by Clarendon Communications, it was more than debunked: it was entirely demoralized.

First of all, Auke Hoekstra showed on November 27, 2020, that an electric car would have to run 16,000 miles (25,750 km) to offset the higher carbon emissions the large battery pack imposes on its manufacturing process. The Dutch EV researcher presented the numbers and why they were wrong in a Twitter thread that is worth checking – it is embedded below.

Later, Michael Liebreich, founder of BNEF (Bloomberg New Energy Finance), revealed that Clarendon Communications had Rebecca Caroline Stephens as one of its directors. The part-time NHS nurse is the wife of Aston Martin’s government affairs director, James Stephens. Aston Martin was one of the sponsors for the study. Some of the others were Bosch, Honda, and McLaren. The scandal was known as “Astongate” or “Boschgate,” which shows Tavares is not in the best company by quoting those numbers.

Another point that Tavares misses is that many companies are not simply trying to comply with emission regulations: they want to catch up with Tesla and Chinese companies that are doing fine with EVs, such as Xpeng and NIO. China and Norway already have very relevant EV markets, and that trend should keep expanding worldwide.

It is comprehensible that the Stellantis CEO is concerned with multiple questions. How will the industry sell electric cars at a profit, especially affordable ones? Where will it get raw materials for all the batteries it needs? Is the current battery technology the right one? What about fuel cells? Legacy companies also have massive investments in combustion engines.

Despite that, the cheaper ways to reach lower carbon emissions were something carmakers also avoided as much as possible. They once argued that hybrids were expensive solutions that only fancier cars could have. They still do: otherwise, light hybrid vehicles would be a lot more common. Colin Mckerracher, from BNEF, even asked Tavares publicly on Twitter which other options would be available other than pushing back tighter emission standards. Will the Stellantis CEO ever answer that?





 
 
 
 
 

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