Been for a few years electric cars hailed as a kind of miracle cure for climate change. However, this idea is greatly simplified and ignores some of the obvious risks of the mobility turnaround. Above all, Carlos Tavares, CEO of the car manufacturer Stellantis, also mentions social consequences. He fears “that we will lose the middle class if they can no longer buy cars”.
Electric cars: a social risk?
In an interview with the Handelsblatt, Tavares also addresses the opportunities offered by electrification, but he primarily criticizes them. After all, the technology was chosen by politicians, “not by industry”. There have been “cheaper and faster methods” to reduce emissions.
“Our fight now is to limit the 50 percent additional cost of electric cars as much as possible within five years. That means an average increase in productivity of ten percent per year! The automotive industry, particularly in Europe, typically manages between two and three percent per year.”
Only in a few years will it be possible to see “which manufacturers survive and which don’t”. One may also lose sight of a significant risk. Tavares fears that the middle class could be lost if cars are no longer affordable.
“The subsidies must be maintained until at least 2025,” explains Tavares. But he doesn’t think states are capable of continuing to subsidize EV sales at current levels. “From a budgetary perspective, this is not acceptable. So again, it’s about the social risk.”
No conclusions possible yet
While some see the solution in the electric cars, for others they are just a kind of emergency plaster. The Stellantis boss also notes that it will only be known in ten or 15 years to what extent electrification will actually contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
“You have to look at the entire life cycle of electric cars. […] We also need to talk about the carbon footprint of the battery. In the European energy mix, an e-car has to drive 70,000 kilometers to compensate for the poor carbon footprint of battery production and to widen the gap with a hybrid car. And a hybrid car is half the price of an electric car.”
For this and other reasons, Tavares would like to have more discussion about hybrid vehicles. He wants to deal with whether it is actually necessary to rely 100 percent on electric cars. “Very powerful hybrid cars” could be a possible solution. But the entrepreneur “does not see this debate at the moment”.