Stellantis executives can’t seem to get on the same page as far as EVs are concerned. The head of the automaker conglomerate, CEO Carlos Tavares, insists the auto industry is rushing recklessly into the EV transition. But Uwe Hochgeschurtz, the former CEO of Opel and Vauxhall and current COO of Stellantis Europe, says the company will go purely electric because that’s what people want, as Electrek reports.
During an interview with German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Hochgeschurtz said, “The people have decided: we will be purely electric.” The Stellantis EU boss went on to say that the German government has to ensure its people are able to make the EV transition comfortably by providing subsidies, per Frankfurter (link in German):
“If our states decide that, then they must also provide the means for our middle class to be able to pay for such cars,” demanded Hochschurtz. After all, local prosperity is based “on the fact that everyone in society has a right to individual mobility.”
Hochgeschurtz was referring to a need for tax cuts to offset the cost of EVs, which are typically more expensive than their fossil-fuel counterparts. The COO said the tax rate for EVs in Germany should be lower than that of ICE-powered vehicles, since low-emission cars are helping the country reach its climate goals, saying:
An electric car helps us keep our environment clean, and a non-electric car makes our environment dirtier. I don’t think you can use the same tax rates there.
As a bonus, subsidies and lower tax rates will help more people buy EVs within the next few years. But while Tavares and Hochgeschurtz agree over the need for subsidies — due to fluctuating EV prices based on raw materials — the two seem to have different ideas about the motive force behind the EV transition. Tavares claims that governments are imposing change on automakers, while Hochgeschurtz says it’s customers who are behind the switch.
Studies by the International Energy Agency and others indicate that negative attitudes towards EVs are waning. Electrek cites another study, which says that over half of new car buyers would rather an EV:
More importantly, people prefer EVs. The latest EY Mobility Consumer Index 2022 Study found that 52% of car buyers prefer an electric vehicle for their next purchase, and the preference for fully electric has more than tripled since 2020.
These findings better track with Hochgeschurtz’s statements about EVs coming sooner at the behest of buyers, not governments. But it’s not like these changes will apply to all regions all at once, nor all carmakers within a company as big as Stellantis. The mothership floats over 16 smaller automakers, including Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler, Ram, Fiat and Alfa Romeo.
That’s mostly in the U.S., but in Europe, where Hochgeschurtz says EVs are what people want, Stellantis brands include Opel, Peugeot, DS, Citroën and Lancia. Maybe if the Peugeot e-208 were available globally, Tavares could accept that people do actually want EVs as long as they’re the right ones.