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Stellantis’ CEO is concerned about the affordability of electric cars

Carlos Tavares has long been a critic of the forced electrification process. Although Stellantis no longer needs to buy carbon credits from Tesla because of its own electric vehicles, its CEO wonders if they’re affordable enough for people to buy. If not, he fears we could have a worse problem with carbon emissions than before.

The basic principle is simple: automakers today need to produce affordable vehicles that meet emissions standards, and those cars can start at around 10,000 euros in Europe. However, when they go electric, their prices can go up to € 30,000.

When those $ 10,000 options are no longer available, the customers who bought them will instead get used internal combustion engine cars, some with outdated engines that pollute far more than brand new ones.

In such a scenario, you could have a slew of all-electric cars that, on the contrary, would have no impact on emissions reductions. Since they are too expensive for most people to buy, they would increase CO2 emissions.

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The Stellantis CEO also said that if auto companies are forced to sell electric vehicles if they are to survive, there will be a social impact as well. The people who designed and manufactured internal combustion engines either have to turn to motors and converters or are out of business.

With higher prices, auto companies will sell fewer cars, which means they won’t need as many employees as they do now. In other words, they can survive, but they will be much smaller than they are today.

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This requires an analysis of the number of affordable cars for sale today and their sales volume. If you take Ford as an example, it has committed itself to only selling trucks and SUVs from now on in order to make more profit. It is not unlikely that more expensive cars will have higher sales volumes.

Take the US market as an example. In 2019, the Toyota RAV4 was the best-selling car with 448,071 units. The overall winner was the Ford F-150 with 896,526 units. Car And Driver released a list of the 25 best-selling vehicles this year, and the cheapest were the Toyota Corolla and Nissan Sentra, which start at around $ 20,000. And they’re not even in the top positions.

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It’s different in Europe. Affordable cars are responsible for most of the sales, with the charts topped by vehicles like the Renault Clio, Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta, Peugeot 208 and Dacia Sandero. Tavares must have had this perspective in mind when raising his concerns.

This is a warning similar to that issued by Bill Gates and UNCTAD in August 2020: if electrified mobility focuses only on those who can afford to buy an electric car, the pollution problem will persist. The cars that people in Europe, the USA and China no longer want to buy are exported to developing and poor countries. You will just pollute elsewhere.

As you have warned, either together we will clean up personal transportation and leave no one behind, or with the best of intentions we can make the problem worse. Unfortunately, we are not even close to discussing it as much as we should.

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