Earlier this year, Stellanti CEO Carlos Tavares announced ambitious plans for the group. Our UK colleague George Barrow, who is also active for VanReviewer, finds out what this means for vans in an exclusive interview with Carlos Tavares.
‘Our’, according to the dictionary, is ‘to be brave enough to do something difficult’, which is exactly where Stellantis’ ambitions are heading. Europe’s second largest car manufacturer has a heavyweight at the helm. His name is Carlos Tavares, recently named the most powerful man in the automotive industry, former CEO of Groupe PSA and now CEO of Stellantis, following the 2021 merger with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
While all manufacturers are under pressure to meet emissions targets with a European ban on internal combustion engines coming into force in 2035, Stellantis expects to not only meet but exceed these targets, reducing its carbon footprint by 50 percent by 2021. by 2030 and perhaps most ambitiously, a promise to be globally CO2-neutral by 2038.
The intentions are set out in the group’s Dare Forward 2030 plan, which includes electrification, hydrogen and software with four main goals: to reduce CO2 emissions by 50%, 100% electric batteries (BEV) in Europe and 50% in America in their sales mix, that be number one in the services and products they provide and double revenue by a double-digit margin by 2021—all of which sounds like a significant undertaking, but which Tavares believes is achievable.
“2030 is about transforming our company into an automotive technology company,” he says. “In that index is technology, and we believe that humanity will be better served if we have technology-neutral regulations and if we can bring the best of our engineers to a point where they can bring solutions to our society.”
“The more global the problems are, the less fragmented the world is for me, because if these problems are global, you have to try to solve them all together, not be fragmented. We believe that science offers a solution and we are now one of the first to bring a fuel cell van to market. We are now preparing the full size release [bestelwagen] to the market.” He points out that the work with the fuel cells follows the introduction of electric versions for all of Stellantis’ light commercial vehicles.
Customers have already received test vehicles of the medium-sized hydrogen van (Vivaro, Jumpy and Expert), but in 2024 the large vans (Jumper, Boxer and Movano) will also enter the market with hydrogen, when the company can use a new common platform that is better prepared for electrification. The final piece of the puzzle will be RAM’s heaviest American pickups, which will have “hydrogen in the tank” by 2026.
All of these products are likely to come with a hefty price tag, but while one of the main goals is to double revenue, it won’t necessarily come through the list price of vehicles, although Tavares acknowledges that prices will increase.
“Doubling the company’s turnover is something we feel we have well under control. We are entering several new segments such as software, data, circular economy, technology and – unfortunately, I have to say – this results in more expensive vehicles,” he says. “As you know, any electrified technology that we bring to market will increase costs. That’s obvious, even though we’re working hard to keep costs down. But I’ve always been very open that electrification will require more technology. I “In some cases, the transaction price will increase slightly as a result. But that is a result of what the authorities have decided in terms of regulation,” he said.
With the K9 small van and K0 medium van already available as electric models and with the intention of rolling out the hydrogen K0 across Europe, there is a clear infrastructure challenge to overcome.
“We do not deal with infrastructures, with the exception of our Free2Move e-solutions for the electric charging units that we develop and produce for the whole world. We are very dependent on infrastructure development. What’s specific to fuel cells, and I think it’s interesting, is that if you send a fleet of vans to a business, you can have the option of returning them to a charging point every day, reducing the investment in a charging unit or a filling unit. reasonable, profitable investment.”
Tavares also sees a change in the way the automotive industry will behave in the future, citing his own experiences when he started as an automotive engineer in 1981, when cars were significantly lighter than they are today. “I designed B-segment cars with a weight of 800 kg per car, but years later the same car weighs about twice as much as an EV version. We use more and more raw materials. And because consumers want to fight range anxiety, the size of the batteries increases , because we are putting more and more energy, kilowatt-hours, into the battery pack. I think when this transition is a reality, say after 2027/2028, we will realize that the automotive industry uses a huge amount of raw materials. It means that the next big question will be how we can make electric cars easier and ensure we don’t get caught up in a resource scarcity that either limits freedom of mobility or drives up prices. If it’s not clean and affordable in the end, it won’t function.”
2028 may still seem far off, but in terms of product cycles it is close. The progress that Stellantis has made in light commercial vehicles has enabled the company not only to increase its market share but also to maintain its profitability. Stellantis’ Dare Forward plans are ambitious, but the steps already taken and planned give the company every chance of success. After all, it’s a dare, and Tavares is certainly a doer.
It was exciting to hear Carlos Tavares talk about a number of topics, from Stellanti and Toyota’s increasing commitment to light commercial vehicle sharing and whether they will share fuel cell production (the answer is no) to how future production will be allocated to the factories, but I was have to ask him an important question about the role Britain will play in all this. Ellesmere Port has already been confirmed as a production site for the Stellantis range of small electric vans, securing thousands of jobs at the factory and in the area with a £100m investment. GBP. Vauxhall’s Luton plant has secured its near-term future with more production of medium vans, but there are already calls to electrify production as demand for products such as the Vauxhall Vivaro-e rises.
Ever the politician, Tavares declined to make any promises about the brand’s future role, but did give a few hints on the subject, pointing to the implications of Brexit and the size of the UK market. Although he never really answered the question, he said: “We believe that with the Vauxhall brand we are in a very good position to increase our presence in the UK and that is our strategic intention.”
George Barrow is a British jury member for the International Van of the Year award and active for VanReviewer, among others.