In a wide-ranging discussion about sourcing materials to keep the wheels turning on the electric-vehicle evolution, the head of the Stellantis car-making conglomerate outlined a “volatile” situation that may restrict EV manufacture around the globe.
Speaking at a panel this week at the Freedom of Mobility Forum in Detroit and reported in the Detroit News, Carlos Tavares questioned the premise that EVs would become more affordable in the near term “because the raw materials” required to build them “are scarce and very expensive, and I would add very volatile.”
Delving into specifics, Tavares also was critical of government regulations that are now emphasizing electricity over other possible solutions to affordable mobility. He lamented decisions “upfront, imposing one single technology instead of having a technology-neutral regulation that would create healthy competition.”
Concerning supply limitations and demand, he said, “We know that we need lithium. We know that we are not producing as much as we need. We have right now 1.3 billion cars (that are) internal combustion engine powered on the planet. We need to replace that with clean mobility. That will need a lot of lithium. Not only the lithium may not be enough, but the concentration of the mining of lithium may create other geopolitical issues.”
Assessing the situation at Stellantis — which was the result of a merger between Fiat Chrysler and French-based Peugeot in 2021 — Tavares expressed confidence that Stellantis will be able to meet its goals set in its 2030 strategy and that holdups in the European Union to ban the sale of fossil fuel-powered vehicles by 2035 won’t affect its trajectory. Stellantis plans for 100 percent of its sales in Europe and 50 percent in the United States to be all-electric by 2030.
While Tavares obviously focused on the positive role of the automobile in discussions about affordability and mitigating climate change, others on the panel adopted a different argument.
The world’s dependency on autos limits people’s access to mobility, said Yamina Saheb, senior energy policy analyst at OpenExp, a network working on solutions for sustainable development goals.
“The question from Carlos, ‘Why did the automobile win this competition?'” she said. “For a very simple reason: Because it’s an unfair competition, and you are a very good lobbyist. So, you managed to convince governments to stop the tram systems, the public transport system, and to invest in more roads.”