“Incentives for Spanish electricity companies explain their low market penetration”


Gaetano Thorel He is a manager of those who are destined to develop their career in the automotive world. After more than two decades with Ford of Europe, the Italian became CEO of FCA Germany and then PSA Italy, so that the merger of the two groups left all that was left to take a relevant position in Stellantis. There he experiences a beautiful moment as vice president and head of Fiat and Abarth in Europe:
its brands are the ones with the highest volume within the Franco-Italian-American consortium and the 500th has become the third best-selling electric model on the continent, ahead of German or French brands.

At the Brussels Motor Show, he meets ABC to discuss the electrification challenges of their decals, which have been exclusively emission-free since 2027, “if no unforeseen event occurs”.

Do you think that the electrification imposed by the European institutions will be beneficial or detrimental to Fiat in the long run?

Carlo Tavares You have said many times that we are an industry that has to abide by the rules that are placed on us, whether we like it or not. Brussels has determined the end of the internal combustion engine in 2035. We still have 12 years ahead of us, exactly the average of the European mobile fleet. This transition not only depends on manufacturers, but also requires government demand incentives and charging infrastructure to keep pace with sales. When thinking about an electric car, there are still mental barriers of price, autonomy and the charging process.

The incentives are important and there are governments with long-term plans, as Germany said
“Until the end of 2022 you have 6,000 euros and another 3,000 from the brand, so you can spend them as you wish”, in 2023 they keep the support, but less. It makes sense that these decrease as adoption increases, but there is a path with clear goals.

Instead Italy and Spain have a fund that is distributed until it runs out and then it is decided if it has been effective and they repeat. Germany ended 2022 with more than 20% market share for electric cars and France slightly below that.
In Italy and Spain it is less than 10%. The question is how we can help customers with this transition. This model is a short-term view and it seems to me to be one of the reasons why the electricity mix in southern Europe is well below the community average.

For Fiat, striving for zero emissions is a matter of social responsibility, it is our contribution to protecting the planet and it is easy to imagine that the great transition to electric will take place in cities.

How does Fiat want to make electric mobility affordable?

It is important to leverage Stellantis’ industrial strength and try to reduce the cost of batteries, but it is essential that governments support the transition with support. For our part, we always want to be an affordable brand, that will always be in our DNA, but that doesn’t mean we have to be boring.

The Fiat 550e has doubled its sales in 2022. Did it exceed initial expectations?

I’ll be very honest. If someone had told me 12 months ago that the 500e had become Europe’s third best-selling electric car, I wouldn’t have believed it. It was to be expected that we were the best seller in Italy, we are the second in Spain and the third in Germany, ahead of Volkswagen. The public loves this car. It is an icon and drivers like to use it every day. Fiat clearly represents ‘la dolce vita’ and has Italian and friendly accents that are part of its success, which is why we decided to launch it in Japan, South America and the United States. The new Abarth 500e is nothing more than the best version of the model.

What are your expectations for 2023?

There are many unknowns to practice. Let’s just say it didn’t start very rosy. We will focus on continuing to fuel the success of the 500 and especially on supplying the countries that have received orders in the past. We sold 67,000 cars, all cars we built. In 2022, we prioritized a number of markets: Germany for the incentives, Italy to be home, Spain…however, there were still many areas to play, which affected our results.

There are countries, such as Norway, that are reducing incentives for electric cars. Is it possible that other countries will do something similar before their aid has had an effect?

Keep in mind that Norway started this transition 10 years ago, long before everyone else. They set themselves the goal of being an electric-exclusive country by 2025 and took the necessary steps so that by 2022 80% of their sales would be zero emissions. Now that they want to reinstate taxes for the EV, the question is what is the tax that driving a vehicle should have? Other countries should look to the Norwegian model as an example of how to do it.

How does Fiat’s commercial vehicle strategy fit into Stellantis’ strategy?

It’s very easy. One of Stellantis’ main strengths is its portfolio and we represent the power of diversity, both in passenger cars and commercials. In light advertising, we have Fiat, Peugeot, Citroën and Opel, four brands that are references in different areas. For example, Fiat is the undisputed leader in the world of motorhomes, with the Ducato as the benchmark. It is not only about technology and reliability, but also about the network of workshops throughout Europe. The beauty of Stellantis is that we have the opportunity to play with the four brands in every segment and geographically, betting on emblems that are strong in every country. Our job is to maximize Stellantis’ performance in every market.

Four different models can be developed with the same platform, each with their own market niche. The aim is to make the group the market leader in commercial vehicles, and Fiat Professional is one of the pillars for this goal.

Is that why you are betting so heavily on the Fiat Dobló?

The new Dobló and Scudo are the first ‘gifts’ that Stellantis has given to Fiat, the first models created after the merger of FCA and PSA. Previously we didn’t have much success with models outside of the Ducato and now we are seeing very positive results. The main concern is that there is internal cannibalization, but our goal will always be to try to gain market share outside of Stellantis and Renault and Ford are really the strongest rivals we face.

Do combustion engines still have a place in the advertising world?

The commercials are also in the transition period to electric, but have a different rhythm. Zero-emission versions of the Dobló, Scudo and Ducato are already available, but more heat engines are still being sold. A curious fact is that in the advertising world there are no hybrid solutions: it goes directly to electric drives. We all have a planned time horizon and if all goes well at Fiat our cars will be electric only by January 2027. In the advertising world it is still too early to set a date, we have to wait and see how demand develops.

Source: La Verdad


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