Stellantis Attacks BEV Tariffs and Admits It’s Joining Chinese ‘Offensive’

Stellantis CEO says tariffs on Chinese imports won't help automakers attack low-cost BEV options.

Paul Myles, European Editor

May 22, 2024

2 Min Read
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Tariffs on Chinese battery-electric vehicles are a “trap” that will damage the automotive industry in countries that apply them.

That’s the view of Stellantis CEO Carlos Tavares in an interview with the Reuters news agency, while admitting his group has joined the Chinese “offensive” in its joint venture with Leapmotor. This JV, Leapmotor International, sees Stellantis opening up its extensive global dealer network to BEVs made in China.

Addressing the Reuters Events Automotive Europe conference in Munich, Tavares claims defensive tariffs against Chinese products will be met by tariffs hitting western imports into the world’s second largest economy.

He says tariffs on Chinese vehicles imported to Europe and the U.S. are “a major trap for the countries that go on that path” and do not help Western automakers avoid restructuring to meet the challenge from lower-cost Chinese manufacturers.

He explains: “When you fight against the competition to absorb 30% of cost competitiveness edge in favor of the Chinese, there are social consequences. But the governments, the governments of Europe, they don't want to face that reality right now.

“This is not going to be easy for the dealers. It's not going to be easy for the suppliers. It's not going to be easy for the OEMs. As we know in Europe, everybody is talking about change as long as change is for somebody else.”

Tavares says Chinese automakers already are on track to sell 1.5 million vehicles in Europe, equivalent to a 10% market share and up to 10 assembly plants' worth of production.

He adds: “If we let the share of the Chinese OEMs grow ... then it's obvious that you are going to create an overcapacity, unless you fight against that competition.”

Referencing his group’s JV with Leapmotor, he says: “We will try to be Chinese ourselves, which means instead of being purely defensive vis-à-vis the Chinese offensive, we want to be part of the Chinese offensive.”

About the Author(s)

Paul Myles

European Editor, Informa Group

Paul Myles is an award-winning journalist based in Europe covering all aspects of the automotive industry. He has a wealth of experience in the field working at specialist, national and international levels.

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