- Renault, the electric, Italy … The French Group’s n.1 across the board of the future of the car in an interview with the Spanish site The world.
Renault … “We want a future without bans, hybrids until 2040”
De Meo, 54, a past in Lancia, Fiat, Audi and Seat, must put Renault back on the road to profitability after 4 very difficult years. In a complicated economic and regulatory context. Cut it short on topics like autonomous driving: “At this stage it doesn’t motivate me to develop it and make taxi drivers lose their jobs“. As for the EU project to ban traditional engines from 2035, he explains: “We will try to comply, but not without impact … We will need time to do not ruin the work of decades. The ban on combustion engines by 2035 creates confusion. It’s like I’m going to buy an apartment and I know that in 20 years they will put me on an overpass with the subway: I don’t buy it. It is dangerous, there is no time to spend on technology and save the people who work along the value chain. We want a scenario without prohibitions, where hybrids reach up to 2040 and then we have another 10 years to evolve to zero emissions“.
Renault … / “We are delivering the heart of the product, the batteries, to China”
However, Renault continues to work on the electric e prepare the arrival of the Megan and of R5 with batteries. But there is the issue of batteries, a sector in which Europe depends on China and Korea. “It takes a long time to be able to produce quality and efficient batteries, which generate only between 5% and 10% waste. LG Chem joined us and GM and are now leaders, but it took 10 years to achieve a stabilization of the technology. Then there is the question of raw materials: nickel, cobalt, lithium and manganese. Nickel is the most critical. There is lithium in Europe, but we have to see if there is business to open a mine, while cobalt is concentrated al 90% in Congo. China has bought debt from African countries and has access to these resources. These minerals must then be refined and this happens for 90% in China … You have to produce the cathodes and 90% is produced in Asia … Unfortunately, by switching to electric, we are delivering the core of the product to Asians, when Europe he had control with the combustion engine ”.
“Everything increases, steel, energy … car prices will rise”
Bad news also on the price front: “It is true that they are climbing “, De Meo warns, “over the next 12 months they will continue to do so. The price of steel, aluminum, gas and energy, copper is rising. And, as if that weren’t enough, there is one shortage of semiconductors and suppliers push more on prices ”. But the remedy is not a pushed standardization: “I have always fought for the car to keep its emotional side. I do not share the idea that cars have become washing machines, all the same. Our responsibility is that people find the magic in what we do. If you find it, you will decide with your heart, not your head. And are you willing to give more“. Translated: to spend more and to digest the increase in prices. Finally, an indirect reference to Italy, answering a question about the future of Spain: “I have always said that Spain knows how to do cars very well, but that there was no commitment to research and development, with shortcomings in the electrical and software. I think the Spanish authorities have one clearer vision than the Italian ones, albeit now with the new Draghi government things are changing ”.