Forcing drivers to go electric could make cars too expensive for the middle classes, the boss of Vauxhall’s owner has warned.
Carlos Tavares, chief executive of Stellantis, forecast a future where only the rich could afford cars because making them emissions-free would ramp up prices.
“I can’t imagine a democratic society where there is no freedom of mobility because it’s only for wealthy people and all the others will use public transport,” he said. The pandemic has underlined the public’s dependence on cars for “personal mobility”, Mr Tavares added.
Car manufacturers are confident about making vehicles that can meet environmental goals, he said, but questioned whether that could be done without prices rising significantly.
“How can we protect freedom of mobility for the middle class who may not be able to afford €30,000 for a battery electric vehicle when today they pay half that for the same product with a conventional engine?
“If we make mobility only affordable for the wealthy people, we will not have a strong impact because we will have a fleet of old cars which will continue to emit,” the executive said.
Mr Tavares, speaking at a Financial Times event, hit out at governments for forcing the automotive industry to switch to electric cars rather than consider other low carbon technology. “The scientific decision on the choice of this technology has not been made by the automotive industry.”
He warned that the dictat could be counter-productive in terms of air quality because vehicles are likely to be 300kg to 500kg heavier because of their battery systems, meaning they need more energy.