Stellantis boss Carlos Tavares has said the firm will decide the fate of Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port plant in the coming weeks - warning that the UK government’s "brutal" decision to ban the sale of new ICE cars from 2030 could “destroy the business model”.
The PSA Group - which bought Vauxhall-Opel in 2017 - and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles recently completed their merger to form Stellantis, and in his first press conference as the CEO of the company, Tavares pledged that it "will not shut down plants as a result of that merger”.
But Tavares did caution that the future of the Cheshire plant, where the Vauxhall Astra is produced, is under review due to the UK’s 2030 ban on all ICE cars aside from a limited number of hybrids.
“If a government creates a situation that destroys the business model, by saying ‘we’re going to ban the sale of that type of car’, we’re going to stop investing,” said Tavares.
“If we’re told that in 2030 internal combustion engines can't be sold in the UK, which we respect as a decision of the country, then we will not invest in combustion engines any more, and we will look to see if there is a business case to invest in other directions.
“We completely respect those rules and will completely comply with those rules, but if they lead to a case [where] there's no business model, it leads to a consequence that's clear for everybody.
“There's a limit for the headwinds. If one region is putting up so many barriers that there's no room to find something that creates value, then we have to respect that, and then there's an ethical decision from the officers of those companies to make an appropriate decision.
"If you brutally change the rules and restrict the rules for business, there's a problem. The more you place stringent rules on an industry, the more there's naturally a limit.
“We are doing our best to avoid that. The decision that there will be no more combustion-engined new car sales in the UK in 2030 stops all investment in combustion-engined cars. So we say there's room for electric cars, but if there's an imbalance between the volume of the UK market and the continental Europe market and you put investment closest to where you sell the most volume, what's left for the UK? That's what people should understand. It's not rocket science but plain thinking.
"We are talking to investors and stakeholders, including the government, to try to resolve this.”
As well as the UK’s 2030 ban, Tavares said that Stellantis needs to evaluate the impact of the new UK-European Union trade deal, particularly with its rules of origin that will require an increasing percentage of a vehicle to be manufactured in the UK or the EU to avoid cross-border tariffs.