Cars and markets, Stellantis worried about China, German manufacturers about the United States

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The solicitation of Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis, not to encourage Chinese electric cars in Europe was met with substantial indifference in Germany. Which is instead concerned about the Inflation Reduction Act passed in the United States by the Biden administration. First the powerful VDA, the industrial association of the German automotive supply chain, made itself heard, and then even the finance minister, the liberal Christian Lindner, whose closeness to Oliver Blume, CEO of the Volkswagen group and Porsche is known .

To defend the manufacturers of the Old Continent from the commercial asymmetry (for a Chinese house it is easier to enter the European market than vice versa) also confirmed by Tobias Schäfer, number one of the Volkswagen brand, Tavares had invited the European Commission to take the measures american. Which are the ones that “frighten” Germany, so much so that Lindner has evoked the specter of a trade dispute. The European Commission has questioned the legitimacy of the provisions, while the VDA has invited political diplomacy to work on a mitigation of the law. The interests of Tavares and Stellantis are limited in China, where the manager wants to avoid being blackmailed, but they are big in Europe where the big offensive by the Dragon houses has begun. With Jeep, Dodge, RAM and Chrysler, the French-Italian-American multinational, he presides over the US market and fears much less the repercussions of the Inflation Reduction Act.

On the contrary, German manufacturers cannot do without China: both for the Volkswagen group and for Mercedes (whose two major shareholders are BAIC and Geely which control a fifth of the capital) and for BMW it is the largest market. Thanks to the strength of their premium brands, they are little alarmed by the arrival of the Dragon manufacturers in Europe.

Instead, they risk suffering overseas where, according to the latest projections, just a handful of models would be able to benefit from the grants intended to support the electric breakthrough supported by President Biden. Under current conditions, there would be a couple of BMWs (which is the first car exporter in the United States thanks to the Spatranburg plant, the largest in the world of the Bavarian company) and an Audi, but not, for example, the Volkswagen ID.4. which is also manufactured in Tennessee, in the Chattanooga plant.

At stake is the competitiveness of the German models which risk ending up on the market because their American rivals or in any case in line with the new directives can cost up to 7,500 dollars less. The incentives are aimed at vehicles – cars up to $55,000 and pickup trucks up to $80,000 (a limit which includes, for example, the zero-emission Ford F Lightning) – with batteries larger than 7 kWh. The device imposes a high rate of “Americanness”, not only of the production, but also of the materials used. Substances such as nickel, lithium and graphene must be certified as originating from the USA or, alternatively, from countries with which the USA has free trade agreements. Initially the requested percentage is 40%, but it will already reach 80% in 2026, while for batteries the current 50% will pass to 100% in 2028. Biden warned the manufacturers speaking at the Detroit Motor Show, at the NAIAS: “We want to bring semiconductor manufacturing back to the country where they were invented.” The Inflation Reduction Act is the practical application of this statement. It is no coincidence that in recent weeks there has been a rush to sign agreements with companies that allow for a return to the norm. Once there would have been talk of “industrial protectionism”, now we can mention “automotive sovereignty”.

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