De Meo: A turning point for the European auto industry
Luca de Meo, ACEA President and CEO of Renault Group unveiled ACEA’s Manifesto for the EU’s next five-year term at a hybrid press conference in Brussels. In his speech below, Mr de Meo urgently called for a holistic approach to automotive industry challenges, while underlining the importance of constructive dialogue with all public stakeholders.
I think that Europe and its automotive industry are now at a turning point and the next Parliament and Commission are going to play a pivotal role. A tsunami of regulatory challenges is arriving in the next few years. A lot of EU commitments have a deadline in 2030 or before:
- the Net-Zero Industry Act;
- the Critical Raw Materials Act;
- the PFAS regulation in development;
- the CO2 standards for light vehicles; and
- we’ll also have the large batteries regulation and the General Safety Regulation coming into force, and these are only a few examples.
It is, therefore, crucial that we all take the time now to look at these commitments very carefully. We must look at whether they are achievable or not, and at which cost. And we must move on quickly, implementing concrete actions. For that, we also need a strong conversation, based on facts. And with everyone around the table, including those who have the direct knowledge, those who ultimately put the money on the table to invest, and those who have to implement the regulations at the end of the day! Those also who represent the industry that is the most committed to decarbonisation, when you take into account that we are investing no less than €250 billion in Europe.
We need everyone around the table, including those who have the direct knowledge, those who ultimately put the money on the table to invest, and those who have to implement the regulations at the end of the day.
‘New’ ACEA positioning
Over the recent period, ACEA has been reshaping its positioning to achieve that because we think the automotive industry is part of the solution.
We have been striving to put facts and seriousness into the thing, making ACEA more connected to the whole mobility ecosystem, more assertive, and talking to the public opinion, not only to policy makers. With the perspective of the new Parliament and Commission, we felt it was necessary to accelerate and take a step further.
#FutureDriven Manifesto: ACEA’s proposal to drive the mobility revolution
And the news is that we are publishing the result of work that we have done collectively, with all the members of ACEA. The idea was to set out in a very clear and comprehensive way our vision and proposals, as well as a roadmap, under the form of a Manifesto. So, I am not going to go over all our recommendations and roadmap in detail one by one, as you can find them all on the document itself, but I’ll just make a few comments on our philosophy:
First, we think that Europe urgently needs to adopt a holistic approach when it comes to automotive industry challenges. Too often, Europe has been piling up regulations that are sometimes conflicting with one another, for example, phasing out internal combustion engines (ICEs) and then pushing a new regulation on ICE with Euro 7. When we have eight new regulation events coming up each year until 2030, on average, it should ring a bell, telling us that there’s a bug somewhere in the system!
Actually, it’s the whole software that we have to change. I think it’s getting clearer every day that we need a truly cohesive industrial policy. If you look at our global competitors, you see that they are very good at doing it. So, we propose to look at things from a 360 degrees perspective, encompassing the entire value chain, from upstream to downstream. In other words, beyond traditional industry boundaries, with a comprehensive view of the real issues. Because the real issues now cut across the classic sectors: automotive, mining, energy, infrastructure industry, etc.
We need a truly cohesive industrial policy. If you look at our global competitors, you see that they are very good at doing it. So, we propose to look at things from a 360 degrees perspective, encompassing the entire value chain.
Another key idea that we want to push is that Europe must not only ensure that we are as well-equipped as the others are. It must also ensure that we are competitive on a global level playing field. Competition is a very healthy thing, we think, and true competition also means fairness and reciprocity.
Finally, let me restate that tech neutrality should be a guiding principle when it comes to framing mobility of the future: the enemies are CO2, pollution, noise, congestion, etc, not one single technology or another!
Solving mobility challenges: a team sport
In fact, for example, making zero-emission vehicles, including small electric vehicles (EVs), in Europe is a challenge that we should all unite to take, to align the planets.
- Job creation…in Europe, if we all manage to do the thing correctly
- Air pollution
- Urban congestion
- Strategic autonomy and resource protection
This is a team sport because you also need the public:
- working on supply chain securitisation;
- setting the conditions for automotive circularity, pushing research on recycling technologies;
- ensuring competitiveness, especially through affordable and green energy supply;
- ensuring satisfactory charging infrastructure deployment; and
- working also on the demand side through adequate, fit-for-purpose incentive schemes. And this is true at all policy levels, from the EU down to urban authorities who have a key role in promoting smart solutions.
Just take what the Japanese have done with the kei car. This is the perfect example of the kind of things we should be also able to do in Europe. Financial support, of course, with car acquisition rates lowered by one-third compared with regular personal cars, with highway tolls lowered by 20%, keeping city centres accessible to periphery dwellers, etc. But also support through smart policy design, when they decided that all vehicles would be submitted to proof of parking spot requirements… except the kei car!
I see no reason why the Europeans should be doomed to be bad at playing this kind of collective, smart…and winning game! So, this is the kind of very concrete proposals on which we want to work, with the idea of ensuring at the same time global competitiveness, jobs in Europe, the green transition, and freedom of mobility for all.
This manifesto is a call to all public stakeholders, political candidates, the EU, but also national and local authorities. We call on them to engage with us in a constructive dialogue to come up with answers to what EU citizens are entitled to expect.
Just take what the Japanese have done with the kei car. This is the perfect example of the kind of things we should be also able to do in Europe. Financial support, of course, with car acquisition rates lowered by one-third compared with regular personal cars, with highway tolls lowered by 20%, keeping city centres accessible to periphery dwellers.