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Stellantis CEO: EV battery weight must be cut in half in next decade

Luke Ramseth, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

The weight of electric vehicles batteries should be cut by half over the next decade in order to make the cars more efficient and environmentally friendly, Stellantis NV CEO Carlos Tavares said Wednesday.

"They need a very significant breakthrough in terms of chemistry," he said of EV batteries. "Right now for a decent range, we are using 1,000 pounds, i.e. around 500 additional kilograms, of raw materials to create the battery pack to move the vehicles."

Adding that kind of weight to increase range "doesn't look like a very reasonable outcome" from an environmental standpoint, Tavares said, which is why the industry must drastically increase the power density of the battery cells. Lighter batteries would help reduce reliance on certain hard-to-get materials, including lithium.

Tavares made the comments at the Freedom of Mobility Forum. The virtual gathering, backed by Stellantis and in its second year, focused on how the world can accommodate the mobility needs of 8 billion people.

Other speakers at the forum included a Lebanese executive for an artificial intelligence company, a Brazilian professor of energy economics, a German historian and climate activist, and an American real estate developer.

Tavares said a lack of charging infrastructure remains a primary impediment to EV adoption. Chargers must be much more visible than they are today, he said, and shouldn't require drivers to search for them. That means a lot more investment, though also, he acknowledged, "a lot of carbon footprint."

Roberto Schaeffer, the Brazilian professor, argued much more focus should be placed on biofuels. It is a "global north" perspective that electrification is the best solution to clean up the transportation sector worldwide, especially considering "some 800 million people in the world today do not have access to electricity and many more do not have access to stable electricity," he said. Vehicles already on the road could be adapted to use biofuels, he said.


Green hydrogen is one alternative fuel that Tavares argued likely will not be a large part of the solution.

"Once you make the assumption that the energy that you are using to produce hydrogen is clean, you will still have an enormous challenge of cost," the CEO said. "Right now we see that the the technology for mobility hydrogen is twice as expensive as electric vehicles."

Stellantis is in the midst of its EV transition, including launching its first eight fully battery-powered vehicles in the United States this year.

Matthias Schmelzer, the German economic historian and climate activist, said that "we urgently need to shift the debate" away from cars, and toward better public transportation in cities. "Less cars — that's the true paradigm shift," he said.

But Tavares questioned how to "get the support of the people" to support such a transformation away from personal vehicles. "Perhaps not everybody is as conscious as you are," he said.

He noted that Stellantis as a company has moved toward Schmelzer's transportation perspective in one sense: In 2022, it bought a European car-sharing business, Share Now, from BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Tavares said Share Now has gone from a money-loser to a success, holding 50% of the car sharing market in Europe.

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