The chief executive of Stellantis, one of the world’s biggest carmakers, has warned battery shortages could affect the industry as soon as 2025 as the transition towards electric vehicles accelerates.
Carlos Tavares, the Stellantis chief executive, said that current plans for battery production may not address the demand from carmakers as they ramp up electric car sales in the coming years, even with significant new investments in European “gigafactory” battery plants and suppliers already at scale in China, South Korea and Japan.
The car industry has struggled with persistent shortages of computer chips since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, preventing it from making a full recovery. Despite strong demand in many big markets, shortages of crucial parts have meant the industry has lost out on billions of pounds in sales.
Tavares warned that battery supply could be the next bottleneck facing the industry, just as carmakers around the world try to accelerate production of electric vehicles. Stellantis, which owns brands including Peugeot, Vauxhall, Fiat, Chrysler and Jeep after a merger last year, is aiming to sell only battery EVs in Europe by 2030.
“I can anticipate that we will have around 2025, 2026, a short supply of batteries, and if there is no short supply of batteries then there will be a significant dependence of the western world vis-a-vis Asia,” he said, speaking on Tuesday at a car industry conference run by the Financial Times. “That’s something that we can easily anticipate.
“The speed at which everybody is building manufacturing capacity for batteries is possibly on the edge to be able to support the fast-changing markets in which we are operating.”
Stellantis and its predecessor Peugeot under Tavares were among the more cautious large-scale carmakers in embracing electric technology. Tavares has repeatedly warned of problems in the transition away from polluting fossil fuel vehicles. Last year he said the UK government had risked the future of Vauxhall’s factory in Ellesmere Port with a “brutal” ban on sales of pure internal combustion engines after 2030, although Stellantis later decided to invest £100m to upgrade production, to the relief of the UK car industry.
Tavares also warned that the shift to electric production could create “geopolitical risks” because of dependence on minerals mined in countries seen as strategic rivals.
“We may not like the way that those materials are going to be sourced in a few years,” he said.