Dhe European boss of the Opel parent company Stellantis, Uwe Hochschurtz, criticizes the decision of the federal government to reduce the e-car purchase premium from up to 6000 to 4500 euros at the turn of the year. In an interview with the FAZ, he said yes to the question of whether Berlin should improve on this point – also against the background that the French government wants to raise the purchase premium to up to 7,000 euros.
According to Hochschurtz, electric cars are currently around 10,000 euros more expensive to produce than comparable combustion models. The drive change therefore makes individual mobility more difficult. “The people have decided: We will be purely electric,” said the Stellantis manager. The decision was confirmed in Europe by the democratically legitimized governments, but that also means that a car costs 10,000 euros more.
“If our states decide that, then they must also provide the means for our middle class to be able to pay for such cars,” demanded Hochschurtz. After all, local prosperity is based “on the fact that everyone in society has a right to individual mobility.”
The Stellantis boss Carlos Tavares recently warned repeatedly not to lose sight of the socio-political consequences of the drive change. On Tuesday, on the sidelines of the Paris Motor Show, he promised that some electric cars in 2026 could cost a little more than 20,000 euros to the same level as combustion engines. However, Tavares emphasized that the price of electric vehicles is “heavily exposed to commodity prices” and “will be much more volatile”.
“Competitiveness is something you don’t get for eternity”
As an alternative to the purchase premium and in addition to the existing vehicle tax exemption, Hochschurtz is also introducing a lower value-added tax for electric cars in Germany. So instead of charging 19 percent on a vehicle that costs 40,000 euros and then paying a state purchase premium, one could simply lower the value added tax. “An electric car helps us keep our environment clean, and a non-electric car makes our environment dirtier. I don’t think you can use the same tax rates there,” he said.
For him, the climate protection contribution of electric cars is out of the question – even if coal-fired power plants are now longer connected to the grid. The share of renewables in the electricity mix is already more than 50 percent on windy and sunny days. Germany is investing a lot of money in additional systems so that electricity will become “green” in the long term. “And if that happens, then a car is absolutely emission-free,” says Hochschurtz.
He left it open whether Stellantis would also produce the electric cars in Germany in the long term. “Competitiveness is something you don’t achieve for eternity,” answered Hochschurtz, who rose from Opel to European boss in the group in the summer, when asked whether the three Opel locations were competitive as of now. And added: “You have to work on that every year.”
You don’t need that in Germany “basically”
The energy crisis is forcing adjustments. “When gas becomes so much more expensive, then as a location you have to think about what you can do. Do you simply say: I will pay the extra price and will therefore no longer be competitive in the long term – or do you say to yourself that you might need less gas, that you save energy, that you heat less space, that you use less space, that the distances are becoming shorter in the production line. If you do all that, you can remain competitive even when energy prices are rising,” explained Hochschurtz.
While Stellantis boss Tavares ruled out a closure of the French group factories “in the medium term” at the Paris Motor Show, Hochschurtz remained vague for Germany. “I believe it is important that a factory delivers two things: the first is quality and the second is competitiveness. If that’s the case, then you don’t need a guarantee,” he said. If neither of these are given, the customer will buy the next car from the competitor.
There are countries where one would like to have a statement from the CEO or the President. In the current situation, however, this is “basically not needed” in Germany, according to the Stellantis Europe boss. He was “in good spirits” that the new Astra would “take a good hit”. The demand is higher than what can be produced.
A company spokesman also refers to this. With the recently started production of the new Opel Astra, the Rüsselsheim plant is “full in the long term”. The same applies to Eisenach with the new Grandland, which only started up at the beginning of the year. The spokesman emphasizes: “For the employees of Opel in Germany there is a job security until 2025.”