The automotive industry is moving massively towards 100% electric vehicles, with billions being invested and an ecosystem that needs to be reinvented. However, electric vehicles are significantly more expensive than their thermal counterparts, and there are fears that part of the population will no longer be able to buy new cars.
Like the other manufacturers, the Stellantis group has increased its prices significantly in 2023, both in response to the rise in raw material prices and to maintain its margin, which is very comfortable at 14%. This price increase will inevitably have an impact on orders, with vehicles becoming less affordable and very often sold for more than 35,000 euros.
In response to these price difficulties for electric cars, Carlos Tavares announced during the presentation of the Group's results that Stellantis would soon be offering LFP batteries on its brands in Europe. These LFP lithium-iron-phosphate batteries, which are cheaper than their lithium-ion counterparts, will make the Group's mid-range electric cars more affordable, especially as the latter are subject to the aggressive pricing of certain brands, notably Tesla. . Carlos Tavares declared: "We need LFP batteries and we will use LFP. You need them if you want to be competitive in the mid-range and produce affordable models". These LFP batteries would therefore be offered on Citroën, Fiat, Opel and Peugeot vehicles, although the date is not yet known as the group is facing supply difficulties for these batteries.v
LFP batteries do not contain expensive metals such as nickel, cobalt or manganese and are already offered by other manufacturers, particularly Chinese ones, allowing them to be aggressive on price. If these batteries therefore have a competitive advantage in terms of cost, being 30% cheaper than other batteries, they also suffer from a lower energy density, which could have an impact on the autonomy of electric vehicles, even if they appear to be better suited to the rapid recharging that is likely to multiply on motorway networks in order to reduce charging times. These LFP batteries are already being used by Tesla in models manufactured in China (Model 3 and Model Y) and could be used in the future by other brands such as Ford for the Mach-E, which has signed an agreement with CATL to build a factory in the USA.
It is ironic that Carlos Tavares does not stop criticising Europe's weakness vis-à-vis China and that he wants to use LFP batteries, in which China is specialised and will produce more than 99% of this type of battery by 2023. It's all the more ironic given that Stellantis is building gigafactories with Mercedes and Total to produce batteries (NMC technology for Nickel Manganese Cobalt) for the group's electric cars, while the low and medium range models of the same group could probably be fitted with Chinese LFP batteries.