Car boss de Meo calls for joint European approach to counter Chinese EVs

PARIS, (Reuters) – Renault CEO and president of the Association of European Automobile Manufacturers (ACEA) Luca de Meo sent an open letter to Europe’s policymakers on Tuesday calling for greater cooperation to compete against Chinese electric vehicle makers.

“I believe that we can achieve our aims through joint efforts and partnerships between the public and private sectors,” de Meo wrote in the letter, which was drafted in several languages ​​in anticipation of European parliamentary elections in June.

“With Airbus, we have already seen what Europe can do,” he added, referring to the planemaker with stakeholders and operations in several European countries.

“The ecological transition is a team sport,” de Meo said. “Under pressure from financial markets, European manufacturers are often forced to focus on short-term profits rather than making the investments necessary for the long term …. China has solved the problem by consolidating all its forces, including financial institutions, around a single goal.”

Europe’s auto industry is bracing for a wave of cheaper Chinese models with superior EV battery technology to arrive on the continent.

To counter this, de Meo recommends launching ten major European projects in strategic areas, such as small cars, smart charging and critical material supply.

He also advocates creating green economic zones inspired by China’s special economic zones, providing a mix of subsidies and investments for EV makers for ten years.

But while the European Union has opened an investigation into whether Chinese automakers benefit from unfair government subsidies, de Meo wrote it “is also in Europe’s advantage to learn from Chinese manufacturers, who are a generation ahead in terms of the performance and costs of electric vehicles”.

“Relations with China will need to be managed,” he added. “Completely closing the door to them would be the worst possible response.”

Reporting by Gilles Guillaume and Nick Carey Editing by Mark Potter