Denis Gorteman: ‘If ICE has to die in 2030, let’s decide it now’
Denis Gorteman, CEO of Belgian car importer D’Ieteren, is clear: “If we’re told that the internal combustion engine (ICE) has to die in 2030 or 2035, we’ll do it. It’s the only way and it will work, but we have to decide now.”
This bold statement was done by Gorteman in an interview with Belgian newspaper L’Avenir. You could consider Gorteman, CEO of the biggest car importer in Belgium (22% of the total car market), one of the biggest polluters in the country, but he has an answer to that.
“I’m really glad and thankful to the young people demonstrating, their message is clear, not naïve or unreal. I’m still waiting for such clear messages coming from the captains of industry or from politicians. These youngsters give us a good kick in the ass.”
Does that mean you needed this to wake up?
“We’re already doing things, but we could speed up things and do more. At D’Ieteren, we already have a pallet of mobility services that I think would please these young people. I’m talking about car sharing, electric scooters, mobility apps, like pikaway, etc.”
All this at D’Ieteren’s initiative?
“Yes, all 100% worked out and financed by D’Ieteren, because it’s answering the demand of a lot of people, not only the demonstrating youngsters. People want to be mobile in another way, then it’s our duty to provide this. The system is suffocating itself. We make the most performant cars ever, but 2 out of 3 of our clients is sitting unhappy behind the wheel.”
What do you ask the politicians?
“Already 5 years we ask for a smart system of road pricing. We also want a just system of taxation for everyone: why does public transport pay 6% VAT and shared cars 21%? Most important are clear decisions and that the industry is given the time to implement them. We’re ready to move in the right direction, but not everything is in our hands.”
There are solutions to reduce pollution. What’s obstructing their introduction?
“To impose electric mobility is not so difficult, but I don’t hear anybody taking the decision. It will mean 5 billion euro less (of excises) for the State. However, you don’t change in one week. If they tell us “act now”, we will do it, but if nobody says what to do, nothing will happen. If we want to go in that direction, let’s have the courage for it.”
The automotive lobby seems to counter everything and to put a brake on every change…
“Do we brake when we put 350 electric or CNG cars in a car sharing system in Antwerp (Poppy) ? A shared car is 6 or 7 sold cars less. D’Ieteren is not a non-profit organization. We will have shared cars, we will have electric ones, but we want to sell them. We want to deliver the charging infrastructure, the batteries as well. It’s additional business. This year D’Ieteren will exist 214 year, we will survive.”
A few statements on change, diesel and spreading
“When you want change, look at what you can do yourself. At D’Ieteren we changed our car fleet, we have a magnificent bike accommodation, we have showers, we encourage home working and we already produce 50% of our energy consumption.”
“Diesel has been criticized, but is the technology so bad? CO2 emissions are rising because we shift to petrol, electrification is only a solution when the energy comes from renewable sources. How fast can we do that?”
“If we want to ban the car from the centre of Brussels, we will have to admit that the economic activity will spread over the country, but do we have a vision or policy to spread the mobility? No, we are still sending all our kids to school at the same time, we don’t allow shops to open with more flexibility… We have to get rid of taboos. “