CEO Punch Powerglide: ‘now diesel-hybrid, later hydrogen’
Guido Dumarey, Belgian entrepreneur and CEO of Punch Powerglide, is a man with outspoken ideas. He doesn’t belief in the electric car, pleads to reconsider diesel before hydrogen comes in.
In his view diesel has been ousted too fast, electric cars are only interesting when they are small and used in big cities. He believes in diesel-hybrid and expects hydrogen to take over from 2030 on.
But Dumarey is also the guy who wanted to take over the Ford gearbox factory in Blanquefort near Bordeaux to have a second home for Punch Powerglide. He wants to make automatic gearboxes for front-wheel driven cars there, but Ford refused.
“I can understand Ford. They are in a restructuring phase and when they do this wrong they will be punished by their shareholders, so they close. But we have a plan B: near to Ford Aquitaine Industries is a second gearbox plant, owned by Ford and Magna. We will try to take them over and afterwards move to the FAI site.”
Dumarey points to the different attitude of the French and the Belgian government in industrial matters. “The French government is always on the spot when something happens, also when it concerns 10 workers, and they try to help you. The contrast with Belgium makes you cry.”
Dumarey has direct lines with president Macron and minister Bruno Lemaire (Economy and Finance). “You can see the concern of those people by measuring the quality of their collaborators. They are brilliant and in their thirties, you can see the same in the Netherlands, not in Belgium.
Nevertheless, Dumarey understands the yellow jackets. “Punch Powerglide is building warehouses in the Vosges, a forgotten region. Those people estimate they have to pay several times, so they get angry. You can’t put the cost of energetic transition on their shoulders.”
Energy transition necessary
“I’m not denying there is a big problem. But it also means that we have to keep our nuclear plants as long as possible (no CO2). Cleaner air is the biggest problem, but you have to cure that in the cities, not in the countryside.”
“I don’t believe in the big breakthrough of electric. According to the Belgian planners (Plan Bureau), one third of Belgian cars will be electrified by 2030. And that means mostly hybrid, pure electric represents 5%. They can be used in big cities, when they are light and small. I don’t believe in Teslas.”
Concorde was ground-breaking too
“Of course, Tesla is a pioneer and the technology was ground-breaking, but so was the Concorde, a big commercial flop. There is no real market for a 2 ton battery car that is very expensive, be it a Tesla or an Audi e-tron.”
The Chinese are pushing electric cars, because it’ s the only car technology they’re good at. The Chinese always think strategic. I’m not so sure if Volvo will build electric models in Ghent. Geely will probably keep it for themselves. Thunder Power (a small electric car in Gosselies, south of Belgium), on the contrary, can work.”
‘Belgian Bernard Tapie’
“I’m not impressed by what the Belgian government did for the industry the past five years. They did nothing to keep the well earning full-time jobs in the industry. The two remaining car factories employ only as much people as the one in the Netherlands.”
“I don’t believe in those low-paid flexi-jobs. They can be interesting for students, but it’s a disgrace when good workers in their forties and fifties have to combine two jobs to make a living.”
French media call Dumarey the ‘Belgian Bernard Tapie’. “In fact, I don’t care, they can say whatever they want. I never met the man, but I presume he has done some good things too, if he is so widely known.
Dumarey is a republican and wants Flanders to be independent. “I hate Belgian monarchy and a king who doesn’t recognize his daughter, how low can you fall?”
“But I see a Flanders inside Europe, with rich neighbours, like Wallonia. That’s why I’m investing in a new project (hybrid power systems) in Dour at the Belgian-French border. A factory to invest 100 million euro in and with 500 workers.”