Stellantis CEO: ‘I want to avoid a bloodbath and the new platform will help me’

Stellantis has fully unveiled its STLA Large platform. Designed for large electric vehicles, it forms the basis for future cars in the D and E segments for the global markets. However, it is not a purely electric platform, which has a reason.

This will be a pivotal year for the strictness of emissions regulations with elections for the US president and European parliament. That’s a key focus for industry leaders as they make investment decisions. Stellantis’ new vehicle platforms supporting different propulsion systems will allow it to respond based on how quickly the electric vehicle transformation moves.

Tavares says he’s prepared for two scenarios: “If the ‘dogmatic progressists’ win, the energy transition into electric drive will accelerate; if the ‘populists’ win, electric drive implantation will be delayed.”

No bloodbath

Tavares also said that pricing only will come down to the degree that the automaker can reduce its costs. As Tesla slashes pricing on its electric vehicles, Tavares says he’s unwilling to jeopardize profitability because EVs are 40% more expensive than their gas-powered counterparts. The automaker must invest in better technologies and efficiencies to survive the transition.

“If you just go and cut pricing, disregarding the reality of your cost situation, it’s a race to the bottom, and a race to the bottom will end up with a bloodbath,” Tavares said during a virtual presentation. “And that’s exactly what I’m trying to avoid.”

“If we continue to destroy our vehicles’ worth with price cuts, certain manufacturers will run into problems and become targets to be overtaken by others,” he added. Stellantis’ operational margin lately peaked at more than 14%, and the boss is pointing at other groups in a far worse financial situation.

Tavares also asked governments to support the change to electric vehicles further (with tax cuts or subsidies) and criticized what has happened in Germany lately. On the other hand, he warned that protectionist measures against China could provoke retaliation or an outright trade war, which would be bad for everyone.

In October last year, Stellantis invested in the Chinese EV manufacturer Leapmotor and created a joint venture to export these cars under the Stellantis umbrella.

STLA Large platform

Stellantis recently launched its first all-electric vehicle in North America, with Tavares saying he delivered the first Ram ProMaster commercial van to customer Amazon.com. By the end of the year, the company will have eight EVs in the States, up from none.

The large STLA (pronounced ‘Stella’) platform will underpin eight of those models through 2026. The platform is designed for BEVs and supports hybrid and internal combustion engine powertrains.

The Jeep Wagoneer S, one of the first models for the STLA Large, has also been teased, and Stellantis is following up with some data on the platform itself. The largest possible battery remains at the already known 118 kWh, which should enable a range of 800 kilometers in sedans; Stellantis does not specify a value for SUVs and crossovers.

A teaser photo of the Jeep Wagoneer S, one of the first Stellantis cars to use the new STLA Large platform /Stellantis

However, the lower end of the scale is new: previously, 101 kWh was mentioned here. The current announcement, Stellantis mentions that it “initially includes battery pack options with energy ratings between 85 and 118 kWh”. In other words, there could be later adjustments, upward or downward.

The STLA Large is not designed as a pure 800-volt architecture, but 400-volt systems can also be realized. With 118 kWh, a 400-volt system would ensure relatively long charging times, but with 85 kWh energy content and a good 400-volt charging curve, a competitive overall package could be created at lower costs.

‘Unparallelled technological flexibility’

Stellantis emphasizes that the STLA Large stands for “robust and cost-efficient manufacturing processes” and has also been developed with “unparalleled technological flexibility”.

This flexibility should allow “the wheelbase adjustment, overall length, width and height, and ground clearance. Several suspension modules and powertrain cradles can suit vehicle-specific performance objectives, including ride, handling, and comfort.”

There is also a further, previously unannounced, technological flexibility: the STLA Large is not a pure BEV architecture. Stellantis is also planning vehicles with hybrid drives and combustion engines.

The STLA Large platform has room for a large battery pack and one or more electric motors but can also house a classic ICE drivetrain /Stellantis

However, the hybrid and combustion engine options will likely be more relevant to North America than Europe. By 2030, the multi-brand group aims to achieve 70% of its sales in Europe and 40% in the US with low-emission vehicles.

The drive units combine the motor, transmission, and power electronics with silicon carbide semiconductors in one housing, which can be front, rear, or all-wheel drive.

It should be possible to install wheel decouplers to decouple the wheels from the drive (these are permanently excited synchronous machines). This would reduce mechanical resistance and improve efficiency and range.

The 800-volt battery should also have a charging capacity of up to 4,5 kWh/minute. However, Stellantis does not specify a maximum charging capacity or charging time, nor does it provide comparative values for the 400-volt battery.

The critical technical data for STLA Large are a length between 4,77 and 5,13 m, a width between 1,90 and 2,03 m, a wheelbase from 2,87 to 3,08 m, a ground clearance of 140 up to 288 mm, and a battery capacity of 85 to 118 kWh.

Eight models

Vehicles based on STLA Large will initially be used by the Dodge and Jeep brands in North America and later by Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, and Maserati. From 2024 to 2026, eight models are planned based on the platform, which will be produced in several plants in Europe and North America.

“Our goals for our STLA platforms are ambitious, but this is what our customers need from us today,” concludes Tavares. “Creating a family of vehicles from a well-engineered set of components flexible enough to cover multiple vehicle types and propulsions, overperforming any of our current products, will address each of our iconic brands’ customers.”

“This platform’s flexibility and agility are its hallmarks and will drive our success in the shift to electrification in North America.”

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