Luca De Meo: the future “electrified” as we look with optimism

Among the many new models presented in preview at the Frankfurt Auto show included a large number of electrical. And in the occasion of a meeting with journalists the president of Seat, the Italian Luca De Meo (in the photo above) has answered some questions about the future of the auto industry, engaged in a phase of great transformation at the center of which there is the electric car.

What are the forecasts for the Seat and the newborn brand Cupra for the next few years?

Most likely the 2019 will be a record year for our brand. The impressions are positive from both us and from our sales network. As you can see from our strand there are plenty of new and we believe we will be prepared to face the next two to three years that are going to be challenging for the entire automotive industry for a combination of three factors: the first factor is the cooling of the question after a positive cycle is very long which we took advantage. The second relates to the large increase in the investment and development costs to manage the transition from heat engines to hybrid and electric; for the last the possibility to pay fines in case you cannot return within the limits. We are quite optimistic for our situation because part of the Volkswagen group gives us an ease of access to new technologies in relation to their cost and to the size of our brand that, I believe, that other competitors will count. The second reason we are optimistic is that we are in a position of strength that probably we never reached in the history of the Seat. However, I believe that there will be a selection almost darwinian that lead to a reduction of automotive brands and individual models over the next five years, linked to the new challenges, at least in Europe. The European Union will be one of the markets where the pressure of the regulation will be stronger than ever.


What impact will the european regulations on the reduction of CO2 emissions?

For over a century, cars have gone to gasoline and in the last thirty years and diesel. Now all of a sudden there are 5-6 different choices of feeds. For example, if once a friend of mine asked me what fuel to choose for the next car, the consigliavo only on the basis of the miles I ran. Now in addition to what I ask him where he lives, if there are blockages to the circulation, and what are your longer trips, just to name a few. In recent years the policy has led to a reduction of emissions that leads to the electric and now we are forced to take that direction because it calculates the average emissions of a fleet; and then to stay below the threshold of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer, an electric car counts as 94 cars burning it emit 94 (within the range of a costruttotore ndr) and 94 grams is a value already particularly low, which reach only a few cars. When the average will drop further to 80 grams of CO2 per kilometre, and then still 70, no car, only combustion will fall in the limits. It is necessary to propose the drive plug-in hybrid or fully electric.

The slowness in the diffusion, among consumers, of the electric car is tied to the prices still too high of the car?

If we consider the new cars such as the ID.3 or the future Seat of El Born (derived from the Volkswagen ndr), or car C-segment premium have a price is already comparable to the price of a Volkswagen Golf diesel is well fitted, despite the adoption of the new technology. Are products that make sense for many consumers especially for the low cost of ownership, and other characteristics of the power supply to batteries as the acceleration. And this is exactly what we rely on, on a product with a price and at a level of performance at least comparable to the alternatives to burning are available at the time. The Volkswagen group has no doubt about the adoption on a large scale in this technology; this is seen in theinvestments of over 30 billion by 2022. A few years ago asked us all when we launched on the market the electric car and now they ask us how they can sell these cars. The doubt in Italy there has always been respect to this technology, but looking at the sales data inside the Euro area, 50% of consumers spend at least 30,000 euro for a new auto. More than 80% if you consider 20,000 euro. The reality is this: when the EU decided certain rules, there are no other solutions. We have to get a mix of cars with different power supplies. Our calculation treats to sell at least 25% of the car 100% electric by 2025. To reach 40% in 2030.


The uncertainty of the market can be also linked to the different emission regulations existing in the various parts of the world?

And an issue on which the manufacturers don’t have any power. We, of course, we hope that ahomogenization of the rules. Starting from the three most important global markets, Europe, America and China. At the time, in fact, we are forced to produce different products or to make substantial changes to each sales area. Through a standardisation of the rules we can build global models of the large scale and ensure the best standards of emission reduction.

What are the effects of this “revolution ” electricity” on the european industry?

The value chain in the production of an electric car is different from that of a traditional and the control of some basic elements, such as batteries, is in the hands of asian companies. This leads to a shift of the balance, unless you invest in Europe to recover the gap. There must be a comparison between manufacturers and suppliers to reorganize the value chain, moving from a large technological shift.

You produce your batteries in the house?

When it comes to batteries, we have to distinguish between three fundamental steps in the production process. First there is the production of cells is a highly automated process where the most important variable is the cost of raw materials such as cobalt. Then there is the construction of the battery pack real with its cooling system in accordance with the maximum efficiency possible. The last step is all about management software. In the Volkswagen group, the process is divided between a few suppliers and internal department.


The baby brand Cupra is having the expected success?

Cupra was launched 18 months ago. In the first month, we sold 7000 cars, and after only a few short months we have reached this August the 17,000 units. It is a phenomenon that is still niche, but in a number of countries are giving results above expectations as Germany, Switzerland or Mexico, where a third of the Seat have been sold, Cupra.

At this Frankfurt motor show have presented the suv electric Tavascan. It will arrive in production?

At the moment, the Tavascan ski resort is a new concept, but it’s not just a drive by exposure. From the beginning we have imagined it as a future model of the range Cupra and could enter production in the next few years using the mechanics provided by the group.