September 12, 2017 / 2:34 PM / a year ago

PSA boss says politicians responsible for fate of Opel engine testing jobs

FRANKFURT, Sept 12 (Reuters) - PSA Group’s Chief Executive Carlos Tavares said on Tuesday European policymakers were responsible for the fate of 800 jobs at Opel’s engine testing facility, given that many are under threat from a regulatory push to promote electric cars.

PSA is in the process of integrating Opel, after buying it from General Motors, a task which analysts say will lead to sweeping job cuts since most vehicles will be migrated to platforms engineered by the French carmaker.

Some 800 of Opel’s 7,700 engineers work at its seven-story engine development centre in Ruesselsheim, Germany, where the carmaker has 45 state-of-the-art engine test benches.

With several European ministers warning carmakers about potential bans on combustion-engined cars, Tavares said he could not be held responsible for the fate of those jobs.

“Well this is the decision made by the governments, to forbid the usage of the internal combustion engine, this is not my decision .... If they decide that, my role as the president of the company is to comply.”

PSA Group and Opel will have to “reorganise ourselves in a way which is adapted to the new reality which is that governments want electrification.”

With governments pushing electrification, Europe’s industry is taking a significant bet.

“The scientific responsibility of selecting one technology and instructing the carmakers to go in this direction, this scientific responsibility is in the hands of the governments,” Tavares said.

“If you ask everybody to make electric vehicles and you cannot subsidise them, then you have to raise prices or you have to smash the margins of the companies, and then you have a problem of the sustainability of the companies,” he added. (Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Mark Potter)

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