FRANKFURT (Reuters) - PSA Group’s (PEUP.PA) 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 (GM.N), 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-storey engine development centre in Ruesselsheim, Germany, where the carmaker has 45 state-of-the-art engine test benches.
Asked whether Opel will still need its engine testing facility in Ruesselsheim, Tavares said: “The question that you raised, which is a fair one, is not related to Ruesselsheim, it is related to the whole European automotive industry.”
If European policymakers are advocating a ban on combustion engines then this has consequences also for the auto industry as a whole, Tavares said.
“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.”
Tavares said the transformation will include a need to retrain people to a new era for electric cars. A PSA spokesman later added that each new Opel incorporating PSA technologies model will need to be tested individually, a step which creates work for Opel’s engineers.
In an earlier discussion with journalists on Tuesday, Tavares had said he would need the engineers in Ruesselsheim “110 percent.”
However, with European politicians pushing electrification, Europe’s industry may run the risk of taking a large bet on one particular technology.
“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 and Susan Thomas