WardsAuto: Can you shed more light on CMA electrification plans?

Green: This platform can hold a plug-in hybrid battery in the tunnel, very much similar to the SPA platform, so we can have plug-in hybrids easily with this car. We’re also developing a full-electric floor. This platform can cater to all three propulsion types, combustion (including with a 48V mild-hybrid system), plug-in hybrid and full electric type. The full battery-electric we’ve said we’re starting the rollout during ʼ19, and the plug-in hybrid we haven’t given a specific date, but it is somewhere between now and ʼ19.

WardsAuto: Do you see electrification mainly serving the Chinese market? What other markets might it be as relevant?

Green: It’s going to be a bet where it takes off. If you look at it today, it’s basically driven by three different mechanisms in the three regions. The U.S. is the region where we see most of the natural demand for EVs – that’s where you see people buying EVs. In China you have a good incentive program and there are huge sales of low-end EVs in China (that are) highly incentivized. So where in the U.S. (demand) comes from the top (with) the most expensive cars, in China it comes from the bottom, with the most (inexpensive) cars. In Europe (electrification) is driven mainly by (carbon-dioxide) fleet legislation, where currently plug-in hybrid is doing a good job. But eventually fully electric will take that role also in Europe. So I see fully electric, and including plug-in hybrids and mild hybrids, (eventually) will be driven by consumer demand in all three regions.

WardsAuto: What is the sweet spot on EV range?

Green: I think the sweet spot will change over time. As the technologies are being introduced, people are used to carrying a great deal of range when they come from a gasoline or diesel car. And we see a range anxiety in people going to electric. So in the beginning, that will be a balance between what you can afford – but you really want to have as much as possible. I would say somewhere between 200 and 300 miles (322-483 km) you have to have in the base version, and then of course the top versions can and should go above that. Over time, (as consumers get used to electrics) I think you’ll not want to carry more battery than you need. Then I could see a need for a shorter-range (battery) becoming more interesting. But that is a step the consumer is going to have to get used to first.

I’ve been in the industry now for 21 years. Doing a combustion-engine car program, you start three or four years before you launch the car and set the targets. Then you work flawlessly and you deliver what you said and you know you have a competitive product. Now, working with electric vehicles for a year, I would say nothing has (as much of) a moving target as the electric-vehicle business. So we need to be able to adapt. I would never commit to what is necessary to have two or three years down the line, because whatever happens out there, we will need to be able to adapt.

WardsAuto: Will you offer longer-range batteries as an option similar to what other automakers are planning?

Green: We will have a base offer that gives you a decent range, and then you would have a premium offer that will give you a long range. Exactly what that range will be I think we need to work all the way into the bid round, if you will, working with the chemistry, working with the weight of the vehicle. We should work as hard as possible…to really push what’s possible.

WardsAuto: You mention the U.S. being a big EV market relatively speaking. Does this suggest building EVs here at some point?

Green: Absolutely. Eventually we will build EVs in all regions.

WardsAuto: Are you concerned at all about the supply infrastructure for batteries and electric motors?

Green: In different ways, yes. I think we will start to see bottlenecks in the industry. When every manufacturer is ramping up, the supply of motors, batteries and (other technology) may become a bottleneck for a period.

WardsAuto: Are you actively trying to line up contracts to ensure supply?

Green: Absolutely. That’s a balance of course, because costs are coming down, efficient new products are coming out. So in some perspective, you don’t want to lock yourself in too early while there’s something more competitive coming out. And at the same time, you need to secure the capacity of certain elements not to run out of supply when the demand comes.

WardsAuto: Are you sourcing batteries from China?

Green: We are, (but) basically I would say batteries are such a key component both (in) value and size…it is difficult to ship due to the restrictions around shipping batteries. So I would say with batteries you typically want to source close to where you build the cars.

WardsAuto: Right down to the cell level?

Green: Well, it’s easier to ship cells than battery packs. So battery packs would be the absolute worst. Ideally you would source the cell close, but if that’s not possible then you would try to import only cells or modules and definitely not entire packs. In the long run, we (should) have battery suppliers in all regions where we build battery cars. That’s a long-term strategic goal.

dzoia@wardsauto.com @DavidZoia