We’ve reported on comments by GM and Nissan officials about the recent unveiling of the Tesla Model 3 and the following storm of reservations. While Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn had a normal and decent reaction to the event, GM’s Vice President of Global Propulsion Systems, Dan Nicholson, was significantly less gracious than his colleague.
But now it’s Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne’s turn to comment and he doesn’t disappoint.
The FCA executive is known to make controversial comments on electric vehicles. He once pleaded customers not to buy his Fiat 500e because he was losing money off it. He generally recognizes the need for zero-emission vehicles, but he has been publicly skeptical about any business case for EVs.
“I am not surprised by the high number of reservations, […] But then the hard reality comes in … making cars, selling them and making money doing so.”
He then claimed that FCA could build a Tesla Model 3 competitor within 12 months and “add Italian style” in the process, though he wants Tesla CEO Elon Musk to prove the company can make a profit selling it first:
“Marchionne said he did not understand how the Model 3, Tesla’s first mass-market car, could be sold for 35,000 euros ($39,600) at a profit.
“If he can show me that it can be done, I will do it as well, copy him, add Italian style to it and put it on the market within 12 months,” he added.”
Tesla made it clear that they aim to achieve the Model 3’s $35,000 base price through economy of scale in their vehicle manufacturing process, but also through a 30% battery cost reduction with the Gigafactory.
Batteries represent a significant part of an electric vehicle’s cost. While most people would agree that FCA could probably deliver a new vehicle in 12 months, I’m not sure most would agree that they could deliver a giant battery factory in 12 months.