The automotive consortium Stellantis, which groups brands such as Citroën, Peugeot, Opel, Lancia and Jeep, has decided to assign to its Spanish factories in Vigo and Zaragoza the production of new small electric cars based on the Small STLA platform. The cars would enter the production line from 2025 and the project would involve the investment of more than 1 billion euros, while the group led by Carlos Tavares hopes to alleviate part of that burden opting to achieve 150 million euros of PERTE VEC II funds, which closes the window for applications today.
The information was brought forward by the newspaper Cinco Días, although Stellantis sources contacted by this newspaper have declined to comment. The assignment of the project is not expected to be made public until at least November, but, if confirmed, it would guarantee the future of the company's two largest factories in Spain. The new platform would not be introduced for now in Madrid, where it assembles the C4 and C4X models, both in combustion and 100% electric versions.
In addition, it would mean a new setback for the French government, which is at war with the Stellantis leadership to "relocate" the production of its electric cars to France. In July, the French Minister of Economy, Bruno Le Maire, assured that such a move would be "an act of economic patriotism" and "sweetened" his demand by pointing out that "possible subsidies" were being considered. In addition, the French state owns 6% of Stellantis' capital.
According to France, this withdrawal should start by 'stealing' from Spain the production of the new Peugeot e-208, an electric utility vehicle that is planned to be manufactured at the Zaragoza facilities and of which the first test units are already being produced, although the project has not been officially awarded.
Tavares' response at the time dashed all those aspirations: "It is not economically viable, it would be a bad solution for both the company and the country," he said. And it would be reconfirmed now with the new project.
For an executive like Tavares, who has made cost reduction a mantra to turn Stellantis into a money-making machine, the Spanish move fits him. In fact, the company he heads is the leading vehicle manufacturer in our country and last year between Vigo, Zaragoza and Madrid assembled 852,000 units, 38.4% of total national production.
This volume is divided between no less than 16 models of the Citroën, Opel, Peugeot, Fiat brands, as well as small vans for Toyota. And a not insignificant number of these cars (more than 112,000 units) were 100% electric. In addition, in the starting portfolio would be the aforementioned Peugeot e-208 and also the new Lancia Ypsilon, which will be made in Zaragoza.
Specifically, of these 16 cars, 12 have 100% electric versions: the Citroën ë-C4 and ë-C4 X at the Madrid Center, the Opel Corsa-e at the Zaragoza plant and the Peugeot e-2008, together with the commercial and multipurpose Citroën ë-Berlingo/ë-Berlingo VAN, Fiat e-Doblò/Doblò Van electric, Opel Combo-e Life/Combo-e Cargo and Peugeot e-Partner/e-Rifter, at the Vigo Center.
Low price, more volume
The new Small platform is one of the four on which Stellantis will build its electric cars in the future. And since it will be used both for utility vehicles (segment A) and urban (B) and compact (C), it will be the one that will enable the most affordable and best-selling models to be offered.
In addition, if it arrives in Spain, it would reinforce the options of our country to host one of the battery gigafactories that Stellantis will need in the future. The company has already announced that it will build six such facilities worldwide, three of which will be in Europe (France, Germany and Italy), for a total capacity of 250 GWh.
However, the company has resized these plans and now talks of needing up to 400 GWh, which would open the door to three or four extra factories.
In this sense, our country has already confirmed the Sagunto gigafactory of VW and Seat, to supply the small electric cars that they will make in Barcelona and Pamplona from 2025; the Chinese Envision and Acciona in Extremadura; and Inobat in Valladolid. Likewise, China's BYD will decide before the end of the year where its battery plant in Europe will be located, with our country among the candidates.
As regards the production of 100% battery-powered vehicles, in addition to Stellantis and Seat/VW, there are the Mercedes projects in Vitoria, with the new generation of the V-Class and Vito models; the cars that Ford will make in Valencia from 2026 or those that will come out of the old Nissan facilities in Barcelona with an electromobility hub that could be joined by the Chinese company Chery.