BMW's Oliver Zipse has relinquished the reins, making way for Renault's Luca de Meo.
The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA) will have a new president on January 1, 2023.
Luca de Meo, CEO of Renault Group, will take over from BMW CEO Oliver Zipse next year after the latter has completed his second year in charge of the association. The ACEA president serves a year-long term that can be renewed once, with board members responsible for voting in their new boss from the CEOs of member car, van, truck, and bus manufacturers.
Why does this matter to the average consumer? The ACEA represents the 16 major Europe-based automobile manufacturers, and they have the power to effect change and help shape the auto industry's future. This association has been especially vocal about incoming emissions regulations.
Remarking on his tenure in charge, Zipse said: "These past years have been marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, supply chain disruptions, the war in Ukraine, and the energy crisis, all of which have had a profound impact on our sector. Nevertheless, the European auto industry has been the reliable industrial backbone of the EU in highly volatile times. At the same time, we have been cautioning against overregulation and calling for technology neutrality to be the base of EU competitiveness."
Zipse has been particularly outspoken about an impending ban on the sale of combustion engines, saying that the industry is far from ready for a full-scale switch. So what can we expect from his successor - more reluctance to embrace EVs or a different approach fully?
Fortunately for fans of internal combustion, de Meo's feelings are similar to those of Zipse, which is probably why he's the right man to continue the work of the ACEA. "Looking ahead, we need Europe urgently to implement policies that fully support our decarbonization goal and enable us to face growing global competition," said the new ACEA president. "We welcome the work on a European Raw Materials Act, which should support the continent's economic resilience and the shift to zero emissions."
This will essentially be the EU's answer to America's Inflation Reduction Act. However, there is still work to be done, and de Meo is not convinced that lawmakers are on the right path.
"The Euro 7 proposal in its current shape, however, would draw away massive human and financial resources from electrification," said de Meo, adding that the "ACEA will continue to advocate for a balance between what is good for the environment, what is good for Europe's economy and what is good for society."
Like his predecessor's company, de Meo's Renault is investing in electrification but is not throwing all its eggs in that basket. With more than three decades of experience in the automotive sector, Luca de Meo is no fool, and he is acutely aware that forcing the industry to go electric too soon will have just as many drawbacks as it will benefits. With his comments on the occasion of his election to the top job at ACEA, we can expect European automakers to continue fighting an all-out ban on combustion engines, with the promise of hydrogen and synthetic fuels hoped to keep cars of all sorts purring for decades to come, from the humble Renault Clio to the latest BMW 8 Series.