Stellantis, the maker of Dodge and Jeep vehicles, has a factory in Russia. But it has not announced plans to pull out the country in the face of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, unlike some other companies. Chief executive Carlos Tavares said he feels that doing so would only harm the wrong people.
“We consider we should not mix regime and people,” he said in an interview with CNN Business. “The regime is one thing, the citizens are another thing.”
Stellantis operates a factory in Kaluga, about 90 miles outside Moscow, as a joint venture with Japanese automaker Mitsubishi. The factory, which employs 2,700 people, makes about 11,000 Peugeot, Opel and Citroën commercial vans a year.
“We respect and we love local people,” Tavares said. “Which means we have people in Ukraine, we take care of them. We have people in Russia and we love them also.”
Stopping work at the factory would harm Stellantis’s factory in Russia and would harm the livelihoods of workers there, not Russia’s leadership, he said.
Since the Russian invasion began, several other automakers have announced they would stop doing business in Russia.
Ford, which has a joint venture factory with a Russian company in Elabuga, Russia, recently announced it was stopping production and winding down its business there. General Motors, which has no manufacturing plants in Russia, had earlier said it would stop selling cars in the country. Some others, such as Hyundai and Toyota, have announced they are temporarily stopping production in Russia due to disruptions of parts supplies.
“I suppose that the plant is going to stop very soon for a very similar reason,” Tavares said of the Kaluga factory. “There are no parts.”
So far, he said, Stellantis has avoided parts-related disruptions due to the Ukraine invasion simply because its suppliers happen to mostly be in other parts of the world.
“We have more in the south of Europe and the north of Africa,” he said, “which means by chance, by pure chance, we don’t have that kind of disturbance so far. It may come because of the depth of the supply chain.”
During a press conference about the company’s global strategy earlier in the week, Tavares said Stellantis had 71 employees in Ukraine, three of whom company representatives had been unable to contact. In a meeting with journalists on Thursday, Tavares said the employees had been contacted and had elected to stay in Ukraine.
Stellantis announced earlier on Thursday that it was committing €1 million, or $1.1 million, to fund relief work for Ukrainian refugees from the Russian invasion.
Stellantis will comply with any sanctions that might involve its business, Tavares said.