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Alison Jones got involved in the automotive industry at an early age, cutting her teeth at large European automakers and transport organisations, where she developed her understanding – and passion – for the car industry. Today, she steps into her biggest role yet, as Country Manager (UK) at recently-formed Stellantis, following a new joint venture between the PSA Group and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, and Senior Vice President for Peugeot, Citroën, DS Automobiles, Fiat, Fiat Professional, Abarth, Jeep and Alfa Romeo. 

Auto Futures got the chance to speak with Jones following her new appointment, looking back at her story so far and her new exciting journey with Stellantis. 

“I started with the VW Group at quite a young age, then moved companies and industries to expand my experience and progress my career, first in fleet management and then a company that manufactures and distributes scientific instruments worldwide, which was quite different,” she says. “I loved the commerciality of that role, but loved the scale of the car industry and that’s what brought me back. I was with VW Group for 22 years and worked in sales, aftersales, customer service, finance, customer relationship management and digital in both Group roles and roles within the brands including Audi and Volkswagen. And now I’m here at Stellantis.”

Now that the Stellantis wheels are fully in motion, Jones and her team will not only intertwine the best of both worlds through PSA and FCA, but also bring together their knowledge and specialties from across their careers in the automotive industry, establishing a leading OEM in a new era of transport, from electrification to mobility services. 

Being formed from two leading auto groups, Stellantis can take inspiration from an iconic brand portfolio, which includes the likes of Peugeot, Citroen, Opel and Fiat, and a diverse and passionate team of 400,000 colleagues.

“Stellantis is about leveraging our skills and scale to improve efficiency and effectiveness to build a leading position for our business in the new era of mobility,” continues Jones. “We have a clear mission, to provide freedom of movement for all through distinctive, appealing, affordable and sustainable mobility solutions.”

This scale will enable Stellantis to develop innovation and be more disruptive amongst competitors. The aim is to become a global leader in clean and intelligent mobility, electrifying at least one version of every newly launched global model by 2025. 

“It is definitely about intertwining the best of both worlds of FCA and PSA, and in parallel ensuring we have an organisation for the future,” adds Jones. 

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The Great Shift 

The automotive industry as we know it is no more. Today, we are seeing more investment into clean technology and new ways of moving. Stellantis encompasses this change, with two juggernauts in PSA and FCA coming together to build a new business focused on mobility and a totally new customer base. Jones and her team are aiming to create an attractive alternative within a rapidly developing market. 

In addition to over 14 automotive and mobility brands that cover the full spectrum of customer choice, ranging from luxury, premium and mainstream passenger cars to pickup trucks, SUVs and light commercial vehicles, Stellantis will introduce new transport innovations, from self-driving technology to electric vehicles. 

“State-of-the-art technologies that will make us a leader in solutions to our customers’ mobility needs in a rapidly changing world – electrification, 5G, connectivity, autonomous vehicles, shared mobility. All that is then combined with online services and physical facilities for our customers including our powerful network of business partners, across the entire value chain from the supply of best-in-class components and services to the most efficient distribution of our vehicles to our final customers,” she says. “Our industry needs to provide innovative, frictionless service and solutions for our customers now in a way that was not commonplace, even just five years ago.”

Jones has seen this change from a personal perspective over the course of her career, working at an OEM during the ‘connected revolution’. As she has developed her own career, the industry around her has developed in parallel, positioning herself as a key leader in this space. 

“In terms of our cars and vans, the technological advancements are huge – powertrains, technology in the vehicles, the increasing autonomy of cars,” says Jones. “Then there are connected services, mobility solutions, digital services such as selling online, and then customer solutions such as Virtual Showroom, Live Chat, Product geniuses, concierge services. The skills have changed, the innovation continues, the diversity broadens and that is what makes it such an exciting industry to be a part of.”

The changing philosophy of the sector, from developing new products and innovations to recruiting executives inside and outside of the automotive industry, is further fueling change. Jones is convinced that Stellantis’ skills in designing, developing, manufacturing and selling high-quality vehicles and distinctive services will see it reach new benchmarks within the fast-evolving industry and become one of the most respected companies, further attracting new talent to the business.

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From ICE to EV

This change is trickling down to consumers, as electric vehicles become a more realistic proposition to petrol and diesel vehicles. Jones believes that there main things driving the interest. 

“There is legislation from Governments, manufacturers developing the products to meet these new regulations and increasing customer demand for the products. The regulations set the targets, but it is the engineers and product design teams that respond or surpass that with greater product choice and availability,” she says.

“EVs are much more affordable for customers; for example, the Peugeot e-208 is priced from £26,725. In addition, customers are increasingly more environmentally aware and conscious of their carbon footprint. The pandemic has also stimulated more discussions about air quality and examples of environments and nature benefiting since the lockdown began.”

This, combined with the public deciding how they want to live in the future, could further increase the uptake of low- and zero-emissions vehicles and influence demand for private vehicles as an alternative to some forms of public transport.

Although we are still some way off of an EV majority, the industry is quickly addressing the main challenges faced by both businesses and consumers. The common issues, from range anxiety to infrastructure are being overcome as EVs improve in parallel to the supporting infrastructure. 

“It needs to be as easy to charge an EV as it is to fuel a petrol or diesel car, with on-street charging in locations where people don’t have driveways,” adds Jones. “Manufacturers need to continue to improve the explanations about range, total cost of ownership and give customers the confidence to know what it is like to ‘live with an EV or PHEV’.  Governments need to give clarity on taxation, incentives and infrastructure support. As all these elements improve then we will see the step-change.”

Consumers are finally getting on board, with a colossal amount of electrified options on the market today; many more will follow, including an attractive lineup of Stellantis vehicles. 

“We are working on the plans as we speak, but expect more exciting, affordable and sustainable mobility products and solutions in the future,” says Jones. 

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