I think if they were doing the R&D tax thing, they would not have spent so much real money. We do it all the time - stuff is “categorised as R&D” by some vague criteria and makes us more tax efficient.
I think the problem may be slightly more fundamental.
Tesla is losing money by the billion shifting cars. Yes, they cost a lot, but not as much as it costs to make them
BMW & VW are squealing that EVs are unprofitable.
You can make a rather ****, range limited EV and sell it (with a load of incentives) for about 30K. Anything vaguely approaching what a petrol can do is closer to 100K, and they simply can’t build what a diesel can do.
I suspect he’s looked at the car, which is probably very good and thought “we can’t make it for less than 150K and the market price is about 80k”. Being quite a sensible bloke, not backed by silly Silicon Valley money, he’s probably killed it.