Published on November 1, 2019 |
by Steve Hanley
1. November 2019 by Steve Hanley
Just yesterday, CleanTechnica contributor Maarten Vinkhuyzen told us about Fiat Chrysler's plan to merge with PSA Group, the parent company of Peugeot and Citroen, a traits he called "a huge gamble." His story received many comments, many suggesting that the merger is like clamping together two sinking oil tankers in the hope that the combination will somehow stay afloat.
It should be noted that the previously proposed merger of FCA with Renault was torpedoed by the French government, which owns a large number of Renault shares and was less than satisfied with the lack of guarantees that French production jobs would not be adversely affected. by the merger. The French government also has a large stake in the PSA and will seek similar insurance. This merger is far from being a done deal.
Photo courtesy Peugeot
Chrysler has been in financial trouble since 1979, when only a federal loan guarantee program allowed it to stay out of bankruptcy. Since then, iconic American brands such as Plymouth, Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Mercury have disappeared from the scene, but Chrysler has soldiered on, thanks to a small portion of the profits from the Jeep division, which it made from AMC in 1987.  Mercedes -Benz bought the company in 1998 for $ 34 billion. After several years of struggling to make it profitable, Mercedes dumped the $ 7.4 billion private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management Group, a $ 7.4 billion company in 2007. As of 2009, Fiat began acquiring parts of the company out of bankruptcy, and completed its acquisition in 2014. The new company became known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, or FCA, and was led by Sergio Marchionne until his death in 2018. His successor is Mike Manley.
Michael Manley, CEO Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Photo courtesy of FCA
At a conference call with stock analysts last week, Manley announced that the FCA would consider buying a skateboard or rolling chassis from Tesla to serve as the basis for electric cars from the FCA / PSA alliance. Manley suggested that the new company could adapt the Tesla skateboard to individual markets by using suspension, braking and other systems already on the shelf for brands such as the Maserati, Alfa Romeo or Jeep that are part of the FCA today. He did not say whether Tesla has expressed an interest in selling such skateboards to other companies.
"The customer will be agnostic" for certain components such as batteries and powertrains, said Manley, according to Business Insider . What he believes is that drivers focus more on the emblem of the hood, and how comfortable the seats are rather than the components that make a car go. He may be right. Few people ever see the battery pack in an electric car or the engines that spin the wheels. They can come from Mars for all people to care as long as they work properly.
Many manufacturers today worry about only being assembled from parts sourced from outside suppliers. Gone are the days when a Jaguar was defined by the big thumping twin-cam designed by William Lyons under the hood. Customers care less about who supplies the engines in their electric cars today than conventional car drivers care about who produced the gasoline tank.
Tesla has some history of working with other manufacturers. It provided batteries and engines to Mercedes-Benz for its first electric car, the B-Class Electric. And did the same for Toyota's RAV4 EV. But these partnership agreements were concluded many years ago, and if Elon Musk is interested in becoming a supplier to other manufacturers today, he certainly has shown no signs of it publicly.
The most likely scenario is that Manley whistles past the cemetery of legendary cars that have ceased to exist. He may be better off looking to Volkswagen, which is actively searching for buyers for its MEB electric car platform.
"Our relationship with Tesla goes very far," Manley said. “It really helped us. But the FCA is absolutely committed to reducing CO2 emissions around the world. “This from a company that once asked customers not to buy their electric cars. Manley promises that after the merger with PSA, the new company will work on "large-scale electrification."
"We'll see," said the Zen Master.
Related: Tesla & Fiat Dance An Interesting Tango
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