It looks like Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne does not want to be head of the European automakers association ACEA much longer. Today, he called for a massive EU rescue package for the ailing European car industry, with coordinated capacity cuts as the centerpiece. He also called for a stop of free trade agreements. “Let the European car industry make its adjustments… This is not the time to embrace free trade,” Marchionne said while Reuters was taking notes.
Earlier this year, Marchionne had called for a massive government intervention that would require all automakers to shed capacity, most likely with financial support from Brussels. At the time, an anonymous European auto exec predicted serious pushback from the German side, which is doing just fine, danke. The German side did not waste time. To the delight of the EU, which has other problems, the German members of the ACEA did not support Marchionne’s plan, and it went nowhere. They also started working on Marchionne’s ouster. Soon thereafter, Volkswagen demanded that Marchionne step down as the head of the lobbying group, after Marchionne accused Volkswagen of dumping.
Last month, Marchionne said that ACEA’s board agreed all members would reach their own decisions. He also hugged Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn in front of cameras. “They hugged, but they did not kiss,” quipped Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche.
All of this seems to be forgotten, and Marchionne calls for the strong arm of Brussels again. Marchionne also said the EU should delay signing free trade agreements. When he said this before, it earned him a serious rebuke from EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht. Export-heavy German carmakers and export-heavy EU states are for FTAs. It seems like Marchionne is under a lot of stress, and the way he is going, he might be under more stress soon.