By on August 31, 2015

Subaru BRZ and Mazda MX-5

Sergio Marchionne is determined to merge with somebody. He’s kind of like that guy who doesn’t have a date at Senior Prom, and just goes anyway, hoping to score a dance with the Prom Queen. It’s as if the modern marketplace is his very own version of Sixteen Candles, and he’s James Spader rocking a 944. Or something. I gotta be honest, I never watched the movie.

Well, I’m not sure if Mary Barra is the Prom Queen or not, but Sergio seems to think she is. Yet, I’m not sure the idea of a GM/FCA merger has auto enthusiasts feeling all hot and bothered; is there a merger out there that would?

Here’s my idea. I’d like to see a Mazda/Subaru merger. Does it make business sense? Eh, maybe. Mazda has seen record profits in the European market in the last two years, growing at a much faster rate than anyone expected in both Germany and the UK. They’re also growing decently in the Japanese market, and they’re holding their own in China, despite a lack of Chinese-only models.

But North America? Not so much. Mazda has never been able to get much of a foothold in the highly competitive mid-sized sedan market, nor do they do particularly well in the C segment, despite having well-reviewed entries in both. Their year-over-year growth in America is basically flat through July 2015.

However, Subaru is growing like mad — almost too quickly. They are teetering between a growth model and a profit model, as their American sales growth is reaching double digits due to an almost fanatically loyal customer base. How can Subaru grow without compromising what it is that makes them so “authentic”?

Easy. Merge with Mazda, which has specifically stated that they are looking to trade profit for growth in the near future. Subaru could do some brand engineering and send the popular Outback over to Mazda. Call it the CX-Whatever. Mazda, in turn, could share the new ND Miata with Subie, which might make up for the relatively disappointing BRZ, itself down about 30 percent YOY. I mean, they wouldn’t, but they could!

If you really wanna get cray cray…why not merge the all-wheel drive goodness of Subaru with the rotary madness of Mazda and come up with some high-revving, all-wheel drive rally and autocross monster? Let’s call it the RX-10, just because that sounds much cooler than RX-9.

I like my idea, but I bet that you, the B&B, have an even better one. So let’s hear your merger ideas. What two automotive companies could merge into an ever better one?

[Photo by Kevin McCauley]

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65 Comments on “QOTD: What Merger Would You Be Excited To See?...”


  • avatar

    Sergio is trying to take Ralph Giles away from SRT and have him move Fiat…

    HOW STUPID ARE THESE PEOPLE???

  • avatar

    TESLA should merge with Apple.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I’d say Fiatsler/Mazda would actually be a good fit. Fiatsler makes decent trucks/SUV’s and Jeep is a gem, but their cars really aren’t that great. Mazda makes great cars and crossovers; certainly better that FCA’s products.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      From the consumer perspective, I want Mazda merge no one. they already had Ford in them and it made many Mazda cars horrible.

      • 0 avatar
        Mr. Orange

        Can you please explain what you mean by horrible.

        Ford has owned a stake in the company since 1979.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          Horrible is when you buy Mazda 626 with Ford transmission and this tranny can only last up to 45K miles, and not more

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            What year 626?

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            The CD4E was used after the original Mazda automatic’s failure rate was extremly high and they couldnt correct it. The CD4E was much improved, and thats why Mazda used it.

            I have to laugh at people like you who think Mazda was wonderful and all Ford did was screw them up.

            All Ford REALLY did was save the company, which wouldve folded 100 times without Ford’s cash and resources. Same can be said for Jaguar. They wouldnt have made it if Ford hadnt stepped in. Their quality was so bad in the late 80s, a Sable with a Jaguar leaper on the front would have been a considerable improvement.

            Make fun of the CD4E and the Jaguar X-Type all you want, but the picture wouldve been much worse without them.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N is HILARIOUS, EVER THE TOTAL FORD FANBOY!

            Mazda probably has a failure/defect rate that’s 1/10th Ford’s, regardless of the component involved!

            Keep posting the comedic golden nuggets, JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N! You’re a freaking comedic genius!!!

        • 0 avatar
          CGHill

          Starting with the ’94s, Mazda bolted Ford’s CD4E into the four-cylinder 626. The failure rate was scary.

          The six-cylinder cars got Mazda’s own GF4A-EL, which was no treat either (seven freaking solenoids!), but it was believed to be better than the Ford box. Having owned one of each, I demur.

          • 0 avatar
            ccode81

            Having an uncle who was mazda engineer who have involved into development of original Cosmo’s packaging, what I hear is mazda’s respect to ford is much more than outsiders imagine.
            Also personally being owner of ford era Jag XKR, I can only say ford’s aid worked so well for modernizing Jaguar’s offering.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            Ford was making 2 Escorts simultaneously. One based on Protege components and one based on Ford components. Protege-based model was fairly reliable and brought good reputation to the model itself. But ford-based model was awful and people didn’t understand, how reputable car was so bad?

  • avatar

    Hyundai could teach GM a thing or two about building cars. Lincoln too.

  • avatar
    chaparral

    FCA/Toyota.

    Partial list of products dropped in favor of badge-engineered products:

    Dart
    500L
    200
    Next Cherokee
    300
    Durango
    Tundra
    FJ Cruiser (replaced with restyled hardtop version of the next Wrangler)

    FCA inline fours
    Toyota V8s
    Toyota six cylinder diesels

    Common development on a Grand Cherokee/Wagoneer/Land Cruiser.

    All of these products would end up better this way.
    Ram/Tundram 1/2 ton production would move to Houston which would get to vote by secret ballot on UAW representation.

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      But I don’t want the 300 to turn into a rebadged Avalon, and I suspect most buyers don’t. Unless it’s a way of getting the Toyota Crown over here.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr. Orange

      Why would I want dull Toyota to control FCA. Can you image a 707hp suv coming from Toyota. I can’t image how much boring the automotive landscape would become.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Exsctly, though to be fair, they did build the FLA or whatever thst Lexus supercar was called.

        Chrysler is much more creative. I would not be happy with a Toyota takeover of anyone that makes interesting cars, trucks and SUVs like FCA does. Not everything they have is gold, but it most likely will have more personality than a corrisponding Toyota (think Dart v. Corolla).

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    SAAB and Audi•VW

    Oh, and Mitsubishi-Fuso and Mitsubishi again

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Nothing good in terms of the consumer or employees could come out of a GM-FCA combination. What’s more, such a deal would never make it past the feds. Mazda would be a much better tie-up for Sergio and company – provided the brain trust at FCA remained open to learning from the Japanese company. If not Mazda, perhaps Suzuki. In Europe, FCA should pursue a merger with PSA.

    Otherwise, I don’t see any deals likely. Some automaker (perhaps Renault-Nissan?) would benefit from a combination with Honda, but I’m sure Honda isn’t interested. Come to think of it, FCA could use a dose of Honda technology and QC. But, again, I just don’t see it happening.

  • avatar
    ...m...

    …truthfully, hyundai/kia could probably best benefit from a lotus division in the house, but personally much i’d rather see lotus consummate their long-standing relationship with toyota to bring out the best in both brands…

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    Honda and BMW…oh wait its not 1997 again so never mind..

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    None. Unless Fuji gets Mazda for next to nothing, what does Mazda they bring to the table other than some factory capacity? Subies are better cars, sell better, have far higher loyalty amongst those buyers etc. the Mazda dealer network is less than stellar, so no help there either.

    I would love to see FCA come up with an agreement to purchase Honda drivetrains for their small cars. Seems like the manufacturers could benefit from the similar arrangement that FCA has with Cummins.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      What do they bring – great design and engineering know-how. They have managed, for a small company, to bring to market new chassis, transmissions and engines all without major reliability issues. They would compliment each other as they are both well run companies and probably have similar cultures – each have a loyal fan base.
      As for Subaru’s being the better cars, that is a questionable assertion.

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …mazda are doing well for themselves as a small independent manufacturer, and i think the market is better-served by preserving their independence, provided that they remain a sustainable business…i posit that mazda, as a business, aren’t in very different place from BMW several decades ago, which offers an exemplary case study in the value of independent development…

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Subaru vs Mazda??? It is like yesterday and tomorrow. Are you kidding? Mazda engineering is superb.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      They come from different banking/investor groups and likely could not get along. Neither has a strong truck or great mega-speed auto trans, strong electric or hybrid; all they have is overlapping product. If they drop the weaker in every segment there’s mo reason to expect customers will switch in house instead of in random directions landing in close to current market distribution. FCA got left out on the Ford/GM tranny codevelopment and will have to continue supporting Aisen or … mind locked on other name… profits while the other 2 keep it in house. Subaru + Mazda still can’t find such a project AND an engine modernization AND hydrogen /hybrid/electric future proofing contingency programs.

      How about FCA Mercedes? (Full on sarcasm)

      3 way mergers might work better to bring some too small to succeed co.’s up to survivable size with the oending massive changes in undetermined direction.

      • 0 avatar
        wmba

        Mazda is a bigger outfit than Subaru, 1.328 million to about 911,000 sales in 2014. That’s global sales, which from a company point-of-view and finance is what matters.

        In Canada, Mazda sells about twice as much as Subaru, contrary to the author’s sweeping statement about North American sales, when he really means USA sales. In fact, Subaru’s only outstanding sales market is the USA, while Mazda is much more evenly spread world-wide.

        Toyota has an eye on both outfits but is now buttering up Mazda, having had a bit of a corporate tiff with Subaru over the lousy reliability of the FR-S, and Subaru kicking them out of their Indiana plant end of next year. Yup, that 17% stake Toyota has in Subaru didn’t survive the corporate need to further populate the continental US with Outbacks and probably US-built Foresters to supplement Japanese made units. The latest Scion iA/Toyota Yaris version of the Mazda2 is just the saddest-looking little bucket of recent years, though.

        Can’t think of a really compelling prospective merger. Sergio makes the same sense about an FCA/GM merger as Chapter 1 in an MBA textbook. Then there is reality where textbook solutions need not apply.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    FCA is missing a strong global main-stream brand. Even now, FCA is trimming Dodge down into a muscle car boutique brand. Fiat is being paired down to be a Mini competitor (and budget cars for the developing world). Chrysler is basically irrelevant at this point with three models.

    That’s why I think FCA’s portfolio would best be complimented by Honda or Hyundai. Either one would hypothetically give FCA products a big boost in quality. A Honda and FCA tie-up would never happen but I think both companies would be good for each other.

    Mazda/Subaru would be great too!

    Also, I always wanted BMW to acquire Porsche. I think a Ford/BMW merger would also do well. Or a BMW/Honda.

    And the of course there the dozen or so Chinese companies. It’s still a little too easy to see which ones emerge as the leaders, lots of consolidation in the Chinese domestic market on the horizon.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Do you actually hear what you’re saying? “…BMW to acquire Porsche” – If anything, Porsche can buy BMW, the town where it is made and all the people in town. Porsche is part of powerful VW group, which has way more money than BMW. BMW clean profit 3 Billion Euro, and VW – 11

      • 0 avatar
        Speed3

        Sorry, let me clarify. Before VW took over Porsche (after Porsche’s failed hostile takeover bid of VW), I thought Porsche and BMW would make a good pair. It probably would have been more like Porsche would have acquired BMW, but its all moot now.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Toyota and Lotus. It would put Lotus on a firmer foundation and Toyota/Scion could use the performance boost.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    This writing is the biggest stupidity I’ve read recently on TTAC.
    Why companies are merging? Because of product. Lets say, one has nice engine, another – a factory, etc. Both, Mazda and Subaru have nice products. But both have unique approach, each of which works great on its own. And on top of this, both lacking facilities.

    The bottom line – what Subaru can give Mazda, and what Mazda can give Subaru? The answer is – nothing really. Or, author suggests that Mazda will sell like a pancake if Subaru AWD will be installed into it? this is simply laughable.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    I’d like to see TTAC merge with someone who could make the pages load faster.

    I’d like to see NHTSA, DOT, Europe’s whatever, and Japan’s equivalent whatever “merge” so we could have global car safety standards. And once that’s done, then allow the various manufacturers to allow us to buy stuff that seems to be sold only in their home markets, such as kei class cars, the VW Up & Polo, the Opel Adam, etc. I recognize that BMW would lose money if they were to sell 1.8 liter powered 5-series with fabric interiors in the U.S., so I don’t expect that to happen.

    Here in the US, we don’t really get to see all the other products of the world. But hey, if I could buy Renault Twizzy out of a vending machine, I’d consider that.

    But a VW Polo would work just fine in my driveway and garage that were built in 1927.

  • avatar
    thelaine

    Me and Megan Fox.

  • avatar
    formula m

    FCA has no plan for powertrains moving forward. Sergio is scrambling to steal someone’s direct-injection, hybrid, turbo, electric technology so he can stuff it in to his Italian made garbage.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    Subaru/Mazda/Suzuki/Daihatsu/Isuzu… just because.

    Any FCA/GM merger would basically kill chrysler and dodge eventually. Ram and Viper would disappear, Fiat would slowly be replaced with rebadged Daewoos.

    FCA does have jeep and the top selling minivan lineup, but it wont take long for GM to screw that up.

  • avatar
    Nedmundo

    I know it’s too late, but I wanted to see a Saab-Mazda merger. Mazda has no premium brand, and the two could have shared FWD-based sedan platforms and SUV platforms as well. I think they had similar philosophies in some respects, and each would have enhanced the other in meaningful ways.

  • avatar
    Mr. Orange

    Daimer AG and Ford. Why not?

    SAIC and GM or SAIC and Volkswagon It’s going happen eventually, maybe as soon as the communist state begin privatization of chinese firms.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      After the way Diamler raped Chrysler, thats why not. Ford is stronger than Chrysler, but I still wouldnt like the odds.

      If Ford paired with anyone, it should be Honda. Ford builds awesome trucks and Honda builds excellent cars. There would be a lot of overlap until products could merge with each other to share development costs. But say the next gen Fusion and Accord developed on the same platform, with Ford powertrains in the Fusion and Honda’s in the Accord. CRV and Escape would pair up, next Pilot and Explorer, etc.

  • avatar
    Noble713

    Worldwide consolidation of powertrains is really the only interest I have right now. Ignoring the world of exotics (Lambo/Ferrari/McLaren/etc.), it’d be nice to see standardization of engine/trans packages for most RWD applications. Everyone developing V8s seems like a needless duplication of effort and a waste of resources (I’m particularly looking at the complicated, small-displacement turbo V8s from Germany).

    performance I4: Ford’s 2.3L Ecoboost seems beastly and mass-produced due to the Mustang application (unlike whatever powers the Mercedes CLA45AMG). Although Mitsu’s 4B11T always has a special place in my heart, its fuel economy sucks and its a little old now.

    performance 6-cylinder: BMW turbo inline-6. Is there really any incentive for V6 engines in a RWD car, other than the economies-of-scale from FWD applications and slightly weight distribution?

    performance V8s: Maybe cut down to three of them: Dodge/Chrysler ironblock HEMI w/forced induction for tire-smoking, or any heavyweight vehicles that need massive power; GM aluminum naturally-aspirated small block as the general-purpose sporty V8; and Ford’s new flatplane DOHC for the high-revving folks. That should cover almost all performance niches.

    Oh, and just connect ALL of those to a T56 Super-Magnum and call it a day. One Six-Speed To Rule Them All.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I think Hyundai/Kia and FCA would compliment each other well. FCA really doesn’t have anything competitive interms of CUVs or anything really with a 4-cyl under the hood. HK does. Likewise, FCA has the trucks/muscle segment covered, pretty much anything with the 3.6 as a base engine is competitive.

    Lets face it, the 300 isn’t getting any younger and the Genesis has great bones for a platform share.

  • avatar
    cretinx

    James Spader had a 911 in Pretty in Pink.

    “Jake Ryan” had the 944 in 16 Candles.

    Get it right, noob.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    FCA and PSA. Would be fun to watch the flaming destruction. Profitable, too, if you’re VW.

  • avatar
    agroal

    Stop&Shop is rumored to be in discussions about a merger with A&P. The new company will be called Stop&P. Hello? Is this microphone working?

  • avatar
    akatsuki

    Nothing with FCA – a company that is clearly worth more in parts than together.

    I have some ideas, neither of which would happen though.

    Mercedes – Honda. They have very little overlap, Mercedes gets a consumer line-up and doesn’t have to prostitute itself with the CLA. Only problem – it is a merger of equals roughly in size, so it may be problematic from a management perspective (that being – Honda C-suite and upper management should go). Mercedes gets a real motorcycle company instead of MV.

    BMW – Mazda. I like this one a lot. Mazda has always been an almost-ran with good, sporty product. BMW also keeps whoring out its brand name lower and lower. Mini is too niche.

    You could flip them, but I like how these two match up.

    And here is another weird one:

    Toyota – McLaren – Tesla. Gets Toyota the sports car cred they really want (and gives them something to do with the LFA’s carbon fiber loom). They get the most talked about large luxury car (that desperately needs Lexus expertise on luxury). And they get out of the stupid Hydrogen path that they somehow think will work without massive infrastructure.

    Or…

    McLaren-Lotus – two great british marques now covering a full price range.

  • avatar
    George B

    I’d like to see Sergio Marchionne sell Ram/Jeep/anything with a Hemi to Hyundai and use the cash to buy whatever useless European brand he wants. To be fair, Fiat has done ok with Chrysler, but they’re putting too much money and effort into bringing Fiat platforms to the US and not enough into the good stuff which is anything that you can stuff a Hemi V8 into. Hyundai has a much better understanding of the US market, but lacks the truck piece that is Ram and Jeep. Hyundai seems willing to invest in big RWD cars, but hasn’t figured out the attitude part that the Chrysler 300 has in abundance.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    We have no antitrust laws to speak of in this country, so why not?

    USAir mysteriously gets clearance to merge with American Airlines and all of a sudden it costs $400 bucks to fly from Columbus to Nashville. The pro-competition features of the health exchanges are working a little too well and the health insurers all want to merge. If they can’t get clearance now, they will soon, and we will all wonder what happened.

    We talk free markets but no one of means wants to operate in one. marchionne is just being more honest than most.

  • avatar
    runs_on_h8raide

    Makes perfect sense to me, Bark M. It’s so logical, that it will never happen.

    Here’s a merger that I think can go down in automotive history as the greatest ever ;)

    Tata, Lada, and GM.

  • avatar
    graddy

    Yamaha and Lotus.

    Imagine 9k reeving 4 cyl. with a light weight body.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    I would have liked to have seen the full Packard-Studebaker-Nash-Hudson merger consummated. A refreshed Packard line done with Rambler cash could have had some very interesting effects down the line, perhaps even keeping AMC afloat and independent far longer.

    That would in turn impact Chrysler in the ’90s, since to my understanding the cloud cars had a lot of AMC in them…

    Or how about if John DeLorean had hooked up with Malcolm Bricklin to raise funds rather than a suitcase full of coke?

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