Come Dance With Me: Fiat-Chrysler Makes Another Pitch for a Partner

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles chairman John Elkann, like the company’s sweatered CEO, is making come-hither eyes in the hopes of luring a suitor.

FCA needs a partner to turn its lofty debt pile into capital, so Elkann wants other automakers to know just how thrilled he’d be if they helped FCA save $10 billion a year, he told shareholders of the investment company controlling FCA (via Bloomberg).

The problem, he lamented, is that other automakers are all wrapped up in trying to develop autonomous technology, often with outsider help. Like a wallflower with a heart of gold, FCA feels ignored despite having a lot to offer.

“You need two to tango, and most of our competitors are busy with the great opportunities that technological disruption has to offer,” Elkann wrote to the Exor S.p.A. shareholders.

What’s an Italian-American automaker to do?

Autonomous vehicles are sexy and alluring, but they’re not going to make up more than a niche market for years to come, Elkann insisted. Human-driven cars are where the money is today, so why not hop on board and flex some revenue-generating muscle (while eliminating a 5 billion euro debt in the process)?

“Boring old carmakers need to figure out how to make this profitable and guard against falling into the 1990 trap of ignoring that business while chasing profits in other parts of the value chain,” Elkann said.

Last year, CEO Sergio Marchionne flung all sorts of woo at General Motors in a bid to be taken over by a larger partner, but all of his advances were rebuffed. GM CEO Mary Barra told Marchionne that her company wanted its space and wasn’t interested in playing the field.

It’s unlikely that browbeating your competitors will compel them to merge with you, but Elkann, with Marchionne as his wingman, are going to keep trying until the company finally sees some action.

[Image: Suzana Gudolle Dias de Bam/ Flickr (CC BY 2.0)]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Geekcarlover Geekcarlover on Apr 14, 2016

    Stop dreaming of the West young man. Look East, think Tata.

  • Islander800 Islander800 on Apr 14, 2016

    You know what partnership arrangement might make sense for Sergio? Team up with PSA, the Peugeot/Citroen company, just fresh from an investment guarantee from the French government, and who have stated an intent to re-enter the North American market within the next few years. Their range of vehicles is, in many respects, a refreshing take on the 21st century auto we haven't seen from the same old same old, and every bit as good as anything from Asia, America, or....Germany. Wait for it.

    • See 2 previous
    • Jeff S Jeff S on Apr 15, 2016

      @PrincipalDan If Chrysler merged with GM it would have been the end of GM and Chrysler would still be in the situation they are in today. Mahindra might be interested in Fiat Chrysler.

  • ToolGuy Learn to drive, people.
  • Corey Lewis I saw a TVR Griffith 500 (mfd 1990-2002) back in June 2014 at the Ault Park Concours, in a side parking lot. It had plates on it, but was MUCH too new to be in the US, especially so as the 500 was a later model 1993+. Luckily I took pics as proof!
  • Bd2 This is when BMW started to go downhill design-wise...
  • Jalop1991 "...their resale value to be in par with a 80's GM diesel wearing a Yugo badge." Those words, sir, paint a picture.
  • Wjtinfwb "If I had asked idiot traitors what they wanted, they would have said faster horses".... What they wanted, vs. what they'll actually pay for are clearly two different things. It's not hard to want the vision of EV's the Biden admin sold everyone; inexpensive, fast charging with long-range, charging on every corner, minimal impact on the environment. The government delivered none of that. They threw automakers under the bus at the last minute after many of them made huge investment in tech, plants, R&D. Then Biden and his hapless bunch just walked away, built no charging stations, no support for natural resources and doubled down by stoking the labor fires increasing automakers costs substantially. EV's are absurdly expensive for the utility they provide and time is demonstrating their resale value to be in par with a 80's GM diesel wearing a Yugo badge. Sorry, it's not the consumers job to make a fairy tale come true. Making and selling cars is extraordinarily capital intensive, the automakers aren't throwing good money after bad betting on a senile old man who has delivered on none of his promises and is rapidly making himself irrelevant in the national conversation.
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