By on March 16, 2017

Matthias Müller, Image: Volkswagen AG/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)

To say that there was some speculation surrounding Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller’s response to a potential partnership with Fiat Chrysler Automotive would be a severe understatement.

Müller said there had been no contact between he and FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne, but he’d not ruled anything out. He seemed to have an indifference about the subject, which left plenty of room to let minds wander.

According to Automotive News’ Larry P. Vellequette, that’s not the whole story.

Being at the conference, Vellequette saw and heard — through an interpreter, he says — the entirety of this soap opera episode play out.

Vellequette said Müller and VW are too “preoccupied” dealing with the aftermath of the company’s diesel scandal, and had “no interest” in talking to Marchionne.

But what came next, Müller mentioning Marchionne by name and saying the FCA CEO should talk to him directly instead of through the press, is up for debate, as Vellequette heard a certain tone in Müller’s remark. From AN:

“It would be very helpful if Mr. Marchionne were to communicate his considerations to me too and not just to you,” Mueller said a bit snippily. (Admittedly, the snarky tone I heard through a translator may not have been in the original German, but still … )

Here, Müller is not opening a door. Instead, the remark was a glove across Marchionne’s face, insinuating the FCA CEO didn’t have the nerve to talk to him directly.

Müller does have a lot on his mind now, so it only seems fitting he would have a short temper toward Marchionne. Even optimistically speaking, it’s unlikely FCA and VW will team-up, especially after the resounding “no” from Müller.

Marchionne must have felt that slap from Müller, since he tried to break up before the relationship even started.

[Image: Volkswagen AG/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)]

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18 Comments on “Apparently, Müller Wasn’t As Interested In FCA Partnership As We Thought...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    FCA and VW are a huge cultural mismatch anyway, similar to the ill-fated M-B/Chrysler hookup.

    They’d both be better off without each other.

  • avatar

    This just in:

    Karnye West (Germany) disrespects Biz Marchi. Twitter is on fire!

  • avatar

    Said it before, will say it again:

    Marchionne’s prom date will be from China.

  • avatar

    If scale is seen as a critical factor, a FCA-Mazda hookup would make sense.

    • 0 avatar

      True. Both Mazda and FCA have main competitors that they can’t keep up with in terms of release cycles, refreshes or R&D. Thier strong suits and weaknesses align. Culturally? Unless a STRONG third party buys both and forces the wedding at (occasionally fired) gunpoint, it won’t work.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree that “who is in charge” needs to be clear from the outset, but suggest that it needn’t be a third party. Renault-Nissan has worked because Ghosn was very clearly running the (sort of) combined ship from day one.

        The “marriage of equals” nonsense too often promotes civil war.

        • 0 avatar

          Renault/Nissan also worked because neither Renault nor Nissan was terrifically strong in either company’s home base, and Renault was a non-entity in the U.S. The synergy worked.

          FCA needs to find a partner that a) has lots of cash, and b) doesn’t already have a U.S. footprint. How do you say “merger” in Mandarin?

    • 0 avatar

      Negative on FCA/Mazda.

      1) The only thing Mazda brings to the party is compact and midsize sedans, which FCA doesn’t care about. Meanwhile, Mazda doesn’t care about trucks or Jeeps.

      2) Too much shared footprint between Mazda and FCA dealers. Many would have to be closed, leading to expensive settlements.

      Now, maybe if Mazda wanted to design some small / midsize cars, to be sold as Dodges or Chryslers…that might work. I think it’d be a one way deal, though – what would Mazda dealers do with giant diesel pickups or Wranglers?

      But just say no to this merger idea.

      • 0 avatar

        FreedMike, my post was very much top-of-mind thinking, so I’m not in any way invested in the concept. But to play devil’s advocate* for a bit, I’d say that Mazda has strength in Japan and in North America, while FCA has strength in Europe and North America. So, yes, on the face of it there is overlap in the US.

        In North America, however, Mazda’s area of strength is small cars, while FCA’s areas of strength are large cars, SUVs and trucks. So, there would seem to be more differentiation and less overlap than one might surmise at first blush.

        I have read on this very site that Mazda is struggling in the US, due in part to lack of a strong dealer network. And I’ve also read on this very site that FCA is looking to expand its US dealer network. So, there may be less overlap here than one might think.

        It’s all just mere speculation based on no real analysis, of course. But that doesn’t make it any less interesting to contemplate.

        *I’m a lawyer, so siding with the devil comes naturally to me :-)

  • avatar

    FCA is going to continue to have problems until the quality of their vehicles gets better. Plain and simple. As has been said, I can see Mazda giving their small car designs to FCA to sell as Dodges or something (like the Toyota Yaris iA – a reskinned Mazda2 with an unfortunate front end). But Mazda has no need for giant SUVs and trucks.

    If anything, Mazda’s partnership with Toyota will grow. There are already hybrid Mazda3s for sale in Japan that use Prius tech.

  • avatar

    What’s this? Bend over week? What Schmidt is to his cell mates, Marchionne is to Müller?

  • avatar

    I wonder if a PSA/FCA “mergers of equals” would make any more sense now since last year.—but-wont

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