We're Not Offloading Any Brands to China: Fiat Chrysler CEO

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Last year, following several fruitless attempts to find a merger partner, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles found itself on the business end of a pretty shocking rumor. Apparently, several Chinese automakers were lining up for a chance to buy FCA. Not so, said those automakers, though Great Wall Motors mentioned it totally wouldn’t miss a chance to steal the Jeep brand away from its parent.

While the thought of such an acquisition no doubt inspired nightmares among Jeep fans (and FCA accountants), it was not to be. Not only is the automaker determined to keep a firm hold on its most valuable brand, it’s not planning on offloading any division, CEO Sergio Marchionne now claims.

“We’re not going to break up anything,” Marchionne said Monday at the North American International Auto Show. “We have no intention of breaking it up and giving anything to the Chinese.”

FCA expects the Jeep brand to serve as a major profit driver in the coming years. A flurry of investment on behalf of FCA has seen Jeep spawn globally focused models ready to tackle new markets, as well as gain new production locales in order to feed that demand. In his speech, Marchionne claims Jeep could help FCA double its net profits. (Unspoken: it would also help FCA eliminate its debts.)

Like the other Detroit Three automakers, FCA’s also counting on Chinese sales to help offset a declining U.S. new car market. However, its Chinese partner, Guangzhou Automobile Group Co Ltd, isn’t something to worry about, Marchionne said. FCA forged a partnership with GAC Motor in 2010 in order to sell its vehicles in China, and lately the Chinese automaker is expressing interest in selling its own vehicles in the U.S. (A full display greeted journos at the Detroit show this year.)

While the two automakers clearly get along well, “none of these things are designed to impact on the independence of FCA,” Marchionne said.

A report last summer claimed Marchionne was weighing the spinoff of the Maserati and Alfa Romeo brands in order to make the expansive company more attractive to would-be suitors. Nothing came of the rumor, though one FCA division — parts maker Magneti Marelli — will leave the flock. Marchionne wants the division spun-off by the end of the year.

[Source: Reuters] [Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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