FCA's Manley Open to Alliances, but Won't Relinquish Grasp on Maserati
Ford and Volkswagen cosied up last year, cementing their relationship in an automotive alliance announced earlier this year, but could the same thing happen with Fiat Chrysler and France’s resurgent PSA Group?
PSA, which plans to sell Peugeots in North America by 2026, is reportedly hunting for a partner, and FCA Mike Manley isn’t ruling out the possibility.
The speculation stems from a Monday Bloomberg report, which stated PSA wants to partner with another automaker to help its global sales push. Sources claim PSA CEO Carlos Tavares met with advisors to explore a merger, partnership, or alliance — any form of tie-up that could help his company sell more vehicles in new markets.
In the CEO’s sights are FCA, Jaguar Land Rover owner Tata, and possibly even General Motors, the sources claim. Of the three, FCA was particularly attractive. PSA currently sources 80 percent of its global sales from Europe, whereas FCA is making inroads across the globe with its Jeep brand.
Asked about the issue at the Geneva Motor Show, Manley responded, “We have a strong independent future, but if there is a partnership, a relationship or a merger which strengthens that future I will look at that.”
He added, interestingly, that FCA wouldn’t close the door on “any deal that would make Fiat stronger.” Fiat finds itself in trouble worldwide, with certain small models falling out of favor in Europe and a North American brand reentry that fizzled after leaving the launch pad.
Tavares confirmed he’s game shortly thereafter. Responding to Manley’s sort-of overture, Tavares said, “We love to discuss with people who are looking for deals,” adding that, in today’s climate of shifting public tastes and rapidly evolving technology, “if we don’t move, then we die.”
For PSA, hopping into bed with FCA would help it gain access to American buyers and possibly even offer up opportunities for local production. The French automaker has said it plans to import vehicles from Europe and China as it finds its footing in the U.S.
While on the mic, Manley took the time to refute rumors that FCA’s Maserati brand is currently up for grabs, potentially to China’s Geely. Spinoff rumors once hounded Manley’s predecessor, Sergio Marchionne, who eventually admitted the Italian luxury marque wasn’t mature enough to stand on its own.
“Maserati is one of our really beautiful brands and it has an incredibly bright future… No,” Manley told reporters.
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They would be very stupid to sell Maserati - yeah, right now they are weak but the brand is going electric eventually. That Maserati badge is going to have merit among a sea of electrics one day.
PSA and Fiat have partnered before. For years they've been building vans together - the RAM ProMaster for example is sold as a Peugeot and a Citroen. During the Minivan phase they sold common models, differentiated by grilles.