By on December 12, 2019

The Board of Directors of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has elected Michael “Mike” Manley, CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, as its new leader. Tapped to replace PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares as chairman on January 1st, Manley is currently engaging in some mobility related foreplay to get us hot and bothered.

“As an industry we want to take the lead in transforming mobility in a way that puts the consumer first, but also enables us to remain globally competitive and resilient,” Manley said in a prepared statement.

Meanwhile, the ACEA’s stated priorities for the coming year revolve around “developing a pathway for the transition to carbon-neutral road transport, while ensuring the economic sustainability of the European auto sector.” Presumably, those are goals shared by the English businessman who’ll be taking the reins in 2020 — but he’ll have to manage environmental progress with market realities while doing so. 

It’s an interesting situation, what with FCA and PSA expected to sign a binding merger agreement any day now — and with both Manley and Tavares being major players in the negotiation.

The Brussels-based ACEA currently lobbies for 15 separate vehicle manufacturers operating inside of Europe. While that’s not likely to change in 2020, there may be stronger pushback against governments seeking to increase emission standards. Despite automakers going to great lengths to pursue battery technologies and promote the greenest aspects of their businesses, most continue to be supported by lobby groups hoping to tamp down environmental regulations. The Guardian published an October article pointing the finger at several manufacturers while claiming auto lobbyist groups (often led by industry executives) have collectively stepped up their game.

Of course, the flip side of that argument is that carmakers are desperately struggling to meet aggressive emission mandates. Over the summer, it was estimated that automotive firms would be required to pay over 34 billion eros (about $39 billion USD) in fines for failing to meet the rolling European standards. Meanwhile, there’s a real fear that placing too much focus on expensive green tech will negatively impact the industry and cost it quite a few jobs. We just wrote about it, if you’re interested.

Whatever Manley decides to do at the ACEA, we wish him luck. The current social, economic, and industrial situation leaves much to be desired, and you can expect to see Manley navigating minefields on the regular.

[Image: FCA]

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