Will it be FCAPSA or PSAFCA? (Fiat-Chrysler combining with Peugeot)
Merger talks between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA Group are the hot news this morning.
Following unconfirmed reports that surfaced in the past couple of days, FCA and PSA confirmed the resumption of discussions this morning. However, neither company would confirm anything other than the negotiations.
The rumors speak of an all-stock deal with current PSA CEO Carlos Tavares taking the top executive position and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles chairman John Elkann retaining oversight of the merged companies.
If combined, the new company would be a $47 billion enterprise rivalling Honda in the world automaker rankings.
The combination would make more business sense than the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ previous discussions with Renault. Those were derailed by the recalcitrance of the French government and given the current state of the Renault-Nissan alliance and the ongoing mess with former alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn, that reluctance may have been a blessing.
The alliance has been described as a “merger of equals,” a term that will raise red flags for Mopar fans who remember promises of a similar arrangement with Mercedes-Benz. However, Tavares doesn’t seem to be an updated version of Juergen Schrempp and FCA CEO Mike Manley is certainly no Bob Eaton.
Strictly aside from the potential cost savings derived from the increase in scale, there are a lot of benefits for the two companies as their strengths complement each other without too much duplication.
While FCA is strong in the North American and Latin American markets, PSA is far strong in Europe. PSA Group is currently second only to Volkswagen Group in Europe, while Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has fallen to seventh, based on light vehicle registrations through the end of September.
FCA has Jeep, currently the top American brand in the growing utility segment and the fifth largest brand in the world. In terms of total utility sales, FCA passed Honda in 2018 to claim the No. 6 position while PSA fell from ninth to tenth, falling behind China’s Geely Group.
With the Peugeot, Citroen, and Opel/Vauxhall brands, PSA Group has a full lineup of passenger cars, something that FCA has lacked since the late Sergio Marchionne started cutting models, taking Fiat from a full-line passenger vehicle brand to a virtual niche player. Based on September registrations, Fiat was outsold by all three of PSA Group’s brands last month.
The two companies already have a strong presence in the commercial vehicle market including a cooperative manufacturing deal for commercial vans at the Sevel-Nord plant in France and the Sevel-Atessa plant in Italy.
Sergio Marchionne pursued mergers until his death last year. Of all the possible combinations, a marriage of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA Group probably makes the most sense.
Bill Cawthon was born in the Motor City and grew up with Chrysler. His Dad was a graduate of Chrysler Institute and started his career in road test back in the days when it meant testing the cars on actual public roads. Bill spent many weekends on the plant floor at the old Dodge Main in Hamtramck. He’s been writing about cars and Mopars for about 20 years and also writes about the business side of auto industry for an international industry publication. Bill lives near Houston, Texas and is an active member of the Texas Auto Writers Association.