Rumors and other more substantial talk of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles seeking a merger of some kind have been in the news since 2015. The latest chapter in the saga opened back in September, when Hyundai allegedly expressed interest an FCA buyout – a merger that would’ve created the single largest auto manufacturer in the world. At the time, Hyundai quietly denied rumors of any partnership while FCA said it had not received any offers, which many felt was a fairly open-ended denial that was weak enough to keep the rumors afloat.
Now, Reuters reports that FCA is not talking with Hyundai about a merger, but there is a discussion about a technical partnership. According to the report, FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne told journalists that the company already buys components from the South Korean manufacturer, so “let’s see if we can agree on other points, especially for the development of transmissions and hydrogen.” When reporters asked if the partnership could lead to a merger, Marchionne allegedly said “I don’t believe so.”
FCA hasn’t been in the best financial shape, and the situation could get much worse if the allegations of cheating on diesel emissions come to pass in both Europe and the United States. To that end, Reuters says Marchionne doesn’t believe there’s a legal base for the allegations in France, but does expect a “manageable” cost to stem from allegations by U.S. investigators. Exactly what that means – both from a monetary perspective and whether or not it suggests FCA will admit some kind of guilt in the still-expanding Dieselgate scandal – isn’t clear. Should the company be found guilty in France, however, the fines would total into the billions.
In the meantime, Marchionne is working on a business plan through 2022 that would spin-off two FCA component businesses: Magneti Marelli and Comau. The former is well-known for its automotive components, while Comau specializes in robotics. As for the sale of larger nameplates, it appears nothing is imminent but the report does mention that any potential spin-off of Alfa Romeo or Maserati would not happen “for many years.”