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Sergio on Toledo, autonomous driving hype, consolidation

by David Zatz on

Today, Sergio Marchionne, speaking to a group of journalists, talked about autonomous driving and connectivity from the perspective of having lived through the Internet boom.

He said that people, including analysts, were discussing the technologies, and valuing companies based on them, as though the end result would not be a common solution. According to Mr. Marchionne, while individual companies are driving towards their own individual technologies, the large, prolific supplier base will bridge the gap and everyone would end up in the same place. In the meantime, the industry will waste huge amounts of capital, in his opinion. The FCA CEO also pointed out that the difference in driving between autonomous cars would likely be small.

“If you see me on the stand here at [Bob Lutz’s] age, you take me out,”  he said; but the consolidation plan will take place, though, sooner or later.

Jeep-Toledo-Assembly-Complex-Web

Finally, on Toledo, Mr. Marchionne said that the cost of building up the existing Wrangler plant to meet the company’s needs would be impossible to justify; “none of our people” could justify it. Once the decision was made to keep the Wrangler in Toledo, the Cherokee had to be moved out.

When asked about his dealings with Canadian union Unifor, Mr. Marchionne pointed out that the CAW and then Unifor did not participate in the same sacrifices as the UAW; and that the engagement of the UAW helped to keep FCA around. He noted that investments in the US and Canada had to reflect the reality of different conditions in both places.

“If we start pitching capital vs labor arguments in the next round… I have no interest… that’s not the way in which this business is going to come out of its mess.”  He said it was a “different task” to balance the capital side and the labor side.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304

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