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Is FCA looking to Toyota or VW?

by Bill Cawthon on

FCA chair John Elkann recently wrote to Exor shareholders on Monday saying the industry needs to consolidate, essentially reiterating Sergio Marchionne’s points in last year’s “Confessions of a Capital Junkie.” Mr. Marchionne added that Toyota and Volkswagen are the only viable merger candidates left.


Elkann said the savings from a merger could amount to $10 billion per year.

Mr. Marchionne’s comments were made today, as he talked with reporters at the annual shareholder meeting in Amsterdam. Reuters reported that Marchionne said, “The door [on mergers] never closed, the need to consolidate does not go away.”

Toyota, still run by the Toyoda family, is an unlikely candidate, though the company has been making acquisitions lately. Toyota is far stronger than FCA everywhere but Europe, Brazil, and Canada, and its SUV/crossover strength makes Jeep less attractive. In the US, Toyota is far ahead in compact SUVs and passenger cars (except large cars), and credible in minivans, though the Ram easily relegates the Tundra to the sidelines.

Volkswagen is busy with its diesel disaster, and seems to want to keep cash free to settle lawsuits and fines. The status of a proposed Apple tie-in is unknown but it seems unlikely unless FCA dramatically improves its quality ratings.

Daniel Howes wrote an interesting take on the motive behind Mr. Elkann’s new call for an automotive marriage for today’s Detroit News.

Bill Cawthon grew up in the auto industry in the 1950s. His Dad worked for Chrysler and Bill spent a number of Saturdays down on the plant floor at Dodge Main in Hamtramck. Bill is also the U.S. market correspondent for, a British auto industry publication, and a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, which has named the Jeep Grand Cherokee the “SUV of Texas” several times and named the Ram 1500 as the “Truck of Texas” two years running.

Bill has owned five Plymouths (including the only 1962 “Texan”), one Dodge and one Chrysler and is still trying to figure out how to justify a Wrangler. He also has owned at least one of every 1:87 scale model of a Chrysler product. You can reach him directly at (206) 888-7324 or by using the form.

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