Italian Fiat is looking for an ally to help it gain economies of scale in a deal that could go beyond project-specific alliances to include equity crossholdings, according to news reports.
Company executives, who have long insisted on Fiat’s independence, now say the global auto slump is likely to force a consolidation of smaller automakers in Europe and elsewhere in the world. CEO Sergio Marchionne tells Automotive News Europe that no OEM’s autonomy is sustainable in the auto industry.
Marchionne says the European market has room for three main players: one large German company, one French-Japanese (read: Renault-Nissan) and one other European carmaker. He predicts that within two years the global industry will be pared down to six automakers—including one each in China, Japan and the U.S.—with each selling at least 5.5 million vehicles per year.
Even the Agnelli family, which holds a 30% control ling stake, might agree to an alliance, says today’s Wall Street Journal. Agnelli scion John Elkann, chair of the company’s Ifil SpA holding company, tells the newspaper that finding a solid partner takes priority over issues of equity holdings.
Auto sales in Italy, Fiat’s biggest market, plunged 30% last month to a 15-year low. The company plans to close all its car plants in Italy for a month beginning in mid-December.