FCA in talks with Hyundai on technical cooperation as spinoff plans discussed

04 December 2017

4 December 2017

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is in talks with Hyundai about a technical partnership. However CEO Sergio Marchionne has said there are no merger talks planned between the two companies.

The Italian company has been subject to some merger, takeover and brand spinoff stories in recent months. Following the sale of Opel to PSA, Daimler chief Dieter Zetsche suggested that FCA was the last standalone brand in the automotive industry, but would need to consolidate with another manufacturer to secure its future. During August, Chinese vehicle maker Great Wall was linked with a takeover of the company’s Jeep brand. This news was met with some skepticism by analysts and soon came to nothing as both sides admitted no talks ever took place.

However, speaking to reporters, Marchionne said: ′We already buy components from [Hyundai] … Let’s see if we can agree on other points, especially for the development of transmissions and hydrogen,” Marchionne told journalists on Saturday, adding there was ′nothing to announce for the moment.’

Asked whether this collaboration could turn into a merger, Marchionne said: ′I don’t believe so.’

The suggestion of collaborating on hydrogen is an interesting one. While most car companies are concentrating on building their electric future, Asian manufacturers such as Hyundai and Toyota are experimenting with the development of hydrogen fuel cells, which power electric motors but feature a longer range than electric vehicles (EVs) and can be refueled in minutes. FCA is bringing its electrification plans, currently based on the US market, into Europe. However it is believed to be behind German manufacturers in its development.

Marchionne also said the spinoffs of Magneti Marelli, which makes components for lighting, engines, electronics, suspension and exhausts, and robotics maker Comau would be separate operations, ′especially given Comau’s potential development in artificial intelligence or robotics.’

′Whether it happens as a spin-off or distribution to shareholders, or whether we will raise some money in the process — all things to be discussed with the board, we haven’t made up our mind,’ he said.

Marchionne said he would like to complete the separations by the end of 2018. The transaction could help boost FCA’s finances at a time when it is aiming to become cash-positive by the end of next year.

The FCA CEO was speaking after a presentation on Alfa’s planned Formula One return at the Alfa Romeo Museum in Arese, near Milan.

A spinoff of the Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands is too remote to be discussed at the moment and would not happen ′for many years,’ he said while highlighting the importance of motor racing in Alfa’s development. A return to F1 could help polish the marque’s image as it seeks to rebuild an upscale reputation.

Photograph courtesy of FCA