Should Volkswagen take over “Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino” including Chrysler, that would probably be the end of the Fiat brand in the long term

It is still a rumor. But rumors sometimes become reality. Volkswagen is said to be interested in the Fiat group, especially in its American Chrysler brands, which the Canadian-Italian Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne actually seems to have put on the road to success. Rumors are rarely commented on by those affected, almost never confirmed and mostly (initially) more or less sharply denied. A kind of natural law of communicative customs.

"Fiat explains that there are no discussions with Volkswagen about a possible merger," says an article in the usually well-informed "Detroit Free press". But what does that mean? Of course, one does not go into such discussions without knocking on the bush beforehand. A casual, totally noncommittal conversation at a dinner of Messrs. Piëch, Winterkorn and the Agnelli and Elkann families as Fiat’s main shareholders about the possibilities of any kind of cooperation could have come to a head for dessert, whether one was not also interested in selling or buying the Could think whole. Of course, such a skirmish would never be included in a press release. It's easy to say that you didn't negotiate. Scanning interests is normal, but not negotiations. And if Wolfsburg denies that "there are currently no projects for mergers and acquisitions on the agenda, this is not untrue. Everything can be very different next year. In this respect, all denials are as meaningful as the rumors on which they are based.

The two-sided denials of the report in Manager Magazin could also have completely different reasons. It is only on August 1st that Fiat shareholders have to vote whether there will be a “Fiat Chrysler Automobiles” holding company at all that will be based in Holland. Marchionne plans to trade on what is then the seventh largest automaker on the New York Stock Exchange in October.

Now there is speculation going wild, which is understandable given the size and consequences of the global car market. The Volkswagen Group is already selling ten million cars a year. The integration of Fiat Chrysler would make Wolfsburg the number 1 giant.

Nobody doubts that Ferdinand Piëch is behind the long-term corporate strategy. He is the only pure-bred car man who, like a good chess player, not only has ten moves in advance in his head, but also stands on ten chess boards at the same time, anticipating moves of the opponents and still maintaining an overview. A few pawns or runners are lost, but checkmates are only available to opponents in the end.

So nobody should dismiss Ferdinand Piëch's strategy as a visionary fantasy. When he spoke about 30 years ago that there would only be about eight independent automotive companies in the distant future, even the most well-informed, omniscient and soberly analyzing analysts could not imagine that he could be right. At that time, the Lancia and Alfa Romeo brands were still two independent automakers in relation to the Italian car industry. With own development, research and sales department. From today's perspective, the sheer madness of merciless inefficiency. Even Ferrari was completely independent until 1969. The auto industry and its ownership structures have always been in violent motion. By the way: Nobody can imagine that Audi once heard Daimler-Benz.

What if Volkswagen actually takes over Fiat Chrysler? Clear that Alfa Romeo is one of Piëch's favorite brands that he wants to integrate into his empire. With certain restrictions, this also applies to Maserati. But Ferdinand Piëch should do everything possible to get Ferrari too. This brand has fascinated the car man since he designed cars. It is, of course, open whether a Fiat Chrysler sale would also put this super sports car icon in the hands of Wolfsburg and Salzburg. Ferrari is a gold mine, although the brand only sells just under 8.000 cars a year and has to put up a lot of effort in Formula 1.

With Chrysler, Volkswagen would have an established sales network in the USA, which would also benefit the VW brand models. Martin Winterkorn's team has already proven that Volkswagen knows how to manage many brands under one roof. Of course, the problems grow with the dimensions. Winterkorn has many construction sites on which there is a fire. Experts criticize that the size of the company could overwhelm management. That doesn't have to be right. It is just a matter of management. And there is actually a weak point here: everything, the entire leadership culture, the center of gravity of power is aimed at very few people at the top, including the chairman of the supervisory board Ferdinand Piëch and his wife Ursula. If someone breaks down, it will be very difficult to successfully keep the store together.

The car brand Fiat would not survive as a brand for a long time if Volkswagen took it over. Your products overlap with VW's too much. It is already important to integrate brands such as Skoda and Seat. However, there are many markets where Fiat is too popular as a brand to let them die. VW products with the Fiat logo could have a future there. Like for example in South America. Who would have thought that there would be Lancia logos on Chrysler sedans that were developed by Mercedes engineers? Anything seems possible in the auto industry. At least in the long term.

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