Commentary: A Cure For A Merged Company

What is the first thing you think of when you see the word Stellantis?

I’m thinking it could be a medication for a number of ailments. For example, a therapeutic routine to cure all emotional issues. Maybe to cure Cancer, Type 2 Diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or COVID-19? 

Oddly enough, one of my colleagues thought the word would mean something intergalactic. Rather, science fiction. Something more futuristic than, say, SpaceX or Virgin Galactic? 

But, you would never think in decades that it would become the name of an automotive – er, mobilty – firm.

Stellantis is the name both Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the PSA Groupe chose when their merger is complete. 

The rationale behind the name is equally as interesting. According to both FCA and PSA, the name Stellantis is rooted in the Latin verb “stello,” meaning to brighten with stars.” Both companies offer the notion that the name is “evocative of the spirit of optimism, energy and renewal driving this industry-changing merger and the ambitious alignment of the storied automotive brands.” 

Granted, it is not the kind of corporate name you expect from the automotive industry. We have seen some interesting entity names that scratched our heads over the years. Gannett became Tegna a few years ago, which sort of worked in the media business. Google’s parent holding company is called Alphabet. Lastly, before all heck broke loose at Tribune Publishing, they once called themselves Tronc. Who knows what they will be called once Tribune is merged with the Nexstar Media Group. 

These are just a couple of instances where you are indeed scratching your head over. Still, we can also ask what’s in a name. In this case, the soon-to-be-hopefully-merged FCA and PSA will apply this name worldwide as the umbrella of a forward-looking mobility entity. 

While this is a rather out-of-the-box decision by FCA and PSA for their post-merger corporate name, there are some questions and concerns. 

Previously, I expressed my largest concern about maintaining the company’s operations across the globe at its current level – including the combined operations between FCA and PSA across Europe – as well as the number of brands the combined company will offer either globally or regionally. Can Stellantis be the solution to ensure that all operations will be intact during the decade? Or, will this have some side effects that will induce some post-merger pains the combine company may have to remedy?

One side effect that you can get from Stellantis is having your proposed merger investigated by the European Union’s Commission on antitrust issues. The commission extended the probe earlier this month to ensure that there are no violations to the EU’s antitrust laws. The probe already focused on the SEVEL plant in Italy where all of the merged brands get their commercial vans from. 

For local reference, the North American market Ram ProMaster is the exact same van sold as a Fiat, Peugeot, Citroen, Opel, and Vauxhall in Europe and in other markets worldwide produced from the SEVEL plant. The difference is that the Ram is produced at an FCA plant in Mexico from most of the same components. 

Just like a lot of side effects, it will go away. That is the hope when the EU concludes their probe of the proposed merger for final clearance. 

If the EU gives the merger their clearance, I can see Stellantis as taking a role in the global automotive community.

Yet, I’m still foggy as to what a merged company called Stellantis will look like. I’m sure it will take its corporate seat in Europe – Paris, Amsterdam, Milan…honestly, your guess is better than mine. I’m certain that each brand in Europe, at least, will be reviewed and scrutinized for a post-merger strategy that will see which ones will represent which segment and in which country. 

Perhaps the biggest question of them all is what will Stellantis look like in North America. Will there be products from the PSA side of the house joining current FCA brands – or, sold in their native brands? Will some of the projects for future vehicles go through, as planned? 

While we have a name, there are still questions as to what will happen under a merged company operating by that name. 

If only the answers would reveal themselves soon enough – side effects and all.

Photo courtesy of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA Groupe

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