The big news in the automotive world this week was the birth of Stellantis, which is a new company and the world’s fourth largest car maker.
The company came into being following the merger of Peugeot Citroen (PSA Group) with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
The new company was warmly embraced by international stock markets and Stellantis’s share price rose swiftly after trading began in Milan and Paris on Monday (January 18).
The merger represents consolidation on a huge scale in the automotive world and is set to ease the transition to electrification as car makers globally move away from the internal combustion engine.
Stellantis has some big brands in its portfolio – including Peugeot,Citroen,Vauxhall, Alfa Romeo, Fiat and Chrysler.
Of course with any such merger comes rationalisation and the new car maker has made no secret of the fact it aims to save around five billion euros a year going forward.
So, what is that likely to mean in the UK and Coventry in particular.?
Coventry is home to PSA Group’s UK headquarters, a legacy of Peugeot’s long involvement in the city.
The French car maker once made cars in Ryton but production ended-up being switched to Slovakia to save money.
Peugeot Citroen has its UK headquarters in Sunbeam Way, Stoke Aldermoor.
A few years ago it announced it planned to leave the city but it ended-up staying.
Fiat Chrysler has its own UK headquarters in Slough and it would seem unlikely that Stellantis will retain both UK operations.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought lots of changes to workplaces, among them the realisation that not everyone needs to work in an office all the time.
Going forward companies with office space are generally looking to downsize rather than expand.
Of course whatever happens is unlikely to happen soon, with Stellantis’s chief executive Carlos Tavares likely to undertake a root and branch review of the company and its structures and operations.
It’s also worth noting that following its takeover of Vauxhall, PSA Group has retained a presence in Luton – for the time being at least.
So, could Stellantis’s UK operations be centralised in Coventry or go to Slough? Only time will tell.
CoventryLive spoke to Warwickshire automotive expert Dr Charles Tennant about what the future might hold for Stellantis.
As regards UK operations he said: “It is too early to speculate on factory closures right now but with the new sprawling global empire it is tempting to say that there will be casualties in the pursuit of higher productivity.
“Being parochial it will be interesting to see which headquarters operation here in the UK will survive – PSA Group in Coventry or Fiat Chrysler in Slough?”
Following on from the future UK headquarters issue Mr Tennant, a former chief engineer at Land Rover, reflected on Peugeot Citroen’s historic connection with Coventry.
He added: “Either way the UK footprint is now much smaller than its heyday from when the Roots Group was formed in 1913 and eventually bought out by the American company Chrysler in 1967.
“Then Peugeot Citroen took it off Chrysler’s hands for a symbolic $1 bill in 1978 and rebadged the UK built cars as Talbot.
“The Peugeot name was introduced in 1985 with the launch of the 309 model built at the Ryton factory near Coventry which although known for high productivity and quality was eventually closed in 2007 as the spectre of Slovakia’s lower costs beckoned – where production was moved to.”
Mr Tennant said Mr Tavares’ initial focus as Stellantis boss will be the future of vehicle production and the 14 brands that come under the Stellantis umbrella.
He said the portfolio included some “golden nameplates” which in some cases stretch back 125 years.
The full list of Stellantis brands is as follows:
To sign up for our newsletter, delivered free to your inbox, click here.