Fiat And Peugeot's Merger Is Good To Go

Illustration for article titled Fiat And Peugeot's Merger Is Good To Go
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Fiat and Peugeot’s merger is inevitable, Mitsubishi dealers are very excited about the new Outlander, and Tesla. All that and more in The Morning Shift for December 21, 2020.


1st Gear: Fiat Chrysler And Peugeot’s Merger Is Really Happening

Reuters had the story in October about the European Union’s final approvals, and Bloomberg says today that the merger officially is good to go. When consummated, FCA-PSA will be the fourth-biggest automaker. It is called “Stellantis” for some reason. Toyota was also involved, for some yet foggier reason that I can only hope goes back to the Toyota Aygo. Per Bloomberg:

The European Commission said the company’s pledge to make vehicles at French and Spanish plants for Toyota Motor Corp. and open up its repair network to rivals eliminated concerns about the combined firm’s growing power over small vans crucial to deliveries.

“Access to a competitive market for small commercial vans is important for many self-employed and small and medium companies throughout Europe,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in an emailed statement on Monday. “Their commitments will facilitate entry and expansion in the market for small commercial vans.”

EU approval comes a year after the companies unveiled their agreement to combine in a deal aimed at turning two mid-sized auto manufacturers into a global heavyweight. It also paves the way for shareholders to vote on the plan at separate meetings scheduled for Jan. 4. They will be asked to approve the creation of the combined company called Stellantis.

The two companies said in a joint statement that they “warmly welcome” the commission’s clearance. The deal is expected to close by the end of the first quarter of 2021, they added.

I’m a broken record at this point but please bring Peugeot back to the U.S.

2nd Gear: Big Day For Tesla!

Tesla officially joins the S&P 500 today, which has boosted its stock price. Except now Reuters says that the scary new variant of coronavirus in Britain has rained on the parade.

Shares of electric carmaker Tesla were down ahead of their debut on the S&P 500 on Monday, as worries over a fast-spreading new coronavirus strain in Britain weighed on markets.

Tesla’s shares were recently down around 4% in pre-market trading after closing at a record high of $695 on Friday. Futures for the S&P 500 were down around 1.5%.

The company, headed by billionaire Elon Musk, will become the most valuable ever admitted to Wall Street’s main benchmark and will account for 1.69% of the index, according to S&P Dow Jones Indices’ analyst Howard Silverblatt. The shares have surged some 70% since mid-November, when Tesla’s debut in the S&P 500 was announced here, and have soared 700% so far in 2020.

3rd Gear: Let’s Check In With Zoox

Amazon acquired Zoox this year, Automotive News caught up with its CEO, who says that Zoox is a “multitrillion-dollar opportunity.”

On the safety front, Zoox provides equal crash protection for all occupants in the form of a reimagined airbag layout. Zoox says the vehicle meets or exceeds crash standards for all occupants, and that there are more than 100 proprietary safety innovations on the AV not found in conventional vehicles.

For Zoox CEO Aicha Evans, the finished product is worth the flack Zoox initially caught from both Silicon Valley and Detroit.

“It came from both the traditional automotive industry, who said, ‘Who are you to build a vehicle?’, and we got it from the AI industry in terms of our approach to autonomy,” Evans told Automotive News. “They said, ‘Why can’t you split the problem and slap it on existing passenger vehicles?’ We just don’t think that’s going to work at scale.”

Could the vehicle be used for delivery purposes? After all, Amazon acquired Zoox this year for $1.2 billion, and the bidirectional travel aspects seem well suited for delivery purposes in crowded cities.

Somewhere in the future, Evans concedes autonomous delivery might be part of the company’s operations, “but it’s just not our focus right now,” she said. “We’re going after what is a revolution in transportation and a multitrillion-dollar opportunity.”


Multitrillion dollars! I can’t get over that. It must sound great in pitch meetings.

4th Gear: Mitsubishi

The new Mitsubishi Outlander has gotten a lot of Mitsu dealers’ hopes up. I don’t really know what the hell Mitsubishi is doing in the U.S. at this point (or if Mitsu itself even knows), but I’m grateful Mitsu has stuck around. If nothing else it keeps things interesting.


From Automotive News:

The updated Outlander flagship, expected in the first quarter of next year, is seen by some dealers as a no-excuse vehicle that can both garner higher transaction prices than the current model and serve as a blueprint for a Mitsubishi revival in North America — if the automaker gets behind it.

“This is going to be the most dynamic change they have had in a decade, and they’ll have the dealer body pretty pumped up,” said Ryan Gremore, president of O’Brien Auto Team in central Illinois. Gremore, who sits on the Mitsubishi National Advisory Board, has seen the new Outlander in person.

At the same time, Gremore said, Mitsubishi headquarters in Japan needs to promote the Outlander through robust marketing before brand awareness further fades in the minds of American shoppers.

“Mitsubishi’s got to spend some money marketing this car, take some risks. If you lose, you lose, but you’ve got to take a shot at it,” Gremore told Automotive News. He said the dealer advisory board has set up a marketing council to push for new ways to drive dealership traffic.


5th Gear: Ford’s Chief Futurist Sounds Chill

I mocked the fact that Ford employed a “chief futurist” last week, for which I now feel very bad about, because in a new profile, Sheryl Connelly sounds pretty chill.


From the Detroit Free Press:

“It has almost nothing to do with the automotive industry,” Connelly said. “I look at social, technological, economic, environmental and political trends. What are things we can’t control or influence? Those are things that are under my domain.”

She has been doing it for 17 years, and now oversees a small team.

“People ask, ‘Where’s your crystal ball?’ They giggle and scoff,” Connelly said. “They’ll ask, ‘What’s the winning lottery ticket number? Can you read my palm?’ And they’ll put out their hand. I get it. It is a silly title. Instead, you want to say marketing or strategy.”

Her brother, sister-in-law and uncles worked for Ford. It had a good reputation. After various jobs that included wholesaling cars to dealers, Connelly stumbled into what has evolved into one of the most important roles in the company.

“I am not your classic car person,” she said. “Looking back, my oldest daughter was 2, I had a newborn and my dad had just passed away. I needed to mourn that loss and took whatever job I could get to lower my profile. Back then, it happened to be trends and futuring. I feel like it was divine intervention.”


“I needed a job and this one happened to present itself” is a vibe I am very much down with. So is “my job title is the dumbest thing; it’s really just a marketing job.”

Reverse: To The Moon!


Neutral: How Are You?

I’m in Los Angeles for a bit, Eagle Rock specifically. My street spot is just ahead of a pristine first-generation Montero that hasn’t moved for days. Maybe it doesn’t move at all! What a great city this is for car spotting.

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.


GMT800 Tahoe Guy

Maybe I’m just in a cynical mood, but I don’t see what so awesome about Peugot coming back. Once you get over the novelty of a badge that has not been around for awhile, you realize most of their lineup is Nissan-level bland and forgettable.

I mean, this isn’t ugly, but it’s just sort of irrelevant.