Stellantis, the carmaker forged from the merger of FCA and PSA, is “very confident” of delivering its planned $6.1 billion in synergies, including 80% within four years, its chief executive said on Tuesday.
CEO Carlos Tavares’s comments came as Stellantis shares surged more than 10% on its New York debut, mirroring strong increases in its French and Italian listed stock since their launches on Monday.
In the run-up to their merger, PSA and FCA pledged not to close plants, and Tavares said Stellantis’ ability to spread costs to invest in new vehicles would act as a “shield” against job cuts.
“Our commitment on this merger is that we will not shut down plants,” he said. “We want to keep the brands.”
When asked about the future of the group’s Ellesmere Port plant in Britain and whether Stellantis would invest in electric vehicles there following the conclusion of a Brexit trade deal, Tavares said: “We are now reviewing those different scenarios.”
“We are now deciding where we are going to put those investments,” he said, not committing to any roadmap for producing EVs in either continental Europe or a post-Brexit Britain, citing an uncertain regulatory future. “Both could work.”
Stellantis will launch 10 new electrified vehicle models in 2021, he said, but he hedged on a broader push for electrification, especially in less-developed markets.
“Electrification is not leading today to something that is highly affordable,” he said. “At the end of the day, can the customers afford that kind of mobility? It is complex. Costly.”
In his first press conference as Stellantis CEO, Tavares also said he had created a task force to find out “what went wrong” for both Fiat Chrysler (FCA) and PSA in China.
The merger, completed on Saturday, has created the world’s fourth-biggest carmaker to help make the switch to the new era of electrification and automated driving.
“The purpose is not to be big, but to be great at what we do,” Tavares said.
Both PSA and FCA fared poorly in China, the world’s largest car market. Tavares said the task force, consisting of Stellantis’ top five executives, would work on solutions for a comeback there.
When asked if options could include finding a new local partner, Tavares said the company “would not exclude anything.”
That openness to cooperation extends to other elements of the new company’s global strategy, including electrification and autonomy. Asked whether Stellantis would be open to exploring opportunities with Apple et al, Tavares confirmed that just about anything is on the table, provided it doesn’t jeopardize its existing agreement with Waymo.
“A strategic collaboration may be a win-win. Stellantis is open for business, always,” he said.
Reuters reports contributed to this story.
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