Fiat Chrysler (FCA) completed its merger with European automaker Peugeot over the weekend and announced the combined company has a new name -- Stellantis.
The move took some automotive experts by surprise since carmakers spend billions of dollars building name recognition for their brand. But others said the move resolves the sticky issue of which company name would come first, as in the case of Fiat Chrysler.
Stellantis is now the world’s fourth-largest automaker. When it finally announced its commitment to merge with Peugeot a year ago, FCA estimated the merged company would sell 8.7 million vehicles annually, with an operating profit margin of around 6.6 percent.
Both companies said the merger would put the new automaker in a strong financial position that would give it significant flexibility and the budget to carry out strategic plans and invest in new technologies throughout the cycle.
"This is a union of two companies with incredible brands and a skilled and dedicated workforce,” FCA CEO Mike Manley said in December 2019. Both have faced the toughest of times and have emerged as agile, smart, formidable competitors.”
FCA was created by the merger of Chrysler, one of the “big three” U.S. automakers, and Italian carmaker Fiat. Chrysler was founded in 1925 and struggled through the 1970s. However, it enjoyed a rebirth in the 1980s under the leadership of CEO Lee Iacocca.
Will stick with 14 brands
Executives at the combined company said Stellantis will continue to operate 14 current brands, seven from each company. However, it’s unclear which models will make the cut and which ones will go the way of the Studebaker.
In Car and Driver’s recent list of the best-selling vehicles in America, only three FCA models were in the top 25 -- the Jeep Cherokee, Jeep Wrangler, and Ram pickup.
Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal suggests the Stellantis brand for an automaker may take some getting used to. It quotes several automotive writers who panned the name selection, saying Stellantis sounds more like a prescription medication.
One headline announcing the name change carried the headline, “Take two Stellantis and call me in the morning.”