Michigan: A year after divorcing from Mercedes Benz, Chrysler LLC is actively seeking new - but more limited - alliances with a number of other automakers.
The US automaker has entered partnership talks with automakers in Russia, China and India and has also been approached by Italy’s Fiat, Chrysler vice-chairman and president Tom LaSorda said.
These partnerships will help it expand globally and also survive an expected consolidation of the automotive industry.
“In the next five to ten years I see more consolidation in every region of the world,” LaSorda told a conference sponsored by the Center for Automotive Research in Traverse City, Michigan.
“We should expect to see Chinese automakers exporting to North America soon, as well as European manufacturers bringing their small cars here to manufacture and sell here as well as export back home to take advantage of the weak dollar.”
LaSorda does not expect Chinese manufacturers to set up plants in the United States any time soon, but said they may do so soon in markets such as India and Russia where tariffs and duties make imports uncompetitive.
While Chrysler is a small automaker, its wealth of intellectual property in areas such as advanced manufacturing, safety and emissions controls make it an attractive partner for automakers in emerging markets, LaSorda said.
LaSorda did not discuss whether any of the alliances could lead to a full merger but Chrysler insiders said this would be unlikely, as the automaker needs more time to recover from the failed marriage to Mercedes.
Chrysler has started producing a minivan for Volkswagen that will be sold in North America next year. Private ownership has allowed Chrysler to “get leaner, faster and more decisive” and the company is “meeting - or exceeding - its financial targets,” LaSorda said.
Chrysler recently announced plans to lay off more white collar workers and slash its production as it struggles against a sharp drop in sales amid high gasoline prices, a weakening US economy and stiff competition from Asian competitors.