After Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and the Peugeot Société Anonyme (PSA) Group announced their merger back in December of 2019, the companies announced via press release today a new parent company with a, let’s say, unique name: Stellantis. The name supposedly has astrological ties, according to the statement:
“Stellantis is rooted in the Latin verb ‘stello’ meaning ‘to brighten with stars’. It draws inspiration from this new and ambitious alignment of storied automotive brands and strong company cultures that in coming together are creating one of the new leaders in the next era of mobility while at the same time preserving all the exceptional value and the values of its constituent parts.”
This move is largely a symbolic and logistical one. Corporate housekeeping. FCA and PSA makes and vehicles will retain their current branding, leaving the Stellantis Group as the umbrella for the two conglomerates. (Although a minivan called the Stellantis Pacifica is almost so bad it’s good. Actually, nevermind.) The intent is to reinforce the intended equal partnership of the new automotive supergroup. At least for now, most people are making jokes that it sounds like one of the medications advertised between Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!
The “50:50 merger” verbiage in the release carefully sidesteps the infamous “merger of equals” between Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz back in 1998. The fateful combination ended up looking more like a takeover of Chrysler by the end, with Mercedes’ stake in the American automaker having grown to 80 percent. However, the clash of cultures and indifference towards each others’ products led to a resolute split; Chrysler was sold off to the Cerberus holding company, which would lose billions when Chrysler was ultimately scooped up by Fiat to form Fiat-Chrysler. While the FCA-forming merger brought Chrysler many much-needed small-car platforms, even their combined sales figures globally still trailed leaders like Toyota and Volkswagen. Bringing PSA Group’s volume into the mix means that Stellantis is now the fourth-largest automaker in the world, behind Volkswagen, Toyota, and General Motors (respectively), and about square with Ford Motor Company’s global sales.
Don’t worry, Stellantis’ promises there’s more to come—the next move is to reveal a logo “that will become the corporate brand identity.” If it’s some sort of astrological hybrid mash-up, let’s pray it never appears on a car.