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Marchionne Talks to Tesla, Apple

FCA CEO meets with company leaders.

by on May.13, 2015

Sergio Marchionne's repeated calls for industry consolidation led him to some unusual potential bedfellows: Tesla's Elon Musk and Apple's Tim Cook.

Desperate times call for desperate measures the saying goes and Fiat Chrysler Chief Sergio Marchionne may feel like that’s where he’s at when it comes to his continuous calls for industry consolidation.

He’s been rebuffed by at least one automaker, but undeterred he did find a couple of CEOs who were willing to meet with him: Tesla’s Elon Musk and Apple’s Tim Cook. Marchionne, who’s been told thanks but no thanks by General Motors and Ford, confirmed he met with both Musk and Cook last weekend.

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To paraphrase a famous song lyric: If you can’t meet with the one you love, love the one you meet with. So far, Marchionne seems pretty taken with Musk.

“I’m incredibly impressed with what that kid has done,” he said, referring to Musk, according to Reuters.

With regard to Apple’s Cook, he said: “He’s interested in Apple’s intervention in the car, that’s his role.” Marchionne was not more specific about Apple.

While a partnership between FCA and either company would seem to be unlikely, it shows Marchionne’s determination to explore any possible partner that could lend value and expertise to help cut costs.

If FCA is ever to be a player in the EV market, Tesla may seem like the ideal company to hook up with. However, research shows that if Marchionne can use a little vision, he might want to make sure he’s got Cook on speed dial.

Morpace, a Detroit-area market research firm shows that while Tesla is considered the cream of the crop for those considering an EV purchase, Apple’s potential entry into the auto industry has folks waiting with bated breath.

(Marchionne screams for industry consolidation. For more, Click Here.)

The company reports that consumers who own hybrid or electric vehicles have a high level of trust and interest in an electric vehicle that Apple plans to manufacture by 2020. Morpace surveyed more than 250 U.S. based electric and/or hybrid vehicle owners to gauge consumer interest in Apple’s electric vehicle.

(Click Here for details about the possibility of FCA looking for a merger partner.)

What they found is that “the Apple brand in high esteem.” More than three quarters of the consumers would be “somewhat likely,” “very likely” or “extremely likely” to purchase an Apple electric vehicle.

Among the other notable highlights of the survey:

  • Thirty-four percent of consumers would be “extremely” or “very” likely to purchase a new Apple electric vehicle.
  • Sixty-four percent of consumers would be willing to pay between $30,000 and $50,000 for an Apple electric vehicle in 2020; another 22% would be willing to pay more than $50,001.
  • The vast majority of consumers expect the design of an Apple electric vehicle to “be better” than other electric vehicles (79%).

The results are a clear indication of how important the public’s perception is when it comes to a brand. Apple’s already in the driver’s seat without even showing an actual working vehicle.

(GM CEO Mary Barra dismisses idea of merger with FCA. Click Here for the report.)

“These are significant results given that Apple is apparently years away from manufacturing a vehicle that is ready for the market,” said Morpace Research Director Eric Roach.

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2 Responses to “Marchionne Talks to Tesla, Apple”

  1. Jorge says:

    I’d suggest the two are pretty experienced at deception. Birds of a feather…

  2. GT101 says:

    Apple has a cult following so they can deliver poor products and still make a huge profit but change is on the way.