Chrysler is dead.
Perhaps a bit dramatic, but nevertheless, the merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. and Peugeot S.A. became effective today, resulting in Stellantis N.V. Shares of the newly formed Stellantis begin trading on exchanges in France, Italy and the U.S. starting Monday. All will use the ticker symbol STLA.
The deal has been going through extensive regulatory approvals, twin shareholder votes and the necessary dottings of i’s and crossings of t’s for more than a year.
As of today, that means that for the first time since June 6, 1925, when it was founded by Walter P. Chrysler, the Chrysler name will no longer exist as a corporate entity.
In many ways, the Chrysler name was a survivor. The company’s been through a variety of mergers, potential mergers and bankruptcies. It escaped the “merger of equals,” DaimlerChrysler from the late 1990s.
It was essentially spared its life when the late Sergio Marchionne swooped in and offered to keep it going if the U.S. government would help it through bankruptcy in 2009. The final deal got done with Chrysler Group LLC becoming part of FCA US LLC to follow
the naming convention of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. on Dec. 16, 2014.
Chrysler Corp. fought its way through several near misses when it came to mergers as potential deals with Japanese automaker Mitsubishi, China’s GAC and most recently an effort to merge with Peugeot’s French rival, Renault S.A., a deal that was reportedly scuttled after demands by the French government, which holds an ownership stake in Renault, were too much for then FCA CEO Mike Manley to accept.
Then there was the effort by the aforementioned Marchionne to find a partner for FCA, seemingly almost any partner would do. He approached General Motors and was promptly rebuffed. He reportedly got the same treatment from Volkswagen. There was even a rumored dalliance with EV behemoth Tesla, which would have bolstered FCA’s basically non-existent electric vehicle program.
It also survived a previous bankruptcy in the late 1970s, paying off the loans early with its charismatic CEO Lee Iacocca, who came over from Ford, helping to lead the company’s charge back to prosperity. Chrysler did enjoy one major merger success when it acquired American Motors in 1987, including – and especially – the Jeep brand.
In fact, no one seems certain what the future holds for the Chrysler name period. Early in the process, officials said that all brands would be retained, but time and economics often change the equation and currently, the Chrysler brand offers just two products: the Chrysler Pacifica minivan and 300 sedan. Neither are in segments that are seeing sales gains.
To be fair, there’s been some speculation about the survival of the Fiat name in the same vein. Fiat’s been around even longer, founded in Turin, Italy in 1899. In the U.S., it’s only offering the 500X in 2021.
The Chrysler name isn’t the only vestige of FCA seemingly taking a step back as its CEO Mike Manley is no longer in charge, that duty going to PSA’s Carlos Tavares nor will he be on the board of directors as John Elkann, FCA’s chairman, will take that spot as the chairman of the new Stellantis. Manley, 56, is now Head of the Americas.