WOLFSBURG -- Volkswagen AG CEO Martin Winterkorn warns that it will not be easy for Fiat to create another global auto giant.
I think (Fiat CEO) Sergio Marchionne is trying to increase volumes to lower costs and to survive through (alliances with) Chrysler and possibly Opel, but I wonder if he will be able to succeed because successfully managing several brands and obtaining true synergies is really difficult, Winterkorn said.
Marchionne is trying to combine Fiat groups Fiat, Lancia and Alfa Romeo brands with Chrysler and General Motor Europe's operations into a new company. Fiat wants to form the alliance to get the automotive scale it believes is necessary to survive the car industry crisis. Sources have told Automotive News Europe that Fiat also is interested in GMs Latin American business.
The new company would have sales of 6 million to 7 million vehicles a year -- second to Toyota Motor Corp. and about as many as VW group.
As head of VW group, Winterkorn oversees seven different brands -- Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Seat, Skoda and VW -- as well as truckmaker Scania.
He said that creating money-saving, performance-enhancing relationships between brands takes years.
(Former VW group CEO) Ferdinand Piech began applying the platform strategy at the VW group back in 1992, Winterkorn said.
Today, the VW Golf comes off the same platform as the Audi A3, Seat Leon and Skoda Octavia.
Fiat is evaluating several possible new corporate structures including a potential spin off of it three-brand auto division into a new company with Chrysler and GM Europe that would have an estimated 80 billion euros ($106 billion) in annual revenues.
Winterkorn said that VW is not looking to buy any of more car brands, but it is open to acquisitions or alliances that would strengthen its presence in heavy trucks.
In November 2008, Marchionne predicted just five to six global automakers would survive in the coming 24 months.
Winterkorn is more optimistic.
Over the next five to 10 years, Winterkorn predicts that there will be two or three automakers in Germany, one or two in France, two in Japan, two in the US, one in South Korea and possibly one in Italy.
He declined to make a prediction on how many automakers would survive in China.
The VW CEO made the comments here late last week after receiving Italian magazine InterAutoNews 2008 top automotive manager award.