TEL AVIV, Israel – The heads of Ford Motor and Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles once broached the subject of a merger, although it was quickly decided such a tie-up wasn’t practical, according to Ford's Executive Chairman, Bill Ford.
"Sergio [Marchionne] and I had a number of dinners together talking about this and whether Ford and FCA would be a good fit," Ford told Automotive News on the sidelines of the EcoMotion mobility conference here on Tuesday.
He said the talks did not go anywhere, saying Ford had other priorities.
"The timing certainly wasn't ideal," he said. "We had our own issues and challenges ahead of us. I felt like it wasn’t going to help us solve those problems. If anything, it might have slowed us down."
Marchionne, who died last year, made no secret of his desire to merge FCA with another automaker after he predicted a need for industry consolidation in his "Confessions of a Capital Junkie" presentation in 2015. He also met with General Motors CEO Mary Barra on the subject, but was rebuffed.
FCA last week walked away from a 50-50 merger proposal with France's Renault, citing complications with the French government.
Bill Ford said he sees a rise in the number of partnerships between rivals for certain technologies or individual vehicles where it makes sense.
Ford earlier this year announced a partnership with Volkswagen where both companies will co-develop midsize pickups and vans for overseas production. Ford has also partnered with Mahindra to co-develop a midsize SUV.
"I think you’re going to see a lot more of what we did with VW," Ford said. "There will be winners and losers in our business like you’ve never seen before. I think you will see companies looking for scale, because some technologies need to scale to be effective."