PSA Group CEO Carlos Tavares already had a busy 2020 ahead of him when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. He and his teams were preparing for a merger with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to create Stellantis, the world's fourth-largest automaker by volume, and to roll out a full slate of electrified models to meet the EU's new emissions standards. But Tavares was able to navigate these stormy seas, keeping the merger on track, growing PSA's electrified sales substantially -- and also outperforming rivals by recording an operating profit in the first half despite lockdowns around the world. Tavares spoke with Automotive News Europe Associate Publisher and Editor Luca Ciferri and News Editor Peter Sigal via video chat about how these challenges were overcome and what is ahead for Stellantis.
You have said that the COVID-19 pandemic has boosted the rationale to create Stellantis. Have there been any side effects from the crisis on the agreement?
It has been a very long process with a lot of hard work. From the signing [of the memorandum of understanding] to closing, it's roughly 15 months of work in terms of preparing filings related to all the different takeovers and administrations, the bankers and antitrust authorities. But the most incredible part of this process is that we are on time and that the teams kept the pace under COVID lockdowns. We have been able to work remotely and collaboratively. We have had more than 600 people working intensively on this process since December 2019, which was the signing date, and now we are preparing for the closing in the course of the first quarter of 2021. And while we are doing this, both Mike Manley on the FCA side and myself on the PSA side have been managing our companies to make sure that we overcome all the challenges of those lockdown periods, so that we can start Stellantis with a good financial position.