Fini said there also is potential to unite efforts in some products, such as instrument clusters and infotainment systems. Mastering the integration of those systems will be important to develop the human-machine interface products that support autonomous driving. Customers' access is another aspect to consider, Fini said.
"The combined entity will have a more diversified customer base, which was already part of CK's strategy after its acquisition by KKR," Fini said.
"It is definitely an interesting merger due to the large complementary nature of the two suppliers. Magneti Marelli has a strong exposure to lighting, some powertrain applications and electronics, while Calsonic Kansei has a well-rooted presence in the thermal component market and expertise in the cockpit area."
The combined companies consist of 10 business units, with only three that directly overlap. Those are exhaust systems, powertrain electrification and electronics, which will be operated as new global business units.
Bolzenius said the company will remain headquartered in Japan. Management of the operating units will reside where their strengths are: the electronics business in Italy, the exhaust system unit in Saitama, Japan, and the powertrain business in Japan, led by another German, Executive Vice President Joachim Fetzer.
Fetzer, who has a doctorate in engineering, spent most of his career at Bosch in Gerlingen, Germany, near Stuttgart. In 2008, he became head of engineering and quality for SB LiMotive, a 50-50 lithium ion battery joint venture between Robert Bosch and Samsung SDI in South Korea.
Since 2012, he has focused on electric vehicle and hybrid technology as Bosch's executive vice president.
Bolzenius said there is a "high probability" that Marelli will transition from KKR's private-equity ownership through an initial public offering.
But he cautioned that "there is no final decision of where and when that IPO will happen."
By bringing the companies together, KKR gave them infrastructure and management capability to operate on a global scale that they lacked on their own.
"The new company has potential to present quick synergies and savings on the purchasing side," Bolzenius said. "We can really get into each other's plants with new investments and accelerate our entry into the market in Europe or Asia, just because we have the resources in place."
Bolzenius said he has experience with privately owned and publicly traded companies, and believes there is little difference between them in how a business performs. But there is a difference between taking a long-term view of a company's success and surviving the next quarterly earning call — which is why KKR's investment model is so critical to Marelli's success, he said.
"That investment model has strong benefits if you want to get something started the right way," Bolzenius said.
"Marelli would not have happened without a private-equity company orchestrating such a complex deal at that speed. The partnership with KKR on that side of the business — if you talk about further acquisitions on the technology side where we have a couple ideas — it's fast to decisions."