A long-awaited mega-merger may give rise to an industry star
一场期待已久的强强联合或将造就行业新星

繁星联盟诞生 A Stellantis is born-书迷号 shumihao.com

FIAT CHRYSLER AUTOMOBILES (FCA), an Italian-American carmaker, and PSA Group, the French owner of Citroën and Peugeot, do not like to dwell on their shared past. When PSA acquired Chrysler Europe in 1978 for a nominal $1 it picked up some struggling British and French marques and a heap of debt. That tie-up crashed a few years later with the demise of Talbot, the brand created from these motoring scraps. On January 4th shareholders of both firms voted to give it another go, acceding to a mega-merger agreed in 2019. Hopes seem higher this time. The name of the combined firm, Stellantis, is derived from the Latin for “brightens with stars”.
意大利与美国合资汽车制造商菲亚特克莱斯勒(FCA)和法国汽车制造商标致雪铁龙集团(PSA)不喜欢回顾共同的过往。1978年,PSA用象征性的1美元收购了克莱斯勒的欧洲业务,接手了它一些深陷困境的英国和法国品牌以及巨额债务。几年后,随着用这堆汽车废品创建的品牌塔伯特(Talbot)倒闭,这项合作也宣告失败。1月4日,两家公司的股东投票决定再试一次,同意推进在2019年达成的大型合并协议。这次的期望似乎更高了。合并后的公司名称斯特兰蒂斯(Stellantis)源自拉丁语,意为“用繁星照亮”。

Stardust is sadly lacking from an industry that, along with many others, has taken a beating in the pandemic. But the creation of the world’s fifth-largest carmaker by vehicles produced (see chart) is well set to deal with the effects of covid-19—and to navigate the other difficulties facing the automotive business.
遗憾的是,汽车行业和其他许多行业一道受到疫情重创,星光晦暗。但是,上述协议造就的以产量计全球第五大汽车制造商(见图表)已做好准备应对新冠的影响——以及克服汽车企业面临的其他难关。

The pandemic has sent screeching into reverse an industry that was already going backwards, as demand slumped in car-mad China. Annual worldwide sales fell from 94m units in 2017 to 90m in 2019. Covid-19 depressed sales by 15% in 2020, to 76.5m, according to IHS Markit, a data firm.
由于对汽车狂热的中国需求锐减,疫情让这个原本就在倒退的行业雪上加霜。全球年销量从2017年的9400万辆跌至2019年的9000万辆。根据数据公司埃信华迈(IHS Markit)的统计,2020年,疫情导致销量下降了15%,至7650万辆。

On the bright side, they are expected to rebound sharply this year. The signs are encouraging. Monthly Chinese sales have exceeded last year’s in the second half of 2020. General Motors has led America’s recovery, with sales up by 5% in the fourth quarter, year on year. And electric vehicles are booming, helping Tesla make good on Elon Musk’s pre-pandemic forecast of delivering 500,000 cars in 2020.
乐观地看,今年销量预计会强势反弹。种种迹象鼓舞人心。2020年下半年,中国月销量已超过上年水平。通用汽车引领了美国的复苏,第四季度销量同比增长5%。而电动汽车的蓬勃发展帮助特斯拉达成了伊隆·马斯克在疫情前预测的目标,在2020年交付了50万辆车。

Despite the rebound, the industry is not likely to get back to its size in 2019 before 2023. What does that mean for Stellantis (whose largest shareholder, Exor, part-owns The Economist’s parent company)? Size will let it spread the costs of new technology. The savings, forecast at €5bn ($6.2bn) a year, are more important than ever while the industry recovers. Cash reserves will be shored up by the decision of FCA’s investors in September to accept a reduction in the special dividend that was part of the deal, by nearly half, to €2.9bn.
尽管行业回暖,但在2023年之前不大可能恢复到2019年的规模。这对斯特兰蒂斯(其最大股东Exor集团部分持有本刊母公司)意味着什么?合并后的规模将会让它摊薄使用新技术的成本。预计每年可由此节省50亿欧元(62亿美元),行业还在复苏,这笔钱比以往任何时候都更重要。FCA的投资者在9月份决定接受将合并协议中拟定的特别股息削减近一半至29亿欧元,这将支撑现金储备。

Stellantis also has Carlos Tavares. He has already turned round two loss-making firms: PSA, which he has led since 2014, and then Opel, acquired from General Motors in 2017. His task now is to revive the Fiat brand, which is dependent on Europe and was starved of investment after the merger with Chrysler in 2014. Only the ageing 500 supermini is selling well.
斯特兰蒂斯还有唐唯实(Carlos Tavares)。他已经让两家亏损的公司扭转乾坤:先是他自2014年起领导的PSA,后是2017年从通用汽车收购的欧宝(Opel)。他目前的任务是重振菲亚特,这个依赖欧洲的品牌在2014年与克莱斯勒合并后投资严重不足,唯一畅销的产品是陈旧的500微型车。

The reticence of both Mr Tavares and Sergio Marchionne, FCA’s late boss, to rush headlong into electrification may also prove wise. Other carmakers had poured cash into electric cars that did not sell well. Now that they are becoming more popular, Stellantis’s plans, including PSA’s new architecture for electric vehicles due by 2023, have more chance of success.
唐唯实和FCA的已故前老板塞尔吉奥·马尔乔内(Sergio Marchionne)都对一头扎进电气化有所保留,这可能也很明智。其他汽车制造商当初砸钱造电动汽车,但销量并不理想。如今电动汽车越来越受欢迎,斯特兰蒂斯的计划(包括PSA将在2023年前推出新型电动汽车架构)有更大的几率获得成功。

The deal also affords the opportunity to reset strategy, says Jefferies, a bank. The firms are strong regionally, PSA in Europe and FCA in America, but lack global clout. Neither has much presence in China. And in an industry where complexity is now a dirty word, Stellantis will have 15 brands. Volkswagen’s 11 are seen as unwieldy.
投行杰富瑞(Jefferies)表示,合并协议还为重新制定战略提供了机会。两家公司都有地区优势:PSA在欧洲,FCA在美国,但它们也都缺乏全球影响力,在中国也没多大存在感。汽车产业如今非常忌讳复杂的结构,而斯特兰蒂斯将有15个品牌。大众有11个品牌就已被视为尾大不掉。

Mr Tavares needs to make Jeep a worldwide profit machine like VW’s Audi and Porsche, and to decide what to do about underperforming premium brands. Maserati and Alfa Romeo have defied numerous relaunches to stay peripheral. DS is profitable but has little presence outside France.
唐唯实需要将Jeep打造成像大众的奥迪和保时捷那样的全球盈利机器,并决定要拿表现不佳的高端品牌怎么办。玛莎拉蒂和阿尔法·罗密欧尽管经历多番重新亮相,却依然处于视线边缘。DS虽然有所盈利,但在法国以外影响甚微。

Stellantis’s boss must also overcome the clashes of culture that have brought down many a car-industry merger. Marchionne made FCA work through force of personality and the width of the Atlantic, which let him keep the subsidiaries at arm’s length. Mr Tavares does not have that luxury, or Marchionne’s charisma. But his stellar track record shows he has the character to make it happen.■
斯特兰蒂斯的老板还必须克服曾导致许多车企合并失败的文化冲突。马尔乔内带领FCA获得成功靠的是人格力量和大西洋的宽广,后者让他能与子公司保持一定距离。唐唯实既没有这种优势,也没有马尔乔内的个人魅力。但他闪耀的业绩表明,他有毅力实现目标。