Robert Eaton, chairman of DaimlerChrysler AG, predicts another major merger within the next 90 days.
'At the Detroit auto show, I predicted there would be another deal announced within 90 days,' Eaton said. 'It was less than 30 days before Ford and Volvo announced.'
BMW AG, which fired CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder Friday, Feb. 5, is a likely acquisition target, he said. 'A lot of other people (competitors) are talking to Nissan.'
Eaton spoke at the J.D. Power and Associates International Automotive Roundtable, held in conjunction with the National Automobile Dealers Association convention.
An Asian partner could benefit DaimlerChrysler.
'One thing DaimlerChrysler is missing is a long-term presence in Asia and one or two vehicles underneath the Neon to help us compete in some areas of the world where we are not very strong,' Eaton said. 'There are ways to get there - a joint relationship or an acquisition or products built from the ground up.'
Current economic conditions and global overcapacity will rush automakers to the altar. Of 40 auto companies worldwide, just 10 make money, and only half of those earn back their cost of capital, Eaton said.
Though the world's automakers are equipped to produce 74 million vehicles, the world's consumers are willing to buy only about 52 million, he said.
The conditions that prompted the DaimlerChrysler merger will continue throughout 1999. Worldwide sales will be flat in 1999, and worldwide economic growth actually will be slower, Eaton predicted.
'None of us knew 13 months ago that DaimlerChrysler would exist today,' he said. 'But many of us clearly saw the conditions that made this company possible and which will make others inevitable.'