GENEVA -- The appetite for fresh carmaking alliances appears to have dwindled in the wake of the $2 billion divorce between General Motors and Italy's Fiat.
Many carmakers are playing it safe, sticking with existing partnerships, although signalling room for fresh cooperation in areas such as the development of diesel-powered engines.
Weeks after GM and Fiat split, many carmakers still have their dance cards free but there did not seem to be much courting going on at the Geneva car show this week.
"At the moment I don't think we will have any such alliances with anybody else," Toyota Motor Corp Executive Vice President Yoshio Ishizaka said, referring to a Czech venture with PSA Peugeot Citroen to build small cars.
It also emerged that Volkswagen, Europe's largest carmaker, had quietly ended a planned technology sharing deal with Italy's Maserati although it left the door open for cooperation in the future.
"There are no concrete plans at present but the possibility for further talks continues to exist and we will take advantage of this should there be a resulting benefit for both sides," a Volkswagen spokesman said.
The carmaker had hoped to gain Maserati's transaxle powertrain technology to use in its future C1, the car that was supposed to fill the gap between the Passat and Phaeton, but the postponement of plans essentially made that joint venture obsolete.
Maserati is a unit of Fiat, which dissolved its five-year partnership with GM last month, with the U.S. auto giant paying the Italian group $2 billion in cash to avoid having to buy loss-making Fiat Auto under an agreement relating to a put option.
"Now the field is completely open. After having solved the problems with GM, the future is ours," Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said on Tuesday, confirming Fiat was keeping all eyes open in the search for new allies.
The two groups had long disputed whether the put option was valid and the bad blood spilled into the broader alliance, with Fiat arguing GM was holding it back from other partnerships which would help it cut costs and return to profit.
However, there appeared to be no hard feelings for General Motors executives who were optimistic about the prospects of working with Fiat in the future, particularly in the area of diesel-engine development.
"Candidly we'll continue to work together on future development with Fiat," Fritz Henderson, chairman of GM Europe, told reporters on Tuesday.
He said diesel engines would be a key area of cooperation.
"If we don't work together, that means we have to work on it separately," he said.
Other carmakers are also eyeing cooperation in the area of diesel engines.
Mazda Motor Corp's head of its Europe operations Dan Morris said the group hoped to strengthen its existing alliance with its one-third shareholder Ford Motor Co.
"Clearly it is a two-way street. We clearly benefit from the size of Ford and diesel JVs with PSA," Morris told Reuters.
He also hoped for further cooperation with Ford on product development.
GO IT ALONE
Japan's Honda Motor Co. also said it had no interest in new relationships.
"As Honda we want to go it alone. We have good advanced technologies and a solid financial base, we can do things by ourselves," Honda Europe President Shigeru Takagi told Reuters.
Japan's Mitsubishi Motors Corp. announced a deal last month to supply 30,000 sport-utility vehicles a year to PSA.
Ford was more coy on possible partnerships. Ford Europe Chairman Lewis Booth would not comment on whether Ford would consider partnering with Italy's Fiat but said the Italian carmaker may be a "little bit bruised at the moment".
Hyundai Motor Europe Vice President Werner Frey said the South Korean carmaker would "stand on our own feet" when it came to alliances, although he noted it was working on developing engines with DaimlerChrysler, Mitsubishi and Kia.