(Bloomberg) -- Sergio Marchionne said he hasn’t given up on his quest to push the auto industry to increase its profitability, even though carmakers are enjoying some of their best sales ever.
Last week, the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO again argued for large automakers to combine and share costs. Analysts largely agreed with him, though his argument has been rejected so far by his fellow CEOs.
“We need to find a way to get this done,” he told reporters Saturday at the opening of an Alfa Romeo and Maserati dealership in Oakville, Ontario, a Toronto suburb. “If they think these comments are going to deter me from the objectives, I’ve got news for you: It just reinforced my conviction it needs to happen. I haven’t had a guy tell me it’s not true. Not one.”
Marchionne said last week he wants consolidation that helps cover development costs for expensive components like engines and advanced technologies, as well as more mundane things like parts. If companies can merge and defray those costs over more sales volume, they can boost returns, Marchionne said.
The executive has been pushing the auto industry to consolidate as a way to increase profitability. Other automakers have yet to take the cue, with booming sales in the U.S. and Europe easing pressure to restructure.
If GM, Ford and other automakers don’t want to merge with FCA, Marchionne told analysts on the earnings call last week that he wouldn’t rule out an overture to tech giants Google Inc. or Apple Inc.
He said Saturday that he met last week with Apple CEO Tim Cook, spent 45 minutes in Google’s autonomous car and met with Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk.
Marchionne said he understands the reluctance of the industry to change decades of thinking. Last week’s presentation didn’t elicit any contact from his fellow auto industry CEOs, he said.
“I could give you list of reasons as to why you would be scared of doing it, I get it,” he said. “But you have to be able to take leadership. You have to be able to stand alone when you make these calls. Make the bloody call. That’s what they pay you for. They pay you to lead. Not to execute somebody else’s will.”
He said he has heard from investors, both in private conversations and through his investor relations department.
“We have provoked the dialogue,” he said. “There are a lot of people who have raised the issues.”