Forbidden Fruit: What the PSA-FCA Merger Could Bring to the US
While the paperwork behind the merger between PSA and FCA is done, the effects won’t be felt immediately. The merger will impact brands from both groups, in positive and negative ways. More importantly, the FCA merger will impact consumers inside and outside the US. Potentially, it could mean that markets everywhere will finally get to try some forbidden fruit.
How the FCA merger could bring over some forbidden fruit SUVs
Motor Trend reported on one non-US SUV, the Peugeot 3008. It’s a compact crossover, sized between the Toyota RAV4 and C-HR. Its 165-hp 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder isn’t that powerful. But that’s more power than the C-HR, and not too far off Mazda’s CX-30.
The 3008 also offers Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and you can even spec it with a leather interior. And, unlike some non-US trucks and SUVs, the 3008 has a full suite of safety features, like automatic emergency braking, blind-spot monitoring, and lane-keeping assist.
Although it’s tempting to dismiss SUVs and crossovers like the Peugeot 3008 as too small for the US market, sales figures beg to differ. Toyota sells more than 400,000 RAV4s per year, and Mazda reports the compact SUV market rose to roughly 800,000 units in 2019. Vehicles like the 3008 are easy to park and cheap to run while offering attractive features and space for a small family.
There’s also compact off-roaders like the Suzuki Jimny. The newest version isn’t old enough to legally import, but it’s proven popular with journalists and consumers for its ability to keep up with larger, more expensive SUVs off-road. It’s made enough waves for Jeep to be considering making a Jimny rival—and PSA has a platform that could make this a reality.
But it’s not just the US that would benefit from the FCA merger with PSA.
The FCA merger could also give Europe and other markets some forbidden SUVs, too
It’s rare for body-on-frame SUVs like the Dodge Durango to be sold outside the US. But SUVs are considered luxury status symbols around the world, and the Durango’s recent update lets it straddle luxury and utility fairly well. Its strong sales seem to indicate that, at least. The PSA-FCA merger could make it even more attractive to foreign customers, though.
Dodge recently announced the Durango would receive a mild-hybrid V6 powertrain, similar to the Jeep Wrangler’s. Even so, it’s likely the Durango would carry a fuel-efficiency penalty in places like Europe. But PSA already has a hybrid SUV platform that can accommodate both mild- and plug-in hybrids. A plug-in hybrid Durango could be very attractive to a lot of people on both sides of the Atlantic.
The FCA merger could change the European and American pickup truck market
Arguably even more so than the SUV market, the FCA merger could have a big impact on the worldwide pickup truck market.
Europeans have been importing American pickup trucks in increasing numbers. That’s because American pickups offer better torque and towing capacities than the smaller European crossovers. Not to mention, American trucks have become increasingly luxurious, in contrast to pickups’ general reputations as utilitarian tools. True, sending something like the Ram 1500 over to Europe would require modifications due to emissions and safety standards. But a safer, more efficient pickup truck isn’t a bad thing. And it would mean Mat Watson could drive a UK-legal Jeep Gladiator.
The PSA-FCA merger could also lead to compact pickup trucks making their way to the US. Despite the Ford Ranger’s recent problems, sales are strong because there are so few small trucks on sale in the US. It’s why Hyundai is debuting the Santa Cruz pickup truck. Ram, with this merger, could offer its overseas 700 in North America. What’s more, Peugeot’s desire to sell more electric vehicles could theoretically lead to Ram joining the electric truck game.
How realistic are these possibilities?
At the moment, the vast majority of this is speculation. The merger is simply too recent, and the companies involved so massive, for any kind of new product development news to surface. At the moment, the likeliest appears to be the Jeep Jimny competitor, but again, it’s too early to really tell.
But at least for the moment, the future looks exciting.
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