Despite its ongoing diesel emissions problem, in January of this year Volkswagen Group overtook Toyota Motor Corporation as the world’s largest carmaker. In 2016, VW’s brands sold 10.3 million vehicles, beating out Toyota by more than 100,000 units. The company even remained profitable—$7.55 billion (€7.1 billion) from revenues of $231 billion (€217 billion)—in spite of that scandal, which has now cost it almost $20 billion. So it was surprising to hear that CEO Matthias Mueller wouldn’t rule out a merger with Fiat-Chrysler, according to Reuters.
“I am not ruling out a conversation,” Mueller told journalists, although he added that “I am pretty confident about the future of Volkswagen, with or without Marchionne,” referring to Fiat-Chrysler boss Sergio Marchionne.
Mueller was speaking at VW Group’s annual conference on Tuesday when he made the remarks. The remarks are in relatively stark contrast to his dismissal of the idea at last week’s Geneva International Motor Show, made after Marchionne suggested that VW could be his group’s next corporate acquisition.
We’ve entered a round of consolidation in the auto industry of late; on March 3 it was revealed that Peugeot-Citröen will take over Opel and Vauxhall, General Motors’ European brands.