Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne is urging the European Union to intervene and to remove obstacles to plant downsizing and closures. In response, Volkswagen's sales and marketing boss Christian Klinger said that Europe's car industry doesn’t need any assistance from Brussels to shut down its factories. He said that instead of putting the blame on overcapacity for their problems, the automakers should be boosting their competitiveness.
In other words, Klinger isn’t supporting the stand on excess capacity. Klinger made these comments last Thursday at a briefing organized by French trade publication Le Journal de l'Automobile in Paris.
What he is saying proves that automakers do not agree with each other on how to handle the structural issues with the European industry. Marchionne, who heads the Brussels-based Association of European Automakers (ACEA), has made demands for the removal of these impediments to job cuts and plant closures. Fiat counterpart's stance has the support of PSA/Peugeot-Citroen CEO Philippe Varin.
Marchionne said a few days ago that the EU has to be involved in a 'painful' restructuring for European companies such as in plant closures since it won’t happen if they rely on the national countries. He believes that plant closures need to be distributed across countries and producers. Klinger said that ACEA doesn’t have a position on this. He thinks that asking EU for help is transferring the responsibility to Brussels, which has “nothing to do with it."
VW was the only major automaker to remain profitable last year at its core European operations. Its regional car deliveries rose by 7.8 percent even as the overall market had a 1.4% drop. PSA's sales fell by 8.8 percent while Fiat had a 12 decline. [source: Reuters]