It's been a year and a half since my last merger article (October,1999) and things seem to have settled down for a bit. Now then is a good time to review the state of play and see where things may go from here.
BMW finally threw up its hands and practically gave away the Rover Group, but first re-organized the more attractive assets into different sections of BMW (UK) Holdings and sold Land Rover to Ford. In addition to the new Mini produced by BMW (UK) Manufacturing, BMW also kept the re-organized Riley and Triumph, British Motor Heritage (producing parts for older English cars) and other businesses such as Midland Powertrain.
After losing to VW in a bid for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd, BMW made an end run, acquiring the license from aero-engine partner Rolls-Royce PLC. An entirely new car is under development, to be built at a new underground plant at Goodwood (subject to development approvals).
Score: BMW, Mini, Rolls-Royce (active), Riley and Triumph (dormant).
Executives at DaimlerChrysler must be wondering what they have gotten themselves into. After taking control of Mitsubishi Motor Corp. the company is hit with a long string of vehicle problems the company had been hiding from authorities for years. Then Automotive News discovers the company has a problem with US regional offices faking sales to meet quotas. Chrysler has fared just as badly. Increased competition for its key minivans has hit the company hard and the company announced massive losses despite strong sales. Combined with the weak stock market the German-American giant has seen its market value tumble to below the pre-merger level. Speculation surfaced that the company might be vulnerable to a takeover itself. Mercedes-Benz would be the prize, but with both Chrysler and Mitsubishi involved a potential buyer may find the anti-trust issues too great an obstacle. Going back to the future Chrysler and Mitsubishi will co-operate on future models, but new Korean partner Hyundai (with its subsidiary Kia) has been left to fend for itself. The loss of Plymouth adds to DC's roster of fallen marques (Hudson, AMC, DeSoto, Willys etc.).
Maybach has been part of Daimler's engine business for some time (having built engines for the Zeppelins), and the marque's history producing large expensive cars will finally be revived with a model to compete with BMW's Rolls-Royce and VW's Bentley.
Score: Mercedes-Benz, Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, Mitsubishi and Maybach.