GM CEO Barra dismisses idea of Fiat Chrysler merger

Melissa Burden and Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra Thursday seemed to dismiss any possible merger with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and told analysts Thursday that senior leadership is entirely focused on executing GM's profitability plans.

Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne on numerous occasions has noted that consolidation of the auto industry is a necessity going forward. He has reportedly said the company is open to a combination with GM or Ford Motor Co. .

Barra, in response to an analyst question on the reports about Fiat Chrysler's interest and overall consolidation of the industry, said "we're not going to entertain anything that distracts us" from meeting the company's short and long-term profitability plans.

"We laid out a very comprehensive plan that takes us through the early next decade, with milestones next year and beyond," Barra said. "As we've communicated, we think there's tremendous opportunity for us within the business as we look at efficiency measures, as we look at truly achieving the scale that we should have because we're already in that top tier of the auto industry, among the largest OEMs."

Barra said there may be some need for consolidation for other automakers in the industry, as they may face challenges over the next decade with technology investment costs. But she said GM has made technology announcements around autonomous vehicles and has a lead in 4G connectivity.

Joe Hinrichs, Ford's President of the Americas, said Tuesday that Ford wasn't interested in a merger with Fiat Chrysler.

"We've very happy with where we are," Hinrichs said. "We're not looking for a partner. We've spent the last eight years or so consolidating Ford as one company. We all recognize the value and need for scale … we believe we're big enough to do that with our volume as is."

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Staff Writer Michael Wayland contributed.