Fiat and PSA Brush Up on Latin to Conjure Up Name Stellantis

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Peugeot maker PSA Group paged through Latin dictionaries before they landed on a name for their combined car-making group.

The name Stellantis draws from the Latin verb “stello,” which means “to brighten with stars,” evoking the idea of a constellation, according to Peugeot brand leader Jean-Philippe Imparato.

“It’s the parasol, the umbrella that will house the combined company” and its stable of 12 brands, he said on BFM radio Thursday.

Fiat Chrysler and PSA billed the announcement as a major step toward completing their merger by early next year. More meaningful matters to overcome include finalizing terms that have irked some PSA investors -- namely, a planned dividend to be paid out to Fiat Chrysler shareholders -- and getting through a European Commission antitrust probe.

Assuming the merger goes through, a name change will be nothing new for Chrysler, whose name has survived in one form or another since its founding in 1925. When Daimler bought the American automaker in 1998, it dubbed the combined entity DaimlerChrysler. After their split in 2007, Cerberus Capital Management renamed the U.S. carmaker Chrysler LLC.

The name Chrysler Group LLC emerged from the company’s 2009 government-backed bankruptcy, which then gave way to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in 2014.

The Italian-American and French manufacturers plan to only use the new moniker at the group level as a corporate brand. With a dozen different logos, “we couldn’t call it Peugeot,” Imparato said.

The companies face the challenge of recovering from a deep sales slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic. PSA said Thursday sales volumes in the first half were down 46% to 1.03 million compared with last year, and fell 40% in June. The group’s Opel and Vauxhall brands were the worst hit, with sales volumes falling 54% last month, whereas Peugeot registered a 33% drop.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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