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Who or what is Stellantis?

Stellantis had the highest worldwide sales of any car manufacturer in 2022. The reason? It's a massive conglomerate of European and American car brands.

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Visit enough car showrooms, or read any car websites or magazines, and you might occasionally hear the nmer Stellantis. Perhaps it’s one of the glut of new car brands currently charging into the UK? Actually, no.

In fact, Stellantis has only been around less than five years, so it’s not surprising that most people have never heard of it. Yet in 2022, it was the world’s largest automotive manufacturer in terms of global sales. The reason? Stellantis is the name applied to a massive conglomerate that has resulted from a host of mergers and takeovers.

The brands that have been snapped up in those mergers are some of the best known in the industry – think the likes of Vauxhall, Peugeot, Alfa Romeo… 

So who or what is Stellantis?

The industrial manoeuvrings that created Stellantis go back to 2019 when Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, itself a big group and one that has endured past struggles to remain profitable, tried to merge with French state brand Renault. The two reached a provisional agreement but then a combination of the French government and Renault’s partner Nissan scuppered the deal.

FCA then turned its attention to the other French automotive giant, PSA Group, owner of Peugeot, Citroën and – since 2017 – Vauxhall and Opel. The deal was completed in January 2021 and the new group was named Stellantis.     

When did Stellantis launch in the UK?

Stellantis effectively arrived in the UK in January 2021, as every brand listed below became part of the new giant group, the world’s fourth largest automotive manufacturer at the time.

But car buyers would not have noticed any differences as the various brands have continued to trade under their original names, the oldest being Vauxhall which stretches back to 1857.

What models does Stellantis have and what else is coming?

It’s easier to name the brands that now come under the Stellantis umbrella – listing all their models would require a lot of scrolling… Currently the Stellantis badges available in the UK comprise Fiat and its performance sub-brand Abarth, Vauxhall, sister brands Peugeot and Citroën along with the latter’s upmarket offspring DS AutomobilesAlfa Romeo, Maserati and Jeep.

Stellantis also owns Vauxhall’s European sister Opel, Lancia and US big names Chrysler, Dodge and the latter’s sub-brand Ram – and there’s an entire suite of commercial vehicle badges too… 

And the growth, it seems, has not stopped yet. It was reported in October 2023 that Stellantis has done a deal worth some £1.3 billion to launch yet another Chinese brand in Europe. Leapmotor is described as a fast-growing manufacturer focused on technology. We don’t know exactly what cars are likely to come to the UK, but industry sources say deliveries should start happening in the latter part of 2024.

Some might be surprised to hear that the current best-performing Stellantis brand is Fiat, which saw its global sales grow 10% in the first half of 2023. The electric version of the humble but trendy Fiat 500 has consistently been the top-selling model across Stellantis.

The group as a whole has big future plans, having in 2022 launched its ‘Dare 2030’ strategy which promises 100 new vehicles across its portfolio by 2030, including 75 battery-electric vehicles.  A new electric platform was unveiled in July 2023 and from 2024 is set to underpin new versions of such core models as the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Peugeot 3008.

Stellantis is also working with a Chinese manufacturer to set up a battery-making plant in Europe, with a goal to halve the weight of EV batteries by 2030.

Where can I try a Stellantis car?

Probably, just round the corner – the Stellantis roster includes some of the most familiar car brands on the market, with plenty of dealers right across the country. Mind you only three of them, Vauxhall, Peugeot and Citroën, regularly make the UK’s top 20 manufacturers in terms of sales, though the Vauxhall Corsa is a fixture in the top five best-selling cars with the Vauxhall Mokka and Peugeot 3008 also occasionally breaking into the top ten.

What’s particularly significant about this company?

Stellantis is a huge group, but also effectively a family company. The biggest shareholder is the Agnelli family – Giovanni Agnelli having founded Fiat in 1899 – while another significant shareholder in the group is the Peugeot family, who made salt and pepper shakers before building their first steam cars ten years before Agnelli. 

Where makes Stellantis different to the rest?

Merging car manufacturers with one another usually leads to the less well-performing ones being jettisoned as the new group consolidates what it has.

But not, it seems, Stellantis. In 2021, the company announced that every one of the 14 brands now under the group’s umbrella would be given ten years of funding to prove themselves, to either rebound from previous difficulties or grow. Only then will company bosses decide whether to shut down any of the brands.

Summary

It’s still early days for Stellantis, not even three full years old as these words are written, and many questions remain to be answered. The group includes several names that have had their difficulties – for example while Fiat seems to be currently growing sales it has been through a few relaunches and disappointments in the past, and many buyers still struggle to grasp exactly what DS Automobiles is all about.

Will these brands flourish as part of a huge group, or will their individual elements be drowned under economies of scale leading to a raft of near-identical cars with different badges? And will the group be able to beat its rivals in the biggest challenge facing the entire automotive industry – electrification? We can only wait and see…    

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Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.