"No dinosaur" - Carmaker Stellantis steps up electric ambitions

By Giulio Piovaccari, Gilles Guillaume and Nick Carey

MILAN/PARIS (Reuters) - Newly-formed Stellantis, a combination of Peugeot-maker PSA and Fiat Chrysler (FCA), wants to use its clout to take on rivals racing to produce more electric vehicles, Chief Executive Carlos Tavares said on Wednesday.

Stellantis is now the world's fourth largest carmaker, with 14 brands including Opel, Jeep, Ram and Maserati, and like its peers, it is grappling with a shortage of semiconductors and investments in electric vehicles.

Low global car inventories and cost cuts should help boost profit margins this year, though the carmaker is also looking beyond savings, Tavares said.

"This is not a crisis merger," he told an analyst conference, after Stellantis forecast higher profitability for 2021 and PSA and Fiat which merged in January reported better-than-expected results for 2020.

"This is a merger that is going to open new opportunities for a company that is sound, with talented people ... who do not want to be cornered in a legacy or a dinosaur position."

Stellantis aims to deliver over 5 billion euros a year in savings through the merger, as well as bulking up to face industry challenges.

Automakers are racing to develop electric vehicles to meet tighter CO2 emissions targets in Europe and this week Volvo joined a growing number of carmakers aiming for a fully-electric line-up by 2030.

Stellantis plans to have fully-electric or hybrid versions of all of its vehicles available in Europe by 2025, broadly in line with plans at top rivals such as Volkswagen and Renault-Nissan, although Stellantis has further to go to meet that goal.

The group said 2021 results should be helped by three new high-margin Jeep vehicles in North America and a strong pricing environment there. The U.S. market has driven profits for years at FCA and starts off as the strongest part of Stellantis.