I see that Fiat Chrysler are angling to get a merger deal with General Motors. What on earth are they thinking of?

Fiat is a byword for unreliability. In common with Alfa Romeo, Fiats come off the production line with dodgy electrics. Buy a Fiat, you’d better like fiddling with wiring and fuseboxes, and you’d probably better like courtesy or hire cars too, while your smouldering and malfunctioning transport is up on ramps in the garage.

Chrysler aren’t exactly noted for build quality either, which is one of the reasons that Mercedes Benz got the Mopar division flogged off to Fiat. Mercs aren’t as well built as they like people to think; they went through a phase where the driver’s seatback collapsed, for starters. But the Chrysler tie up gave people a few more doubts because, well, not to put too fine a point on things, American cars aren’t generally that reliable.

Then we come to the farrago of incompetence that is General Motors, a watchword for product recalls. A friend used to work for Chevrolet, and he reckoned that a good 1 in 4 didn’t get through quality control, and those that did often sneaked under the radar. GM too had a bit of a problem with electrics, so the conjunction with Fiat might just lead to a lot of people standing at the side of the road watching their pride and joy going up in flames. GM were so worried that they acquired Daewoo and rebadged them as Chevrolet, just to give them some Far East credibility for cars that work.

There’s another problem here, and it’s a cultural one largely specific to the US. In the US, car enthusiasts and the public in general are very loyal to their chosen vehicle manufacturers. You’re a GM fan, a Ford fan, or a Mopar (Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth) fan, and the three groups are fiercely partisan. You can tell this from the uproar that occurs in NASCAR if a driver or whole team jump ship to another manufacturer. I can’t see people taking too kindly to two big rivals teaming up.

By the way, Louis Chevrolet was Swiss. Thought you’d like to know that.