Fiat CEO sees mergers among car makers - report

MILAN, Dec 6 (Reuters) - The head of Fiat FIA.MI sees car makers being forced to merge in order to survive the onslaught of the global crisis, leaving their industry with only six big players, according to a report on Saturday.

“The only way for companies to survive is if they make more than 5.5 million cars per year,” Chief Executive Sergio Marchionne was quoted as saying to the European edition of Automotive News, an industry publication.

“As far as mass-producers are concerned, we’re going to end up with one American house, one German of size; one French-Japanese, maybe with an extension in the U.S.; one in Japan; one in China and one other potential European player,” he said.

Marchionne said he expected the consolidation to transpire in the next two years.

“This business is going to be completely different,” he said. “It cannot continue as it did in the past. Independence in this business is no longer sustainable.”

Marchionne’s published comments were in an extract of a story to come out in the publication’s latest issue next week.

The extract was part of an email obtained by Reuters highlighting the major stories of the coming issue. (Reporting by Gilles Castonguay; Editing by Ron Askew)