PSA hint adds more French flavour to Covisint

PSA Peugeot-Citroen has hinted it may join fellow French car maker Renault as a partner in Covisint, the automotive industry online marketplace.

PSA chairman Jean-Martin Folz used interviews during the recent Geneva Motor Show to confirm PSA’s interest, and said a decision would be made sooner rather than later. ‘We have to decide rather quickly,’ he said, adding that he saw the potential for ‘substantial gains’ for PSA from e-procurement.

Covisint — which last week celebrated the first anniversary of its formation — is a joint venture between founders Ford, General Motors and Daimler Chrysler, along with Renault/Nissan and a host of automotive suppliers which have agreed to use the exchange.

It plans to act as a central web-based platform for the majority of its founders’ $300bn annual procurement spending and offer a range of extra services such as auctions and collaborative design. As potentially the largest business-to-business exchange in the world, Covisint is being eagerly watched by other industries currently setting up their own manufacturer-led online trading platforms.

A decision by PSA to take a stake in Covisint would greatly boost the marketplace’s European credentials amid continuing suspicions that its main aim will be to serve the interest of the US automotive industry in general, and its three biggest manufacturers in particular.

Covisint plans to establish offices around the world, but would welcome a more global look to its list of stakeholders.

Although a number of leading Japanese companies have expressed interest in joining, the only non-American manufacturer to commit itself definitely so far has come through the Renault/Nissan alliance.

And Covisint has been actively snubbed by several leading car makers, most notably Volkswagen, which has committed itself to building its own private marketplace with a more European focus than it claims Covisint can offer.

A year after its formation, the exchange is finally conducting regular auctions but still has no chief executive. The 12 existing members of what will eventually become a 17-strong management team are under heavy pressure to fill the post. There were hints at Geneva that a decision will be made very soon.

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