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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

This week's abrupt end to merger talks between Fiat Chrysler and Renault might be cause for panic as other carmakers pair off to try to deliver the next generation of autos. But given how quickly Fiat Chrysler (FCA) bailed out of the deal when it hit a political snag, the company doesn't seem particularly desperate.

The big picture: The cost of developing electric and autonomous vehicles is daunting, it's true, but a full-fledged merger isn't the only way to share the burden. In the seismic shift toward Autos 2.0, the smart play could be simply keeping your options open.

Driving the news: In a surprise announcement Wednesday evening, FCA withdrew its offer to merge with Renault, scuttling a deal to create the world's third-biggest automaker just two weeks after it was announced.

  • FCA Chairman John Elkann is said to have lost patience with delays sought by the French government, which owns 15% of Renault and wanted time to confirm that its longtime alliance partner, Nissan, would support the deal.
  • Bloomberg offered an excellent tick-tock with details on the shocking collapse.
  • “It’s as important to walk away from the table as it is to sit down,” FCA's former CEO Sergio Marchionne once said, per Bloomberg, advice Elkann appears to have abided.

Flashback: Marchionne long advocated for industry consolidation, arguing global scale was the only way to offset what he saw as a wasteful duplication of engineering efforts.

But disruption is coming fast: 100-year-old carmakers are now competing with tech giants and Silicon Valley startups, creating new risks — but also new opportunities for cross-pollination.

Fiat Chrysler has done a decent job so far leveraging such arrangements, Gartner mobility analyst Mike Ramsey tells Axios. "Why does the car company have to own it?"

What's next: For electric cars, FCA could easily team up with a company like Volkswagen, Navigant Research's Sam Abuelsamid tells Axios.

The bottom line: There are other ways FCA can access the necessary technologies while maintaining its independence and coddling its crown jewels: Jeep and Ram.

Go deeper

Updated 58 mins ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.

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