To say that there was some speculation surrounding Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller’s response to a potential partnership with Fiat Chrysler Automotive would be a severe understatement.

Müller said there had been no contact between he and FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne, but he’d not ruled anything out. He seemed to have an indifference about the subject, which left plenty of room to let minds wander.

According to Automotive News’ Larry P. Vellequette, that’s not the whole story.

Being at the conference, Vellequette saw and heard — through an interpreter, he says — the entirety of this soap opera episode play out.

Vellequette said Müller and VW are too “preoccupied” dealing with the aftermath of the company’s diesel scandal, and had “no interest” in talking to Marchionne.

But what came next, Müller mentioning Marchionne by name and saying the FCA CEO should talk to him directly instead of through the press, is up for debate, as Vellequette heard a certain tone in Müller’s remark. From AN:

“It would be very helpful if Mr. Marchionne were to communicate his considerations to me too and not just to you,â€� Mueller said a bit snippily. (Admittedly, the snarky tone I heard through a translator may not have been in the original German, but still … )

Here, Müller is not opening a door. Instead, the remark was a glove across Marchionne’s face, insinuating the FCA CEO didn’t have the nerve to talk to him directly.

Müller does have a lot on his mind now, so it only seems fitting he would have a short temper toward Marchionne. Even optimistically speaking, it’s unlikely FCA and VW will team-up, especially after the resounding “no” from Müller.

Marchionne must have felt that slap from Müller, since he tried to break up before the relationship even started.

[Image: Volkswagen AG/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0)]