Fiat Chrysler chief executive Sergio Marchionne, 66, is dead. He resigned last Saturday because of complications following shoulder surgery for cancer. He was without doubt responsible for building strong teams that saved both Fiat, which he took over management of in 2004 and subsequently Chrysler during the Republican Great Recession that started in 2008 and still lingers in the job decreasing Trump reign. (Gravely Ill Sergio Marchionne out at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Trucker Mike Manley now CEO)
An intense, yet approachable CEO, smitten with black sweaters and Apple products, Marchionne was capable of referring to business theories – some of them wryly his own about, say, the collective madness of the industry over autonomous and electric cars during auto show executive braggadocio, with references to linguistic philosophy, current politics and history during a single press conference. This provided AutoInformed scribes with much needed amusement and relief given the standard corporate pablum that occurs with about the same amount of gallons spilled as Deepwater Horizon. (Transocean Pleads Guilty in Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Criminal and Civil Fines Set at a Record $1.4 Billion by Department of Justice)
Last year at the North American International Auto show when asked about Trump’s NAFTA tantrum he said, “I’m screwed. I’m Canadian and manage global businesses.” My own personal favorite occurred when the Mazda Fiat development project was underway. Would the Fiat have a Japanese engine?” No, an Italian car should have a Wop engine,” a philosophy that continues today with Alfa’ nascent F1 racing using Ferrari powerplants. (Alfa Romeo Returns to Formula 1 in 2018 via Sauber) Last month as Chrysler’s guest I turned dozens of mediocre laps at Chrysler’s Chelsea Proving grounds in a delightfully fast, and decidedly not another boring crossover, Fiat 124 developed in conjunction with the Japanese automaker. (Mazda and Fiat Sign Agreement for New Alfa Romeo Roadster)
Marchionne was replaced as chief executive last weekend during urgent board meetings after Fiat Chrysler (FCA) (FCHA.MI) said his condition had worsened. On Saturday, FCA said Jeep division head Mike Manley was chief executive at the world’s seventh-largest carmaker, noting that the 54-year-old Brit would implement the latest mid-term strategy Marchionne had presented in June.
“Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone,” said FCA Chairman John Elkann, scion of the controlling Agnelli family.