Sergio Marchionne was the head of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and had just recently stepped down from his position due to health concerns. After complications from a recent shoulder surgery that he underwent in Zurich, Marchionne’s health was declining rapidly and was replaced as CEO when he could not continue his role.
He had been the CEO of Fiat since 2004 and had led FCA since the Fiat-Chrysler merger in 2011. Sergio Marchionne was sometimes known as the most ruthless in the business and was focussed on cutting costs and investments where he saw little to no probability of gainful returns. He was also one of the most energetic and vibrant characters of the industry – outspoken, articulate and brilliant.
The man worked non-stop and as such has many achievements in his years leading Fiat and FCA, in times when both companies were teetering on the edge of failure. He was aware of the business being more than just an automotive enterprise and also looked at it through the lens of the stock markets. When he separated the car business from the large vehicle business of trucks and agriculture and part-off loaded Ferrari, he brought substantial gains to the Fiat shareholders.
The move to take over then bankrupt Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram business was a bold one too. He even paid off its debt to the government soon after turning a profit. He delayed pumping money into Alfa Romeo for almost a decade until he was sure that he could see the best way to do it properly. He loved cars but he was clear to make it a point to not get sentimental in business.
Last week, one his most trusted deputies took over as CEO – Mike Manley. Mike had been running Jeep and is a bit of a hero at FCA as that brand now contributes the MOST to the group’s profit. In his time at Jeep, Manley has overseen the expansion of the product portfolio and lifted sales by huge multiples while pushing sales in Asia and Europe as well. With Mike Manley at the helm, FCA is likely to follow the five-year plan that was outlined by the late Marchionne just a few weeks ago. The plan that included the group’s entry into electrified cars, new Alfa Romeo models including a fast coupe and an 8C as well as a smaller SUV than the Stelvio, the electric Maserati Alfieri coupe and a more diverse range for Jeep.
Our condolences to the family and friends of Sergio Marchionne.
*The representational image used is from quite some time ago.