The Late Automotive Giant – Sergio Marchionne
Before Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) became the automotive group it is today, both Fiat and Chrysler were saved by the former CEO Sergio Marchionne. Having stepped down due to illness, Marchionne passed away July 25, 2018. He was born in Italy, and migrated to Toronto, Canada at age thirteen to pursue a higher education. By the time Marchionne graduated grad school, he held a Master’s degree in business administration and law, and then entered the world of accounting. He quickly became recognized as an accountant, tax specialist, attorney, and business strategist as he worked up the ladder in multiple companies before taking his talent to the automotive industry.
The Fiat Group quickly realized the good Marchionne could do for the company when he restructured their debt, settled contractual obligations to General Motors with a $2 billion payment, and drew up a four-year plan to make 20 new models to expand the product line for Fiat. Marchionne was quickly appointed as CEO in 2004, and following this, helped to save the Detroit automotive company, Chrysler Group LLC, out of bankruptcy by purchasing 20-percent of the company in 2009. He was also appointed as the CEO of Chrysler around the same time.
It wasn’t until 2011, when Marchionne was elected as the Chairman of Chrysler that the two automotive groups were merged in the fall of 2014. The merger became the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles group we know today. Even with all of these accomplishments under his belt, Marchionne still worked closely with the engineers, marketing executives, and product planners when the FCA Group was developing new concepts and making tough decisions. Some of these decisions had to do with discontinuing vehicles that only cost the automotive group more money than they made.
To bring FCA back around, the Dodge Dart and Chrysler 200 were discontinued in 2017. The same year, Marchionne partnered Chrysler with Alphabet Inc. on their self-driving Waymo project. With the goal to make the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid the first self-driving vehicle by bringing early-stage autonomous driving to the hybrid minivan, their objective was achieved in 2018 when the Waymo was certified as the first driverless transportation network in Phoenix, Arizona.
Although not a large fan of hybrids and alternative fuel vehicles, they were included in the five-year plan Marchionne drew up for FCA. This five year plan also closely studied Jeep and Ram and focused on the new models these two brands would be releasing to lead FCA to greater heights. Just one more way Marchionne envisioned the growth of the automotive group.
Marchionne left quite a legacy in the auto industry, and he will be remembered as one of the giants for years to come.