By on September 2, 2017

2017 Jeep® Wrangler Unlimited Sahara - Image: Jeep

He came to watch a race, but Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne took some time out from a busy Saturday at the Italian Formula One Grand Prix to squash some rumors.

You know the ones. Reports emerged last month that Chinese automakers were hanging around FCA’s door, just waiting for a chance to sweep the company off its feet. An unnamed company pitched a buyout offer, the story goes. Not high enough, FCA allegedly responded. Another company, Great Wall Motors, isn’t interested in FCA, just its lucrative and growth-poised Jeep division.

Is a Chinese-Italian-American automaker in the works? Will the buck one day stop in Beijing or Shanghai, instead of at the desks of Auburn Hills executives? Hardly, says Marchionne. No one wants to dance with FCA. (Read More…)

By on August 22, 2017

All-new 2017 Jeep® Compass Trailhawk - Image: FCAIn what is almost certainly going to be little more than a faint memory in the minds of devoted readers at AmericasJeepLovers.org, the potential relationship between Wang Fengying’s Great Wall Motors Co. and Sergio Marchionne’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has taken a turn for the less likely already.

It seems like years ago — no, wait, it seems like yesterday — that Great Wall Motors Co. publicly declared its viability as a suitor for FCA Jeep, the most important, highest-value, primary source of desirability within the FCA family. Jeep, you’ll recall, is likely worth substantially more on its own than the whole of FCA, Jeep included. This explains why it came as no surprise that Great Wall Motors or any other automaker would express an interest in purchasing Jeep from FCA. With huge global potential for a hugely popular brand that hasn’t yet tapped many open markets, Jeep has reach.

But does Great Wall even have the money? Would FCA even entertain the idea of selling off its most valuable component? And is there even any hope of negotiation? (Read More…)

By on August 21, 2017

2017 Jeep® Grand Cherokee Trailhawk Great Wall logo - Image: FCA/Great WallIn the week that’s elapsed since initial reports surfaced of a Chinese automaker planning a takeover of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Geely, Dongfeng, and Guangzhou Automobile Group have all taken themselves out of the running.

Automotive News now reports, however, that the seventh-largest automaker in China, Great Wall Motors Company, has a keen interest in FCA, which has long courted unwilling suitors.

There’s one outstanding issue. Great Wall Motors Co. is open about its desire to acquire Jeep as part of a mission “to become the world’s largest SUV maker,” but Great Wall doesn’t want FCA’s other, far less valuable entities.  (Read More…)

By on July 31, 2017

2017 Jeep Compass

It’s no secret that hybrids and fully electric vehicles are about as appealing to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne as a crisp, button-up shirt. The FCA boss once famously railed against his company’s sole electric offering — the tiny, money-losing Fiat 500e — for losing $10,000 for every unit sold. Placating California doesn’t come cheap.

Still, Marchionne isn’t alone in distrusting the plug. Subaru and Mazda have shown a similar aversion to electrification, though even those automakers concede it’s a losing battle. In a conference call with investors late last week, Marchionne admitted defeat, outlining a plan to add electric motors to a significant chunk of FCA’s fleet in the coming years. One division stands to go the way of Volvo, with electric motors planned for each new car introduced after 2019.

What prompted the shift in thinking? Diesel, and the public’s growing distrust in compression-ignition engines. (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2017

marchionne, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne has just under two years left at the helm of the multi-national automaker, after which he’ll slowly enter the cushy existence of the semi-retired professional. The sweater aficionado will continue on as CEO of Ferrari until 2021, and still serves as chairman of CNH Industrial and vice-chairman of Dutch investment company Exor.

Many hats. However, FCA needs to find someone willing to wear just one.

As Marchionne’s April 2019 retirement date grows ever near, the automaker has stepped up its search for a successor. No, don’t bother submitting your resume just yet. While it’s probable a few brave outsiders might find the prospect of figuring out what to do with the Fiat brand exciting, FCA’s CEO search isn’t taking place outside company confines. There’s already a lengthy list of possible top dogs. (Read More…)

By on April 5, 2017

Toledo Ð August 23, 2010 Ð Chrysler Group LLC CEO Sergio Marchionne, center, Complex Manager Mauro Pino, right, and more than 800 UAW-represented employees welcomed Vice President Joe Biden, left, to Chrysler's Toledo Assembly Complex, home of the new 2011 Jeep¨ Wrangler, Image: FCA

About half a decade ago, FCA honcho Sergio Marchionne welcomed then-Vice President Joe “Lunch Bucket” Biden to the Jeep Toledo plant to celebrate all things Jeep. It was rather warm August day outside, but even hotter in the assembly plant where everybody’s favorite “uncle,” hair plugs and all, was decked out in a suit and tie. Marchionne, on the other hand, was “sporting” his signature blue wool sweater.

I was writing a politics blog for the Detroit News at the time, and I urged Mr. Marchionne to give his sweater shtick a rest. Why? Well, when the “Number Two” for the United States shows up in a suit, you look disrespectful in a sweater … even if it is from Nordstrom. Worse yet, I pointed out, it had to be hotter than hell in a wool sweater in an assembly plant humming with new vehicle production.

Up to that point, I was duly impressed with the Canadian-Italian and his rescue of my former employer. He was smart, funny and all-too-quotable. Most importantly, he had asked his Chrysler colleagues to work their butts off to save the company, and his minions quickly saw nobody worked harder than Sergio as he chain-smoked his magic on the often down-and-out company.

Marchionne did what former CEO Bob Nardelli couldn’t do in the former Home-Depot-throw-off’s two-year “Reign of Error.” Marchionne didn’t just lead the members of his team. He got in the trenches and inspired them.

Fast forward to late 2016 through today, and I’m asking myself: Is Marchionne a “loon” or a “boon” for FCA’s future?

(Read More…)

By on March 21, 2017

marchionne looking pleased

Sergio’s waiting by the phone. Waiting for someone to call him up and tell him he’s not alone. (Our apologies to Soul Asylum – Ed.)

It’s not our fault Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne’s corporate life resembles a game of Mystery Date. That’s just the way it is for an automaker on the prowl for a partner. After having its advances repeatedly rebuffed by General Motors, FCA has now latched onto Volkswagen as a potential suitor — but the merger dance hasn’t been a smooth one.

After some cattiness on VW’s part, it seems the eternally — and perhaps naïvely — optimistic Marchionne’s hopes are once again up. He’s anticipating a call. (Read More…)

By on March 16, 2017

marchionne looking pleased

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne changed his stance on the appeal of a potential merger with Volkswagen AG, saying he now has “zero interest” after being publicly spurned by company CEO Matthias Müller.

Marchionne had previously expressed a repeated interest in sharing business with the German automaker, especially with regard to green technologies.

However, after an initial remark where he said he was “not ruling out a conversation,” Müller explained that he had no direct contact with the FCA CEO. “It would be very helpful if Mr. Marchionne were to communicate his considerations to me too and not just to you,” Müller told German reporters on Tuesday. “I am pretty confident about the future of Volkswagen, with or without Marchionne,” he concluded.  (Read More…)

By on March 14, 2017

porsche-ceo-matthias-muller

Matthias Müller, CEO of Volkswagen Group, said in a press conference he hasn’t excluded the possibility of a merger with Fiat Chrysler Automotive.

Müller said, “There has been no contact at this point between (CEO of FCA) Mr. Marchionne and me, but I have never said I would exclude it.”

(Read More…)

By on March 13, 2017

Apple iOS in a Car + Ferrari California

Several months late to the annual Airing of the Grievances, Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne recently took the opportunity to mildly trash one of his company’s products.

The outspoken CEO, who donned the title last year, apparently takes offence to the company’s California T, complaining to reporters at the Geneva Motor Show that the droptop grand tourer just doesn’t feel like it belongs in the stable. (Read More…)

By on March 8, 2017

marchionne

It’s often sad to witness the moment when an individual’s high hopes collide with a cold, antiseptic wall of reality. Though we should all aspire for more, the inescapable truth is that most of our dreams will end up dashed on the rocks.

This week it was Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne’s turn — once again — to face rejection. Buoyed by PSA Group’s acquisition of General Motors’ European car divisions, Marchionne must have assumed that love was in the air and it would perhaps soon be FCA’s turn to go home with another automaker.

Unfortunately for Marchionne, one potential mate quickly burst that balloon in a fairly heartbreaking fashion. (Read More…)

By on January 24, 2017

White House, Washington DC

At the start of the second real workday of the Trump administration, the leaders of the Detroit Three automakers marched into the White House for a breakfast meeting with their newly minted president.

We don’t know for sure what they ate, but we can relate what they talked about. This won’t come as a shock: investment. Specifically, assembly plant investment in the U.S., rather than Mexico.

Ford CEO Mark Fields, General Motors CEO Mary Barra and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne knew the landscape they were entering. Yesterday, Trump signed an executive order that pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and moved to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Today, he signed an executive action to advance approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

Deals. Besides perhaps eggs and toast, Trump wanted deals. Or, at this early point, promises and assurances at the very least. (Read More…)

By on December 5, 2016

NASCAR (public domain)

The old NASCAR adage “Win on Sunday, sell on Monday” still temps modern automakers, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne isn’t immune to its spell.

After pulling out of stock car racing in 2012 to get its financial house in order, FCA now wants to see the Dodge brand back on the track. (Read More…)

By on November 8, 2016

Ferrari steering wheel

Ferrari CEO Sergio Marchionne — who’s also the CEO of some other company — says the Italian automaker’s stable will be full of hybrid technology in three short years.

This isn’t an initiative designed to take Ferrari from red to green. Rather, it’s the only way it can boost sales without running afoul of the law. There’s cash to be made, and Sergio’s on the case.

(Read More…)

By on June 18, 2016

maserati-alfieri-concept-01

Shortly after publicly dissing Tesla for the umpteenth time and speculating that electric cars aren’t the future, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne now says he wants to make an electric car.

Well, maybe. If he has to. But it’s probably gonna happen. This EV thing could be big, you know. (Read More…)

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