Who Needs A Day Off?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Between trying to pull of one of the greatest attempted miracles in the history of the auto industry, and keeping things together at Fiat, you can bet Sergio Marchionne does. He tells the Freep:

This cannot go on forever. Certainly within the next 24 months, we’ll find a more permanent solution, either there or here. I’m not threatening the Italian side with a departure from Italy, but we need to find a solution.

But, for now Marchionne will keep his nose to the grindstone. After all, he says “I’m the only one who can guarantee the [technology] transfer [from Fiat to Chrysler]. There’s got to be this blood transfusion and it needs to happen at the speed of light.” The fact that Marchionne is personally holding the alliance between Fiat and Chrysler together is more than a little crazy, especially since that technology transfer is Fiat’s only contribution to its US Taxpayer-funded acquisition of Chrysler. But there’s no doubt that under Marchionne’s leadership, the pace of work is frantic.

Marchionne is especially proud of the fact that the Fiat 500 will be federalized and tooled up for production in Mexico in a grand total of 18 months. It’s too early to count the 500 as a success, especially since Fiat’s definition of success with the tiny Italian might differ some from ours. Still, 18 months is a hell of a timeline, and the 4Q 2010 re-launch of the Sebring will be another incredibly fast-paced industrial effort. But if these light-speed efforts to bring in new product to Chrysler’s moribund lineup don’t succeed, Sergio won’t be worrying about balancing two jobs for long.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Dec 09, 2009

    Wow what a HUGE drop in sales. Is there really a nation wide BOYCOTT of chrysler? Well, not unless you define "boycott" as being the result of a trifecta of: Little or no lease support, and the death of subsidized leasing Piss-poor mass-market products The recession I don't think that's really what you mean by "boycott".

  • Autojunkie Autojunkie on Dec 09, 2009

    The same thing happened to Mitsubishi only a few years ago when the market was "good". In fact, Mitsubishi was in worse shape here in the US. Prior to that, VW was in the same shape. Look at VW now. And while I still think Mitsubishi's are garbage, their sales are steadily increasing.

    • CommanderFish CommanderFish on Dec 09, 2009

      The one difference is that VW and Mitsubishi both had home markets to keep them afloat as they try to entrench in America. This is Chrysler's home market that they're floundering in. Yeah, Chrysler is doing pretty well in Canada, but that's not big enough to keep them afloat. That's like a drowning man trying to use a lifejacket made for an infant.

  • Porschespeed Porschespeed on Dec 09, 2009

    18 Months to federalize the 500 and tool up a plant in Mexico is pretty darned impressive in some ways. If he times it just right, all the signs will be down and the showrooms empty when it's ready to drop.

  • 50merc 50merc on Dec 09, 2009

    OK, 18 months is impressive--but new products are needed NOW. Anybody know how long the federalization process takes by itself? For that matter, why does it take more than a year just to freshen the Sebring? It won't be a new platform, will it?

    • Windswords Windswords on Dec 09, 2009

      You can thank federal regulations for that. There is so much testing and certification that has to be done just to change something that you need a long lead time and an army of engineers. We used to have cars that would change appearance every 1 or two years (look at the 1968-69 Pontiac GTO, then the 1970 model, then the 1971 model. You could never do that today).