Sergio Marchionne Gives Media, Reality The Slip

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
sergio marchionne gives media reality the slip

Having been told by the Secretary of Transportation that the Chrysler Group’s motley assortment of new trim level names, rebadged Lancias, decal-sporting special editions represents “the cutting edge of developing the kind of products that I think people in this country, and also in other countries, are really going to feel very favorable toward,” CEO Sergio Marchionne apparently thought enough had been said about his struggling bailout baby. As CBS reports, Marchionne suddenly canceled a 45-minute scheduled press availability before he had the chance to confirm LaHood’s astonishing opinion.

According to CBS

Last Thursday, Chrysler sent an email to members of the broadcast media, including CBS News, who had requested interviews with CEO Sergio Marchionne. The email, written by electronic media communications manager Ed Garsten, notified the recipients that Marchionne would be made available for “a 45 minute special broadcast availability” at 1 p.m. on Monday.

But minutes before the event was scheduled to begin, the plan had apparently changed.

Senior manager of communications Carrie McElwee stepped in front of the microphone and announced to the more than two dozens journalists already on hand that the event had been canceled. “He was on the floor quite a bit before, and then it took longer and his schedule changed,” Garsten later told CBS News.

The WSJ‘s write up of that on-the-floor conversation starts with the headline “CEO Expects Chrysler to Start Hiring,” but bases it on this heavily-qualified quote

It is more than likely, if we are accurate in our forecast of what the market will be, we are going to increase heads. It will be a gradual build, with some of it being done with temporary hires.

That first “if” is the mother of all ifs. Chrysler’s entire financial plan centers on the Group making $42.5b net revenue and breaking even on an operating profit basis next year. In all recent presentations, Chrysler executives have tied financial results to the health of the overall market, seemingly ignoring the elephant in the room, which can best be represented in visual form thusly:

Has Chrysler hit bottom, or are we looking at a dead cat bounce on a long road downward? Auto Motor und Sport dedicate a few short sentences to Marchionne’s take on that question. “The only thing that reassures me is that we hit a floor in 2009,” Marchionne is quoted as saying. But, “putting his ambitious sale goal in doubt,” as AM&S puts it, Marchionne disclaims “unprofitable volume isn’t the volume I’m looking for.”

Too bad nobody had the chance to ask if he thinks (for example) the Islander Edition Wrangler will halt the once-proud Jeep brand’s 30 percent sales slide that took place over the last year. Or how showing a Lancia dressed as a Chrysler gets anyone excited about anything. Or what will happen if arbitration with 789 culled Chrysler dealers goes bad. Or how (for example) offering $1,500-$4,000 cash on all Chrysler-brand models repairs the brand or creates “quality volume?” Or, or, or…

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  • ToolGuy "We're marking the anniversary of the time Robert Farago started the GM death watch and called for the company to die."• No, we aren't. Robert Farago wrote that in April 2005. It was reposted in 2009 on the eve of the actual bankruptcy filing.The byline dates are sometimes strange/off with the site revisions (and the 'this is a repost' note got lost), but the date string in the link is correct (...2005/04...). Posting about GM bankruptcy in 2005 was a slightly more difficult call than doing it in 2009.-- The Truth About Calendars
  • Kat Laneaux Agree with Michael500, we wasted all that money just to bail out GM and they are developing these cars in China and other countries. What the heck. I understand the cheap labor but that is just another foothold the government has on their citizens and they already treat them like crap. That is pretty disgusting to go forward to put other peoples health and mental stability on a crazy crazed, control freak, leader, who is in bed with Russia. Thought about getting a buick but that just shot that one out of the park. All of this for the greed. They get what they lay in bed with. Disgusting.
  • Michael500 Good thing Obama used $50 billion of taxpayer money to bail them out and give unions a big stake. GM is headed to BK again with their Hail Mary hope of EVs. Hopefully a Republican in office will let them go BK the next time, and it's coming. The US economy is not related/dependent on GM and their Chinese made Buicks.
  • MaintenanceCosts "Rural areas hardly noticed COVID at all."I very much doubt that is true in places like the Navajo Nation or the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, some of which lost 2% or more of their population to COVID.No city had a death rate in the same order of magnitude.Low-density living is a very modern invention. Before cars, people, even in agricultural areas, needed to live densely to survive.
  • Wjtinfwb Always liked these MN12 cars and the subsequent Lincoln variant. But Ford, apparently strapped for resources or cash, introduced these half-baked. Very sophisticated chassis and styling, let down but antiquated old pushrod engines and cheap interiors. The 4.6L Modular V8 helped a bit, no faster than the 5.0 but extremely smooth and quiet. The interior came next, nicer wrap-around dash, airbags instead of the mouse belts and refined exterior styling. The Supercharged 3.8L V6 was potent, but kind of crude and had an appetite for head gaskets early on. Most were bolted to the AOD automatic, a sturdy but slow shifting gearbox made much better with electronic controls in the later days. Nice cars that in the right color, evoked the 6 series BMW, at least the Thunderbird did. Could have been great cars and maybe should have been a swoopy CLS style sedan. Pretty hard to find a decent one these days.