By on September 25, 2012

“What he invests on research and development in a year is not enough for us to even make part of a mudguard. He should stop bugging us,”

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne responds to the unsolicited advice of Tod’s founder Diego Della Valle. It’s been a busy week for Sergio, whose homecoming in Italy was met with endless chirping from various corners of society.

As Bertel reported earlier, Marchionne met with none other than Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti to discuss Italy’s flagging car market. Marchionne also lashed out at Volkswagen, telling them

“I will not give Alfa to them, they should solve the problems they have elsewhere. They have a great problem with Seat.” 

While Marchionne is known for his erm, candid comments, his frustration is palpable; ignorant outsiders – and ignorant insiders – pontificating about the auto industry is a tradition as old as the Model T. Whether it’s insisting that obscure, foreign-market variants would be the savior of an ailing company or preaching the merits of an iCar, so many have their own ideas of what would fix the car industry, but so few have any real understanding of what it takes the develop, design, engineer, manufacture, market and sell a car. Even with my relatively limited knowledge of these elements, it is easy to get frustrated when the ignorant spout off about their quick-fixes for the industry, if only because every glimpse at the inner workings of the auto industry are a humbling reminder that modern automobile production is nothing short of an industrial miracle.

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11 Comments on “Quotes Of The Day: Marchionne Mouths Off At Luxury Cobbler, Volkswagen...”

  • avatar
    Freddy M

    “counting on foreigners to act as Italy’s saviours is the greatest idiocy I have heard in my life.” from the link.

    Does he know that first-hand because he scooped up Chrysler from the Americans?

    • 0 avatar
      Bela Barenyi

      Do you even have a clue about labour laws in Italy, about the Italian unions (who still live mentally in the 1970s), about the lack of “work ethics” of blue collar workers in the the South of Italy (“What? You tell my I should show up every day at work? I don’t want to and my favourite soccer team has an important match today. And beside of that who do you think you are? My Boss ? GFY!!!! What are you going to do? You can’t fire me! If you try, I will burn your car and your house down.”), about the stupid Italian bureaucracy?

      What Sergio means: To expect that with “foreign investment” all of Italys structural problems will disappear, is just stupid. Foreign investment won’t ´change anything about stupid Italian labour laws, it won’t change the Italian unions and it won’t change the general lack of work ethics and the excessive bureaucracy in Italy.

      • 0 avatar

        Wow, Bela….

        That’s quite an indictment, but explains a lot.
        Alas, what you documented about Italy may also apply to France, which is why Peugot-Citroën is in deep trouble. Notice, however, that Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, and and Pagani seem to be almost unaffected by the situation you have described. Why is that? I realize those are very expensive cars, but do the workers have a different attitude or labor arrangement?


      • 0 avatar
        Freddy M

        Wow. Thanks for the insight. I took the quote without the proper context.

        Remind me never to move to Italy.

      • 0 avatar

        An American correspondent, whose name I can’t recall, was posted to Rome in the postwar early ’50s and wrote a book about it, and included a story about the apartment house, a former three story mansion, where he lived, and the resourcefulness of his Italian neighbors.

        There were four apartments per floor, on the corners of the building, with a front hall and central staircase. Every month his electric bill went up, and when it finally reached outrageous proportions, he decided to check out his fuse box, outside his door.

        Holding a flashlight he unscrewed the fuses one by one. His apartment went dark with the first two, but there were more. When he unscrewed another, his neighbor in the front corner came out of her place, saw him, and darted back inside. With every fuse unscrewed he heard curses and doors slamming, until there was silence, and there were two fuses left.

        When he unscrewed the next to last fuse, the hall and staircase lights went out, the building completely dark. He finally realized why his electric bill went up: all his neighbors (and landlord!) had tapped into the “rich American’s” circuit, saving themselves a bundle.

        But he looked back at the fuse box and there was still one fuse. He was paying for the electricity, so his curiosity was piqued. When he unscrewed the last fuse, the street light in front of the building went out.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    ” the inner workings of the auto industry are a humbling reminder that modern automobile production is nothing short of an industrial miracle.”

    And globalization has made it even tougher.

  • avatar

    Apparently one mudguard is exactly what Marchionne’s new model development investments will buy him.

    8.8% EU market share in 2009, 6.6% so far in 2012, how much lower can he take Fiat? Della Valle may not be a car guy, but neither is Marchionne, really, and Della Valle has a good point here.

  • avatar

    I feel like spending that kind of dosh on designing a mud-gard is part of the problem. And then inevitably the bean-counters will come in and make 90% of that design investment irrelevant.

  • avatar

    Marchionne really needs to get a life. And FIAT memories are long. Too long. I owned a FIAT 124 Spyder. The car was red. Lovely to look at and supple to drive, but the engine blew up while I was parked in my driveway (overhead cams down, pistons up). On the other hand I’ve owned a lot of VWs, and never once had a seat problem.

  • avatar

    I must say that Sergio is firing on all cylinders lately. Pissing off the Canadians and now the home town crowd. I can’t wait until he gets to the US FIAT distributors.

    That 6.6% is obviously really grinding his gears. If things don’t improve soon he’s going to start firing I think.

  • avatar
    Robert Gordon

    Tod aren’t cobblers..they’re ‘Shoemakers’ or more likely given these are purportedly luxury shoes ‘Cordwainers’.

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