How will FCA fare after Marchionne?


Sergio Marchionne passed away on July 25th. FCA must continue on, but can it without its hardworking leader?

Sergio Marchionne died at the age of 66 from complications that arose after a surgery. Marchionne was a heavy smoker until last year. He experienced issues after the surgery and eventually fell into a coma. He did not recover and passed away Wednesday morning.

Marchionne was the charismatic leader who led Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to profitability. He took the helm of Fiat in 2004 and managed to turn things around through shrewd negotiating and sheer hard work.

“I like to fix things and, to be blunt, Fiat needs a fix right now,” Marchionne said when he first got in the driver’s seat of the Fiat brand.

In 2009, Fiat bought stake in Chrysler and by 2014 Marchionne secured a full partnership with Chrysler. Since then he worked tirelessly to grow the business of the brands that fell under the FCA umbrella, especially in North America.

Marchionne’s work must continue

FCA has a strong grasp on the market in North America, but it falls short in other areas of the world. According to Reuters, FCA hasn’t managed to break into China in a big way, and the business, while growing, isn’t exactly booming in Europe.

Another area FCA needs to do a lot of work is electrified cars. The company’s brands don’t offer much when it comes to hybrids, plug-in hybrids, or EVs. That said, there was a strategic shift in 2014. FCA saw that it would have to make some changes, and that would have likely been the next move for Marchionne.

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With FCA’s lack of investment in this kind of technology, it will be interesting to see how the company manages. There have been rumors of an FCA and General Motors partnership to lessen the cost to FCA, but it was clear Marchionne didn’t really want that to happen.

A new era for FCA

Mike Manley CEO of Jeep
Mike Manley CEO of Jeep /

With the passing of Marchionne, FCA chose Mike Manley, CEO of the Jeep brand, to take the wheel of all of FCA. Manley has proved competent in his role at Jeep, but it’s yet to be seen whether or not he will be up to the new and much larger challenge.

FCA has a lot to do in the upcoming months if it wants to continue to build on its positive momentum. Fiat and Alfa Romeo continue to struggle, and the electrification of FCA’s vehicle will surely prove to be a formidable foe.

Manley will also have to focus more on expanding sales success outside of North America. Many experts think the North American market is peaking right now, and there’s no telling what could happen to FCA once it’s no longer so high.

Manley has his work cut out for him, and his future and the future of FCA is well-positioned, but still in question. One thing is for sure, though, FCA lost one heck of a leader in Marchionne, and he will be sorely missed.