FCA Is Losing Its CEO in Two Years, So the Search for His Replacement Picks Up

There comes a time in a company's existence when even the most successful chairman needs to be replaced. Marchionne has had his fair share of doubters and critiques, but at the end of the day, the Italian managed to increase FIAT's value eight times over the 13 years he's been at the helm of the Italian carmaker.
Sergio Marchionne 1 photo
Photo: FCA
During his reign, FIAT completed the merger with U.S. company Chrysler, opening up the North American market for some FIAT products as well as offering the Italian brand access to Jeep's SUV platforms, thus preventing it from missing out on a very lucrative segment.

The group's ultra-luxury brand, Ferrari, has also undergone some very important changes. The first four-wheel-drive car from Maranello was built under Marchionne, and so was the first ever hybrid. Turbocharged engines also made a comeback, adding to the list of previously unthinkable transformations. Despite all that Ferrari is doing better than ever, which is the best way to confirm the CEO's decisions.

But Marchionne will mostly be remembered for his outspoken nature. Never one to hold back, he famously called electric vehicles a fad, prophesizing that they would eventually go away. He even went as far as to recommend people they don't buy the FIAT 500e, because his company loses about $10,000 on each unit sold.

Well, we're talking about Marchionne in past tense, but the truth is the CEO still has two more years to go a the head of FCA, plus another two leading the faith of Ferrari. Even so, given the importance of his position, the board is already looking for his replacement, and as it's perfectly normal, it seems they are limiting their search to company employees.

According to Bloomberg, that has forced the board to widen its search and include some younger, second-tier managers on the provisional list, alongside more prominent figures such as Jeep CEO Mike Manley, Chief Technology Officer Harald Wester, or Marchionne's closest aides, Europe chief Alfredo Altavilla and Chief Financial Officer Richard Palmer.

Despite the upward trend of FIAT, it's not all peachy at FCA with the multinational company potentially involved in a diesel emissions scandal not much different from the one that shook Volkswagen close to two years ago. Apart from that, it has also been struck by a series of recalls which also dent the already shaky reliability image of FCA's products.

On top of that, the new CEO will have to navigate the company through uncharted territory as the automotive industry is headed toward an electrified, self-driving future, two areas where FCA is trailing its competitors, even though there is a very lucrative partnership with Alphabet's Waymo.
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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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