Sergio Marchionne Says He Could Deliver a Tesla Model 3 Rival in 12 Months

You have to love Sergio Marchionne, even though the man is rarely right about what he says. Or maybe that's precisely why. He's a character, and the industry needs this type of people too. Plus, as long as nobody takes him too seriously, he's pretty much harmless.
Fiat 500e 1 photo
Photo: Fiat
As the CEO of FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), he isn't very interested in the electric car segment. His company is currently selling the Fiat 500e, but it never really bothered too much with creating an EV. It had the 500 lying around, it was the coolest car in the lineup, and so it automatically qualified as the best candidate for an engine transplant. Its success, however, was limited, and Fiat only really did it to show it's not completely oblivious to everything that's going on in the industry right now. In fact, Marchionne even urged people not to buy the 500e because the company was losing money with it, which isn't something you hear too often in this world.

Fiat is in the middle of a renaissance process, with new models showing, for the first time in quite a while, a clear direction - there are actually two new paths: the economical one and the more premium one. The former is best represented by models such as the Panda or the newly launched Tipo, while the latter is where the 500 (with its L and X derivates) resides. Apart from Fiat, the Jeep brand is also doing well thanks to the new Renegade and Cherokee models, and Chrysler is showing signs of life as well. The FCA seems to be over its darkest moments, which can only mean one thing: Marchionne is going to get more and more vocal.

For now, he aimed his guns at the Tesla Model 3 - something that is beginning to look like everybody's favorite activity - saying that the hard part is only yet to come for Musk's company. "I'm am not surprised by the high number of reservations but you have then to build and deliver them and also be profitable," he said during FCA's annual meeting, quoted by Automotive News Europe.

Marchionne thinks it would only take FCA twelve months to build a rival for the new EV sedan from Palo Alto, and it would also benefit from "Italian styling," but he says he's not convinced the Model 3 can be profitable. Mr. Marchionne, however, is forgetting one thing (or he wants to appear as if he's forgetting it): Tesla has been preparing this moment for years. It's not just about building an electric sedan with a maximum range of 200+ miles, but also about a huge factory that makes the batteries and, most of all, a very well spread charging network. Could FCA do that in 12 months without going bankrupt?

The truth is FCA is aligning with the rest of the conventional manufacturers that are doubting Tesla's chances of success and the relevance of the 400,000 pre-orders for the Model 3. And they could be right, as nothing is certain for now and anything can happen. But they do seem to be playing all their money on one card. Because if they're wrong, they're going to have to play catch-up with a company that's proven to be pushing the boundaries with every new model. And that's not going to be easy.
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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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