May 9, 2016
Sergio Marchionne has taken audacious actions in order to revamp Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Everytime he has taken the helm of a normal automaker (as opposed to the fabled Ferrari s.P.a (now N.V.)), bankrupt or heading towards it. Now, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles continues to grow at an astonishing rate. Marchionne started with Fiat, in 2003. When he got a hold of it, it was far from even faltering. It was hemorrhaging money from every orifice in Europe, and utterly non-existent in the United States. Fiat was not truly formidable in the US until the establishment of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. in 2009. Yet, in under three years, he brought Fiat back into the spectrum of profitability, and it made into one of the fastest growing automakers in the world. He used his accounting genius to cut redundancies, and optimize wherever possible, while producing nostalgia inducing classic. The Fiat 500 was well received that even Americans embraced its micromobile charms. His successes with the Italian brand allowed Marchionne to set his sights on expansion, he only needed a brand within his budget. When all others saw a financial crisis in 2008, Marchionne saw an opportunity to make an acquisition at a bargain basement price. The result of his patience and timing was Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. After making Fiat fiscally solvent; following decades of losses; he turned his sights to his American acquisitions. The most notable change was in the most famous brand under his automotive umbrella Jeep. In a short few years, Jeeps (though not the Wrangler) became utterly unrecognizable from what they once were. The fleet had gone from Wrangler-esque blah boxes to Italian aesthetic inspired beauties. The changes yielded sales growth for a record number of months. Though, the growth of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has not come without risk. Unfortunately, just about every car that leaves the production line is at risk of a recall. Granted, the drop in quality has not necessarily been at the detriment of function. However, there have been a few occasions where the recalls surpassed superficiality and tip toed into terrifying territories. Take, as an example, the Jeep Grand Cherokee and its fraternal twin the Dodge Durango. Due to cost saving modularity measures, they are only unique on the surface level. (which begs the question: why does anyone buy the uglier of the brothers?). Due to production haste and nine day gaps in quality control checks; 7,700 (combined), of the aforementioned brothers left the Jefferson North Assembly Plant, with “improperly heat-treated suspension components.” Thankfully, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles jumped in front of the issue and addressed it promptly; if they had not, the 65 worst affected could have seen their suspension snap in twain. While on from the outside it seems that Marchionne has acted impetuously or perhaps irresponsibly, but the truth is the opposite. He has only pursued the only path available; that does not lead to the division and dismemberment of his amalgamation of automakers, he does not want to be demoted from his position as head of an auto group. Despite all the hardships, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has been steadily moving further away from once imminent demise. The latest development for Marchionne’s Company has been his ongoing negotiations with Google. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Google have joined forces to create 100 autonomous hybrid minivans, which is supposed to be the first step of a greater relationship. Unfortunately for Marchionne, that move is not without risk. The reason Ford and others have passed on that deal, is because there is a looming matter of intellectual property. It seems Google wants to leave automakers on the short end of that stick.