• Apr 13, 2009
If you were surprised by the "resignation" of GM chief Rick Wagoner late last month, get used to the idea. Chrysler reportedly has some major management changes in store as well, including a new seven-member executive board including representatives from Fiat and the Obama administration's automotive task force. But while Bob Nardelli may stay on to chair that board, Chrysler's next CEO may not even be American. Sources close to the ongoing negotiations between Chrysler LLC and the Fiat Group suggest that part of the new arrangement could see Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionnne taking the top job at the Detroit automaker with which he's jumping into bed.
Sound crazy? Not as crazy as you might think. The architect of Fiat's impressive turn-around from a struggling conglomerate into one of Europe's biggest automakers, Marchionne is a Canadian citizen and was educated just a hop, skip and a jump away from Detroit in Windsor, Ontario. Further, he holds court twice a month at the suburban Chicago offices of Fiat's agricultural subsidiary, Case New Holland. Obama has publicly praised Marchionne's management, which could see him take a hands-on approach to running the two allied companies similar to how Carlos Ghosn, another highly rated European automotive executive, runs Nissan and Renault.

Chrysler and Fiat have until the end of the month to iron out a plan, but it may be more complicated than straight-up bilateral negotiations, as several third parties also figure into the mix. First is Cerberus Capital Management, which owns a majority stake in Chrysler at the moment. Next up is Daimler, which is still locked in negotiations with Cerberus to offload its remaining stake in Chrysler. After throwing in representatives from the United Auto Workers, some of America's biggest financial institutions (many not faring much better than Chrysler themselves) hold several billions in the company's debt. Sure, Marchionne may get the job, but he's going to have one heck of a time getting all this sorted out.

[Source: Automotive News – subs. req'd]


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  • 29 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Oh, he'll be "hands on". That's like a manager saying he has an "open door" policy.

      Are there any real reasons to think the head of FIAT is automatically better than other candidates?

      I find it odd Ghosn is still held up as a big deal. He did make a big change when he started, but since then Nissan hasn't done anything special.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wow! I mean....wow!

      Could be a go thing to see new top management in control. At least, the world would be watching to see if new ideas and business concepts will actually make Chrysler strong again. We're all hoping that their creative department keeps pumping exciting concepts for possible future development.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If the deal with Fiat does not go through, Nardelli will lose his job. If the deal does go through, Nardelli will lose his job.

      Looks like we can't lose!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wonder if Daimler is reconsidering their share now that FIAT is involved? I bet that turd doesn't look so bad to them now that there is an Italian connection.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I see no good in this move.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Expect a lot of pain. Fiat is all about dollars and cents; squeezing margins and people. God help the dealer network who got hooked on "cash incentives" to move stock.
      Italians, despite all the folklore, are absolutely ruthless when it comes to business.
      Expect to see Tata, Peugeot, Chrysler to form an "alliance" in the near future.
      The automotive world as we know it is about to be reinvented.
        • 5 Years Ago
        God help us all.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Chrysler has no idea what they are getting into with Marchionne. He will come in and take over, remove top executives, cut heads and make life miserable for those that are left. He is ruthless with no care for anyone. Nardelli will be history. If this goes through, good luck to the survivors your lives will never be the same.
      • 5 Years Ago
      As the "Cable Man" says, "Get'er Done!"

      Times a waste'in and the governments deadline is closer for Chrysler(30 days) than GM's(60 days).

      As for the the muscle cars being eliminated, I don't think that the Chrysler arm of this merger will totally be out of that game. I think that maybe, these vehicles will take on a "specialty" wing, with low production numbers, and their low priced V6, "average guy/gal" versions will be eliminated.

      Notice that Nissan doesn't make what you'd call an entry level, for-the-masses GTR version?

      There's only so much the current buyer market can absorb or buy in the Poney Car class(Mustang,Camaro, Challenger) nowadays.

      I think Chrylser/Fiat will probably have a performance division, not unlike Ford's SVT.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I see this as a good thing. Both Marchionne and Ghosn has done a terrific job in the auto industry so it is good to have at least one onboard fixing the Pentastar. Besides, it seems that many here are associating Fiat only with small cars and that after this Chrysler would only produce them? Are you forgetting that Fiat means also Lancia, Alfa-Romeo, Maserati and Ferrari?

      If this thing comes through and Chrysler would be in public trading, I would probably buy some stock.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Chill you won't see the next Viper on a Maserati platform, and in Europe Lancia, sells less then Buick in the US, Alfa it's not a hit either. Fiat group it's not Renault Nissan. When it comes to smart strategy.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wonderful, after all the 'magic' nardelli worked at home depot and chrsyler, i'll be stoked to see someone with real experience running a business, especially a car business, take the lead.
      • 5 Years Ago
      canada to the rescue.

      look's like windsor might get a break this time.

      we will wait and see.

      • 5 Years Ago
      I vote yes.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think this could work if done right. There are no passion in Chrysler products except for the Challenger RT and SRT8. Daimler nearly destroyed Chrysler and really didn't care!
        There is alot of passion in Italian cars and I see no reason why Chrysler can't build cars again that people with love and want to buy.
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