According to experts, analysts and industry observers, the long-running chief executive Sergio Marchionne, seen as a turnover maestro, now needs to prove he’s a car guy.
Marchionne was brought to Fiat SpA by the controlling family after Chairman Umberto Agnelli, with the new CEO facing the difficult task of stopping a surge in losses, that totaled between 2001 and 2003 no less than 6 billion euros ($8.2 billion).
A decade later, the task is completed – although the newly created Fiat Chrysler Automobiles operations in Europe are again seeing losses – and further on the group expanded to fully include Chrysler Group LLC, which Marchionne, 61, saved from bankruptcy.
“The turnaround maestro, who saved Fiat and Chrysler helped by his financial skills, must now show, by making the right products, that he’s a ‘car guy’ too,” said Giuseppe Berta, a professor at Bocconi University in Milan.
Investors, analysts and observers are skeptical about the proposed five-years business plan that would see a five fold increase in the net profit tally and sales jumping 60% by 2018.
The record, so far, is mixed – the Alfa Romeo brand is not yet resuscitated (after many attempts), while the Lancia brand is all but extinct – reduced soon to a single model sold in the home market. On the other hand, the 500 small car has been a huge success for the Fiat brand and the Maserati luxury unit has managed to tap into the highly lucrative luxury segment.