Sergio Marchionne, the charismatic automotive executive who rescued both FIAT and Chrysler, has passed away. He was 66 years old.
Over the years his unconventional style, in both business strategy and — see his standard uniform of black sweaters — fashion choices won him many admirers in the industry. AutoNation’s own Mike Jackson counted Marchionne as a personal friend, and spoke with the New York Times this morning about what set him apart, saying “He could take a fire hose of complexity and reduce it to its fundamentals in minutes,” and that “he had the courage to make very aggressive decisions, and if it went badly he’d be totally accountable for it.”
Under Marchionne’s leadership, the brands under the FIAT Chrysler umbrella would release some of the most exciting products in recent decades, including Ferrari’s LaFerrari, Dodge’s Hellcat-powered muscle cars, the redesigned Jeep Wrangler, and Maserati’s Levante SUV.
Restoring glory to Italy’s long-stagnant Alfa Romeo marque was a passion project for Marchionne, and the debut of the ferocious Giulia Quadrifoglio saw it trounce many established competitors in hotly contested sports sedan segment.
Marchionne was a reverential figure at FIAT Chrysler, and this morning, the company released the following statement on Twitter.
All of us at FCA feel privileged to have worked alongside a courageous leader like Sergio Marchionne, a man of enormous humanity and intelligence. In this moment of sadness, we join with his family in remembering him with immense affection.
It’s a fitting tribute to a man who was equally adept at pleasing shareholders and enthusiast alike, and the automotive world is a little less exciting today. Everyone at Team AutoNation extends our condolences to Marchionne’s family and many friends. Godspeed, Sergio.