TURIN – Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne skirts the issue of succession, predicts a rational settlement to growing trade disputes and declares a future for the Chrysler and Dodge brands in North America during a wide-ranging question and answer session here at the automaker’s Capital Markets Day briefing.
In addition to taking questions from financial analysts, Marchionne was joined by John Elkann, chairman of controlling stakeholder Exor, in a meeting with the media following the event. Among the highlights:
- On succession, Marchionne refuses to back off the end-of-the-year timetable to name his replacement. “It’s not worth worrying about. It’s a huge distraction,” he says, adding it’s more important for management to focus on executing the 5-year plan unveiled here. “I think we should stop focusing on it.”
- John Elkann, chairman of Exor, the controlling shareholder of FCA, dismisses any talk of a potential sale of FCA. “What we’ve seen today is a very strong future for the company. I’ve never seen a brighter future. We would not envisage…to put ourselves in a selling position. We’ve had incredible opportunities to do that in the last 15 years (and didn’t).”
- Chrysler, Dodge and Fiat all have a future in North America, Marchionne says. Dodge will continue as a performance brand, and it is likely future products will come from existing, but heavily updated, architectures. Chrysler will have more products than just the Pacifica, but its lineup will be focused on peoplemovers and green technologies. “Those two brands are not in question,” he says. As Fiat moves toward electrification, it too should be able to play in North America, Marchionne adds. But ultimately he sees the three brands accounting for less than 20% of revenue going forward.
- On trade, Marchionne says the White House’s high level of dissatisfaction with import/export disparity is real, but “we have to wait until the noise stops (to see what the result is). There’s a lot of posturing going on now. How much will stick is unclear to me, (but) I would not place a lot of weight on some of the bombastic statements that are being made for political purposes. When this settles, it will settle properly.” He says if the future means automakers must balance imports with exports, then FCA “should be able to survive the event unscathed.