We got the news during last Saturday’s Car Pro Show around noon central time that Sergio Marchionne, the CEO of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) was being replaced due his health. I was stunned, to say the least, and read the following statement on-air from FCA:
With reference to the health of Sergio Marchionne, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles communicates with profound sorrow that during the course of this week unexpected complications arose while Mr. Marchionne was recovering from surgery and that these have worsened significantly in recent hours.
As a consequence, Mr. Marchionne will be unable to return to work.
I had not gotten wind of anything like this happening. I have been a fan of Mr. Marchionne and often praised the work he has done since taking over the company.
On Monday of this week, we found out that Mr. Marchionne was in a Swiss Medical Facility on a ventilator and that his condition may be irreversible. As of Monday, there were no updates on the 66-year old’s health status, but his family was gathered around him.
On Tuesday, the word from an Italian source was that Mr. Marchionne suffered an embolism while undergoing surgery for shoulder cancer, resulting in irreversible brain damage. Apparently, the cancer was more significant than anyone at Chrysler was aware of.
Then early Wednesday morning of this week, we got word that Mr. Marchionne had passed away.
Known for his casual style of dressing, and for saving Chrysler from bankruptcy, Mr. Marchionne was a tireless crusader for FCA. He was known to work very long hours, often sleeping in his office or on a plane. He was a hard-charging leader who was a straight talker, no matter the consequence.
In a statement, Fiat Chrysler Chairman John Elkann said:
“Unfortunately, what we feared has come to pass. Sergio Marchionne, man and friend, is gone.”
His replacement, Mike Manley called Sergio Marchionne:
“a very special, unique man” and said “there is no doubt that he’s going to be sorely missed.”
Our thoughts and heartfelt prayers from all of us at the Car Pro Show go out to the Marchionne family.
I saw a video of Sergio Marchionne talking about bring back RAM truck production from Mexico to the US. He made the point that 90% of these vehicles were being sold in the US, so it made sense to build them here. Sometimes it takes genius to point out the obvious and act on it.