The Fiat Chrysler board of directors has ended Sergio Marchionne's 14 years of leadership as the automaker’s CEO due to a sudden deterioration of his health. While information about his condition was not specified, the Italian-born Marchionne who had shoulder surgery three weeks ago will also exit his dual CEO role at Ferrari immediately and replaced by Mike Manley, according to the company's statement.
Manley has been the head of Jeep, the most successful Fiat Chrysler Automobiles brand since 2009 and Fiat is relying on his input in its bid to hit double profit in the next five years. According to Bloomberg, the Jeep and Ram vehicles Manley oversaw contributed to 67% of the total U.S. volumes the company sold last year.
Marchionne made a remarkable success as Fiat Chrysler CEO; he created and oversaw a crucial post-bailout growth at the company. Marchionne had been set to retire in April 2019 but the timeline for a decision on succession was accelerated by his sudden illness. Marchionne’s departure from the company is marking the end of one of the most successful automobile CEO ever. Chrysler was slated to be ruled out of business following its bankruptcy oversaw by the U.S. government but Marchionne convinced them Fiat could resuscitate the automobile company through acquisition. Methionine focused on expanding two brands: Jeep and Ram, spending less on Chrysler and Dodge brands after the acquisition. The decision yielded a huge success, with Fiat doubling its U.S. sales since 2009. Thanks to his understanding of the U.S. automobile market.
Having taken over as the CEO, Manley will have a lot to work on. They include improving Jeep's profile in China, electrifying Fiat's lineups, and meeting up with Europe and China's fuel-economy standard.
Fiat Chrysler new CEO joined the company in 2000 when it was still part of Daimler. He became head of Jeep after Fiat acquired the brand, where his contribution provided major transformation of the premium American brand. According to analysts, Jeep could worth $30 billion, the entire market value for Fiat Chrysler.
Jeep is the Future
The new CEO Manley already has a big task to complete in the next five years: growing Jeep sales by 100%. That's a target of 2.8 million vehicles to be sold by 2022; the company sold 1.4 million vehicles last year. Manley will need to achieve a 40% increase this year; selling 2 million vehicles by the end 2018 to meet up with this target.
To assure the company's “strong and independent” future, Manley will be implementing the business plan Fiat presented last month, Fiat Chrysler said on Saturday.
There's no question about Manley's capability. He has the same style of management with Marchionne. Colleagues describe him as a ferociously hard worker, a good listener and a figure true to his words.
“When he sits in a room, if you’re not a guy that works 80 hours a week, you’re going to have a tough time keeping up with him,’ said Manley's former colleague David Kelleher. “He doesn’t know what a weekend is; he’s very much a protege of Mr. Marchionne.”
Fiat's board, which passed over two other internal candidates to appoint Manley, also signaled that the company's future plan depends on the Jeep brand.