Sergio’s Latest Fantasy Franchise

Sergio unveils his elaborate masterplan for FCA’s future and it’s a staggering work of fiction. 

Dear lord, make it stop!

Last week Sergio Marchionne kept a selection of the world’s auto journalists captive for a ten hour marathon outlining his vision for the next five years at the newly merged FCA. Those who managed to sit through the numbing PowerPoint presentations, the staggering level of detail, the sheer grinding onslaught of facts, statistics, projections, flying unicorns and outright fantasies probably needed more than a few restorative shandies to steady their shattered nerves.

In fact the only thing missing was the attendance of the Pope, leading the assembled throng of hostages in a couple of decades of the rosary, which given the current state of affairs, may prove to be Sergio’s best hope. So, as a service to you, dear reader, I have compiled some numbers which may prove illustrative of just how steep the gradient Sergio and his cohorts face before they reach the promised uplands. Or the land of fairies and elves as some of a less credulous mien might suggest…

  • 10 Hours – duration of FCA presentation
  • 14 – number of speakers presenting
  • 19 – number of PowerPoint presentations
  • 59% – proposed upward spike in Global sales by 2018
  • €5bn – planned investment in new Alfa Romeo models to 2018
  • 440% – proposed uplift in Alfa Romeo sales by 2018
  • 74,000 – Alfa Romeo Global sales in 2013
  • 2.7m units – projected Global sales of Chrysler & Jeep models 2018
  • €2.15bn – Fiat’s loss in European market 2010-2013
  • 73% – proportion of small/mini Fiat cars produced 2013
  • 49% – proportion of small/mini Fiat cars produced 2018
  • 5 – number of distinct 500 model lines to be produced
  • 66% – Utilisation of Fiat’s Italian factories 2013
  • 200 – number of engineers currently allocated to Alfa Romeo’s 8-model revival
  • 18 – number of product architectures within FCA group 2014
  • 15 – number of product architectures within FCA 2018
  • 50+% – percentage decline in Fiat sales globally since 2010
  • €319m – combined net loss of FCA group Q1 2014
  • $15bn – asserted value of Ferrari brand at FCA presentation
  • 12% – fall in FCA shares following Marchionne’s announcement of product plan


But you shouldn’t just take my word for it, given my reputation. The very people the jumper-wearing iconoclast needs to impress were as unconvinced by FCA’s projections as any number of fruit throwing armchair cynics. Marchionne himself admitted the success of the plan depends on “near-perfect execution.” Automotive News, reporting on the FCA turnaround plan last week quoted an analyst at IHS Automotive, who commented that the company’s recent product launches “have been anything but near perfect.” An analyst with Nomura Holdings added: “The problem is PowerPoint presentations are a lot easier than real life. The world changes very slowly and you have brands at the bottom of the pile in many regions. It’s not going to happen overnight.”

Whatever the outcome, one thing is fairly certain. Marchionne’s fantasy franchise will continue to pack them in for some time to come. As for me? I’m absolutely captivated…

Author: Eóin Doyle

Co-Founder. Editor. Content Provider.

4 thoughts on “Sergio’s Latest Fantasy Franchise”

  1. The motoring world slowly turned on its head. Once, the Italian auto industry was at the pinnacle of can-do opportunism, surprising and stunning with sometimes mad, often sublime creations. Of course Fiat were always more disciplined and structured than a back street creator of etceterini but, to some extent, the same philosophy pervaded.

    Today, the Italian industry (or should I more correctly say the Dutch Industry) is just Fiat, and they have become the masters of the running turnaround plan, trotted out at increasing frequency and accepted by the motoring world with the same credulity afforded an alcoholic who claims, for the nth time, that he’s sorry and really will clean up his act this time.

    Incidentally, the numbers raise more questions than they answer, such as. Are the 200 Alfa engineers fully dedicated to Alfa and, if they cover the entire engineering spectrum from concept to production, is 200 enough? What other 500 concept blobs are on their way? How exactly do you value Ferrari’s brand worth?

    Just do it Sergio.

  2. Fiat is really finding itself caught between a rock and a hard place.

    Even if they wanted to accept Ferdl Piech’s offer to take the burden of keeping Alfa alive off them, they’d win relatively little in the process. Some debt reduction, perhaps, and/or funding for new products – but which new products exactly? The Fiat brand has all the appeal of half-eaten roadkill, thanks, in some part, to Marchionne’s refusal to invest into it when it was merely damaged.

    I honestly wish the wizard in a jumper comes up with a magic trick so that we can all enjoy world class, RWD Alfas in a few years’ time, leading to a renaissance of Italian car manufacturing. That would obviously be far more alluring a prospect than an Audi A4 wearing a scudetto (even though that might actually turn out to be far more visually appealing than it sounds – lest we forget, the last time Walter de’Silva had a hand in Alfa styling, the results weren’t particularly terrible).
    It’s just so hard to believe the kid who’d called the fire brigade for fun a few times too many.

  3. I wouldn´t like to place bets to see which brands emerge from the wreckage of this. Only Ferrari, and Maserati could be saleable when this towering inferno collapses. I like to think that someone will buy the Alfa brand but I don´t see anyone stepping into buy the infrastructure behind it. The talented engineers left a long time ago. I bet much of Alfa is run by contractors and the reason that Alfa produces such patchy cars is because the corporate culture is weak and the values have not been transmitted properly over the years.

  4. Yes, Richard. Alfa and Lancia (and Citroen since we’re mentioning it) illustrate perfectly what happens when you can’t differentiate between brand and culture. Their cars are generally similar to their predecessors, like a skewed photocopy of a £50 note is similar to money.

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